Thursday, October 23, 2014

I Second That: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Ealing, Iowa is known for one basic thing. Corn. Growing up in Ealing has never been a particularly exciting time for Austin. He bides his time going to school and hanging out with his girlfriend Shann and his best friend Robby.

This would be a story about Austin figuring out who he is and dealing with bullies and his brother being deployed. That is, except for how this is actually a history of the end of the World. The end of the World comes not with a bang... but with the sound of giant grasshopper wings. And the gnashing of giant grasshopper mandibles.

This book is like a teenage boy went to Hollywood and was given permission to make a multi-billion dollar blockbuster. It's crude, it's crazy and it's full of giant grasshoppers. This is a book that's unlike anything I've seen before, it's an epic adventure and not one for the faint of heart. This is  one that I will be recommending to all fans of SyFy original movies and creature features. A perfect Halloween read. 

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Up and Coming: 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Up and Coming: How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon

Librarian M has the latest from Kekla Magoon, you may recognize her as the author of The Rock and the River, one of the sixth grade summer reading choices (among others).

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon

Release Date:  October 21, 2014

After Tariq, a black teenage boy, is shot by a white man everyone has a story to tell about how everything went down. Tariq had a gun; Tariq didn’t have a gun. Tariq was robbing a grocery store; Tariq forgot his change after grocery shopping. Tariq was in a gang; Tariq was trying his best to stay out of the local gang. Eyewitness accounts conflict and the question of who is to blame for this tragedy becomes harder and harder to answer.

How it Went Down is about the aftermath of Tariq’s death. Magoon’s first-person narratives alternate between witnesses to the shooting, Tariq’s family, a famous Reverend, and other affected parties. It’s a messy story, but in a good way—there are no simple answers when something like this happens.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Middle School Monday: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Katie gives us a way to get some more wizardry into our lives. And we all need that.

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

When I heard the announcement that Holly Black and Cassandra Clare were teaming up to write a book about a boy at wizarding school, I had recently reread Harry Potter and felt like I was missing some magic in my life. Which is to say, I was excited by the news even if it did sound sort of “been there, done that”.  

At this point, we’re all familiar with the tropes of fantasy novels and sometimes the familiar is just what the doctor ordered. As you ease into The Iron Trial, certain plot points will strike a familiar chord:
  1. Callum Hunt has been accepted to the Magisterium, a school of magic for wizard training (despite his best intentions of getting himself rejected).
  2. Callum’s mother died in when Callum was a baby, a story which is very much a mystery to Call, in a war that doesn’t feel completely over against an enemy who isn’t completely gone.
  3. And the Magisterium may just be the one place where Call and his limp and his offbeat sense of humor belong, the one place where he has real friends.

But this is Holly Black and Cassandra Clare that we’re talking about. And while you might spend the first half of the book running a list of comparisons between this tale and another in your head, by the second half you’ll be pulled into Callum, Aaron, and Tamara’s story on its own merits.

The magic of Callum’s world is richly realized, based on the elements of water, fire, air, earth, and chaos. The school, hidden away in the caves of Luray, Virginia, sounds by turns cold and fascinating. The students, each with their own story, often reveal themselves to perhaps not be exactly what we’ve come to expect.

When Callum’s class--The Iron Year--completes their admission trials and are accepted, the Magisterium has been waiting a long time for a wizard who can control Chaos, who can help them end the war once and for all after years of an uneasy treaty. But as each character reveals his or herself, the story takes unexpected twists and turns. And Callum Hunt, who never wanted to be a magician in the first place, may face a far more challenging decision and carry a far more fascinating burden than he could have ever imagined.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Up and Coming: Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

It takes a lot for our buried in books Librarian M to get excited about a series, but today's the day:
Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Release date: November 4

Sequel alert! Sequel alert!

Normally I don’t get too excited for sequels, but when I stumbled on a copy of Killer Instinct, sequel to The Naturals (see our reviews), I knew I needed to read it right away. It did not disappoint!

This time the gang is working on a brutal murder that looks like a copycat of a notorious serial killer who also happens to be Dean’s father. Of course, they’ve been warned not to get involved, but how can they keep working on cold cases when they know they can be of help now? Plus, to add to the intrigue, the new FBI agent assigned to their unit is the director’s daughter and she doesn’t seem to like the idea of a bunch of kids working on murder investigations.

If you enjoyed The Naturals go ahead and put yourself on the holds list for Killer Instinct. More of the best FBI group of teen outcasts working on another serial killer case—what more could you want?

Read More:

Radio Week: "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Up and Coming: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

Looking to get a jump on the winter holidays? Or just want a bonus short story from one of your favorite authors? Don't miss today's 'Up and Coming' pick

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

Release date: October 14, 2014

The air is getting a little colder, the nights are getting a little longer and pretty soon there will be way too early advertizements and never-ending carols in the mall. If you'd like to get into the holiday spirit in a cozier way, you'll want to put My True Love Gave to Me on your wish list.

Stephanie Perkins has put together twelve of YA's favorite authors for this holiday potluck. There's all the things that you'd want at a YA potluck too, New Years kisses, mistletoe and mysterious strangers. There's also a church barn that's accidentally set on fire, latkes on campus and a visit from Krampus. Some are alone on their holidays and some really wish they were alone instead of with family. There's a good mix of realistic fiction and stories that are tinged with magic.

This is the perfect book to curl up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate. It's perfect for a snow day (and the Farmer's Almanac says we ought to be getting a few of those this winter!) and each story does an amazing job of sucking you right into the story in just a few pages!

If you haven't read books by some of these authors before, My True Love Gave to Me will give you a great taste of what you've been missing. And if you happen to have favorite authors among the twelve, this collection will give you a small something to love while you wait for the next book from them!

Monday, October 6, 2014

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

We are serious fans of Jandy Nelson's first book, so you better believe we were excited to find out that a new book was coming. Katie gets the scoop:
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I’ve spent the past few days trying to come up with the perfect analogy for this book. So far all I’ve got is it’s The Sky Is Everywhere (see full review) meets Graffiti Moon (see more posts) meets Jellicoe Road (see full review) on crack. Or something like that. Or, put more simply, it’s magnificent.

This is the story of twins: Jude and Noah. Noah gives us his side of the story starting at age 13. Jude picks up her side of the story three years later, a very different person from the one Noah introduced us to. Somewhere in between the twins have gone from being each other’s safe place to virtual strangers who share a wall. As each twin tells their side of the story in alternating chapters, a larger picture unfolds where we’re taken on a trip through time, through art, through gorgeous language, family drama, romance, and heartbreak. To tell you much more than that about what happens would really just be stepping on Jude and Noah’s toes. This is their story.

Full disclosure: I’ve been waiting years for Jandy Nelson to follow up The Sky Is Everywhere, and when that day finally came I was more than a little worried that there was no way my high expectations could be met. In the end, though, this sophomore effort left my expectations in the dust, surpassing them several times over. It’s dazzling, crackling with emotion and intelligence, the sort of book you have to text a friend about as you read, because such deliciousness is really meant to be shared. So make sure to pass it on when you’re done. :-)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Get the Inside Scoop on our High School Book Club

Want to know what our High School TAB (that's our book club) readers are saying this month?? They are never shy about their opinions and they always have some great recommendations for your TBR (to be read) pile.

Check out our monthly meeting notes here!