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!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Escape From Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden

Shin was born and raised in labor Camp 14 in North Korea. He (and his family) were punished for the crimes of Shin's father's brother (which were committed before Shin's birth). Shin was taught from birth by the camp guards to be a snitch on his fellow prisoners and not to bat an eye when they were beat (or killed) in front of him for disobeying camp rules. Everyone was a competitor for food, including his mother. Ultimately, he informed on his mother and brother when he learned they were planning to escape, which lead to their execution, and felt nothing but anger towards  his mother about it until long after he escaped from the camp. Shin's story is not sugar coated and can be difficult to read and heartbreaking, hearing about his torture after his mother was arrested, hearing about the way students routinely (and without a second though) participated in the punishments and beatings of their fellow classmates at their teacher's request, and about the hunger, the cold, and the discomfort that was just a fact of life for Shin and the rest of the prisoners in the camp. Interspersed into Shin's story is information about everyday life in North Korea outside of the labor camps and the history of the Kim Dynasty. A corrupt government that isolates and tries to brainwash its people, that allows them to starve while their palaces include water parks.

At times Escape From Camp 14 has hints of being a fictional dystopia (kids will inform on their parents as in 1984, a government and elite inner circle that have an excess of goods, while everyone else is scrounging as in The Hunger Games), but this world and these camps are life for around 24 million people. While many escape from North Korea every year Shin is thought to be the only person born and raised in a labor camp to have gotten out of the country. And all those that defect have a hard time to adjusting to life outside; they learn that nearly everything about the world they have been taught by their government is a lie, they find it hard to let go of paranoia and hold on to jobs. While Kim Jong-Un can be something of a joke sometimes (he even has his own memes), life under his regime is a stark and harsh reality for many, especially those who have spent their entire lives in one of its labor camps.
Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden is a 2015 Abraham Lincoln Nominee. Check out the book trailer.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone is a work of fiction that reads as a biography (generally in a good way, not in the too long, stuffy, must read this for a paper way). It opens with an article of Addison Stone's death at age 18. Addison was an extremely talented  up and coming artist who recently moved to New York City; people knew of her, her art work was being represented and sold, and she liked to make a splash with outrageous YouTube videos (that she considered a part of her art). Her story is told posthumously by the people who knew her in life; some loved her, some profited off of her, others disliked or distrusted her. The tales of her artistic genius and emotional and mental states are interwoven with pictures of Addison, her family, her friends, and those that she created.

The anecdotes told from multiple points of view, from those who viewed Addison in vastly different ways, along with the photos, and artwork help to create a full (both wonderfully exciting and tragic) picture of the title character. Addison is quirky and fabulous and sometimes you just want to be her, but the demons that she struggles with make you think twice.

Not necessarily a page turner, but if you enjoy reading nonfiction you may want to give Griffin's work a try.

If you enjoyed this you  may also want to check out:
Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony
The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle


Monday, October 6, 2014

The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson

I first encountered the work of Blake Nelson through the movie adaptation of his novel Paranoid Park. The movie was a fairly forgettable indie film, so I was not inspired to pick up Paranoid Park or another one of Nelson’s novels until a few weeks ago. Judging by the quality of The Prince of Venice Beach, Nelson’s most recent novel, my reluctance to read him was a mistake.

The Prince of Venice Beach is narrated by Cali, a homeless kid originally from Nebraska who sleeps in a tree house in the back yard of a home owned by a kind older hippy woman--when he’s not hanging out on the Venice Beach boardwalk. Cali is also good at finding people and is hired by a private detective to locate a homeless man named Mugs and later on Reese, a young girl who recently ran away from her rich father. Cali sees private investigation as a potential career and starts planning a missing persons business with Ailis, a quirky girl who seems to have a thing for him.

While Cali’s career as a private detective, or at least as an assistant to detectives, gets off to a successful start both in terms of finding people and getting paid more money than he knows what to do with, Cali’s principles soon get in the way. Cali quickly realizes that people sometimes have reasons why they don’t want to be found, and he has his reasons for living off the grid too. With one case in particular he hears very different stories from the person he’s looking for and the person who is paying him to do the looking. The Prince of Venice Beach is not a novel just about homeless kids or detective work. It puts these two elements together, along with strong character development, for a book that you will not want to run away from. 


Chilling & Creepy

Now that it is October, and Fall is settling in, here are some reads that may cause you to turn on all the lights  and double check the locks on the doors.

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
Beware of Long Lankin, that lives in the moss. . . .
Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries -- before it's too late for her sister.

White Space by Ilsa Bick
Emma Lindsay jumps between the lines of books and into the white space where realities are created and destroyed--but who may herself be nothing more than a character written into being from an alternative universe.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Scowler by Daniel Kraus
Ry Burke, his mother, and sister scrape by for a living on their dying family farm. Then a meteorite falls from the sky, bringing with it not only a fragment from another world but also the arrival of a ruthless man intent on destroying the entire family. Ry is forced to defend himself by resurrecting a trio of imaginary childhood protectors: kindly Mr. Furrington, wise Jesus, and the bloodthirsty Scowler.

Amity by Micol Ostow
Here is a house of ruin and rage, of death and deliverance. Here is where I live, not living. Here is always mine.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

Asylum by Madeleine Roux
For Dan Crawford, the New Hampshire College Prep program is the chance of a lifetime. Except that when Dan arrives, he finds that the usual summer housing has been closed, forcing students to stay in the crumbling Brookline Dorm--formerly a psychiatric hospital. But Brookline was no ordinary mental hospital, and there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
Furnace Penitentiary: the world's most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth's surface. Convicted of a murder he didn't commit, sentenced to life without parole, Alex soon discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman creatures in gas masks stalk the corridors at night, where giants in black suits drag screaming inmates into the shadows, where deformed beasts can be heard howling from the blood-drenched tunnels below.

The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
They called it the killing day. 12 people murdered, in the space of a few hours, their killers also all dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander, Kansas--something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of its upstanding citizens.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement-left in the crib of a human baby 16 years ago.

What are some of your favorite scary stories?

Thursday, October 2, 2014


We now have two Nooks featuring Young Adult Fiction

YA Dystopian Nook
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Allegiant b y Veronica Roth
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Legend by Marie Lu

YA Popular Fiction Nook
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

To check out: Pick up one of the cases from the Teen Corner and bring it to the check out desk where they will give you a Nook.