Thursday, June 28, 2012

Envy and Betrayal

Empty Coffin Series by Gregg Olsen 

               Envy (book 1) 
               Publication Date: August 23, 2011

               Young Adult, Ages 12 

               ISBN 978-1-4027-8957-1 used for review.

               Personal Ranking 4 out of 5

Nothing seems to be going right for Katelyn Berkley. She has drifted away from her group of friends and now that she didn't make the cheerleading squad her best friend won't talk to her. Unable to talk to her mom, she is lonely and depressed. But was she desperate enough to kill herself?

The night Katelyn was found dead in her bathtub everything changed for twins Taylor and Hayley Ryan. They are drawn by reasons they can't explain to figure out the truth about what really happened to Katelyn. But the deeper they get into the mystery, the more information about their own past seems to come to light which will change everything.

Betrayal (book 2)
Expected Publication Date: September 4, 2012

Young Adult, Ages 12+

ARC used for review.

Personal Ranking 4 out of 5

Olivia Grant only wanted to get out of London, and dreamed of the beautiful people and sunny life waiting for her as an exchange student in America. But cold and damp Washington was nothing like the Hollywood, California she expected to come to. However, on Halloween night she is brutally murdered like a slasher film extra and everyone is stumped as to why.

The small town of Port Gamble is still on edge after the shocking death of Katelyn Berkley less than a year ago. Now with their best friend Beth on the suspect list, Taylor and Hayley Ryan decide to use their instincts to investigate on their own. But just how deep do the secrets in their small town go?

Wow! When the ARC of Betrayal crossed my desk I knew this was one that I would have to read. Of course, I had to start with Envy, as the first book in the series. If the cover isn't enough to grab you, the plot will. One of the things I loved the most about Envy and Betrayal is that even though the stories are fictionalized and set in this quite, small town the basis of the stories are truth. Envy was inspired by the October 17, 2006, suicide of Megan Meier, who was cyberbullied by her neighbor's mother. For this reason I would love to use Envy as a book discussion title with young adult women, maybe even with their mothers. Elements of Betrayal's storyline came from the Amanda Knox case. Both cases show just how much evil there is in the world and that it can happen right in your backyard. Like all good "based on truth" stories, I love his "Truth in Fiction" summary at the end of each book.

For those who are obsessed with the paranormal but are sick of the vampire/werewolf/witch fade, you will love the Ryan twins. Their extra abilities are not over done, and add an extra level of mystery and intregue to the story. I really want to know what happens next. It is bad enought that Betrayal includes a teaser for the third book, Guilty. I am not sure how patiently I will be able to wait for future books.

The Author's note in the beginning of Envy says it all to me. "While most people don't invite evil into their lives, the dirty little secret is that an invitation isn't necessary. Locked doors don't matter. Neither do fancy security systems. Evil is kind of amazing when you think about it. She knows how to get inside."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An Afternoon with Nikki Giovanni

This afternoon we welcomed Nikki Giovanni to Richmond Public Library as part of our Teen Summer Reading Program. Natasha and I got to do the welcoming remarks and it was exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. What an incredible experience.

Nikki was funny, honest and held nothing back. You could tell that the 200+ members of the audience really connected with her as they laughed with her. Even though there were mostly teens present, there were several adults of all ages, and even after putting out more chairs it was still standing room only at the end. She read four poems for us, the first two being I Am a Native Tennessean and Nikki-Rosa.

She spoke to the teen audience about the importance of education and of going to college. 'You can't afford to be stupid, and that no one can afford to go, but you have to make it happen. You have to make your dreams happen.' You are "not in school to make grades. You are there to change the world. That is your goal."

Like all authors, she also gave a little advice to those who were aspiring writers. "How many of you have seen an object on the street and come up with a story about how it got there?" You have to have something to say. "It is up to you to find the narrative of your own life."

As someone who just turned 30, I was especially pleased that she told the teens that even though you are told that these years are the best of your life, they aren't. That your 40s and 50s are. 42 is especially wonderful. Marian Anderson was 42 when she sang on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial. Rosa Parks was 42 when she refused to give up her seat on the bus. So, at least I can look forward to a magical year and a great decade!

My favorite piece of advice that she gave was this "if they don't like you, they don't get to hurt your feelings." If they are saying that, then the probably already didn't like you anyways. "You can't let people who don't love you, hurt you, or describe what you do."

Ending the program with her fourth reading of Ego Trippin, you would have thought we were at a rock concert. The crowd erupted like their favorite number one hit was being performed, and even recited some of the lines with her!

Helping to make an event like this happen, and getting to be a part of it is one of the many reasons why I love being a librarian. Thank you Nikki for such a wonderful and inspirational afternoon!

Natasha, me, Nikki and Sarah

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Girls of Summer 2012

We are very lucky in the RVA to have several local talents, including a bunch of authors! I first met Gigi Amateau when we were discussing her book, Claiming Georgia Tate, at JMHS this past fall. This is her second year working with her friend, and author Meg Medina on their Girls of Summer Reading list.   Books about amazing, strong girls for amazing, strong girls! The list is made up of 18 titles for girls of all ages; and includes fiction, nonfiction, and graphic novels. The complete list is posted to their Girls of Summer website.

Amanda, Wendy Shang, Meg Medina, Gigi Amateau, & Natasha

If you were not downtown at Library Park on Tuesday, June 19th, you missed a real treat! Oh and ice cream too. The girls introduced each book at random with a short review, which are also posted on their website.
We were also treated to a conversation with a conversation with Wendy Shang, author of The Great Wall of Lucy Wu.

Wendy used to be a lawyer, and a few years ago she found herself wondering what was the one thing she hadn't done that she still really wanted to do? The answer was write a children's book!

It is hard to grow up and have one foot in two different cultures and no one is every completely comfortable with it. You are always told, to write about what you know, so she did. Which was also the reason why Lucy is twelve.Wendy remembers being twelve better then most other times in her life.

But she also wanted to make Lucy different, so she made Lucy a short, basketball player. (Gigi will tell you that is great basketball in the book!)

Wendy's advice to aspiring writers is this: read! Read a lot, read everything. Write a lot, write a little every day, and learn to edit your own work.

I am so excited to read The Great Wall of Lucy Lu and Breadcrumbs (in addition to some of the other titles on the list)! I had a great time, and am really looking forward to next year's list!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Before You Go

Before You Go by James Preller

Expected Publication Date: July 17, 2012

Young Adult, Ages 12+

ARC copy used for review.

Personal Ranking 3.5 out of 5

"And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain..."

Jude is just beginning the summer before his senior year of high school and has just started his first job. Here he meets Becka, who he hopes will turn into more than just a friend. But Jude hides a painful past. He blames himself for the death of his baby sister when she was just four. He knows how quickly life can change in an instant. But after all this time, he has finally started to heal and move on. He is ready for a summer filled with work, life, friends, and hopefully Becka. Then, in the blink of an eye, everything changes and his world starts to unravel all over again.

Before and After, really that is what this story is about. When tragedy strikes, that is what your life becomes, just the after. Jude and his family has been living in the half-life since after Lily drowned. Even though the prologue tells you exactly what is going to happen, you are so wrapped up in the process of his healing from the pain of his sister's death that you forget what is coming next. You forget that Jude is only in the before of the next tragedy. When the accident happens Jude is crushed all over again. At times it almost seems like the pain that he lives under like a rock is going to crush him completely. Sometimes death can have that funny effect on you. If you haven't allowed yourself to properly grieve before, you will be consumed by it the next time you are forced to come face to face with it. Unfortunately, too many young adults have lost a close friend or family member, and may identify with Jude. Those that have never experienced that kind of loss, may understand the emotions of those that have by reading Jude's story. Boys will be able to connect with Jude and girls will gain a rare insight into the male mind. A great read for all!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tasty Programming, Sushi Style

My real sushi lunch!

 Today, June 18th is International Sushi Day!

So today at the library we made sushi out of candy:) We had a lot of fun and it was very tasty.

Check out these directions to make your own! 

I had 10 tweens in attendance, and it was very easy and hands on.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone
by Kat Rosenfield

Expected Publication Date: July 5, 2012

Young Adult, Ages 14+
(pg-13 for language, sexuality)

ARC  used for review.

Personal Ranking 4.5 out of 5

What happens when a stranger turns your world upside down?
On the night of her high school graduation Becca's boyfriend breaks her heart while only a mile away an unknown girl bleeds to death by the side of the road. Even though no one knows who she is, Amelia Anne's death casts a shadow of fear and sadness over the town. Tragedy has a way of uniting a small town in a way that those in cities and larger towns can only read about. Becca, with her whole life ahead of her, struggles under the weight of the night's tragic events and is suddenly unable to move forward. Her parents want to help her, but mistake the changes in her behavior as her reluctance to break up with her boyfriend, and Becca finds herself unable to tell them what her pain is really about. As the summer gets closer to the end and as rumors turn to accusations on the identity of Amelia Anne's killer, Becca wonders if she will ever be able to move on with her life?

This book has haunted me since the day I received it at the library, which is fitting since the story is haunting and beautifully tragic. I was completely hooked by the end of the first paragraph. Rosenfield weaves together the stories of two young women who have never met, but have their lives completely changed within minutes and miles of each other. Only 4 years apart in age, if their paths had crossed under more normal circumstances they probably would have become friends. Both were at a crossroads in their lives, knowing that they were ready to move on from home, boyfriends and past expectations to become the young women that they were meant to be. With Amelia Anne's life cut short, even though Becca doesn't know her, she can't shake the connection and almost needs the mystery solved so that she can be set free. 

I never saw the twists and turns coming and I can't wait to recommend this book to others. Amelia Anne and Becca will stay with me for a long time.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lies Beneath

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Expected Publication Date: June 12, 2012

Young Adult, Ages 12+

ARC copy used for review.

Personal Ranking 2.5/3 out of 5

Murderous Mermaids

Promises are sacred to mermaids. Jason Hancock has no clue that his father made one to a mermaid, and then broke it. Now, the mermaid's children want to collect on Jason's father's debt: with Jason's life as the payment. Calder White and his sisters have thought of nothing but killing Jason Hancock for as long as they can remember, and now they finally have him in their sights. Calder's mission is to get close to the family, especially Hancock's daughter, Lily. But the closer he gets the deeper he falls, and wonders if he can fight his nature, and his sisters, for the girl he loves?

First it was vampires which morphed into werewolves before shifting into zombies who are becoming mermaids. It is refreshing to be under the water with a different type of mermaid then what I grew up with. It was also an excellent choice to have Calder as the narrator. The male point of view is exciting, especially when they go through such a psychological journey. Calder's decision to fight his nature and his sisters, was what finally drew me in. At times, Lily and Calder's conversations reminded me of Bella and Edward's since Calder knows that he is a monster and at first refuses to believe that he can change. The title is also excellent, there are so many layers of untruth that in the end is was like peeling an onion.

I only gave Lies Beneath 2.5/3 stars because while there were several things I loved about the book, there were a few things that bothered me. First, it took me forever to get into the story, much longer than normal. But I felt the need to keep reading, and I am glad that I did. Once I was "hooked" that was it; I was in hook, line and sinker. Then there was the ending, everything was great until the last two pages and then I was let off the hook with such force that I felt abandoned. Even though it was a happy ending, it left me feeling empty. But maybe that was the point after all, this was not a fish, I mean, fairytale.