Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Greece Public Library's Personal Picks of the Best Teen books of 2013

Well, here they are - the books that knocked our socks off in 2013!  This year's selections were chosen by Claire Talbot, Stephanie Cervantes, and Cathy Henderson.  Let us know what you think of our picks!  Hopefully, something in our choices will appeal to you, too.

Best Historical Fiction:  Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys 
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A great story set in 1950's French Quarter New Orleans, with characters that you will care about!
Claire Talbot

Best Teen Romance:  Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
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A heartbreaking portrayal of the joy of first love, set in the 1980's.
Claire Talbot & Stephanie Cervantes

 Best Sci-Fi:  The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
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A roller coaster ride that will suck you right in.  A sort of "Walking Dead" only with aliens.
Stephanie Cervantes

Best Mystery:  All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry
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Two girls disappear from their village - and only one returns, unable to speak.  What happened? Riveting!
Claire Talbot 

Best Humor:  OCD, The Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn

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Okay, this book seriously cracked me up! There was something about Danielle that I just loved. She was so different and strange, and her perspectives on life were just outright hilarious and endearing. She was so funny without intending to be, but just the way she viewed things was so honest and blunt that I was laughing out loud by page seven.   Stephanie Cervantes

Best Fantasy Book:  Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick

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Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. Claire Talbot

Best Sequel:  Champion by Marie Lu
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June and Day sacrificed so much for their Republic, and each other.  The stunning conclusion to the trilogy.
Claire Talbot

Best Realistic Fiction:   A Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown
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A timely YA contemporary novel about a sexting scandal and how it spiraled out of control. I loved that this novel showed how the scandal negatively affected so many people including Ashleigh, Kaleb, her parents, and their classmates. It seemed that no one was left untouched and unaffected, and in rare cases, this really can happen.
Stephanie Cervantes

Best books for Middle School Readers:  Tie!  Never Say Die by Will Hobbs and Turn Left at the Cow by Lisa Bullard

http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1355992543l/14758540.jpg http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1360650909l/17165955.jpg  
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Never Say Die is an action packed survival story.  Fifteen year old Nick and his brother Ryan encounter a "grolar" bear - a mutant bear that is part grizzly and part polar bear in the Alaskan wilderness. 

Turn Left at the Cow is a story of thirteen year old Trav, who is in search of information about his dead father.  He travels from California to rural Minnesota and stumbles upon a bank robbery mystery as well. 
Cathy Henderson

Best Book on Tough Topics:  Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

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I'd definitely recommend this one for contemporary YA fans who enjoy books that tackle big, scary issues. I also must mention that Matthew Quick is the author of Silver Linings Playbook, one of my favorite movies and a book that I am dying to read!
Stephanie Cervantes

Best Fun Spy book:  Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel


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A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don't.  Peggy Fitzroy impersonates Lady Francesca in the court of King George the first and embarks upon a life of intrigue.  A thoroughly enjoyable historic mystery.
Claire Talbot

Best Paranormal Romance:  Revel by Maurissa Guibord
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Seventeen-year-old Delia grew up in Kansas, but comes to Trespass Island off the coast of Maine to find family after her mother suddenly dies.  She finds love, but also a lot of secrets, including frightening supernatural sea creatures that have ties to Ancient Greece. 
Claire Talbot

Best Non-Fiction:  Top Ten Everything in Sports and Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton

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Great photos, and fun facts by the folks at Sports Illustrated for kids. 

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In the summer of 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton set out on an ambitious project: to single-handedly create a photographic census of New York City. Armed with his camera, he began crisscrossing the city, covering thousands of miles on foot, all in an attempt to capture New Yorkers and their stories. The result of these efforts was a vibrant blog he called "Humans of New York," in which his photos were featured alongside quotes and anecdotes.  This book is found in the adult section, but I think Teens will thoroughly enjoy it!
Claire Talbot

Thursday, December 26, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell


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A review by Stephanie Cervantes, from Barnard Crossing!

Eleanor and Park are two misfits, different in their own ways. It’s 1986, and Eleanor is new to the school. Overweight, with bright red hair, and dressed very peculiarly, she does not fit in and is constantly picked on. Park, quiet and unusual, reluctantly and slowly becomes her first friend with the sharing of comic books and music on the bus. Soon and unexpectedly, they begin to fall in love, despite Eleanor’s painful and abusive home life, which often causes her to be angry and push Park away. This is a sweet, yet dark, story of first love.

What a fantastic book! I love, love, LOVED both Eleanor and Park. I loved Eleanor because she was bold and strange and misunderstood. I loved Park because he was sweet and different and compassionate. I love that he loved Eleanor, despite how screwed up she was. I love how their relationship evolved from nothing to everything. I love how intense, real, and deep their love was, and that it was not instantaneous. This story was so sweet and beautiful, but also dark and gloomy, an interesting combination providing a great balance… not sticky-sweet, but not completely overshadowed by sadness all the time either. When one element was gaining speed, the other would come and knock it down a notch. I loved that. It was sad and dark in that Eleanor is tortured at both home and school. It’s painful to see her attacked on so many levels, by so many people, and rarely see her defend herself. It’s sweet in that Park loves her despite everything, and it’s sweet to see their relationship grow and see Eleanor feel accepted for once in her life.

While this book is marketed as YA, I wonder if that was really the author’s intentions. True, the book is about teens, but it has some really adult elements to it, and a lot of 80′s references that are even too old for ME, and I’m 24. That said, I think this book has a ton of crossover appeal, and that both teens (particularly older teens) and adults will both enjoy it. If you’re the kind of person who roots for the underdog, or has ever felt like a misfit, you will absolutely love this book. The first 75 pages or so were a bit slow for me, but after that, I couldn’t put it down, and read the last couple hundred pages in one night. I just really enjoyed reading about that wonderful “first love” sensation and all of the accompanying feelings. I highly recommend it!

Note: Eleanor & Park was also chosen as the best Teen/Young Adult book of 2013 at Amazon.com!

So far, I am about halfway through the book, and I agree with Steph's review 100%! Since I am a little older, I do get the 80's music references - and totally love how music and comics bring Eleanor and Park together.
Claire Talbot

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

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This was one of my favorite books from this year, and it is a bit hard to describe.  This book reminds me of a volume of fairy tales, with characters that are all mysteriously connected in a ancient saga.  The story begins in the future as journalist Eric Seven travels to the unusual "Blest Island" to investigate claims of immortal life.  He meets up with the beautiful Merle, and has the unmistakable feeling that somehow, they have met before.  Seven stories tell a tale of an island where a pagan ritual, passion, and charms shape the life of the remote island's inhabitants.  Each story is named by one the full moons, like the harvest moon, the flower moon, the fruit moon, etc.  What I like most about the story is the gradual realization that Eric and Merle have lived before, and how their lives always seem to be connected, but it different relationships.  I hestitate to tell you any more, because I don't want to spoil the surprise in any of the stories.  An ingenious fantasy novel! I am now checking out some of author Marcus Sedgwick's previous books to read. 
Here's a summary from Goodreads:

Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.

An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? From award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick comes a book about passion and preservation and ultimately an exploration of the bounds of love.

A Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of 2013
A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Teen Tuesday Pick: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)
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A Goodreads "Mover and Shaker" choice for December for Teens.  Also, one of the most gorgeous covers I've seen in 2013! 

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Middle School Monday: The Time-Traveling Fashionista and Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile

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Walk, talk, and dress like an Egyptian.
When Louise Lambert tries on a lavender Grecian gown during a visit to the mysterious Traveling Fashionista Vintage Sale, she feels a familiar tug and falls back in time, arriving at the dusty base of an enormous pyramid. She has landed in ancient Egypt...or has she?
It turns out that Louise is on the legendary Old Hollywood film set of Cleopatra, but her time there is short-lived. Rummaging through the wardrobe tent, Louise gets her hands on a pearl necklace that dates back to 51 BC, and she suddenly finds herself whisked away once more, this time to the ancient city of Alexandria, Egypt. Gold and jewels shimmer in the Egyptian sunlight, but poisonous snakes and dangerous enemies also roam the palace halls. Louise quickly learns that life as a handmaiden to Queen Cleopatra is much more treacherous--and fashionable--than she ever could have imagined.

My thoughts:
This is a fun series for middle schoolers!  Readers learn a lot about history, in an entertaining fashion!  Goodreads reviewer Lori Twichell has this to say about the book "Even though Louise is 12, her stories are fun and fast moving enough to continue to entertain well past that age. And there isn’t anything in here that made me worry about handing it over to my 14 or 11 year old. The reality is that adventures through history aren’t anything new in Young Adult entertainment, but this series manages to do it in a fun way that works for tweens and teens. No time machine or geekery here – it’s fashion! That’s fabulous.

I loved the first book in this series and I am delighted to see how they’ve continued in the same vein! Well done. I can’t wait to see where she goes next."
Other titles in the series are:

The Time-Traveling Fashionista  The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What I'm Reading Now: Broken by C. J. Lyons

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New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons makes her YA debut with a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing to the very last page

The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now... or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teen Tuesday Pick: Red by Alison Cherry

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Felicity St. John has it all—loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.

Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:

I know your secret.

Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say "strawberry blond." Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.

Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?

My thoughts:

This is sort of a fun, snarky read that tackles a serious subject - discrimination.  Part of the story also revolves around how Felicity's beauty queen mother, Ginger,  orchestrates her daughter's life.  What I liked?  Felicity's supportive friend, Ivy, her interest in pursuing her art, and her romantic interest, Jonathan.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Middle School Monday: Two Books for Animal Lovers. The Dolphins of Shark Bay & Wild Animal Neighbors

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The intelligence of dolphins is legendary.  Research has shown they can learn simple languages, recognize themselves in mirrors, and understand gestures.  A bottlenose dolphins's brain is three times the size of a chimpanzee's.  What is all the brainpower for?  For more than twenty-five years, the scientist Janet Mann and her colleagues have recorded the lives of hundreds of wild dolphins for the Shark Bay Dolphin Project.  Among these dolphins are good mothers and bad, charmers and schemers, friends and rivals. 

Ride alongside the author Pamela S. Turner and her scientific team and meet a cast of dolphin characters large enough (and charismatic enough) to rival a Shakespearean play—Puck, Piccolo, Flute, and Dodger among them. You will fall in love with this crew, both human and finned, as they seek to answer the question: just why are dolphins so smart? And what does their behavior tell us about human intelligence, captive animals, and the future of the ocean? Beautiful photos of dolphins in their natural habitat and a funny, friendly, and fast-paced text make this another winner in the Scientists in the Field series.

Wild Animal Neighbors: Sharing Our Urban World
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What would you do if you found an alligator in your garage? Or if you spotted a mountain lion downtown? In cities and suburbs around the world, wild creatures are showing up where we least expect them. Not all of them arrive by accident, and some are here to stay. As the human population tops seven billion, animals are running out of space. Their natural habitats are surrounded and sometimes even replaced by highways, shopping centers, office parks, and subdivisions. The result? A wildlife invasion of our urban neighborhoods. What kinds of animals are making cities their new home? How can they survive in our ecosystem of concrete, steel, and glass? And what does their presence there mean for their future and ours? Join scientists, activists, and the folks next door on a journey around the globe to track down our newest wild animal neighbors. Discover what is bringing these creatures to our backyards and how we can create spaces for people and animals to live side by side.