Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger

Written way back in the late nineties in a time before Facebook, Ellen Wittlinger’s novel Hard Love tells the story of two teens who meet through their love of zines. (Zines are homemade magazines generally written by one author and focusing on his or her life and interests, a somewhat primitive version of Facebook and blogs.) John uses the pen name Gio when he writes a zine called Bananfish. He becomes fascinated, perhaps infatuated, with another zine writer named Marisol whose zine is called Escape Velocity. He’s so interested in seeing what Marisol is like in person that he stakes out a record store in order to meet her when she drops off her new issue. Marisol ends up being more beautiful, charming, and having more in common with John than he ever imagined. But despite them immediately hitting it off, the relationship never becomes what John would like it to be. John also clashes with Marisol regarding honesty. Marisol claims to always say exactly what she feels while John lies to Marisol right from the start by telling her his pen name Gio is his real name.

There is a lot about zines in Hard Love, including the main characters attending a zine convention toward the end of the book. There are also familiar young adult novel elements such as the prom and John/Gio’s divorced parents. However, Wittlinger’s inspired character development makes even the most familiar plot points seem as new as the latest Facebook app. This is definitely a novel worth checking out by one of the most consistently enjoyable young adult authors writing today.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Chime by Franny Billingsley

How great is the cover of this book? This is the story of 17-year-old Briony, the daughter of the town clergyman. She has a twin sister, Rose, and right away you know something is just not quite right with Rose. (Why is it when you read a book about twins, there is usually some creepy stuff going on?) You also find out that their stepmother has recently died, and there is something not quite right about that either. This novel, Chime, is part fantasy, part horror, part romance, and part historical fiction. Something for everyone!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vote for Your Top Ten!

Remember to vote for your favorite Teens' Top Ten Nominees by September 15.  The winners will be announced during Teen Read Week, October 16-22!

Here are the last of this year's nominees:

Drought by Pam Bachorz
Ruby and the Congregants have been enslaved to collect water for Darwin West and his Overseers. Ruby uses her magical blood to bless the water; without her blood, the Congregants will die. She and the Congregants pray to Otto, her father, to return and save them all. One day, Ford, the new overseer, arrives, and he and Ruby fall for each other. Ruby longs to run away with him to the modern world where she can lead a normal teenage life. She is torn between two worlds. Will she choose to be free with her forbidden love, or will she choose to be enslaved with her family?

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The final book in the Hunger Games series finds Katniss Everdeen rescued from the horrific 75th Hunger Games—but not her fellow tribute, Peeta Mallark. Now she must lead a rebellion against the evil capital with the help of District 13, which is not destroyed, but has been quietly sowing the seeds of war for years. As Katniss becomes more entangled in war and revolution, the question of who she can trust becomes ever harder, and she must fight for her life once again.

Love, Inc. by Yvonne Collins
Zahara, Kali, and Syd meet in a support group when their respective parents get divorced, but it gets so much worse when they realize they’ve all been dating the same guy: Rick, aka Rico, aka Eric! The girls are devastated...until they decide to show the cheater the error of his ways. When more and more people find out about their plots and plans, Zahara, Kali, and Syd realize that they are much more than three girls who were cheated on.

Matched by Ally Condie
In Cassia’s society, most of her choices are made for her, including the person with whom she will spend the rest of her life: her Match. At age 17, Cassia is happily surprised when her Match turns out to be her best friend Xander, but when a glitch occurs and another boy’s face appears on her screen, Cassia can’t help but wonder what would happen if she were able to choose her own Match. Now she must decide between conforming to society and pursuing a life where she can make her own choices.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
After Lennie's sister suddenly dies, she finds herself torn between two boys. One is the new boy in town, and the other is her sister’s ex-boyfriend. While she is genuinely attracted to one, the other really understands her feelings, yet she knows it is wrong. Who will she choose?

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Popular, rich, and attractive Sam Kingston never worried about how her behavior affected other people. After dying in a car crash, Sam is forced to relive the last day of her life for seven days. She progressively becomes a better person as she realizes the ripple effect of her actions and uses the second chance to fix her most dire mistakes

Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson
In book seven of the Maximum Ride series, the titular character is devastated after a fellow “bird kid” leaves to start his own flock of mutant heroes. Scientists tell her that another “bird kid”, Dylan, is her perfect mate, and that she’s been created to save the world. When the Doomsday Group starts hypnotizing children, Max heads to Paris with her flock to investigate. Unfortunately, Fang and his new flock are investigating as well.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

More Teens' Top Ten Nominees

This year's nominations are dominated by books featuring supernatural or paranormal elements.  If you enjoy fantasy and the supernatural, vote for one of these titles here!

Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier
Are you Team Unicorn or Team Zombie? In this anthology of twelve fast-paced stories, popular teen authors make strong arguments for both sides in the long and gruesome debate concerning the awesomeness of zombies versus unicorns.

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
Danny thought he was a “drekka,” one without magic, until he discovers he has magical powers as a gate mage. The only problem: all the magic families made a pact to kill any person who could make gates to transport themselves. Danny is forced to run from everything and everyone he knows in an attempt to unravel the secrets behind his powers.

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
When Calla, who is a Guardian, saves a boy on her mountain from a bear attack, the consequences are farther reaching than could be imagined, especially when that boy shows up at her school and appears to be a favored companion of her masters, the Keepers.

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
In this sequel to Hush, Hush, a few months have passed since Nora’s lab partner Patch, actually a fallen angel, saved her from his murderous vassal Nephil and became her guardian angel. She and Patch are now dating, but she is starting to doubt his love for her. Is he keeping something from her? And is she really safe now?

Lies by Michael Grant
Lies continues the story that began in Gone and Hunger. Is death the only answer? Life is getting hard for the under 15s who survived. Food is running out, the beach is burning, and things are getting tense. The situation is getting worse for the survivors and everyone has their own battles to face.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Sixteen-year-old Sophie is a witch sent to live at Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (witches, faeries, shape-shifters, etc.), after she bungles a spell at prom and attracts too much attention from normal humans. At her new school, Sophie must face the usual teen troubles of mean girls and crushes with the added dimension of magic and learning about her own powers.

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
An unbelievable betrayal, an ancient spell, and a love triangle all make Rachel Hawkins’ sequel to Hex Hall impossible to put down. When Sophie goes to her father’s mansion for the summer, she thinks she knows exactly what she wants: to undergo the Removal and get rid of the demon inside of her. But when it turns out that someone else is making demons, she has to question everything and everyone—especially Archer Cross, the boy she can’t get out of her head.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
On the eve of her 16th birthday, Meghan starts seeing dark creatures in the most unusual places and senses that everything is about to change. But she could never have imagined the truth—that she is a princess, the daughter of a mythical faery king. When she finds out her little brother has been kidnapped and replaced by a changeling, Meghan ventures in to the fey world to rescue him.

Red Moon Rising by Peter Moore
In a world dominated by vampires, half-vamp, half-wulf Danny is used to hiding his true nature. When he experiences strange changes, it appears that his wulf side has become active. In a world where wulves are not treated equally, Danny faces a difficult choice: a dreary future as an inmate once a month or life as an illegal, unregistered wulf.

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Quincie, everyone’s favorite teen restaurateur and vampire, is back in this follow-up to Tantalize and Eternal. This time, she has even more on her plate. She just died, became a vampire, said goodbye to her true love/ werewolf boyfriend Kieren, and she has to stop the most powerful and evil vampire in centuries and find a way to save her own soul and the souls of the soon-to-be evil vampires.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Normal? Yeah, right! Evie's biggest dream ever was to be normal, but with a faerie ex-boyfriend and a mermaid for a best friend, she might as well just throw the word “normal” right in the trash can. Evie has the unique ability to see through paranormals’ glamours, which has made her a valued asset of the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA). When someone breaks into the Agency headquarters, Evie meets an unusual Paranormal: a boy who can shape-shift into any human. Can Evie save the lives of unarmed Paranormals from something that is after her too?


Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 Teen's Top Ten

Vote for this year's YALSA's Teens' Top Ten!  You can place your vote at the YALSA website.  You have until September 15 to vote!

We'll highlight all 25 nominees this week.

I am J by Chris Beam
J (Jeni) is a boy and has always identified himself as such, but he was genetically born female. As a teen, J acts like a boy and dresses in baggy clothes to hide his feminine body. He wants to begin testosterone treatments to transfer physically to a man, but his parents and best friend do not accept him as male. J decides to run away and enroll in a school for gay and transgender students, where he is able to begin to find acceptance. More than just a story of a transgender teen, this is the story of how teenagers live and love and cope.

You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin
Teenage Dalton Rev is a private eye. He is sent to a high school to find out about the death of Wesley Payne. Was it really a suicide? The school's tight cliques have gone insane and lost control. It’s up to Dalton to sort through a huge mess of betrayal in order to restore the hierarchy.

The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
In this prequel to the Mortal Instruments series, Tessa Gray travels to England to search for her brother, her only remaining relative. She is captured by the mysterious Dark Sisters and discovers that there is a fantastical world thriving alongside her own. She finds that she must ally with the unknown shadowhunters to save her brother.

I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
Number Four is one of nine aliens that escaped from the planet Lorien just ahead of the evil Mogadorians, a rival alien race bent of their destruction. He’s settling into another new town on Earth, trying to get a handle on his developing powers, when he gets the news: Number Three is dead. If Number Three is dead, that means Number Four is next.

The False Princess by Ellis O'Neal
At sixteen, Princess Nalia learns that the king and queen have used her as a false princess to protect their real daughter from an omen of death. Princess Nalia, now Sinda, is sent away from the palace to live with the one relative she has left in a world she does not know. Sinda struggles with her new life and uncovers a secret that may change her country forever. Magic runs through her veins, and theories of corruption in the royal bloodline keep her entangled in the royal family's affairs.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Sisters Rosie and Scarlett March are left as orphans at eleven after their grandmother is killed by a Fenris, a soulless creature that takes the form of a man and can turn into a wolf. Scarlett loses an eye in the attack and decides to devote her life to hunting the Fenris. Eight years later, the sisters have vowed to protect their town from the Fenris. Silas, a young woodsman, returns to town. Rosie knows the Fenris deserve to die, but she's not ready to commit her entire life to hunting them. Can the sisters learn to live with their differences as Rosie and Silas’s friendship blossoms into something more?

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
This sequel to Leviathan picks up where the last book left off with Alek, the lost Austro-Hungarian prince, and Deryn, a girl disguised as a boy, on the airship Leviathan heading to the Ottoman Empire. Upon arriving, Alek escapes and starts a revolution to overthrow the Sultan and try to stop a war.