Thursday, December 11, 2014

Historical Fiction

Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Mattie Cook is ambitious, adventurous, and sick to death of listening to her mother. Mattie has plans of her own. She wants to turn the Cook Coffeehouse into the finest business in Philadelphia, the capital of the new United States. But the waterfront is abuzz with reports of disease. As the cemeteries fill with fever victims, fear turns to panic, and thousands flee the city. Then tragedy strikes the coffeehouse, and Mattie is trapped in a living nightmare. Suddenly, her struggle to build a better life must give way to something even more important -- the fight to stay alive.

Others Like This:
The Pox Party by MT Anderson

Annexed by Sharon Dogar
What was it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank?  To know you're being written about in Anne's diary, day after day? What's it like to start questioning your religion, wondering why simply being Jewish inspires such hatred and persecution? Or to just sit and wait and watch while others die, and wish you were fighting. As Peter and Anne become closer and closer in their confined quarters, how can they make sense of what they see happening around them? Anne's diary ends on August 4, 1944, but Peter's story takes us on, beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi death camps.

Others Like This:
The War Within These Walls by Aline Sax
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
An angry, grieving seventeen-year-old musician facing expulsion from her prestigious Brooklyn private school travels to Paris to complete a school assignment and uncovers a diary written during the French revolution by a young actress attempting to help a tortured, imprisoned little boy--Louis Charles, the lost king of France.

Others Like This:
In Darkness by Nick Lake

Willow by Tonya Hegamin
In 1848, an educated slave girl faces an inconceivable choice -- between bondage and freedom, family and love. On one side of the Mason-Dixon Line lives Willow, her master's favorite servant. She's been taught to read and has learned to write. She believes her master is good to her and fears the rebel slave runaways. On the other side of the line is Cato, a black man, free born. It's his personal mission to sneak as many fugitive slaves to freedom as he can. Willow's and Cato's lives are about to intersect, with life-changing consequences for both of them.

The Extra by Kathryn Lasky
Is the chance to serve as an extra for Hitler's favorite filmmaker a chance at life -- or a detour on the path to inevitable extermination? One ordinary afternoon, Lilo and her family are suddenly picked up by Hitler's police and imprisoned as part of the "Gypsy plague." Just when it seems certain that they will be headed to a labor camp, Lilo is chosen by filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl to work as a film extra. Life on the film set is a bizarre alternate reality. The surroundings are glamorous, but Lilo and the other extras are barely fed, closely guarded, and kept in a locked barn when not on the movie set. And the charming Riefenstahl is always present, flaunting the power to assign prisoners to life or death.

Others Like This:
Bird with the Heart of a Mountain by Barbara Mariconda

A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier
For Cleo Berry, the people dying of the Spanish Influenza in cities like New York and Philadelphia may as well be in another country--that's how far away they feel from the safety of Portland, Oregon. And then cases start being reported in the Pacific Northwest. The entire city is thrust into survival mode--and panic. When the Red Cross pleads for volunteers, she can't ignore the call. As Cleo struggles to navigate the world around her, she is surprised by how much she finds herself caring about near-strangers. Strangers like Edmund, a handsome medical student and war vet. Strangers who could be gone tomorrow. And as the bodies begin to pile up, Cleo can't help but wonder: when will her own luck run out?

Others Like This:
Deadly by Julie Chibbaro
Between Two Worlds by Katherine Kirkpatrick

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
When soldiers arrive at his hometown in Cambodia, Arn is just a kid. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, his life is changed forever. Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp: he sees the other children, weak from hunger, malaria, or sheer exhaustion, dying before his eyes. He sees prisoners marched to a nearby mango grove, never to return. And he learns to be invisible to the sadistic Khmer Rouge, who can give or take away life on a whim. One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. Arn's never played a note in his life, but he volunteers. This decision will save his life, but it will pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields. And just as the country is about to be liberated from the Khmer Rouge, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions. Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously-and at great risk-documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive.

More Like This
A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury

The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow
Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew. But to the bullies at his school in Nazi era Berlin, it doesn't matter. Demoralized by relentless attacks on a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth to everyone around him. So when Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons, Karl sees it as the perfect chance to reinvent himself.  But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: protector of his family. Karl longs to ask his new mentor for help, but with Max's fame growing, he is forced to associate with Hitler and other Nazi elites, leaving Karl to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie.

Others Like This:
Fade by Robert Cormier

Flygirl by Sherri L Smith
Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn't stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy's gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her. When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women's Airforce Service Pilots--and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won't accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of pretending to be white. Hiding one's racial heritage, denying one's family, denying one's self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution. As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

Others Like This:
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbruck, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that's in store for her?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Astrid Jones lives in a town where everyone knows your name, and uses it when gossiping about you. Even though she is helping her best friend Kristina cover up her relationship with another girl, Astrid doesn't feel like she can confide in her when she begins a clandestine relationship with Dee, a girl from another school she works with. Astrid's relationship with her mother has deteriorated (and her sister appears to be best friends with her mother) and her father is nice, but generally stoned. Instead  Astrid turns to the passengers on airplanes that she watches from the picnic table in her backyard. Secrets though can come out and get distorted and when things come to a head Astrid needs to face the real people in her life. A great read if you're looking for thought provoking realistic fiction.

Ask the Passengers is a 2015 Abraham Lincoln Nominee.

Check out the book trailer!

 Like this book? Take a look at:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank

Chess would like to think of herself as a normal girl, but lately her body is not behaving in a normal manner. She’s been ill frequently but doesn’t know why and her undiagnosed condition even caused her to have a humiliating incident with a guy she has a crush on. It turns out that she has Crohn’s disease. She ends up in the hospital depressed and trying to come to terms with the diagnosis. One of her roommates, Shannon, has been in and out of the hospital with Crohn’s for a number of years. To put it mildly, Shannon is sassy with the doctors and nurses. She also isn’t one to throw a pity party for herself. Much of the book centers on Shannon and Chess trying to learn to deal with each other and Crohn’s disease.

Written in an unusual manner, Lucy Frank’s Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling takes an honest and realistic look at the subject of young people suffering from a chronic illness. Plenty of books have focused on terminally ill adolescents. (The Fault in Our Stars and Jenny Downham’s Before I Die come to mind.) It’s good to see an author exploring chronic illness as so many young people suffer from these health problems.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What the Librarians Are Reading

YS &Teen Staffer Andrea:

Girl in Reverse by Barbara Stuber  
Lillian Firestone’s Chinese mother gave her up for adoption upon arriving to the United States.  She is adopted by a family in Kansas City, Missouri and is brought up as an upstanding student with typical American ideals.  When America goes to war with Korea right after being at war with the Japanese, Lillian begins to face racial prejudice from her schoolmates.  She decides to investigate her birth mother and finds the strength to face prejudice.

27:  A history of the 27 Club through the lives ofBrian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and AmyWinehouse by Howard Sounes The 27 Club is the name used for the connection between the musical artists known as the “Big Six” who died at the age of 27.   The biographer looks at their backgrounds and the historic musical careers that made these six artists legends and ultimately led them to their tragic deaths.

Librarian Katie:

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg   Rafe is tired of being known as “the gay kid” in high school, and decides to enter an elite Massachusetts prep-school where he can start fresh. However, denying part of his identity complicates matters and opens his eyes to what it really means to be a true friend.

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
Sophia Amoruso shares what it takes to go from a troubled childhood and teen life to being known as one of the most current and successful business women having founded Nasty Gal, a fashion e-tailer, without even a college degree. Amoruso has used her passion, energy and wits to become  a success, and reveals her thoughts and tips in this rather entertaining memoir.

Librarian Lisa B:

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King
Glory's mother put her head in an oven when Glory was four and she has felt like she has spent much of her life on the outside. However, then a few nights before graduation her and Ellie (her sort of best friend) drink the remains of a petrified bat and  wake up with the ability to see into the future; and Glory sees the coming of a second civil war. King expertly weaves together realistic fiction, magical realism, and hints of a dystopia.

Branded by the Pink Triangle by Ken Setterington
In Holocaust concentration camps different patches on prisoners clothes stood for different things. The pink triangle was for homosexual (generally male) prisoners. This is the story of the horrors they endured at the hands of the Nazis and how they were treated after the war.

Librarian Lisa S:

Say What YouWill by Cammie McGovern Amy has cerebral palsy, and she speaks with the help of a computer.  For her senior year of high school, she has requested peer assistants instead of adults.   Amy is brilliant and plans to attend an Ivy League college in the fall.   Matt, one of her assistants, is battling his own illness, OCD.  He has no plans for the future.  Together, they help each other overcome obstacles, physical and mental, while they find out what they mean to each other.  

Popular:  A Memoir: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya VanWagenen Can Curlers, girdles, Vaseline and a strand of pearls help a shy girl become popular?  Maya Van Wagenen is about to find out.  Stuck near the bottom of the social ladder at “pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya has never been popular.  But before starting eighth grade, she decides to begin a unique social experiment: Spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell.  The real-life results are hilarious, painful and filled with unexpected surprises. 

Librarian Mary Beth:

Bomb: the race tobuild—and steal—the world’s most dangerous weapon by Steve Sheinkin
In late December 1938, German chemist Otto Hahn discovered that uranium atoms could be split, and just a few months later the race to build an atomic bomb was on. The story unfolds in three parts, covering American attempts to build the bomb, how the Soviets tried to steal American designs and how the Americans tried to keep the Germans from building a bomb.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen An unlikely grouping of robot-builders and cheerleaders rally together for a common cause. Charlie and Nate have been friends forever, and even though Charlie is a quiet jock and Nate is the president of the robotics club, they remain friends against the high school grain.

Librarian Petra:

Out of Eden by Peter Johnson Stony and his family are headed for a quiet vacation. They plan to watch movies, hike, and visit the local caves. On the way Stony’s father gets into an argument with a creepy-looking skinny guy and his huge friend at a rest stop. After everything calms down Stony, his mom, dad, and sister drive away.  Little do they know that these two guys are stalking them; waiting for their chance to attack the family. This is a story of how one family comes face-to-face with real evil.
Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific by Mary Cronk Farrell  
As WWII began, nearly 100 Navy and Army nurses were stationed in the Philippines.  Once a desirable duty station, the Philippines quickly became one of the most dangerous places these young women could be.  The many nurses who stayed behind to care for the wounded after the US was forced to retreat from the Philippines quickly find themselves prisoners of war.  Includes primary source material.

Librarian Phyllis:

Michael Vey: Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans
Michael Vey, a fourteen-year old who has Tourette’s syndrome and special electric powers, finds there are others like him, and must rely on his powers to save himself and the others from a diabolical group seeking to control them.

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson The author brings together the recollections of the survivors and witnesses to the disaster and includes historical photographs and illustrations.

YS &Teen Staffer Rozanne:

A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier The year is 1918, and seventeen-year-old Cleo Barry is restless. While living in the dormitory of her Portland boarding school, she longs for excitement, independence, and adventure in ways that are uncommon for young women of this era.  She soon gets her wish, but in ways that are unwanted and unexpected. The Spanish influenza pandemic has hit the Western United States, and a terrible fate awaits those unlucky enough to contract the deadly virus. While tempted to take measures to protect herself from illness, a devastating childhood memory propels her to volunteer for the Red Cross in order to take care of those who are gravely ill. As death begins to strike closer to home, Cleo wonders which one of her loved ones will be next. Will it be the handsome young doctor, her close friend, Katie – or will she be next? For lovers of historical fiction and suspense, Lucier’s novel will not disappoint.

Ghosts by Stuart Webb
Part of the Paranormal Files series, this factual account focuses on the various type of ghostly encounters, including ancient and medieval apparitions, early ghosthunters, communications with the dead, possession, and haunted houses. 

Librarian Ruth Anne:  

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman Seven-league boots, Snow White’s Step-Mother’s sinister mirror, and a golden key are a sampling of unique items straight out of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales now locked away in the Grimm Collection, housed in the New York Circulating Material Repository. Not your typical lending library, high school student Elizabeth is pleasantly surprised when she encounters these magical items, until she and her fellow workers discover things are not what they should be. They follow a dangerous journey to try to reclaim these priceless items, but someone is waiting to fight them, and the big mystery is could it be someone from the library staff?

Hidden Like Anne Frank: Fourteen True Stories of Survival by Marcel Prins
Holocaust survivors relate their childhood memories of escaping the Nazis in the Netherlands.

Librarian Sandra:

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his. Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence?

Sunrise by Mike Mullin (Ashfall Trilogy Book 3)
The Yellowstone supervolcano nearly wiped out the human race. Now, almost a year after the eruption, the survivors seem determined to finish the job. Communities wage war on each other, gangs of cannibals roam the countryside, and what little government survived the eruption has collapsed completely. The ham radio has gone silent. Sickness, cold, and starvation are the survivors' constant companions.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

The Waking Dark opens on "the killing day," when 5, seemingly normal people, become murderers. At the end of the day 12 are dead, including all, but one, of the murderers. A year later and Oleander, Kansas has resumed some sort of normalcy, but then the storm hits, leaving residents cut off from the outside world, and trapped inside town limits by officials. There's something in the air after the storm though and residents begin to search out and use their own forms of justice (or are they just acting out their own dark desires). Little old ladies are shooting cocky football players, the church Deacon is claiming to hear the voice of God, and the lone surviving murderer from the killing day has gotten herself back into town limits. A small group find themselves thrown together (mostly based on the fact that they seem to be the only ones who think the town is losing it) and try to figure out what's going on and survive the chaos before Oleander implodes.

Wasserman, gives readers a solid horror story, incorporating our own dark desires, the claustrophobia of being locked in a small town, perhaps a government conspiracy, and even hints of supernatural forces lurking beneath the surface. While this book had enough intrigue to keep me reading, and was an excellent read for a rainy October evening, this reader found it to be missing an atmospheric element that would have pushed it over the top to be a truly great horror novel.

Great if you're looking for a dark read.

If you like this you may want to try:
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Amity by Micol Ostow
Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Stolarz

For more horror stories check out our Chilling and Creepy blog post.


Monday, October 20, 2014

2014 Teens' Top Ten Announced!

YALSA's (Young Adult Library Services Association) Teens' Top Ten for 2014 have been announced! These are titles that have been nominated and voted on by teens. For more information check out YALSA's Teens Top Ten page. What do you think of this year's list?

10) The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
9) Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
8) Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
7) The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau - Also a Lincoln Nominee; check out the book trailer!
6) Earth Girl by Janet Edwards
5) Monument 14: Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne
4) The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey - Also a Lincoln Nominee; check out the book trailer!
3) The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
2) Splintered by A.G. Howard
1) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - Also a Lincoln Nominee; check out the book trailer!