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Archive for March, 2011

New Fiction

Posted by Kristi on March 30, 2011

Bitter Melon by Cara Chow 

Frances, a Chinese-American student at an academically competitive school in San Francisco in the 1980s, has always had it drilled into her to be obedient to her mother and to be a straight-A student so that she can go to Med school.  But is being a doctor what she wants?  It has never even occurred to Frances to question her own feelings and desires until she accidentally winds up in speech class and finds herself with a hidden talent.  Does she dare to challenge the mother who has sacrificed everything for her? 

The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman 

Jen and Wes do not “meet cute.” They do not fall in love at first sight. They do not swoon with scorching desire. They do not believe that they are instant soul mates destined to be together forever. This is not that kind of love story. Instead, they just hang around in each other’s orbits…until eventually they collide. And even after that happens, they’re still not sure where it will go. Especially when Jen starts to pity-date one of Wes’s friends, and Wes makes some choices that he immediately regrets.

Virgin Territory by James Lecesne 

Dylan Flack is uprooted from his cozy life in New York City by the death of his mother. He finds himself transplanted to Jupiter, Florida.  Away from everything he knows and without his mother, each day stretches darkly into a future without hope. Enter: the Virgin Club, a nomadic group of trailer kids whose parents drag them all over the country in search of sightings of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although not looking for membership in any club, Dylan falls in love with their leader, Angela, who believes that change occurs in direct proportion to desire and the willingness to take risks. In a series of misadventures and brushes with the law in what Dylan comes to think of as “virgin territory,” she teaches Dylan to risk a future without his favorite parent.

Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler 

Things in Delilah Hannaford’s life have a tendency to fall apart. She used to be a good student, but she can’t seem to keep it together anymore. Her “boyfriend” isn’t much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition. Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family’s painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel 

For thirteen years, Ben Tomlin was an only child. But all that changes when his parents bring home Zan – a baby chimpanzee. Ben’s father, a behavioral scientist, has uprooted the family to pursue his latest research project: a high-profile experiment to determine whether chimpanzees can acquire advanced language skills. Ben’s parents tell him to treat Zan like a little brother. Ben reluctantly agrees, and it isn’t long before Ben is Zan’s favorite, and Ben starts to see Zan as more than just an experiment. But to Ben’s father, Zan is only a specimen, no more, no less. Soon Ben is forced to make a critical choice between what he is told to believe and what he knows to be true – between obeying his father or protecting his brother from an unimaginable fate.

The Kid Table by Andrea Seigel 

Ingrid Bell and her five teenage cousins are such a close-knit group that they don’t really mind sitting at the kid table—even if they have to share it with a four-year-old. But then Brianne, the oldest cousin, lands a seat at the adult table and leaves her cousins shocked and confused. What does it take to graduate from the kid table? Over the course of five family events, Ingrid chronicles the coming-of-age of her generation. Her cousins each grapple with growing pains, but it is Ingrid who truly struggles as she considers what it means to grow up. When first love comes in the form of first betrayal (he’s Brianne’s boyfriend), Ingrid is forced to question her own personality and how she fits into her family. The cousins each take their own path toward graduating into adulthood—only to realize that maybe the kid table was where they wanted to be all along.

The Running Dream by Wendelin van Draanen 

Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She’s not comforted by the news that she’ll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run? As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels both in the spotlight and invisible. People don’t know what to say or act like she’s not there. Which she could handle better if she weren’t now keenly aware that she’s done the same thing herself to a girl with cerebral palsy named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she’s missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her. With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that’s not enough for her now. She doesn’t just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her.

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Diana Wynne Jones, 1934-2011

Posted by Kristi on March 28, 2011

It feels like half of my blog posts lately are to tell you about wonderful childrens’ and young adult authors who have died.  Of those we’ve lost recently, though, this one by far hits me the hardest, because Diana Wynne Jones is one of my all-time favorites.  Ever since I first read Howl’s Moving Castle as a teenager (and I’m still mad that I didn’t discover her books until then – I would have adored them as a younger kid) I’ve made it my mission to read everything that she puts out.

If you’ve never heard of Diana, she wrote some of the funniest, cleverest fantasy around.  Howl’s Moving Castle – about a young girl cursed into becoming an old woman who then has a run-in with the supposedly terrifying Wizard Howl – is a great place to start.  And afterward you can watch Hayao Miyazaki’s animated movie based on the book, which makes some changes to the book’s plot but is equally funny and charming.  But I warn you: once you start with Howl, you won’t be able to stop until you’ve read every single book.

There are lots of great reminiscences of Diana Wynne Jones floating around the web already.  Author Neil Gaiman has a wonderful one, as does Robin McKinley.  Here’s the Guardian’s obituary for more information on her life and work.

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New Mysteries and Thrillers

Posted by Kristi on March 26, 2011

You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin 

Hard-boiled seventeen year-old Dalton Rev transfers to the mean hallways of Salt River High to take on the toughest case of his life. The question isn’t whether Dalton’s going to get paid. He always gets paid. Or whether he’s gonna get the girl. He always (sometimes) gets the girl. The real question is whether Dalton Rev can outwit crooked cops and killer cliques in time to solve the mystery of “The Body” before it solves him.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher 

Gemma, 16, is on layover at Bangkok Airport, en route with her parents to a vacation in Vietnam. She steps away for just a second, to get a cup of coffee. Ty – rugged, tan, too old, oddly familiar – pays for Gemma’s drink. And drugs it. They talk. Their hands touch. And before Gemma knows what’s happening, Ty takes her. Steals her away. The unknowing object of a long obsession, Gemma has been kidnapped by her stalker and brought to the desolate Australian Outback. This is her gripping story of survival, of how she has to come to terms with her living nightmare – or die trying to fight it.

Rosebush by Michele Jaffe 

Instead of celebrating Memorial Day weekend on the Jersey Shore, Jane is in the hospital surrounded by teddy bears, trying to piece together what happened last night. One minute she was at a party, wearing fairy wings and cuddling with her boyfriend. The next, she was lying near-dead in a rosebush after a hit-and-run. Everyone believes it was an accident, despite the phone threats Jane swears were real. But the truth is a thorny thing. As Jane’s boyfriend, friends, and admirers come to visit, more memories surface – not just from the party, but from deeper in her past – including the night her best friend Bonnie died. With nearly everyone in her life a suspect now, Jane must unravel the mystery before her killer attacks again.

The Truth of the Matter by Andrew Klavan 

Ever since he woke up in a terrorist torture chamber – with a year of his life erased from his mind – Charlie West has been on the run. He has one desperate hope of getting his life back: track down the mysterious agent named Waterman. But in fact, reaching Waterman – and recovering the secrets lost in his own memory – will only increase his danger. Because a team of ruthless killers is rapidly closing in on him, determined to stop him from finding the answers. And the truth of the matter is more incredible…and more deadly…than he could ever imagine.

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane 

It is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with eccentric strangers—his uncle and aunt—in their vast house in Hampshire. When two local people die from symptoms that resemble the plague, Holmes begins to investigate what really killed them, helped by his new tutor, an American named Amyus Crowe. So begins Sherlock’s true education in detection, as he discovers the dastardly crimes of a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent.

Trapped by Michael Northrop 

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive…

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision…

The Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price 

Eyewitness to two killings, fourteen-year-old Gabriel James relates the shocking story behind the murders in a police interrogation interspersed with flashbacks. Step by step, this Montana teenager traces his discovery of a link between a troubled classmate’s disturbing home life and an outbreak of local crime. In the process, however, Gabriel becomes increasingly confused about his own culpability for the explosive events that have unfolded.

The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams 

This story was supposed to be about Evie – how she hasn’t made a friend in years, how she tends to stretch the truth (especially about her so-called relationship with college drop-out Jonah Luks), and how she finally comes into her own once she learns to just be herself. But it isn’t. Because when her classmate Elizabeth “Zabet” McCabe’s murdered body is found in the woods, everything changes…and Evie’s life is never the same again.

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And we have our Katniss for the Hunger Games movie…

Posted by Kristi on March 17, 2011

According to The Wrap, Katniss will be played by up-and-coming actress Jennifer Lawrence, who recently starred in Winter’s Bone and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.  Here she is in the role of Ree Dolly from Winter’s Bone:

She doesn’t look anything like the image of Katniss I had in my head while reading (Katniss is described as having a dark, olive complexion with dark hair and gray eyes), but she did do an excellent job in a gritty role as Ree, so I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. What do you guys think? Does Lawrence work for you, or is there someone else you wanted to see get the role? How about the other characters – who do you see as Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, Cinna, Rue, etc.?

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Puppy vs. Ice Cube

Posted by Kristi on March 10, 2011


 

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Make your own magnetic poetry

Posted by Kristi on March 2, 2011

 

Why bother spending money on a store-bought kit? Come join us at Teen Craft Club for some creative, poetic fun as we construct our very own sets of magnetic poetry – perfect for the fridge, your school locker, and tons of other metallic surfaces.  We’re meeting this coming Monday, February 7 from 4 to 5:30 in the Community Room.  I’ve got lots of magnet tape, plus old magazines that you can cut up to create whatever words or images you desire.  See you there!

 

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