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Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

You don’t want to touch Juliette.  Her touch is lethal power. As a baby, her touch caused her mother and father intense pain, so they shunned her.  Then one day she saw a mother hurting a young boy and she reached out to hurt him help him.  He ended up dead.  She has spent the last few years in some type of facility in isolation – and then he shows up.

First Lines: “I’ve been locked up for 264 days.
I have nothing but a small notebook and a broken pen and the numbers in my head to keep me company.  1 window. 4 walls, 144 square feet of space. 26 letters in an alphabet I haven’t spoken in 264 days of isolation. 6,336 hours since I’ve touched another human being.”

Shatter Me is set in a dystopian future where food is scarce, animals are scarcer and people are hanging on just to survive.  The government regime is trying to control the people maintain the peace in that special way that crazy power hungry people try to do.  Enter Warner (not the he mentioned above, but an important he none the less).  Warner is obsessed with Juliette, with her power gift.  He thinks that Juliette is like him and will want to join him to use her power.  He thinks that he loves her.  He thinks that she can love him.

When Adam is thrust into her cell room, everything changes for Juliette.  Suddenly, she might have a reason to live.  Adam sees the good in Juliette – she has this power but doesn’t use it.  Adam may be the only person who doesn’t care about her power, but about her.

Shatter Me is a stunning love story set in a bleak future.  Juliette has grown up shunned and, at times, in complete isolation so she has a certain amount of naivete.  Throughout the course of the novel she grows into her own and makes a believable transformation from a young girl with a power to a powerful young lady.  Juliette has a unique voice that is demonstrated by showing both the thoughts that she thinks and the thoughts that she is trying not to think – those thoughts appear as crossed out text.  This was such an interesting story telling device; we all have those thoughts that bubble to our surface that we try and hold down and Shatter Me lets you see them, and feel them, in a unique way:

“Not me. Not something someone like me. But then, they never believed anything I said. That’s exactly why I’m here.” – page 6.

“He doesn’t touch me and I’m disappointed happy he doesn’t.  I wish he would. He shouldn’t. No one should ever touch me.” – page 18.

Part of the beauty of Shatter Me is the way in which Mafi writes; there is intense longing and sizzling tension between Juliette and Adam, a strong yearning that oozes right off of the page.  This is not, however, the instalove/lust so common in teen fiction.  No, it is the product of two aching souls who felt each other’s pain in the distance.  It is the longing of two outsiders, rejected by the very people who are supposed to love them, just wanting to reach out and connect with the only goodness they see left in a dying world.  As a romance, Shatter Me succeeds and engrosses in ways that many romances fail to.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHApCwLkVU0]

In the end Shatter Me takes some unexpected turns that change the story dramatically.  It will be interesting to see what happens next.  I had mixed emotions about the twist as it took a unique and well told story and put it back in some familiar, though still very entertaining, territory and immediately brought to mind a very popular comic book/movie franchise.  In the end, the character is so appealing and the writing is so powerful and unique, I know that I will keep reading.  Buzz has been out of control for this book on Twitter and among teens, and for good reason.  Teens looking for the next new paranormal romance will definitely be asking for this one and they will not be disappointed. 4 out of 5 stars.

Teen Issues: Teen Pregnancy and Complications

The teen girl trudged through the mall like a zombie; obviously pregnant and with a strange backpack on her back with a tube going into her body.  She barely walked a few steps before she had to find a bench and sit down, tired and out of breath.  Never before must a small mall have seen so huge and overwhelming.  While her teen friends went off and explored things like Hot Topic (which studded collar should I buy today?) and the food court, the pregnant teen wanted nothing more than a moment – just one moment – to remember what it was like to be healthy and have a future.  I understood everything she was feeling and walked up to give her a look of encouragement and let her know that I cared because you see, like her, I too suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum and I knew what this teenager was going through.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a rare pregnancy complication that causes excessive nausea and vomiting and is characterized by severe weight loss, dehydration and malnutrition – and all the health effects that can come from that.  I have been pregnant with HG three times and I have 2 living daughters to show for it.  The medical backpack that the young teen was wearing contained TPN, her source of nutrition, that was being fed to her via a PICC line.  HG is not morning sickness – it is debilitating and life threatening.  It is believed that the author Charlotte Bronte died of HG in her 5th month of pregnancy.  This was never the way I thought I would identify with one of my favorite authors and yet, here we both were suffering from HG.  The only difference is that I survived, but just barely.

It was my second pregnancy when we found out that what was happening had a name.  At 7 weeks pregnant I was lying on my bathroom floor and vomiting more than 50 times a day.  I lost 30 pounds in less than a week and began to have heart complications.  My body was shutting down from metabolic acidosis.  We lost our baby and we almost lost me.  I stood at the edge of a cliff and stared death in the face and knew that just one more vomit would send me plummeting to the depths of death.  As for hell, well – I was already there.  I had to take heart medicine for the next 9 months while my body tried to repair itself from the damage caused by only 10 weeks of pregnancy.

In some ways that was my worst pregnancy; I don’t know if the 3rd was worse or just better treated.  From the get go I received home IV therapy; The Mr. would set his alarm for 3 a.m. so that he would wake up and change my IV bag as this was the only thing keeping me and the baby alive.  At 19 weeks they told us that my placenta had completely separated from the force of the vomiting and she would not make it through the weekend.  They were wrong; but it was literally hell getting her here.

This year for the first time ever there is going to be an International Hyperemsis Gravidarum Awareness Day (May 15th).  This year we are joining forces to raise awareness so that all pregnant women – including teens – can get support.  Our goal is that people everywhere will recognize the symptoms and get adequate medical care. If information is power – and as a librarian I believe it is – then helping teens get the information about possible pregnancy complications is my goal.  Being a pregnant teenager is hard enough, being a pregnant teen with any type of pregnancy complication must be earth shattering.  It is fun to read about and speculate about zombies, it is not fun to feel like one.

If I could ever write a teen novel (it is a dream of mine), I would write a contemporary novel about a teen with HG.  Sometimes I write it in my head and it begins like this . . .

She stared into the bowl of her toilet once again, willing herself not to throw up.  Her body shook but not with fever; the coldness tore through her frame more and more each day as she shed pounds vomit by vomit into the porcelain god.  She said a silent prayers to please, please let this be the end of it.  They said she was going to have a baby, but she knew the truth.  Something must have gone terribly wrong and there was an alien parasite living in her body, taking over and kicking her out.  She knew it wasn’t true of course; but it was hard to think that a miracle was occurring inside her when she was fairly certain she would die if they didn’t help her soon.  This is definitely not what it looked like on 16 and Pregnant  – and she was angry.  The anger burned white hot inside her soul because if it wasn’t bad enough that she was pregnant; no, everything had to go wrong.  She couldn’t even worry about what type of mother she would be or how she would balance finishing high school and changing diapers – she was too busy worrying whether or not she would even survive.  For just a moment she laid her head on the cold bathroom floor.  There was no use in going to another room, she would be back here soon enough and the movement would just make her start vomiting again.  Again she prayed: please please please please please let this stop.  As she thought the last please her head jerked back up and she once again found herself on her knees staring into the once clear water of the toilet while violent retching racked her body.  Today, she thought, is the day I am going to die.

For more information on Hyperemesis Gravidarum, visit the HER Foundation at www.helpher.org.  You can also purchase the book Beyond Morning Sickness by Ashli McCall for your library collections.  Please read this previous guest blog post about how HG led this woman to terminate a pregnancy in her teen years.  Remember that for every teen that gets pregnant, a small percentage of them will have complications or experience some type of pregnancy loss and they will need a different type of resource then we are used to giving teens about pregnancy.  In most of these cases, you will need to refer to your adult nonfiction collections because there aren’t specific titles written for teens.  Please join us on May 15th, 2012 in helping to raise awareness to patrons of all ages because HG doesn’t just affect women, it affects families.

Book Review: Steampunk Poe

Here’s my geek admission of the day: When I graduated from high school I took all that cash I received and promptly went out and bought the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe.  Sure, some people do practical things with the money, like pay for college or textbooks.  Others take a trip.  But for me there was only one option: Poe all the way, baby!  So when I found out that someone had made a Steampunk Poe collection, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. (Thanks so much to Running Press for this!)

Wait, what? Steampunk you ask.  Steampunk is born out of the industrial revolution and is a genre of fiction that imagines the Victorian era or Wild West with steam powered technology like balloons, air shipts, etc.  It has a unique style and feel and is quite a popular subculture movement.  For good examples of the steampunk genre check out the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld or The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross.  Or, check out Steampunk Poe . . .

Here, some of the best of Poe’s original works, including The Masque of the Red Death and The Tell-Tale Heart, are illustrated with steampunk illustrations.  These amazing illustrations are done by Zdenko Basic and Maunel Sumberac – and they truly are amazing (I know, I said that already).  This isn’t like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies where the zombies are inserted into the story (to amusing effect I thought), but these are the original works of Poe as he wrote them so this text works for teens needing them for a class assignment.  The steampunk illustrations, however, help bridge the gap and bring the stories to a casual reader.  The marriage of Poe and steampunk is genius; if ever there was a writer that fit right in with the steampunk genre it would be Poe.
Take, for example, the Fall of the House of Usher. Poe’s tale of a haunted home is beautifully illustrated.  As our unnamed narrator heads on horseback to the house of Roderick Usher, the gloom sits on the house with a weight that resonates with the story.

The Balloon Hoax is a story ripe for some steampunk illustration given the genres love of steam powered dirigibles, and the illustrations do not disappoint.  And of course, no Poe collection would be complete without the presence of The Raven and The Conqueror Worm.
The illustrations alone make this a great addition to your collection, and you can never go wrong with Poe. At only $18.95 this is a great addition to your collections to appeal to steampunk fans, get the classics into the hands of teens, and even reach out to your graphic novel fans who like illustrations with their texts.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yc11OulbfBo]

Look for future stampunk titles including Mary Shelley, which should make for another great addition to the steampunk family.  Steampunk Poe gets 4 stars.

Book Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Caolyn Mackler

Teens today won’t remember a time without Facebook, but it did exist (really!).  What would happen if the year was 1996 and you got your first computer and logged on only to find yourself reading status updates in the future?  That is the premise of Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler’s The Future of Us.

The year is 1996.  Facebook has not yet been created.  Josh and Emma are neighbors and best friends; well, they were until Josh got his signals crossed and made a move on Emma and now everything is just awkward.  When Josh lends Emma an AOL cd for her brand spanking new computer, neither one of them is prepared for what is about to happen.

The first time Emma logs on to the computer there it is: Facebook.  Except Facebook hasn’t been invented yet.  Here Emma can see her status updates some 15 years into the future.  She sees that she is married, but not happily.  But if she changes one aspect of her future, doesn’t she change every aspect of it – and of those around her?  Why yes, that does seem to be how messing with the future works.  We’ve all heard of the butterfly effect.  So as Emma and Josh obsessively try to fix their future, their here and now begins to spiral out of control.

This was a great concept for a book.  You know that every single person would be doing exactly what Josh and Emma do, run home to refresh their status update to see how every little event changes their futures.  As the story spirals and the tension builds you, as a reader, want them to rush home and hit refresh.  Their anticipation is palpable.  Like I said, this is an interesting concept: fortune teller via Facebook.

Then the experiment begins, can they purposely do things to try and mold their future? What about their friends’ futures?  And yet, what if knowing the future can somehow affect their present? Would it change the decisions they are making today, like who they are dating and where they decide to go to college?  Knowing the future is tricky business.

Josh and Emma are well developed characters that you care about, for the most part.  At times Emma becomes quite unlikable in her obsessive ways, but it rings true to the character.  In addition to Emma and Josh, the cast of characters is rounded out by the other part of their best friend foursome Kellan and Tyson.  Again, these are fully developed characters and a good representation of high school friendship with all the messy complications that come with it. 

There are some fun exercises you can do with your teens with this concept, including having them create their own personal status updates of their futures.  3 out of 5 stars.  Teens will be looking to read it so you will want to buy it.

Post It Note Art (Guest Post by Stacey Costabile)

A couple of weeks ago I was totally excited by a piece of artwork shared as part of The 2012 Project on Twitter: a Post It note cat.  It was glorious, and the best part – it was created by teens!  Today the teen librarian that coordinated this project shares her thoughts with us as a part of this excellent guest blog post.  If you decide to make your own Post It note art – and you totally should – please send pictures as part of The 2012 Project.

Our Post-It Note Nyan Cat has been making his way around library-land and my teens and I are so excited at the great response such a simple project is getting! Because it is pretty simple, you just need to plan accordingly!

The idea came to fruition because I am a huge geek and spent far too much time on the Internet. I Tweet, Tumble (is that what you do on Tumblr? I still haven’t figured out a good verb for that), and Pin and yet I abandon every blog I’ve ever started. So while I was on one of my many binges on KnowYourMeme.com, I came across the Tumblr for Post-It War and I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I have recently been working with my Teen Advisory Group on plans to do “retro” (their words!) Nintendo gaming in the library and thought they’d get a kick out of these great pixel decorations using Post-Its. When we found out the theme for Teen Tech Week was “Geek Out @ Your Library” it seemed like the perfect way to get the teens excited and to make some great decorations. At Naperville Public Library, we have three locations so we decided to try to do something different at each location, each chosen by our Teen Advisory Group (TAG) at that building (the other two locations chose to do PacMan and a Rubik’s Cube.)

The first thing I did was print out a few examples from the Post-It War Tumblr to get approval from our Library Manager. Once I got the enthusiastic approval from my Supervisor and the Library Manager (who was hoping for something huge and impressive), I gave the printouts to my Teen Advisory Group (TAG) as I explained the idea at our next meeting. I was sure they’d seen these before and that I’d be told it was “sooooo last month” but the TAG loved it and immediately started
choosing which one they wanted to attempt.

For those of you unfamiliar with Nyan Cat… consider yourself warned: once you watch this video, you will never be able to get the song out of your head! Unbeknownst to me, my teens are quite obsessed with this little Poptart Cat and started bragging about how long they’ve been able to listen to it without stopping. Needless to say, Nyan-Cat won out over Mario, Zelda and Pac-Man. I even learned that “nyan” is Japanese for “meow.” These guys are so smart.

Once we had a design, I had to figure out how to make it happen. Using photos of other Post-It War Nyan Cats and an image of the actual pixel cat, I hunted down some graph paper (thank you children’s department!) and started sketching. After I had the outline of Nyan, I used colored
pencils to mark out which part needed which color of Post-It. Then I counted out how many colored squares of each color there were so I would know the amount of Post-Its would be needed for that section (I didn’t want to run out half way!) A quick trip to Staples, a few strange looks from other shoppers as I contemplated the properties of various shades of neon, and $23 later, I had more than enough Post-Its for the whole cat (with extra in case of adhesive failure!)

On the morning we created the display; I measured out the window and figured out where to start so that the image would be centered where I wanted it. I put up the first 8 or so columns so that the teens could take over when they came in and not have to mess with rulers. Once they showed up (they had the day off of school which worked out perfectly!), I handed them the graph paper plans and Post-Its and they came up with a plan of attack while I supervised. During the course of the “posting”, they adjusted techniques a few times; assigning each person a specific color, trying an assembly line, and assigning a director to lead them as they put the next color. They were very insistent that everyone had a chance to work on the cat. With 8 volunteers in a tiny space, it was a bit harder to get everyone involved at the beginning, but they made it work in the end. We ran into a little trouble keeping the grid straight, but a few steps back and some quick adjustments brought them back on track. Next time, I would probably create an x & y axis using dry erase markers to help keep the grid straight so they wouldn’t have to spend too much time fixing their rows.

In total, the Nyan Cat took about 3 hours (including prep time on the day of), 865 post its, 8 teen volunteers and a box of chocolate cookies to finish. Since we had to place the notes over the metal
window partitions, I did use some double sided tape to reinforce those notes. But so far, we’ve gone a whole week and none have floated off (or been “borrowed”).

For anyone worrying about wasting materials, I’m going to collect them and we will use them as scrap paper at the reference desk, so everything will be put to good use! The teens loved doing it and are looking forward to more Post-It art for the summer reading program. They’ve brought their parents, grandparents and friends in to show off what they made. And the bright display has brought a lot of attention to our YA department. This is definitely a do-able project for any teen space with a few windows (and Post-Its) to spare!

You can find albums of Nyan Cat and all our Post-It Art at our Teen Space Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/TeenSpaceNPL

Stacey Costabile, MLS is the Teen Services Librarian at Naperville Public Library

Tag! You’re it.

The Rules

1. You must post the rules.
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3. Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them
Read on for my answers and then the fun part, my questions.
Here are the answers to the 11 questions posed by That Hapa Chick.  Be sure to visit her blog and read what questions she was asked and how she answered.  Also, please link back to this post if you answer my questions, thank you.
1. If you could inject yourself into one literary world which world would it be and why?

I would like to spend some time in the 100 Acre Woods.  I think they have plenty of time to sit around under the tree and read.  Plus, you can have a hero party for almost any reason.  And all in all, they are all pretty nice to one another and not spending a lot of time, you know, just fighting to survive.  I actually collect Winnie the Pooh books, love them.

2. What fictional character do you relate to the most?

Let’s see, right this moment I do have a rumbly in my tumbly (maybe I should eat lunch).  But I would like to think that I am not indeed a bear of very little brain.  So . . . I guess I will choose Lena from Delirium (by Lauren Oliver), with one caveat.  So here it is:  I think Lena goes with the flow at first and then really begins to question what she has always been told and as she receives new information she allows herself to adapt to it.  I like to think that I am open to hearing new information and changing my world view as I learn new things.  And like Lena, I want to stand up for truth and what is right.  She is, however, probably more courageous than I am – though I hope not.  I admire her boldness.
3. What do you think of e-readers?

I never thought that I would get on board, but I finally have.  The truth is that I love using them at night.  True story: up until I got my e-reader I still read by flashlight at night in bed.  So the e-reader is definitely an improvement.  My only issue is that as a librarian, I like to check out my books and read them before I buy – there  is nothing worse then buying a book and hating it – so this can be an issue with the e-reader.  BUT, I joined Netgalley and really like previewing the books and it helps me know whether or not I want to add it to the library collection (we have a very small budget).

4. What is your favorite book genre and why?

Just 1? Really? Hmmmm . . . I am trying to decide between contemporary fiction and zombie/dystopian fiction.  Really, I can’t.  It’s like asking me to decide between my two children.  I love them both tons and they are totally different.  I wrote a great blog post though about why I love zombie fiction to help my preteen understand, so check it out.

5. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life what book would it be? And no, you can’t choose a book series.

Well, at the moment that one book would be Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver.  But again, this is such an incredibly hard question. So unfair.  The great thing about teen fiction is that there IS so much good stuff out there and it touches on so many different feelings, thoughts, and world views. 

6. If the Zombie Apocalypse were to hit what would be your weapon of choice?

A crossbow.  I watch The Walking Dead and those gun shots can draw other zombies to you.  But let’s face it, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, I wouldn’t last long.  The Hunger Games either.  I should start training.

7. What is your favorite book cover?

I actually really love the original hardback cover for Delirium by Lauren Oliver and find it to be quite striking.

8. What is a book that has been sitting on your shelf just begging to be read the longest?

I have started but never finished Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 3 times. That’s right folks – 3 times.

9. Who is your favorite book villain?

The villian in BZRK by Michael Grant is crazy creepy.

10. What is your favorite book quote?

“I think only once in your life do you find someone that you say, ‘Hey, this is the person I want to spend the rest of my time on this earth with.’ And if you miss it, or walk away from it, or even maybe, blink – it’s gone.” from If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

Another favorite book quote from a very quotable book

11. Be honest: If you saw Edward Cullen sparkling in the sunlight what would you do?


Now the fun part, My Questions:

1. What book do you think just never got the book love it deserved?
2. What 1 genre do you just really have a hard time getting into?
3. Who is your book boyfriend/girlfriend? (You know you have one!)
4. Has a book ever given you nightmares? Which one?
5. What book left you crying the most tears?
6. What book ending just left you angry because you wanted it to end differently or because you wanted something   different for a character in the book?
7. What 1 book do you wish you had written and why?
8. What childhood favorite (not teen) do you still like to revisit and read again?
9. I like this one so I’m going to steal it: What is your favorite book quote?
10. What book made you sad that it ended because you just weren’t ready to leave that world yet?
11. Which book character do you wish you were like and why?

Everyone, if you don’t have a blog, please post answers in the comments, I am always interested in hearing the answers.

Top 10 Dystopians, from a teen point of view

Today, the TLT Teen Review, Cuyler Creech, tells you his top 10 favorite dystopian series. There are definitely no shortage of them. Did your favorite make the cut?

Think your world is unbearable? Unthinkable? Maybe even unlivable? Well I think these heroes and heroines may beg to differ with you on that. Welcome to the world of dystopias. Think of the worst thing possible that could happen to you, and multiply that by 10. Now you have what our brave young men and women face in some of our favorite young adult novels. Government thinking it’s time to up its “dictatorship” levels? Zombies roaming outside your village? You the only one left in a mass genocide? Bomb explosion? Deadly virus? Most of us don’t know what it’s like to live in a world that’s the complete opposite of a perfect utopian society. To “educate” us on the matter of such, I have compiled a list of what I think are the 10 best dystopian novels/series the world today has to offer.

1. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzzane Collins

Katniss Everdeen lives in a world separated by thirteen districts of a country known as Panem. All districts are ruled over by the Capitol. With the thirteenth of the districts gone, each of the twelve remaining districts must offer up one boy and one girl to fight to the death in a televised annual event known as the Hunger Games. When Katniss’ sister is chosen on reaping day, Katniss boldly volunteers to take her place in the deadly games. This is my absolute FAVORITE novel series of all time. Action. A touch of romance, but not too much so that the guys get bored with it, and totally bad-to-the-bone teenage girl with the ferocity to protect her family at all and any costs, this book achieves above and beyond. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. If you haven’t already, go grab the series and don’t put it down until you finish. And look out for the highly anticipated movie adaptation March 23, 2012! The world will be watching…Happy Hunger Games!

2. Rot & Ruin Series by Jonathan Maberry

This book has made it to two of my top 10 lists so far, and it was a just a typo. It definitely deserves to be among these fantastic books. In a world ravaged by flesh-eating zombies and terrifying zombie killers, Benny Imura and his friends must draw close together and fight for what’s right if they want themselves, and their loved ones, to survive. This book has it all. Zombies. Suspense. One of those paper worlds you love so much but thank God it’s not your own. Still an ongoing series, Rot & Ruin is a highly recommended read.

3. Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Saba has spent her entire life in the dried-up desert wasteland of Silverlake. Constant sandstorms ravage the town without any hope for rain. The only thing left to do in Silverlake is scavenge the ancient Wrecker pieces from local landfills with her beloved twin brother Lugh. But when a sandstorm brings more than just sand, Saba’s world takes a turn for the worst. Strange horsemen arrive with a large sandstorm, kidnapping her brother. Determined, Saba will stop at nothing until she tracks them down and saves Lugh from the clutches of an evil king. This book is also highly recommended. With all the action, suspense, drama, emotion, and unpredictability anyone could ever want, you certainly don’t want to miss a book like this.

4. Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Deuce’s life revolves around the enclave. It is protection. Meaning. To prove their place in the enclave, each member must train in the arts of three survival-efficient categories: Hunting, Breeding, and Building. Each must find their place in one group. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress as long as she can remember, and she’s trained hard. She longs to venture outside the safety of the enclave and bring back meat for her family and friends. To help the enclave survive. When a mysterious boy enters her life, Fade, a Hunter, her perceptions of what the elders say is right becomes cloudy. Survival is a must for all. Will she heed the council and wisdom of the elders…or is she willing to listen to her instincts? Great book.

5. Legend by Marie Lu

This book is an amazing read. Future America is now home to the Republic, an nation now at war with its neighbors. One girl and one boy, two people from opposite worlds, cross paths in an unexpected thrill ride. June, a militaristic prodigy born into a wealthy, elite family, and Day, a fifteen year old on the Republic’s most wanted list meet on not so good of circumstances. Day is the prime suspect in the murder of June’s brother. Tension, love, and suspense build with a fiery force as these two teens search for the truth, and possibly the lengths their country will go to keep it’s own secrets from it’s inhabitants.

6. Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

Another story of choice determines entire future, Veronica Roth spins a tale of a strong heroine, romance, a flawed society, and loads of action. In future Chicago, all children who come of age must choose to become one of five predetermined factions. Factions determined by personality. They must choose and remain with that faction forever, completely turning their backs on everyone who is not part of their new faction, including their families. When 16-year old Beatrice Prior is assessed before her choosing ceremony, she is found to be a Divergent. One who displays traits of two or more factions equally. And it’s not a good thing. She must choose to belong in a place where she does not fit in, or serious consequences will take place. A good read climbing up on the popularity meter.

7. Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari

This is our world now, with all the natural disasters and plagues, times ten. What happens when 99% of the human population is lost to freak floods and epidemics plague the earth, and your among the miniscule few who’ve survived? Well such is the case of 16-year old Lucy. She lives alone in the shadowed wilderness of Central Park while the Sweepers clean away the plague victims outside. But soon the Sweepers take notice of Lucy. She is special. And they will stop at nothing to have her in their clutches.

8. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Aria has been exiled from her home. Sentenced to certain death outside the enclosed city of Reverie. She walks the horrifying land of The Death Shop, where cannibals and mighty electric storms can spell imminent death for any who’ve been exiled. When the young exile meets a strange young man named Perry, she realizes that he’s her only chance if she’s going to make it out in The Death Shop. A hunter for his tribe, Perry also needs her help as well. And her’s alone. The two will determine the very fate of all who reside under the Never Sky. A fast-paced tale of action and suspense. A very recommended read.

9. The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner

Thomas awakes on an elevator in a strange places known as the Glade with remembering only his name. Nothing before. The Glade is a huge expanse surrounded by walls of stone, and is the home to many children around Thomas’ age. All boys. But something’s strange about the walls surrounding them. They move. Every morning the walls open, revealing a vast maze. No one knows why, or what’s at the end. They only know of the dangers that await them if they don’t make it back inside the Glade before they close. When a girl is delivered on the elevator, everyone knows things are going to change. The note that rests on her chest says so. This is a very fast-paced novel, and I enjoyed it and it’s sequels very much. An interesting read.

10. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Is love truly the root of all evil? The government ruled society in Lena’s world seems to think so. When Deliria, AKA “love”, seems to be the root of every problem, a cure is developed and a precautious system is set. At 18, everyone’s mate and career will be chosen for them, and they will be cured of Deliria. No problem right? Well, love gets in the way again. 95 days before she is to be “cured”, Lena falls in forbidden love with Alex, a mysterious young man who makes her feel things forbidden to all. Is love the real enemy? Lena will make her choice in this romantic dystopian novel.

Which one is your favorite? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.  As for me, I think we all know that Delirium is at the top of my list, but I think Cuyler has come up with a great list.  I hope you all enjoy it.

Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Jacob Portman feels that his life has never had much of a meaning to it. His parents–his mother a rich woman who likes to show off her spoils of home décor, and his father an amateur ornithologist and a wannabe nature writer–he’s not real close to. His only friend, a chain-smoking punk-rock dresser, is the closest thing to a best friend he has. And his workmates pretty much hate his guts. There’s really no one in the world Jacob is close to. Except Grandpa Portman.        

A survivor of the great World War II, Grandpa Portman has always shared a strong bond with Jacob. Telling enthralling stories of his adventure-filled life when he was but a lad. Stories of a mysterious orphanage on a near-secluded island in Wales surrounded by billowy mist. The orphanage, a home to a group of mysterious children, and a dark-clothed caretaker known as The Bird.

These are the stories that enthralled Jacob when he was a little boy, snuggled under the covers as Grandpa Portman relayed the mystery behind them. They were filled with the children, peculiar beings with strange and even frightening powers. An invisible boy. A girl who could hold fire in her hand without so much as a burn. “I’ve got pictures!” said Grandpa Portman. And his stories came to an even bigger life and reality to Jacob as he gazed upon the aged, monochrome photographs of the children Grandpa Portman used to live with. “We were peculiar,” he’d say.

As Jacob grew older, though, he began to doubt his grandfather’s stories. A bunch of weird kids with strange powers, who all lived together under the care of a bird? “You must think I’m pretty dumb, Grandpa,”he said. Who could believe such things? Maybe the mind of a six-year old boy, but a sixteen-year old? Not a chance.

But when Jacob gets a frantic and frightened call from his grandfather, everything changes. Jacob hurries to his grandfather’s home, only to find him bleeding and dying in the woods behind his house. Glimpses of monster sulking away in the shadows as Jacob holds his grandfather close.

Jacob is frantic and asks what happened, but all Grandpa Portman says seems like strands of nonsense. But one thing is certain from his grandfather’s last words.

He wants Jacob to go to the island. To find the old orphan home.

And find the children…

This mystical and hypnotic tale follows Jacob as he ventures to the mist-enclosed island in search of Miss Peregrine’s orphanage. But what is he to find? The children? Surely they’re dead. The place is riddled with a ghostly landscape. The land blemished with craters of bombs from the war. What is he looking for?

The secrets will be revealed. Because there are people watching. Waiting to see what he uncovers in the ruins…

Could the children still be alive?

Oh the joys of finding a book to add to that glorious, glistening, Pledge-scrubbed shelf reserved for your favorite tomes of adventure and mystery!

I loved this book. L-O-V-E’d the heck out of it. Anyone who’s anyone should gather up a copy of this amazing read. What’s the old saying your mother used to say? “If someone jumped off a cliff, would you do the same?” Well, I’ve grabbed my copy and I’ve jumped. I expect you to follow. Give it to your mom, ‘cause after reading this, she’ll want to follow us off that cliff too.

This book, originally intended to be a photo book, is Ransom Riggs’, award winner of short films and a travel writer, first fiction novel. This story is great for teens and adults, as intended by Mr. Riggs.

If you were to just flip through the pages, not even reading a single word, you’ll notice an awesomely creepy collection of worn and faded monotone photographs.

What’s this? What am I in the fourth grade again? I don’t need pictures to read a book!

Well sir, just hold on. Just calm your tizzy.

Mr. Riggs mixes a potent and hypnotic tale of mystery-fiction and photography. The creepy collection of photos corresponds to the book in quite an exciting way. It’s as if your there, scootched in next to Jacob, bringing the covers up to your nose, listening to Grandpa Portman’s stories. Wonder with awe as he hands you the worn and mysterious photos of the peculiar children of Miss Peregrine’s home.

Are the children really alive?

One thing I do need to mention. This is not a ghost story. Though the creepy photos of odd children seem to say otherwise, the idea of the spirits, eat you from another realm, campfire ghost story is not present. So, if that’s what you’re looking for and you’re dead set against anything otherwise, this book is not what you’re looking for. Though, if you enjoy a great, mysterious, read till 3am, amazingly wonderful, and magically delicious (getting carried away, sorry) book, then give this book a try. You won’t regret it.

All in all, amazingwork. I highly recommend this to not only YA readers, but also to adults as well. It really is a fantastic read, and with tinges of a sequel on the horizon. I give this, deservedly, five beaming gold stars.

Review by Cuyler Creech, TLT Teen Reviewer

Karen read and loved this book too and created a great program you can do with your teens here.

Book Review: The Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby

“Lives only begin once.  Stories are much more complicated.”

Portia has always grown up hearing the stories of her family, but when her family disappears there is no one left to care for her except for The Mister. The Mister runs the McGreavey Home for Wayward Girls and it is a place that you would do anything to escape if you could, perhaps even death.  When one of the girls in the home, her friend Caroline, does indeed take her life, the thought that she may be a murderer haunts her.  For a while Portia languishes at the home, biding her time and praying that her father will magically appear and rescue her, but when the circus caravan drives by and a card with all their routes on it falls out a window and glides slowly to the ground, she has a new plan.

Portia jumps on a bright red bicycle and pedals to a new type of freedom, she hopes.  Her she stumbles upon The Wonder Show, a side show of circus freaks who caravan across the country and make a meager living based solely on their various oddities.  Tall men, short men, fat ladies and a woman with no arms who throws knives with deadly precision – they are now the only hope that Portia has of out running The Mister and trying to find the father she knows once loved the circus.  Portia knows it is only a matter of time before The Mister finds her, he is not the type of man to let someone get away.  And Portia, more than anyone ever has, has upset The Mister.

I feel like I am completely making this up, but The Wonder Show is kind of a lyrical historical fiction with a great gothic vibe.  I loved the characters and was rooting for Portia all the way.  There are little vignettes within the story that gives the observations of the various “Freaks”, and you will love them, too.  This is a haunting story about a girl haunted by her past as she tries and makes a future.  This little gem of a novel sneaks up on you and just grabs your heart and keeps it.  Every character is richly developed and nuanced and pearls of wisdom slip off the page and into your heart.  In the end, this is a truly satisfying tale with an important message to us all: sometimes we find our families in the faces of strangers.

Back Cover: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends and neighbors, allow me to change your lives! Step inside Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show! You’ve read about them in magazines, these so-called human curiosities, this tribe of misfits—now come and see for yourselves. We’ve got a gent as tall as a tree, a lady with a beard, and don’t miss your chance to see the Wild Albinos of Bora Bora! Ask Madame Doula to peer into your future (only two dollars more if you want to know how you’re going to die).

And between these covers behold the greatest act of our display—Portia Remini, the strangest of the menagerie because she’s a ‘normal’ among the freaks, searching for a new beginning on the bally, far away from McGreavey’s Home for Wayward Girls, where Mister watches and waits. He said he would always find Portia, said she could never leave . . .

Oh, it’s not for the faint of heart folks. If you’re prone to nightmares or you’ve got a weak ticker, you’d best move on. Within these pages lies a tale of abandonment, loss, misfortune for the rich and glory for the poor (and a little murder doesn’t hurt). It’s a story for the ages, but be warned: once you enter the Wonder Show you will never be the same.

Definitely add this to your collections. 4 out of 5 stars

Quotable RA: Sometimes it is among the dying that we remember to live

This post originally appeared at Book Brats.

I got dressed for church and I walked to the car all without putting the book down. As he drove, I sat in the passenger seat reading. Two little girls sat in the back seat but they were used to this. As we pulled into the parking lot I closed the book and sobbed. It’s hard to explain to a 3-year-old how a book can be so beautiful, so moving that it makes you cry and that is a GOOD THING.

The book? If I Stay by Gayle Forman. It was not the first and it was not the last, but I am not a book weeper so the tears are a testament to the beauty of it. Many a friend has asked me why I like to read books about dying teens, why teens come in and ask for “tearjerkers” and a book that will “make me cry.” You see sometimes it is among the dying that we remember to live. We forget in our day to day lives that each day is a gift. It’s so easy to get caught up in who is saying what, who is wearing what, and whether or not you are going to make it to destination A on type because darn it we have to leave RIGHT NOW. We forget to tell the people in our lives that we love them. We forget to put our cell phones down and look them in the eyes and really allow ourselves to discover who they are. We forget to make moments. I read books about dying people because they help me to remember to do all of those things. And because they are often beautifully written and I am not going to lie, I love words and the way you can
string them together and make the perfect sentence that resonates in a heart and reminds us to live, to truly and honestly live.
Today I share with you quotes from my top 5 dying teens novel. I share them with you because they have the power to open our eyes and remind us to truly live. Sometimes we learn to live among the dying.

The Sky is Everywhere
“Life’s a freaking mess. In fact, I’m going to tell Sarah we need to start a new philosophical movement: messessentialism instead of existentialism: For those who revel in the essential mess that is life. Because Gram’s right, there’s not one truth ever, just a bunch of stories, all going on at once, in our heads, in our hearts, all getting in the way of each other. It’s all a beautiful calamitous mess. It’s like the day Mr. James took us into the woods and cried triumphantly, “That’s it! That’s it!” to the dizzying cacophony of soloing instruments trying to make music together. That is it.” – The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (4 out of 5 tears)

The Sky is Everywhere from

“My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.”
– The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

“Love, in the universal sense, is unconditional acceptance. In the individual sense, the one-on-one sense, try this: we can say we love each other if my life is better because you’re in it and your life is better because I’m in it. The intensity of the love is weighted by how much better.” – Deadline by Chris Crutcher (4 out of 5 tears)

“Like I said before, Rudy says, it’s all about differences. Something about humans really doesn’t like them, when they are the very thing we should embrace. If someone’s different from you and it scares you or makes you mad, that’s God telling you to take a closer look. If you’re scared or mad, that’s about you, not about the person who scares or angers you.” – Deadline by Chris Crutcher

“You put yourself out there in the truest way you can and hope others do the same. You’ll connect or you won’t, but you did what you could. It’s like playing ball in some way. There are guys on the team, like Cody, I’d give my life for. But you have to be willing to lay down your life for all of them if you want to put the best you on the field. Every guy on that field has to believe you’ll bring nothing back off the field with you.” – Deadline by Chris Crutcher

If I Stay
“I realize now that dying is easy. Living is hard.” – If I Stay by Gayle Forman (5 out of 5 tears)
“And that’s just it, isn’t it? That’s how we manage to survive the loss. Because love, it never dies, it never goes away, it never fades, so long as you hang on to it.” – If I Stay by Gayle Forman

“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.” – If I Stay by Gayle Forman

“And that’s just it, isn’t it? That’s how we manage to survive the loss. Because love, it never dies, it never goes away, it never fades, so long as you hang on to it.” – If I Stay by Gayle Forman

The Fault in Our Stars
“Some people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them,” I said.
“Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That’s what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway.” – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (5 out of 5 tears)

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”    – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

“The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.” – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

“We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we’re not likely to do either.” – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

“That’s what I believe. I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it- or my observation of it- is temporary?” – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

If You Come Softly
“Time comes to us softly, slowly. It sits beside us for a while. Then, long before we are ready, it moves on.” – If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson (4 out of 5 tears)

“I think only once in your life do you find someone that you say, “Hey, this is the person I want to spend the rest of my time on this earth with.” And if you miss it, or walk away from it, or even maybe, blink – it’s gone.” – If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

Sometimes, you have to let the words of a book speak for themselves.  This post is part of our quotable RA series where we do RA by sharing our favorite book quotes.  For more Quotable RA see Quotable RA: Stop Bullying. Period.