Friday, February 27, 2015

I Second That: "How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon"

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

One afternoon Tina's older brother went to get her a Snickers, along with some snacks for himself. He didn't come back home. What happened between when he left his front door and when the police arrived was observed by a lot of different people. Did Tariq start a fight over a girl? Did he steal from the local convenience store? Did he have a gun? Was he in a gang? The local news quickly thinks they know what happened and who Tariq was. Take a moment to listen to the people who were there and the people who knew Tariq, the truth becomes something else entirely.

This was one of TATAL's best books of 2014 and there are plent of reasons for that. It is a book that you know is going to be hard to read, but is still impossible to put down. Everyone here has a story and as they tell it you begin to see the whole in the world that was left behind by Tariq. If you've lost a friend or a family member, you know that there is your version of who that person was as well as the many many versions of him or her that other people knew. This book does the best job of portraying that of any YA I can think of. Not only that, but it's a book that will leave you charged up and angry about how things happened, but glad you spent the time reading about them.

It's powerful, intense and completely unmissable.

Up and Coming: How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon





Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

Addison Stone was the girl on the brink of becoming a huge name in the NYC art scene. She was the one everyone was talking about and the one her competitors were gunning for. She was mysterious and sought after. But one night, while putting up an art piece, Addison Stone plunged off the Brooklyn Bridge. Was it an accident, a murder or did Addison jump?

Adele Griffin tells the story of the fictional artist by creating newspaper clippings and photos as well as conversations with all the characters who knew her. There's her best friend Lucy, who knew the girl before she was discovered, knew her mental health issues and worried about Addison's life in the big city. Then there are the boys who loved her and the family that didn't understand her. All this is intertwined with Addison's artwork and photos of the girl who can't tell us her side of the story.

This is a big, swirling, collage of a novel. It's put together like a piece of art, which is fitting for this story about an artist's too short life. By the time you're done, you'll be wishing you could visit a retrospective of Addison Stone's work at a museum near you.

More to read:

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony, Rodrigo Corral.

Alex Award Watch: Baby's in Black by Arne Bellstorf


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

Veda has always been able to feel the rhythm of music deep in her body. And dance is how she can express those feelings. Even when she was a little girl, she was dancing. Now she wins contests for her skills and would like nothing more than to just dance when she gets out of school and not worry about exams. When she's seriously injured in a car accident, all those dreams come to a halt.

Suddenly the biggest questions are not whether Veda will become an engineer like her mom wants or a prize winning dancer are not as important as whether she'll be able to walk around the room. Even after she gets the hang of using a prosthetic leg, her old dance teacher doesn't want to waste his time on her dancing. She'll have to decide if pursuing her old dreams is worth getting to know new people who didn't know her before the accident. Who might only see her as the girl with one leg.

The story of Veda's recovery and rediscovery of the things she wants for herself is told in gorgeous verse. This has already been an amazing year for books in verse and if you don't think you like a book told in poetry, you need to take a trip to India in Ms. Venkatramann's beautiful A Time to Dance.

More to read:

Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath

Middle School Monday: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Read This, Watch That: National Poetry Month Edition

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Up and Coming: Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

Our resident expert on thrilling, Librarian M, has a new book to recommend:

Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

March 24, 2015 

Max doesn’t come from wealth, but one of his best friends is a senator’s son, Preston. When Preston disappears after a visit to Las Vegas to hook up with a girl he met on the internet, the FBI thinks Max had something to do with it. Soon Max finds himself being framed for murder and he goes on the run to try to prove himself innocent.

Looking for a fun, thrilling mystery to read? Check out Liars, Inc.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Middle School Monday: I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora

I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampara

Lucy, Elena and their friend Michael have been a trio since they were tiny kids. They are kids who care passionately about the things they love. Whether that's sports or tackling a stack of books from Elena's uncle's second-hand book store. Not everyone in their class feels this same feeling when it comes to the list of summer reading options their teacher gives them.

On that list is To Kill A Mockingbird which was the favorite book of their old teacher. It's also Lucy's favorite and she can't imagine why someone wouldn't be excited to read it. So she and her friends cook up a plan to make people take notice of the book because they can't wait to read it, not because they have to. It's a plan that's part subterfuge, part rumor and part luck. And it has to do with the #Ikillthemockingbird.

This is the perfect book to read after the news that Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird will be releasing a new book this spring!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Up and Coming: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Our Librarian M has an early prediction for one of the best of the year:

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Release Date:  March 03, 2015

One day Roza showed up in Finn and Sean’s barn. She ended up staying with them and everything was great until a mysterious man showed up and took Roza away. Finn was the only witness of the abduction, but he can’t remember enough about the man to give the police any leads and eventually the town dismisses his story. Since he feels somewhat responsible for Roza’s disappearance, Finn decides he should be the one to save her.

This is a beautiful modern fairy tale about love and evil in a small town. Each chapter alternates viewpoints so we get to know the story from many characters’ points of view and backstory is filled in in a natural and satisfying manner. Recommended for older readers who loved Tom McNeal’s Far Far Away (see our posts).

Monday, February 16, 2015

Teen Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Our fantastic teen reviewer and volunteer, Johanna, is back with a look at one of our favorite books with dragons:

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
A fantasy bringing together dragons and humans in a novel fashion (pun intended), Seraphina by Rachel Hartman is funny, exciting, interesting, (insert every positive adjective you can think of here). I love it! In this world, dragons have a tenuous peace agreement with humans, like many other books about these things. But in Seraphina, the dragons can assume the human shape while retaining their usual traits of extreme intelligence and little to no empathy. The mistrust between the two species is manifest in the human’s insistence that dragons in human form must wear bells to signal their dragon-ness, which leads to much discrimination. During the book, this situation is worsened after a dragon-style murder of a prince. 

But these societal problems are only the background for the rich plot of Seraphina. The title character, Seraphina, is a music tutor to the royal princess, a spunky teen who quickly becomes friends with Seraphina. As Seraphina, who is revealed to have a special connection with dragons, struggles to stay under the radar while defending dragons (usually not physically, just when people insult them), she uncovers a plan to wreak havoc on the kingdom, and realizes that her unique talents make her especially adept at the task ahead.  

To anyone suffering from Seraphina deprivation: Suffer no longer! Rachel Hartman has published a 17 page story about how Seraphina was hired to be the music assistant (free on the internet; read it here)  AND she is coming out with a sequel March 10th, 2015! She has also released the first few chapters of Shadow Scale (the sequel).

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Teen Review: Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke