Monday, February 17, 2014

Don't Drink the Tea! (Book Report: Midwinterblood)


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm seeing the phrase, "I don't get it" out there when it comes to this book. It's not that I don't get it, I just don't get why it is YA. (Midwinterblood, as many may know, won the Printz this year for excellence in young adult fiction.)

I hope I am not selling teen readers short, but this book will be "just right" for only the rarest of porridge eaters. When I tried to explain the plot to one of my most avid and adventurous teen readers, she just smiled and nodded at me politely. Now, maybe that's my fault, but the entire time I was reading Midwinterblood, my Teen Librarian brain kept asking, "where's the teen appeal here?" (Also, it is false advertising to throw "vampires" and "vikings" around when talking up this book, because that's not what's really going on here.)

That said, I believe Midwinterblood is a rewarding read for that right reader. The chapters are broken up into pithy, digestible bites that make it a quick read. There are seven interrelated vignettes going back in time sequentially; so, we begin in 2073 and end before recorded time. Starting in 2073 was a good choice for me; Sedgwick's version of the future coupled with the creepy, timeless qualities of Blessed Island really pulled me in. (Also, screaming "just stop drinking the tea!" got me engaged with the first story in a very active way.)

The sections are interrelated by just a few elements, and picking up the threads of how is the real pleasure of this book. I often found myself going back to a previous vignette when I realized a connection. Man, this book is smart! The threads are woven masterfully. For example, not each element appears in each story; rather, they are peppered, and sometimes so different that you don't immediately catch them.

I can't delve too much further because I would give away all the lovely weirdness. I said this book didn't have immediate teen appeal, but I think it would make for an excellent discussion with older teens about the concept of self (Are we more than just this? Are we greater than ourselves? Is there such a thing as destiny? Do we have any control over it?). Deceptively simple, there is a lot to ponder here. Or just leave it be and enjoy this haunting Ouroboros of a novel.

Bonus factor? This book got me to use "Ouroboros" in a sentence.
Second bonus factor? This book was partially inspired by this crazy painting.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Facebook, Time Machine, Pop-Tarts

Hey all. I'm very excited to announce that the Wood Library Teen Scene has finally taken a time machine to 5 years ago and established its very own Facebook page. While the library has had its own FB page for a while now, I was feeling kind of guilty for flooding it with teen stuff all the time. So, I've struck out on my own. Check it:

Give us a like if you, like me, love to read posts about YA reads, movies, fandom, geekdom, pop-culture, cats in people clothing, and pop-tarts. Or any combination thereof. -Kelley (Your) Teen Services Librarian

Monday, October 14, 2013

List Love: Teen Read Week

Happy Teen Read Week, everybody! 


The purpose of TRW is to e-specially single out teens and get them excited about reading and libraries. As if reading and libraries weren't already exciting to all the teens in the world, right??? This week is just for you, and the theme is "Seek the Unknown"... via sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, or any combination thereof. How tantalizing.

Here's a quick list of suggested, YA-friendly titles that will help you celebrate Teen Read Week, for all your unknown-seeking-needs. Apologies that this list leans heavily sci-fi. Books marked with a * are some of my personal favorites.

Pure (Pure Trilogy #1) by Julianna Baggott*
In a post-apocalyptic world where those undamaged by the cataclysmic events are kept safely inside the Dome, a young girl on the outside teams up with a boy on the inside to search for his missing mother. 

Losers in Space by John Barnes
In 2029, hoping to bypass the exams and training that might lead to a comfortable life, Susan, her almost-boyfriend Derlock, and seven fellow students stow away on a ship to Mars, unaware that Derlock is a sociopath with bigger plans.

Ready Player One by Ernst Cline*
Immersing himself in a mid-twenty-first-century technological virtual utopia to escape an ugly real world of famine, poverty, and disease, Wade Watts joins an increasingly violent effort to solve a series of puzzles by the virtual world's creator.

In Victorian London, Albert Garrick, an assassin-for-hire, and his reluctant young apprentice, Riley, are transported via wormhole to modern London, where Riley teams up with a young FBI agent to stop Garrick from returning to his own time and using his newly acquired scientific knowledge and power to change the world forever.

For the Win by Cory Doctorow
In a future where poor children and teenagers work for corrupt bosses as gold farmers, finding valuable items inside massively-multiplayer online games, a small group of teenagers work to unionize and escape this near-slavery.

Eve & Adam by Michael Grant
After being in a car accident, a patient recovering in her mother's research facility is given the task of creating the perfect boy using detailed simulation technologies.

Insignia (Insignia #1) by S.J. Kincaid
Tom, a fourteen-year-old genius at virtual reality games, is recruited by the United States Military to begin training at the Pentagon Spire as a Combatant in World War III, controlling the mechanized drones that do the actual fighting off-planet.

When fourteen-year-old Everett Singh's scientist father is kidnapped from the streets of London, he leaves a mysterious app on Everett's computer giving him access to the Infundibulum--a map of parallel earths--which is being sought by technologically advanced dark powers that Everett must somehow elude while he tries to rescue his father.

When fourteen-year-old Itchingham "Itch" Lofte discovers a new radioactive element, he must use all of his wits and scientific knowledge to stop a top-secret government agency, his greedy teacher, and an evil corporation from getting hold of it.

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer*
As plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, observed by a ruthless lunar people, Cinder, a gifted mechanic and cyborg, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world in this futuristic take on the Cinderella story. 

In the not-too-distant future, when biotechnological advances have made synthetic bodies and brains possible but illegal, a seventeen-year-old girl, recovering from a serious accident and suffering from memory lapses, learns a startling secret about her existence.

Starters by Lissa Price
To support herself and her younger brother in a future Beverly Hills, sixteen-year-old Callie hires her body out to seniors who want to experience being young again, and she lives a fairy-tale life until she learns that her body will commit murder, unless her mind can stop it.

Redshirts by John Scalzi
Enjoying his assignment with the xenobiology lab on board the prestigious Intrepid, ensign Andrew Dahl worries about casualties suffered by low-ranking officers during away missions before making a shocking discovery about the starship's actual purpose

Unwind (Unwind Trilogy #1) by Neal Shusterman
In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs--and, perhaps, save their own lives.

Stung by Bethany Wiggins
When a vaccine to save endangered bees causes their sting to turn children into ferocious killer beasts, the uninfected build a wall to keep the beasts out, but Fiona wakes up on the wrong side of the wall.

Happy seeking! -Kelley, (Your) Teen Services Librarian

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Internet Don't Lie

Dude, I knew I would end up being a stupid Hufflepuff. For the record, I was one point away from Ravenclaw. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Borrowing from the Blog-o-sphere: TLT's YA Fiction for Sherlock Fans!

You may or may not be surprised to learn that librarians like me are all over the internet fanning out. And thank goodness for that, because these people are full of fabulous ideas and inspiration. Case in point: Teen Librarian Toolbox's Take 5: It's Elementary (YA Fiction for fans of Sherlock Fans). A list like this so needs to exist. Click on the link for their awesome suggestions.

I've read 2 of the suggested titles, The Name of the Star and Code Name Verity, and really enjoyed both of them. The Name of the Star has boarding school, London, secret organizations AND Jack the Ripper's ghost, so how could you not want to read that? I wouldn't have thought of recommending Code Name... to Sherlock fans, though it is an epic read, full of intricate details that you gradually begin to realize you are piecing together into one shocking whole (kind of like a Sherlock episode). Plus, it's got lady spies, and lady pilots, and complex villains. The audiobook was phenomenal, especially if, like me, you're super into UK accents. 

Happy reading, Sherlock fans:

 -Kelley, (Your) Teen Services Librarian

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Teen Takeover: NEW Guest Blogger Feature

Though I wish I could, I can't read or review everything. Also, hearing myself speak about books gets lonesome sometimes, and so I introduce you to a new feature: Guest Teen Blogger!

This week, Victoria, otherwise known as "teen blogger extraordinaire", reviews The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by one of my all-time favorite YA authors, Libba Bray. Take it away, Victoria:

Get all three books at the library! Click HERE.

"Libba Bray wrote this thrilling historical fiction trilogy. It starts with A Great and Terrible Beauty, next comes Rebel Angels, and finally the last book is A Sweet Far Thing. It follows sixteen year old Gemma Doyle. Gemma has just lost her mother, is gaining strange powers, moving from India to England for boarding school, being watched by a mysterious stranger that she may or may not be attracted to, and creates friendships with three very unique girls. The four girls stumble upon The Realms, a magical land where the dead come to crossover the river to go beyond. Only select women from The Order have this power that Gemma possesses, and, whether she wants it or not, Gemma is now the one holding this power and must decide who to trust, who to fight, and, most importantly, what to do.

The first book, I felt, got off to a slow start. Once its momentum got going, though, I was hooked and couldn't put the book down. I found the second book extremely hard to work through. It didn't seem up to par with the first book [Insert from Kelley the Librarian: I TOTALLY AGREE!]. It started off in another person’s point-of-view without anyone knowing before just switching to Gemma’s with no warning. It made me very confused. I was hesitant to pick up the third book after the second, but I did anyway. Best choice ever! The third book blew me away. I think I liked it better than the first one. There is tons of action and the book never seems to slow its pace. The ending was a love-hate one. I loved it, but I still wanted it to be different--if that makes any sense to anyone.

I believe there is at least one character in the books that everyone will like. It may not be the same person, but they are all so unique and different that I think it’s only a matter of personality preference. The characters certainly have personality and are well developed into the story line. I highly recommend these books even though I didn't like the second one. The trilogy is a great read. I’d skip dessert to read them!"

~Victoria, Guest Blogger Extraordinaire!!! 

Do YOU want to be a guest teen blogger? It's as simple as sending me an email: (Guest teen bloggers must live in Canandaigua or Ontario County-abouts, and they must be teens, obvs)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Book Review: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha)

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Why is writing a review of a book you love so much harder than writing about one you... loved not so much?

I indulged myself by reading Shadow and Bone and its sequel, Siege and Storm, back-to-back. What a luxury it was! Things started a bit slow for me... I even doubted for a few chapters whether I would dig this series. But then! Oh my! I was swept off my feet. How? Why? Because Alina Starkov's life goes from 0 to 120 in a matter of pages, and the pace, the magic and the sensuality don't really slow from there.

The best type of heroine, Alina starts from nothing and must quickly come to grips with a tremendous power she never knew she had. This is an archetype I never really get tired of, especially when it's done as well as Bardugo does it. When we first meet Alina, she's a orphaned teen apprenticing cartography in the First Army of Ravka (peep a map at the front of both books for a geography lesson; #yeahbookmaps). An important thing you need to know about Ravka is that it has literally been torn in two by a swath of physical darkness known as the Shadow Fold (it's just "the Fold" for short, ya'll). The Fold is full of some really nasty creatures that will eat you, and the Fold may be growing. It's, like, a huge problem and plays a central role in the politics of the book. But now, back to our heroine:

By her own accounts (and she may be a tiny bit hard on herself), Alina's not much more than average in all departments, until one day a life-and-death situation while crossing the Fold forces her dormant powers to the surface, and she is thrust into the world of the Grisha.

The Grisha are people born with special abilities like summoning and controlling wind or squeezing the life out of a person's heart. In neighboring countries, they're hunted down and burned as witches, but in Ravka they are enlisted into the powerful Second Army, led by a dead-sexy character known as the Darkling.

When Alina's power is discovered, she is "taken under the wing" of the Darkling more or less by force, whisked off to the royal capital in the hopes that her powers can be harnessed and used to fight the Fold. Alina is also separated from her one and only friend/childhood companion, Mal, who she has serious unexplored romantic feelings for. Remember when I said the book swept me off my feet? This is about where it happened.

While the adventure moves along quickly, we also get some wonderful character development and growth, especially moving into book 2. I read a lot of YA, and I read a lot of YA series, but this series is at the top of my list right now, alongside Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles. I will eagerly await the third book in both of these series, and gush about the first two books to anyone who will listen until then.