Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chocolate picks for 2010

It's the time of the year where The Lists start showing up. You know the ones I mean... the best and the worst, the most popular, etc, etc. Much of the time these lists are a Serious Business. They discuss which books were most worthy to merit our attention, or had something important to say. As I read more for enjoyment than education, I am alternately bored or intimidated by these lists. For my top picks, I decided to pick based solely on the enjoyment factor. Think of these picks like chocolate. Chocolate has virtually no nutritional value, but we love to eat it anyway. These picks may have no deep literary value, but they sure were fun to read. So here are my top two chocolate picks for 2010 in the young adult category.

Dark Life by Kat Falls

Ty lives in a community on the bottom of the ocean. He is forced to team up with a girl from the topside, when outlaws start threatening his home.

Why I loved it. The action is fast and made me feel like we were deep under the ocean. And a hint of the paranormal, made for a truly unique storyline.

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Violet uses her ability to sense murder victims to try and track down a serial killer.

Why I loved it. The combination of a creepy ability and a love story made for a chilling thriller, and a great romance. The end result made an addicting read.

So what are your top chocolate picks for the year?


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Birdology by Sy Montgomery

As a seven year old child, a green parakeet named Jerry awed future naturalist, documentary scriptwriter and radio commentator Sy Montgomery from first chirp.

Flash forward to midde age and Birdology - a study of seven avian species explored with a scientist's eye and a novelist's touch. Follow the author from backyard hummingbirds to fierce 150 lb. dinosaur-like flightless cassowaries in tropical forests of Australia and New Guinea.

Interspersed are tales of heroic pigeons from ancient eons to modern eras and their vital forays for military reconnaissance, a dancing parrot of YouTube fame and a look at the fascinating world of falconry called by writer Thomas McGuane "one of man's oldest and most mysterious alliances in the natural world" replete with its own language, traditions and predators possessing the sharpest vision of all living creatures.

I kept Birdology aways from my cat and devoured it quickly.

Hope you will too.

Find it at your library


Edited to fix link Jan 4.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Him Her Him Again the End of Him by Patricia Marx

There's no question about where the plot's going in this tale of free-range narcissism and devotion unrequited -- the title tells it all. She is an American graduate student studying (apply this term loosely) in Cambridge, he is a bounder and a cad majoring in Ego Studies. She's obsessed with him. So is he. She realizes it's not working out when he marries someone else (it takes her that long!) so she jettisons her aimless studies and returns to New York and an equally aimless career writing for television. He reappears, with a wife and child. She's not as over him as she thought. It doesn't go well. But hang on: as the title implies, this is where it gets interesting.

Patricia Marx is a contributor to the New Yorker, a former writer for Saturday Night Live, and a funny, funny author. Her characters bristle with eccentricity and her descriptions will make you laugh out loud. Don't read this book for deep insights or intricate plotting, but if you're up for a satirical, witty and very entertaining quick read you won't go wrong.


Find it at your library

Monday, December 20, 2010

Running Books

New Year's Resolution season is swiftly approaching, and I have visions of lettuce leaves and tennis shoes dancing in my head. More often than not, I vow that THIS will be the year that I'll get myself in shape to run a half marathon. So far that hasn't happened, but I have, at least, come across a couple of fantastic books about people's running adventures that have inspired me to keep on trying...even if I wouldn't want to run under the same conditions that some of these athletes faced!

The Coolest Race on Earth: Mud, Madmen, Glaciers, and Grannies at the Antarctica Marathon is a story of endurance (and, perhaps, a little bit of lunacy). The athletes in this race come to run in the most desolate place in the world, with some of the most difficult conditions. Their stories are humorous and inspiring, and they're interwoven with tidbits about Antarctica and marathon history. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen is another book of running adventures, this time focusing on a journalist who sets out to become a great runner. He goes to Mexico to train with a tribe of reclusive Indians, the Tarahumara, who are considered the world's greatest long distance runners. Both books contain a cast of colorful characters that will stick with you, even after their stories end.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Going in Circles by Pamela Ribon

I always thought that getting married was the beginning of "happily ever after." Well, that's the general idea...for the first year of marriage at least, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case for Los Angeles resident and newlywed Charlotte.

With the awkward dividing up of friends that ensues after a breakup, Charlotte reaches out to make new friends at her office. In walks Francesca, whose smart mouth and purple bruises introduce Charlotte to the world of Roller Derby.

Share the many ups and downs of life, relationships, and roller derby with Charlotte in this fun and heartfelt read!

If this mention of Roller Derby has sparked your interest, be sure to check out our local Tucson Roller Derby girls!

~Roller Derby Librarian

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Seventeen-year-old Ruby has always been just fine on her own, thanks. She and her mom don't need help from anybody. Then Ruby's mom disappears, and Ruby is sent to live with her much older sister and brother-in-law. In the course of her senior year of high school, Ruby learns that asking for help doesn't mean admitting weakness. Instead, it's the beginning of strength.

Ruby, of course, is the center of this novel. With her shields firmly in place and her clear vulnerability underneath, she's immediately recognizable. Dessen also populates the novel with rich secondary characters. From Cora, the sister who once abandoned her, to Nate, the boy next door who seems to have the perfect life, nobody's what they seem on the surface, maybe not even Ruby.

This isn't a book with an overly complex plot or lots of explosions. The pace is leisurely and reflective, and the story centers around the quiet change in a young woman adapting to a new life and becoming a new self.

Find it at a library!

- Maureen K.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President by Josh Lieb

When Judd Apatow and Jon Stewart write blurbs on a teen book, you know there's something wicked going on. Imagine if the world's most powerful and wealthy person is really an 8th grade evil genius? Oliver Watson has the money and power to topple governments (and does so on a whim), so you would think winning the 8th grade student council presidency would be a breeze. But sometimes, being an evil genius can backfire on you. Shenanigans galore, for teens and adults.
Find more at the PCPL website!
~More Books

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wintery Reads

The colder weather always makes me want to curl up with a cup of tea, a cat and a book. In our temperate Tucson climate, I especially love books with a cold wintry setting.

One of my favorite genre's is re-told fairy tales, and many of these combine a fairy tale with a winter setting. Here are a sampling to send you to a fairy wintry world:

East by Edith Patou is a retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon set in a frosty Icelandic world.

If you like this fairy tale, Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George, and Ice by Sarah Beth Durst are also retellings. You can find the original tale in the Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang.

Beauty by Robin McKinley is my absolute favorite retelling of Beauty and the Beast. You may also want to try Beastly by Alex Flinn, retold in modern day New York from the Beast's perspective.

Beast by Donna Jo Napoli is also from the Beast's perspective, set in Persia.

Lastly, Ash by Malinda Lo gives a GLBT spin on the traditional Cinderella story.

Confessions of an Ugly Step-Sister by Gregory Maguire is another unique spin to the Cinderella story. Maguire creates a beautiful setting in this 17th century Netherlands.

Feel free to share in the comments your favorite retold fairy tale or winter book!

~ That One Girl

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Lady Matador's Hotel by Cristina Garcia

Passion and politics brilliantly collide during a week at the South American Hotel Miraflor as author Cristina Garcia (of Dreaming in Cuban fame) interweaves the chaotic lives of six of its guests.

The most fascinating is the heroine of the title - Suki Palacios - a former medical student and stunningly beautiful Los Angeleno of Japanese/Mexican descent. Her knowledge of anatomy, a precise pre-fight ritual ("then in the shadowed moment before she steps into the ring, Suki repeats three words in Spanish and Japanese, arrogance, honor death") and the proud traditions of a bull-fighting heritage will hopefully serve to insure her victory at the first Battle of the Lady Matadors in the Americas.

Colonel Martin Abel, well practised in the art of torture has proudly organized a military conference of top officials from twenty-two nations. Serving his pork chops while plotting his murder is Aura Estrada, a former guerilla disguised as waitress.

Contemplating suicide in the honeymoon is Won Kim overwhelmed by the failure of his business, the imminent death of his mother and the impending birth of his child by his fifteen year old mistress.

A frequent visitor to the hotel is Gertrudis Stuber, entrepreneur of a ethically questionable adoption enterprise. This week she is bringing a new baby to an American wife and her Cuban poet husband. Perhaps the baby will repair a very torn marriage.

If the cover fails to entice just read the first page. Garcia's prose shimmers as brightly as Suki's traje de luces.

Proceed to Priceline and check into the Miraflor at first opportunity.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mystery, mayhem, and dragons

I love books with dragons, so the cover of Pillage just reached out and grabbed me. The dragons weren't as prominent as the cover lead me to believe, but it was a fun read anyway. When Beck Phillip's mother dies he is sent to live with an uncle he has never met. When he arrives he discovers a crumbling mansion, grumpy caretakers, and an uncle that never comes down from the attic. He is strongly warned to stay out of the back yard, supposedly because it's so overgrown that it's dangerous. Beck has never been very good at following orders, so he goes exploring. The secrets he discovers will change his life forever.

This story had a little of everything, mystery, fantasy, humor, action, and good characters. Beck's character in particular was a lot of fun. He has this slightly sarcastic take on the world around him that had me laughing. He just can't let go of the mysteries he is surrounded by even though it will almost definitely get him into trouble. There were lots of twists and turns and the mystery is tantalizingly slow to unfold. And never fear, the dragons do make a dramatic appearance.

Father of the Rain

How can you resist a novel that, in the first page, references Newfoundland puppies as "silky black sacks of fur pressing their big heavy heads against my cheek"? The cheek belongs to 11 year old Daley, daughter of a charming functioning alcoholic father whose behavior escalates from rowdy to raunchy including reading letters from the Penthouse Forums to the kids during family vacations. Daley's narrative then jumps to her late 20s when she gives up a promising academic position to return home and care for her father who hit (or not) bottom and finds her married with children at the book's conclusion.

The story is told through keen observation and fluid, often poetic language. Add the complex characters and it's everything I like, which is why it's strange I took so long to finish and write about it. Maybe, like Daley, I needed occasional respite from a broken situation with no easy solutions.

Vicki Ann-
Find it at the Library

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

For my money, Brady Udall (The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint ) is among the most entertaining novelists writing about the Southwest. In his latest outing, Udall chronicles the life and dysfunctional times of Golden Richards, the book's eponymous polygamist, who has 4 wives and 28 children but is, nonetheless, infatuated with the wife of his violent and unpredictable boss.

In addition to being lonely, Golden is also an accidental polygamist. From his earliest days as the child of equally dysfunctional parents, his life has been a series of events directed by personalities more dominant than his. This is how he finds himself with plural wives, a family so large that the simple act of remembering the names of his children challenges him, and a contract to build a brothel that he must misrepresent to his family and Mormon neighbors as a senior citizen center.

But don't let his indecisiveness turn you off: Golden is big, endearing, and well-meaning, and you will love him for his determination to do the right thing. The book is populated by a cast of unforgettable characters, including youthful Trish, yearning for a life larger than the one allotted to her as wife #4, and Rusty, Golden's adolescent son, whose response to the cancellation of his long-awaited birthday has shattering results. By turns heart-breaking and hilariously funny, this is a hefty read at 602 pages, but well worth the time.


Find it at the Library

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bloody Jack series

Often what makes or breaks a book is the main character. Some characters are placeholders, put there for things to happen to. But some leap off the page in three dimensions, tearing through the story, knocking other characters on their rear, and staying with you long after you turn the last page. One of my favorite examples of this is the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer, aimed at teens but well worth reading for history buffs, sailor wannabes, and anybody who likes a ripping good yarn.

Bloody Jack starts out the first book as Mary Faber, a clever urchin from the streets of 1804 London who sees the chance to better herself. So what if that chance takes the form of pretending to be a boy named Jack aboard one of His Majesty's naval warships? She's not going to let a little thing like gender stand in her way.

Over the eight books in the series, she gets in all manner of trouble, including piracy, kidnapping, sailing down the Mississippi, treasure hunting, all the while remaining faithful (well, mostly) to her beloved Jaimy, a fellow sailor on her first ship.

Jacky is a teenager. She's impulsive, often thoughtless, even more often stubborn. But she's also warm-hearted, generous, clever, and daring, and she will steal your heart.

Then hold it for ransom.

--Maureen K.

Find them at a library!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stiff by Mary Roach

So you've never found cadavers to be particularly compelling? You've always thought that dead bodies are best left alone? I thought so, too--and then I read Mary Roach's wonderfully quirky; funny; thoughtful; and sometimes, a little gross, book, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

Stiff is all about corpses: what it's like when they rot, how they've been used as research subjects and crash test dummies, the way they help address questions about anatomy, ethics, and even cannibalism. Mary Roach's writing is straightforward and interesting, filled with all kind of juicy nuggets of information about things you would never think to ask. Did you know, for example, that a decomposing body smells a bit like rotting fruit and a bit like rotting meat, or that there has been debate and study about whether or not heads, when severed from their bodies, can see or hear or feel?

If the subject of this book just doesn't grab you, try one of Mary Roach's other books instead. She's the most compelling science writer I've ever read, and her subject matter tends to be slightly off the beaten path. Most recently, she's written Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, and her other books include Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex and Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife.

Behind You - Jacqueline Woodson

I knew it would be dangerous to read this book at work - crying at the workplace is not a recommended activity. But it was well worth it. Read If You Come Softly first and you will meet Miah and Ellie and fall in love with these characters as they fall in love with each other. They run into difficulties as an interracial couple and their lives unfortunately take a tragic turn. Enter the first box of tissues. Behind You takes a look at all of the characters a year later to see how they are getting on with their lives. Enter tissue box #2. These teen novels are beautifully written and will speak to anyone who has loved and lost someone dear to them - essentially all of us, no matter what your age, race or sexual orientation. Highly recommended, just have the tissues nearby.

Find more at the PCPL website!
-More Books

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's A Book by Lane Smith

If you believe that picture books only exist to educate or delight the very young -It's A Book by author/illustrator Lane Smith will definitely prove otherwise. It can be read by an adult in approximately 5 minutes but its serious/comic effect will linger throughout the day. Jackass and Monkey enter into a very curious book discussion. Young, hip and digitally savvy Jackass expects a book to scroll down, blog, require a mouse, text and tweet. He is mystified when Monkey explains that books don't possess those features or capabilities and becomes fascinated when Monkey demonstrates the simple joy of reading full text and turning pages. Jackass wants to try reading Monkey's book for himself so Monkey must now go off to the library to find a new book to read. Ever observant Mouse delivers the clever punch line.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Time Traveling Incident

The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum

Abby's life is going according to plan, she's dating the boy next door, she plans to be college roommates with her best friend, and her parents are throwing the same bowling birthday party for her that they always do. If life lacks a little adventure or spontaneity, well at least she knows what to expect from life. Then Dante joins their school. He's a foreign exchange student from Italy. Abby finds herself fighting a growing attraction to him. The more she gets to know him, the more mysteries she discovers. For one, time literally stops when she is around him. Then he disappears for days at a time. Who is Dante and what is he hiding?

This story is a little slow to get started, but it's worth it. It has a little bit of everything mystery, romance, time travel, and lots of surprises. There are lots of Italian phrases sprinkled through the story to give it an unique feel.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Homer and Langley

My teenage daughter keeps me up to date on the weirdness of cable TV's offerings, and one of the weirdest offerings has to be Hoarders, based on the bizarre lives of compulsive pack rats. But before reality TV took hoarding mainstream, America had the Collyers, reclusive brothers who filled their Fifth Avenue brownstone with newspapers, books, old machines, musical instruments, umbrellas, boxes, bales, baby buggies, a Model T Ford--you name it, they likely had it. When they died, rescuers trying to get to them ultimately removed 130 tons of, well, stuff from their building.

E. L. Doctorow takes the unknowable life of the Collyers and goes to town. He tells their imagined story from the viewpoint of Homer, who is musical, intuitive and blind, and therefore subject to the random madness of his brother, Langley. Doctorow takes plenty of liberties to make his story work. In actuality, the brothers died in 1947, but Doctorow realigns their timeline by several decades, allowing the progress of time, in the form of a constant stream of visitors, to intrude on the lives of the brothers. For recluses they have a pretty full dance card, and each era--from the jazz age through the Woodstock Generation, impacts on them despite their barricades of junk. Read this book for its setting, in Manhattan’s poshest landfill--it's mesmerizing.


Find it at the library!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Skeleton Creek

I am celebrating the month of October (and all things that go bump in the night), by reading mysteries. Mysteries break down into quite a few sub-genre's, and I've read silly, funny, puzzling, police procedural and spooky. But I'm highlighting this one because of the way it employs mixed media.

Skeleton Creek is Ryan's journal. Ryan was in a mysterious accident at the dredge (a mysterious place), and shattered his leg, rendering him housebound. His best friend, Sarah, is still out and about, and while Ryan loves to write, Sarah loves to film. As you hit markers in the text, Ryan will send you to a website:, where Sarah posts the videos she makes around town. Don't worry, you can't do much with this website unless you also have the passwords, which are sprinkled through the text.

While Ryan does write like a high school boy, the videos are deliciously creepy and the pacing is just right. Don't read (or watch) this at night!

Find it at your library

Please tell us what your favorite mystery is!

~ That One Girl

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hunted Past Reason by Richard Matheson

When outdoors-challenged Bob asks his wilderness survivalist friend Doug to take him on a backpacking expedition for some first-hand experience for his upcoming novel, Doug reluctantly agrees, and the two head deep into remote terrain in the California woodlands.

Unbeknownst to Bob however, are Doug's concealed resentments against him waiting to be unleashed by the fresh outdoor air, in frightening, uneasy increments. Tensions erupt after Doug criticizes Bob's lack of physical conditioning and stamina. Initially, and unbelievingly, Bob attempts to placate Doug, well aware of his dependence upon his increasingly unpredictable friend's orienteering and outdoor skills in getting him out alive. As Bob's good-natured attitude reaches its limit, and the situation between the two deteriorates. Things get creepy and darken when an "agreement" is struck, and Bob realizes (perhaps too slowly?) the threat that Doug poses is even greater than he might have imagined.

The rapid pacing and tense, edgy dialog and Matheson's vivid descriptions had me in the forest alongside these two men, smelling the woods and dampness, blood pressure rising as the diminishing daylight fades through the forest canopy.

Find it at your library!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kings of the Earth

What drew me to Kings of the Earth by Jon Clinch were not the uniformly great reviews for this, or Clinch's debut novel Finn, but rather the documentary I viewed almost 20 years ago from which the novel was based. My Brother's Keeper featured four illiterate brothers living in rural upstate New York, the death of one brother and subsequent murder charge against another. My recollection is of a black and white film, but this memory may be more my sense of atmosphere than reality. The men lived in abject poverty and much of the footage is shot in the dark, dreary months of winter. What I remember most is a school bus filled roof high with Holstein yearlings and manure, and a dog chained to his house running half circles in his well-worn rut.

Clinch softens these scenes, but he hammers home the brothers' bleak, interdependent existence with unrelenting and descriptive narrative; a satisfying study of the complexities of simple men.

Find it at your Library!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death

If I could spend an hour inside Laurie Notaro's brain I would turn into a puddle from laughing so much. Her views on the world are so incredibly hilarious it's hard to imagine her capable of holding a serious conversation. From stairmaster repairs to a family of spies hanging out at the lodge in the White Mountains to getting carded at the grocery store on her birthday, Ms. Notaro takes her hilarious mean streak right to the edge, and keeps you laughing there the whole time.

Please note that if this book were a movie, some scenes and language would give it an R rating. Find it at a library!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees

Fourteen-year-old Francisco Towers has always idolized his big brother. But lately, Steve is going farther and farther trying to fit into the dangerous gang culture in their small New Mexico town. Now, it's time for Frankie to make his own decision about where he stands.

This is a powerful story about a boy caught between not just one rock and a hard place, but several. Frankie is caught between white and Latino, between idealism and hard economic realities, between his brother's example and his own definition of himself.

Find it at a library!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fantastic Fairies

By chance, I happened to read several stories featuring Fairies. Each one was a vastly different take on Fairy culture. Even the plot of each story was so different, I hardly realized I had read more Fairy themed books in a few months than probably ever before in my life. Here are my top three. What about you, have Fairies been popping up unexpectedly anywhere in your life?

Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog

Just before their sixteenth birthday, Morgan's boyfriend confesses that he is a Fairy who was switched at birth with a human child. Now the Fairies want him back, but Morgan is not willing to let go so easily.

Violet Wings by Victoria Hanley

Three years after her mother's death, Zaria finds her mother's spellbook. When an evil Fairy tries to steal it from her, Zaria decides to hide it in a place where magic doesn't work, Earth. But humans complicate her life more than she expects.

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

When Laurel discovers she is actually a Fairy living among humans, she is understandably freaked out. However there are some good things about being a Fairy. Things like magic.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Art Cars

Ok, I admit it. I am addicted to art cars - anything painted, glued on or somehow decorated to be more than just boring transportation. Luckily, Harrod Blank has helped satisfy my need with this beautiful book of art cars across the country. The subtitle says it all - The cars, the artists, the obsession, the craft. The designs are incredible and have kept me jealous of other art cars and trying to figure out how to add a 3rd dimension to the Suparoo. Luckily, Harrod also made at least two films about his obsession. Wild Wheels is available in the library and his documentary Automorphosis will be showing at the Screening Room in downtown Tucson on Oct. 8 and 9. Hopefully an art car procession will be a part of this event and I can see my old Dr. Seuss bus again.

Find it at a library!

Friday, September 10, 2010

One Day by David Nicholls

If you loved “When Harry Met Sally” you’ll adore young Brits Emma and Dex as they navigate the 20 years post university in like (always) in love with each other (maybe) in love with others (often) in lust (along the way). Sharp, comic, brilliant dialogue will keep you hooked far into the night or best read it over a weekend. In any case, a must read BEFORE the movie. Find it in the PCPL catalog.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


This is a memoir about a lazy, crazy dude who wants to wash dishes in all 50 states. Very fun, light read!

Making Rounds With Oscar

Oscar is the ultimate feline comfort in the lives of terminally ill residents of a Rhode Island nursing home. Narrated by a doctor who is at first totally sceptical of Oscar's gifts, he grudingly learns firsthand that Oscar is one very special kitty.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Help

A chorus of voices - black, white, old and young provide a fascinating listening experience to this look back to Mississippi in the sixties - an exploration of segregation, civil rights and small town society that is truly memorable. 15 CDs - for a lovely long road trip.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Books into Movies

Lately, there have been a slew of books being made into movies. Toping our hold lists right now are such titles as The lightning thief / Rick Riordan. ; Push : a novel / by Sapphire. ; The time traveler's wife : a novel / by Audrey Niffenegger. ; and Diary of a wimpy kid : Greg Heffley's journal / by Jeff Kinney.

Once books are made into movies, we often see a huge jump in popularity. Be ahead of the curve and check out these books, all soon to be upcoming movies.

Beastly / Alex Flinn. A modern retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" from the point of view of the Beast, a vain Manhattan private school student who is turned into a monster and must find true love before he can return to his human form.

Italy, or, "Say it like you eat it," or, 36 tales about the pursuit of pleasure -- India, or, "Congratulations to meet you," or, 36 tales about the pursuit of devotion -- Indonesia, or, "Even in my underpants, I feel different," or, 36 tales about the pursuit of balance.

Youth in revolt : the journals of Nick Twisp / C. D. Payne. Cynical and sex-obsessed teen Nick Twisp documents in his journal his ongoing struggles to make sense out of high school, his divorced parents, and an enduring love for an intelligent girl before his frustrations escalate to an open revolt.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day. A day to celebrate that special someone? A Hallmark Holiday? Singles' Awareness Day? If you ask me, it's none of those things.

Valentine's Day is all about the candy.

And what better way to commemorate the day than with a sweet treat like Steve Almond's Candyfreak, a book the profiles the makers of candies like Valomilks and Goo Goo Clusters? Or how about Hilary Lifton's memoir Candy and Me, which connects every chapter of the author's life to a candy memory? (There's even a chapter on conversation hearts.) Or if you're feeling adventurous, why not check out Brittles, Barks, & Bonbons : Delicious Recipes for Quick and Easy Candy and try to make some yummy snacks? Just remember to wash the sugar and chocolate from your hands before handling the library books!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Hunger Games 3

Scholastic recently announced the title of the final book in the wildly popular Hunger Games trilogy, which will be Mockingjay. If you're a fan of dystopian sci-fi and you haven't read this provocative series, you're missing out. In the novels, a mockingjay is a genetic mutant, originally created to spy for the government but now a symbol of the burgeoning rebellion. Speaking for myself, I can't wait!

Mockingjay releases August 24th, but PCPL has already ordered it, so you can put yourself on the list today! While you're waiting, here are some other whiz-bang dystopic novels to assuage your appetite for futures gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix (children's)
For the crime of being born a third child in a world where people are only allowed two, Luke must stay hidden. If discovered, he will die. But when Luke learns about other third children, he realizes there's a whole world beyond the walls of his house. This is the first novel in the Shadow Children series.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (teen)
Like most teenagers, Tally can't wait until her sixteenth birthday. That's when she'll get the surgery that all teenagers in her world get, the one that turns them pretty and sets them off on a whirlwind adventure of parties and fun. But the question she hasn't asked herself is, what will she give up in return for becoming pretty?

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
This nonfiction book asks the intriguing question, what if we all disappeared today, but left the rest of the earth intact? What would happen as our nuclear power plants fail, as our subways flood, and as plants and wildlife take our cities back? It's not exactly a dystopia, but it is marvelously thought-provoking.

Are you a dystopia fan? Share your favorite examples of the genre in the comments!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pretty in Plaid

Are you a child of the 80s? Were your collars turned up on your Izod, did you listen to Wham without irony, and did you enjoy Pop Rocks? This memoir is for you. Jen Lancaster's Pretty in Plaid is a testament to the awful clothes we seemed to enjoy back then. And her sassiness makes her high school/college days a hoot to read.