May 24, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Covers

In our Teen Lit Club, we talk about cover trends that occur in YA books: the torso trend, overused stock photos, girls looking over their shoulders. People say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but it happens everyday...especially in teen lit. The following covers definitely caught my eye.

10. Flush by Carl Hiaasen
It's simple, whimsical, yet perfectly captures the problem within the pages.

9. The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie by Tanya Lee Stone
Barbie is such an iconic figure, and this cover immediately catches a browser's eye. I like their choice of retro Barbie rather than a more contemporary version of the doll. That sly, slanted look in her eye and the sharp arch of her brows makes me think that Barbie knows something I don't.

8. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
This one is so beautifully spare that it doesn't even need words. Lovely story too.

7. The Deep by Claire Nouvian
This cover is beautiful and alluring, merely hinting at the deep ocean wonders that lie within. It's a giant coffee-table sized book that's hard not to pick up.

6. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Christopher Stengel designed not only this beautiful cover but also one for Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, another one of my favorite covers. This one is lovely with its sky full of stars that speak of possibilities and hope.

5. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
No matter where you stand on the series and its literary weight, there's no denying the powerful allure of the cover on the book that started it all. Its allusion to forbidden fruit has become so symbolic of Edward and Bella's saga that director Catherine Hardwicke made sure to include it in the film adaptation of Twilight.

4. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
It's a beautiful yet forbidding peek into the deadly maze that surrounds the relative safety of the Glade. The moss covered spikes of the gate speak strangely of both safety and danger. I like the complexity of this seemingly innocuous image.

3. Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee
Not only is it chocolate but it's gorgeous chocolate. What more does a cover need?

2. Abarat by Clive Barker
Not only did Clive Barker write this highly imaginative story about a world of islands that exist in each hour of the day, but he also hand-painted the fantastic illustrations that grace the cover and are sprinkled throughout the book. Perhaps that's why we've been waiting so long for book three, which is slated to be released later this year!

1. Life as We Knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer
This is another one of those covers where beauty and menace exist in the same image, and its utterly compelling. I guess I have a thing for blue covers as well, since it's the fifth blue cover on the list. I find myself staring at this one whenever I come across it.

What are some of your favorite covers?

May 17, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Most Intimidating Books

Granted, the teen department is not rife with books that intimidate me. I love teen lit! There are a few, however, that give me the nervous sweats, for a variety of reasons, whenever I think I might read them. Have you read any of these? Do you have any words to share that would allay my intimidation?

10. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation book two: the Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson
M.T. Anderson is not one to dumb down his stories simply because his audience may be in their formative years. The weighty title of this book alone would be enough to turn away a browser looking for a light read. Still, I read and thoroughly enjoyed book one, The Pox Party, and looked forward to tackling the second. I felt, though, like the second story was getting away from me--like I wasn't up to the task of appreciating the depth and intricacy of the tale. So I set it aside with the full intention of picking it up again one day. Alas, that day has not yet come.

9. Death Note by Tsugumi Oba
Or any manga for that matter. I'm intrigued by the manga phenomenon but can't seem to wrap my head around the notion of reading what I perceive to be backwards. I tried with a couple of different manga titles but couldn't get past the first few pages. I've seen the live action film versions of Death Note and was fascinated by their stories. I'm afraid, however, that style aversion will get in the way of enjoyment of the original manga series.

8. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
My friend Sarah, whose opinion I greatly respect, has recommended this book to me on numerous occasions. She hasn't been the only one. Many people adore not only this book but the author's other works as well. I'm afraid that when I finally get around to reading it that it won't be as special a book to me and that I will have let Sarah and others down. Silly, I know. But it's a bit of an intimidation.

7. Getting Away With Murder: the True Story of the Emmett Till Case by Chris Crowe
Man's inhumanity to man is a horrifying thing to witness. The images of Emmett Till from the very excellent Eyes on the Prize documentary still haunt me even though it's been over 20 years since I've seen it. The intimidation here lies in the reluctance to revisit such naked hatred and cruelty. People need to know Emmett's story, though, and this will probably be the first one on the list that I'll overcome my reluctance to read.

6. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
It's a requirement that everyone read this before dying, right? The thing is, I don't really like the way Dickens writes. And it seems like such a bloody long book (even though it really isn't). Perhaps audio book is the way to go here. Don't want to shirk my Dickensian duties forever.

5. An Incomplete Education by Judy Jones
This book taunts me from the shelves, reminding me how much there is that I still don't know and may never know. We don't stop learning new things until we die...maybe not even then, so I suppose I have plenty of time to take this book on. There is a patron who comes into the Library every day and is slowly working his way through the Encyclopedia Britannica. If he can do that, I can certainly pick up this one measly book.

4. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
Written by one whom most people characterize as one of the worst villains in history, this book does have its place in historical scholarship. That doesn't mean I'm enthusiastic about reading it. Its weighty length notwithstanding, I don't know how eager I am to step into the mind of a man who was an architect of hatred and death.

3. This is All: the Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Aidan Chambers
What sounds like a fascinating and lovely story has not been read by me simply because I'm intimidated by its large size. Sure, it contains letters, diary entries, poems and short stories which cut down on the actual page count aversion. It's still a big honking book though. Strange that would bother me considering I don't bat an eyelash at picking up and consuming Stephen King's behemoths Under the Dome, It, or The Stand. If you've read Chambers's book and loved it, please let me know!

2. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Tolkien's Middle-Earth stories are wonderful, but his writing style is not really my cup of tea. I was doubly intimidated by this particular book after an ex-boyfriend of mine (who is literally a genius) told me that it was "a bit of a mental jog," with its archaic language and hard-to-remember character names. This is not a ringing endorsement. It actually makes my brain shrink back in fear at the thought of ever picking the book up and giving it a try. Perhaps it's for die-hard Tolkien fans only?

1. Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce
Curse you, James Joyce! You burned my brain with Ulysses, making me reluctant to see which of your books was next on the 20th Century Literature class's list. Seeing that it was this one, and peeping at the first page, I ran away screaming in terror to immediately drop the class. Did that make me a coward? Yep. Have I managed to retain a bit of my sanity by avoiding your fever dream of a book? Absolutely!

So there you have it. There are some books in the teen department which intimidate your friendly Librarian Chick. After all, I'm only human. What books intimidate you?

May 16, 2011

Red Moon Rising

by Peter Moore
YA Horror Moore P
328 p. 2011 Supernatural
Grade: B

Red Moon Rising is a world where history is about civil rights, but instead of about people it involves humans, vampires and werewolves. In the center of this is Danny, a mixed breed between a vampire and a wolf. Things are good for him; he's got a girlfriend, a loving family, and friends who've got his back. Will this all change when he finds out his genetic treatments haven't workd? Will his life never be the same again? Will the sickening truth of what he is destroy everything he's cared about, or would he create yet another species? Read to find out.

Reviewed by teen volunteer Maggie K.

May 11, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Hilarious Book Titles

Some YA book titles are humorous indeed, and others are unintentionally hilarious. I have a strange sense of humor, so you may not find these funny. I, however, think they're quite amusing.

10. Burger Wuss by M.T. Anderson
M.T. Anderson is a very versatile author, writing award-winning historical fiction, thought-provoking science fiction and this humorous little book about self-acceptance, love and burger wars.

9. How They Croaked: the Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg
This book not only has a humorous title but a killer (pun intended) cover. I haven't read it yet, but it's high on the to-be-read list. An irreverent title for a not so irreverent subject. Hilarious.

8. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
This book's been around for almost ten years, and the title still gets me. Mackler is known for her thoughtful stories and strong female characters, and this one is no different.

7. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Not only is the title humorous, but the book is too. Each chapter riffs on popular tunes such as Tiny Dancer, and manages to incorporate them into the goings-on. Very clever, Ms. McBride. Very clever.

6. Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
This entire series has hilarious titles--how appropriate for a loony, hilarious protagonist such as Georgia Nicolson. I've been laughing for a decade over these books and am sad they've come to an end.

5. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith
This first and best of the current mash-up craze. Pride & Prejudice is one of my favorite books ever, and I have a weird affinity for all things zombie. How could I not laugh at this title or the contents therein?

4. P.S. I Loathe You (or any Clique titles for that matter) by Lisi Harrison
I must admit, I've never read any Clique novels. Mean girl stories really aren't my thing. I do, however, enjoy a sort of wry amusement at the bad puns that accompany each volume of this series. What's next--Rainbow Spite?

3. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
I always manage to get a chuckle from patrons to whom I recommend this book and they are unfamiliar with the series. Another humorous title for a humorous book.

2. Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer by Van Jensen
Who better to slay hordes of evil vampires than a wooden boy whose nose becomes stake-like with each lie he tells? The concept is genius and hilarious.

1. I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil, and I Want to be Your Class President by Josh Lieb
A story that's not quite as hilarious as the title, but good fun all the same. Oliver Watson should have a meeting of the minds with Cadel Piggot and Artemis Fowl. That's a mash-up I'd like to read.

What book titles do you find hilarious?

May 3, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Books I'd Want on a Desert Island

It's Tuesday! Time for another top ten list (inspired by The Broke and the Bookish). From here on out, my lists will consist of books I can find in the teen department of our Library, since I practically live there and they're pretty much all I have time to read nowadays. They're so fabulous, though, that I don't mind at all.

And I'm counting series as one book because really, how fair would it be to be marooned on a desert island with just Vampire Academy, City of Bones, or Uglies? One would go mad not being able to read the story to its completion. So pretend I duct-taped a series together into one UBER BOOK. Fair enough?

YA Books I'd Want on a Desert Island

10. The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook by Joshua Piven: Not all of the scenarios may be relevant to my predicament, but heck, it's better than nothing. Without it, I'd say my chances of lasting more than a few days are 100 to 1.

9. Lord of the Flies by William Golding: If I'm stuck on this island indefinitely, Ralph and Piggy's misadventures will serve as a cautionary tale for those days when I start to wig big-time and feel it necessary to put a pig's head in charge.

8. The Far Side Gallery by Gary Larson: Stave off your own impending insanity by laughing at someone else's. It's genius! Gary Larson's one panel cartoons are completely loony and a nostalgic throwback to when I was a carefree teenager. They're also a great distraction from my inability to catch fish.

7. Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford: Here's another designed to keep me laughing and my mind off of my situation. Carter is such a lovable goofball, and his own predicaments are hysterically funny.

6. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: One of two must-have romances. It's easy to be swept away in the saga of Scarlett O'Hara. And its huge size, meaning many happy days of reading, is an important bonus.

5. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins: It's bleak. It's dystopian. It's a bummer. But it's also a testament to courage and a "never say die" attitude that fills me with fierce hope. It's also wonderfully written making it a hell of a read.

4. The Shadow Saga by Orson Scott Card: Bean's story crackles with intensity and is almost as good as Ender's own series (see #3). The complexity lends itself to multiple reads which is perfect desert island reading.

3. The Ender Saga by Orson Scott Card: I am fascinated by these tales and find a new philosophy or rationale to ponder with each successive read. I also have an intense yet complicated love for Ender Wiggin, who is one of the more fascinating literary characters ever created.

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: The second romance on this list and the greatest romance novel as far as I'm concerned. As soon as I finish reading this book, I want to start over right away. A perfect choice. And Mr. Darcy will make an appearance on a future Top Ten list, so stay tuned.

1. The Bible by God: If ever there was a time to read and contemplate the message of the Creator, it's now. Even folks who aren't religious turn to God in times of great stress or despair. If being stranded on a deserted island is not a time of great stress or despair, then I don't know what is.

So what do you think? Am I doomed or do I have a chance to survive with all my mental faculties intact? What would you bring?