Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Retro Book of the Week: The Outsiders

The Outsiders
by SE Hinton

The Outsiders is considered by some to be the first real young adult book out there. This is the story of Pony Boy, a Greaser living in Tulsa in 1965. The central conflict in the book is between the Greasers and the Socs. Soc is short for Social, and the Socs are a gang of wealthy, privledged kids that like to fight with the Greasers.

Though this book is forty years old, it is still popular because the themes are timeless. The Outsiders is read by seventh graders across Forsyth County, and it is on this year's Battle of the Books list. I can't tell you how many students I've had checking this book out again and again, it really is a favorite at our school. If you are interested in reading this book for the first time, or revisiting your teen years with a walk down literary memory lane, come check this one out @your library!

[Retro Book of the Week celebrates the oldies-but-goodies in our media center. Books with faded covers can still have modern appeal! Sometimes I just want to celebrate the books that have influenced YA literature and my literary past, and sometimes I want to give new life to timeless classics. These features will be heavy on books from the 80's and 90's.]

Monday, November 22, 2010

Retro Book of the Week: The Silver Kiss

The Silver Kiss
by Annette Curtis Klause

This book, published in 1990, is the Twilight of the early 1990's. Zoe, a lost and lonely teenager, has a mother who is dying from cancer. Home alone while her parents are at hospital, Zoe wanders around town and meets Simon. Simon is a vampire, and Zoe is intrigued by him as she persues a relationship with the mysterious, silver-haired boy. This is a vampire novel with substance, and it is far more than a romance novel. It is a beautifully written novel about life and death with well-developed characters, and it is well worth a read for both regular vampire-fanatics and those that may be critical of the genre.

The Silver Kiss was moderately popular in the early nineties, but has experienced a second wave of popularity with the Twilight-infused vampire craze of the past few years. The original cover feels more true to the story -- -soft and romantic, but also quite sad. However, the most recent cover was released to grab the attention of Twilight fans with the red, black, and white color scheme. If you aren interested in this retro book, we still have it on the shelf! Check it out today @your library.

[Retro Book of the Week celebrates the oldies-but-goodies in our media center. Books with faded covers can still have modern appeal! Sometimes I just want to celebrate the books that have influenced YA literature and my literary past, and sometimes I want to give new life to timeless classics. These features will be heavy on books from the 80's and 90's.]

Friday, November 19, 2010

What I'm Reading This Weekend

This weekend I plan to sit down and read The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I'm already a few chapters in, so I know what I'm getting myself into. This is the story of Thomas, a boy who has been dropped in a place called The Glade with no memory of how or why he's there. There are other boys at The Glade, some who have been there a very long time time. The Gladers have their own society and their own procedures, but everything revolves around The Maze. The Maze is a character in itself, the enemy of the boys as they try to figure out why they are in The Glade and how to get out.

I'm excited about this book because it is a dystopian novel -- my favorite genre. Part Sci-Fi, part Lord of the Flies, I don't think I'll be able to put it down once I start. We also own a copy here at MSMS, so check it out today @your library!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Historical Fiction: Three BOB Books

Continuing with our historical fiction theme, here are three of this year's Battle of the Books titles that you can check out. We have lots of students reading these titles right now to prepare for our competition this March. I'm particularly excited about these three because two of them are by great authors (Karen Hesse and Avi) and the third looks like an interesting concept that takes readers through multiple eras of US History. Check them out today @your library!

The Brooklyn Nine: A Novel in Nine Innings
by Alan Gatz

This book tells the stories of nine generations of an immigrant family living in New York. Each story is loosely connected, but all are deeply rooted in the history of baseball and American History. Historical times periods include the Civil War, the Vaudeville era, the Roaring Twenties, the Negro Leagues, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, Sputnik, and the departure of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Out of the Dust
by Karen Hesse

Billie Joe is a teenaged girl who lives with her mother and father on a wheat farm that has been ravaged by the constant dust storms of the dust bowl in Oklahama in 1934-1935.

Iron Thunder: The Battle Between the Monitor and the Merimac

by Avi

Tom's job as an assistant to Captain John Ericsson, the inventor of the Monitor, makes him a target of Confederate spies.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Geektastic:Stories from the Nerd Herd

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd
Edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castelucci

I am not typically a reader of short story collections, but I immediately knew I had to read this collection. I ordered this book with my last big book order because the reviews were great and it seemed like a fun book. When the book came in, I was actually able to see the list of contributing authors on the front of the book and I was hooked. Where else can you find a book that combines the topic of geekiness AND fabulous YA authors suchs a Libba Bray, John Green, Wendy Mass, David Levithan, Garth Nix, and MT Anderson? As a self-professed geek I could not deny my curiosity, so I had to read the book.

I was not disappointed. This is one of the best books I have read this year. All aspects of geekiness are covered in these pages -- band nerds, quiz bowl geeks, Role Playing Games (RPGs), conventions, stormtroopers, LARPing, Star Wars vs Star Trek, sci-fi, Dungeons and Dragons, comic books, Buffy, paleontology, drama geeks, astronauts, Rocky Horror, and so on. I guess I'm not geeky enough to know a whole lot about many of these geekdoms, but I enjoyed the overall geek-tasticness of reading about other geeks of all kinds. Though some of the stories were a little slow, most of the stories were perfect for getting a quick read in at lunch. I realized that the great thing about short stories is that they can be completed in one sitting!

My favorite stories in the book were "I Never" by Cassandra Clare, "Quiz Bowl Antichrist" by David Levithan, and "The Stars at the Finish Line" by Wendy Mass, and "It's Just a Jump to the Left" by Libba Bray. This is definitely a book that I have purchased and added to my personal collection. It is a book I can see myself re-reading. Apparently the MSMS students feel the same way, because I can barely keep it on the shelf! Check out this book and other short story collections @your library!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Teens' Top 10

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the ALA just announced that the votes are in for the 2010 Teens' Top 10 book list. We have most of these either in the library or on their way with our most recent book order. Here's the list:

  1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  2. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
  3. Heist Society by Ally Carter
  4. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  5. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
  6. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  7. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
  8. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  9. Fire by Kristin Cashore
  10. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

This is what teens are reading this year. Check these out and more @your library.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hated Characters?

I just read this post at the Library Science Degree blog about the 50 most hated characters in literary history, and I had to share. It made me laugh that Karen Brewer (from the Babysitters Club)was above Voldemort on the list, but I will have to say I've heard similar things about all of these character before! Here are some highlights:

1.) Bella Swan and Edward Cullen
The Twilight series
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Sure Twilight has somehow attracted a legion of fans (some surprisingly sane), but a significant amount of people despise the idealized central couple as well. Hardly surprising, considering the 2 share a vomitously unhealthy, co-dependent and emotionally abusive relationship packaged and sold as romantic. Do couples counselors not exist in the Meyerverse?

9.) Dolores Umbridge
The Harry Potter series
Author: J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter fans almost collectively despise the froglike visage, commanding, controlling actions and questionable (at best) ethics of Hogwarts’ temporary Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.

15.) Karen Brewer
The Babysitter’s Club series
Author: Ann M. Martin
Ann M. Martin thought that Kristy Thomas’ little stepsister Karen would endear readers with her precociousness. Yeah, no. She irritated them with her insufferable brattiness instead.

27.) Voldemort
The Harry Potter series
Author: J.K. Rowling
Deliciously evil, Voldemort pulled from traditional villain archetypes and became an instant classic that Harry Potter love to hate.

29.) Big Brother
Author: George Orwell
Although a metaphor for a totalitarian government rather than an actual person, the citizens of dystopian Oceania considered it as such. Agents of Big Brother were literally able to get inside the populace’s heads and convict them for merely thinking against the collective.

33.) Beth March
Little Women
Author: Louisa May Alcott
Contemporary audiences find the archetype of the overly pious, good woman 1-dimensional and completely boring. Suffice to say, Beth March and her quiet perfection land her a spot on more than a few “most hated literary characters” list.

34.) Napoleon
Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell George Orwell used Joseph Stalin as the basis for the pig Napoleon, who manipulates his fellow farm animals into revolting – only to turn their efforts into a mere stepping stone for his own selfish ends.

36.) Romeo Montague
Romeo and Juliet
Author: William Shakespeare
Oftentimes depicted as the ultimate romance, many contemporary readers think of Romeo as a detestable young man who breaks a young woman’s heart in order to pursue Juliet. The 2 end up committing suicide because of their dueling families and lack of perspective, but many readers place the brunt of the blame on Romeo’s insensitive treatment of Rosaline.

43.) Robert Langdon
Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code andThe Lost Symbol
Author: Dan Brown
Historical and religious inaccuracies aside, one of the biggest complaints that readers had against Robert Langdon is his veritable Mary Sue status. The man can do no wrong and has no discernable flaws, making him exceptionally boring and frustrating to read about.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Historical Fiction Month

November is Historical Fiction month here in the media center. We will have historical fiction on display all month. This includes the books on the tops of the shelves and on the top shelf of each of the tall shelves. These books are on display so YOU can check them out, so take one home with you today!

I will admit that historical fiction is not usually my favorite genre, but even I found several items that caught my eye while pulling books. Don't worry though, I won't take them until after November! Check 'em out @your library!

Monday, November 1, 2010

What I'm Reading Now

Going with the historical fiction theme for November, I'm almost finished with The Season by Sarah MacLean. Alexandra, the daughter of the Duke and Dutchess of Worthington, is a strong female character who discovers a mystery during her "coming out" season in British society. Alex does not want to court or marry because she feels men will not appreciate her intellect, but she meets a gentleman who gives her a run for her money. I would consider this book a sort of Pride and Prejudice for the younger set, filled with mystery, romance, glamour, and humor!

I've just started the first book in the Gallagher Girls series (because a student finally turned it back in), I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter and so far I'm hooked. I love Harry Potter, and this series reminds me a lot of of Harry Potter -- just with girls and spies. The smartest girls from across the country are picked to attend this super-elite, beautiful boarding school where special classes teach them the skills to work in covert operations. Of course, we are still dealing with teenage girls here, so friendships, crushes, romance, and drama still fill the halls. However, I love the strong female characters and the message that it is cool to be smart. I'm 30 pages in and hooked!