Monday, November 25, 2013

Middle School Monday: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross


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Review from Ms. Yingling Reads

Maude has moved to Paris from a small country town in the 1880s to escape marriage to an older man. She finds it harder to find work and survive than she imagined, so when she answers an ad and is offered employment at an agency that rents out repoussoirs, plain or ugly young women who act as companions and foils to debutantes to make them appear more beautiful, she is forced to take it. She ends up pretending to be a friend of the family of Isabelle Dubern, and does such a good job that she is offered exclusive employment with the family. Isabelle comes to consider her a friend, and confides her dreams of studying science at the Sorbonne. This is a problem, because Maude's job (and future employment as well) hinges on getting Isabelle to marry a wealthy man. Maude manages to make friends of her own in Paris, including the composer Paul Villette, and many of the other girls at the agency. She also learns to take photographs, and Isabelle gives her a camera as a gift. In the end, Maude and Isabelle both refuse to bow to societal norms, and instead embark on the difficult mission of making their own way in the world.
Strengths: *Sigh* This was a wonderful book. So many good things going on-- the high society, the burgeoning new middle class and their ideas of freedom and equality, the arts. Pair this one with the (slightly later in time) Cinders and Sapphires. The best part of this? Nothing inappropriate for middle school. I may buy a copy because I adored it so much.

My thoughts:  I have this on my list to read as soon as I finish graduate school!  A gorgeous cover - one of my favorites from this year. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 22, 1963: JKF 50 years ago on this day...



The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 is a historic turning point in United States history.  Since since it has been 50 years since the assassination occured, many books relating to Kennedy, and the event are being published for both teens and adults.  Why not learn about this event in our history, and check out one of these great non-fiction books?

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Kennedy's Last Days is an adaptation of Bill O'Reilly's #1 bestseller, Killing Kennedy.  On a sunny day in Dallas, Texas, at the end of a campaign trip, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is assassinated by an angry, lonely drifter named Lee Harvey Oswald. The former Marine Corps sharpshooter escapes briefly, but is hunted down, captured, and then shot dead while in police custody.

Kennedy's Last Days is a gripping account of the events leading up to the most notorious crime of the twentieth century. Author Bill O’Reilly vividly describes the Kennedy family’s life in the public eye, the crises facing the president around the world and at home, the nation’s growing fascination with their vigorous, youthful president, and finally, the shocking events leading up to his demise.


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In his new young-adult book on the Kennedy assassination, James Swanson will transport readers back to one of the most shocking, sad, and terrifying events in American history. As he did in his bestselling Scholastic YA book, CHASING LINCOLN'S KILLER, Swanson will deploy his signature "you are there" style -- a riveting, ticking-clock pace, with an unprecedented eye for dramatic details and impeccable historical accuracy -- to tell the story of the JFK assassination as it has never been told before.
Kennedy Through the Lens: How Photography and Television Revealed and Shaped an Extraordinary Leader
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This handsome book equally suitable for young people or adults looks at one of our most popular presidents, John F. Kennedy, and the role photography and television played in shaping his presidency and his legacy. An oversize book laid out with a series of two page spreads, the book provides not only fascinating text but a captivating graphic design. Each two page spread has a different striking color scheme, with a quotation from JFK appearing in a colored box near the to of each spread. And what president could be better suited to this photo essay format than the handsome, youthful Kennedy complete with his adorable children and beautiful wife?

Sandler explains how Kennedy was the first president to have an official White House photographer, and to permit informal photos throughout the White House, particularly private moments with his family. He was also the first president to widely use color photography and to understand the power of television. Reproduced are famous photos like John John hiding under the Oval Office desk, but also photos that were new to me such as a wonderful color photo of Caroline and John John dressed up in Halloween costumes and plastic masks, visiting their father in the Oval Office, and another with the two children leaping and dancing for their dad, who applauds them from a nearby chair. And who can resist of a photo of JFK being nibbled on by one of Caroline's ponies?

But this book is not just a succession of charming photos of the Kennedys on land and sea. There's also an overview of all key aspects of his life and presidency, from discussion of his privileged beginnings, his war service, the space race, Cuban Missile Crisis, civil rights, Vietnam, to his "secrets" (his extra-marital affairs and serious medical issues) to his assassination and legacy. There's plenty of information for a school biographical report, but the book is also great for tweens and teens interested in history who would like to explore the life and legacy of this remarkable man.

Margo Tanenbaum’s review from Goodreads





Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Teen Tuesday: If you are thankful for the Hunger Games, try these!

See the original list of 15 series here from Buzzfeed
Check out our display of these great books in the back of the Teen Area at the Greece Public Library!



1.  the Unwind Series by Neal Shusterman
 
Why you should read it: After the Second Civil War, a law was enforced to protect reproduction rights. Parents can choose to have their kids unwound, harvesting children’s organs and body parts for donors. The story is SUPER creepy, but completely addicting.

Fun fact: Shusterman says that the idea for Unwind came to him when he heard a news story about a scientist who claims that “within our lifetime, 100% of the human body will be viable for transplant.”
 

 
 2.  The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

Why you should read it: Set in a dystopian society with five factions, a brave female protagonist must make a life-altering choice between her family and her true self. The more she learns about what she is, the more dangerous her journey becomes. You will finish this book in three days tops.

Fun fact: This book is being made into a movie (Divergent debuts in March 2014).   



3.  The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie
Why you should read it: In this perfect world, the government dictates what you eat, how much you exercise, and matches you to the most compatible mate. But when Cassia is accidentally matched with two people, she falls in love with the unexpected choice and learns about the dirty secrets of her society.

Fun fact: Condie got the idea for Matched when her husband asked, “What if someone wrote the perfect algorithm for lining people up, and the government used it to decide who you married, when you married, etc.?”
 
 
4.  The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner
Why you should read it: A community of boys with no memory of their previous lives were gradually sent to the Glade, a mysterious place surrounded by a deadly maze. Their home becomes a ticking time bomb as they race to find a way out. Once you find out the truth, you won’t be able to contain all the feels.

Fun fact: This book will hit theaters in 2014, starring Dylan O’Brien.  Check out the Maze Runner movie.
 
 
5.  The Legend Series by Marie Lu
Why you should read it: On the now flooded coast of former Los Angeles, a young prodigy named June seeks out the most wanted criminal in the country in order to avenge her brother’s death. She soon discovers, though, that the truth is far from black and white. If you have a thing for fearless girls and bad boys, this series is for you.

Fun fact: Lu came up with Legend while watching Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. She was fascinated by the relationship between a wanted criminal and a gifted detective and wanted to explore it further.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Middle School Monday: Doon by Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon

Doon (Doon, #1)
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Summary from Goodreads.com:

Veronica doesn't think she's going crazy. But why can't anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps popping up wherever she goes? When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months.

But the Scottish countryside holds other plans.

Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna's great aunt—and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation. Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica's daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they've longed for...or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.

DOON is loosely based on the premise of the musical Brigadoon, with permission from the Alan Jay Lerner Estate and the Frederick Loewe Foundation. Follow the journey at
http://www.DoonSeries.com

My thoughts:  I could totally see "Doon" as a Disney Channel movie.  There are references to modern day problems, like cheating boyfriends, selfish parents, and feeling alone, but on the whole this is a pretty wholesome book - which is what the publisher Blink is striving for.  There were elements of the novel I didn't like, like why modern day conveniences and food are found in Doon, and the back and forth voices of the two main characters, Veronica and McKenna, but overall this is a sweet choice for romance lovers who enjoy a historical or fantasy setting.