Saturday, October 27, 2012

BCPL's Ultimate Teen Booklist, Part 2 (D–G)

After releasing the first 25 titles on our Ultimate Teen Booklist, we promised 25 more titles soon come. So here are the next 25 titles on our list. We'll be back next week for more, covering books and series whose titles start with the letters H–J (there are a lot of H's!). And don't forget to tell us in the comments section what books you hope to see make the next list!

26. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury (1957)
This story of a boy’s magical small-town summer in 1928 deals with events both mundane and mystical. Middle School/High School.

27. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (trans. by Susan Massotty) (1947, 1995)
This is the definitive edition of the beloved and deeply admired testament in which Anne Frank recounts the two years she spent hiding in an Amsterdam warehouse with her Jewish family during the Nazi occupation. Middle School/High School.

28. Discworld/Tiffany Aching (series) by Terry Pratchett (2003–2012)
Discworld is an extensive comic fantasy series of nearly forty novels, though the books do not need to be read in order. To date, there are four books featuring Tiffany Aching, a young apprentice witch in the Discworld universe. The subseries starts when Tiffany teams up with the Wee Free Men, a clan of six-inch-high blue men, to rescue her baby brother and ward off a sinister invasion from Fairyland. Middle School/High School.
Titles include:
1. The Wee Free Men
2. A Hat Full of Sky
3. Wintersmith
4. I Shall Wear Midnight

29. Divergent by Veronica Roth (2011)
Smart, gutsy characters and a sweet romance add depth to this action-packed, addictively fast-paced read set in a not-too-distant future Chicago where people are divided into five factions. Now that she is sixteen, it is finally time for Beatrice Prior to choose her permanent faction. But her choice won’t be easy. When she takes her aptitude tests, Beatrice learns that she is a Divergent, someone who does not fit easily into any of the predetermined classifications and whose very existence threatens her society. In order to survive, she must keep her secret and excel in the tests administered by her new faction, from weaponry and hand-to-hand combat, to capture the flag and mind-bending virtual reality simulations. Middle School (mature)/High School.

30. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897) Having discovered the double identity of the wealthy Transylvanian nobleman Count Dracula, a small group of people vow to rid the world of the evil vampire. Middle School (mature)/High School.

31. Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)
Set on the desert planet of Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who grows up to become a mysterious man known as Maud'dib. Blending elements of adventure and mysticism with environmentalism and politics, Dune traces Paul’s journey to avenge his noble family and create hope in a deteriorating universe. High School.

32. The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King (2009)
Seventeenth-century pirate Emer Morrisey was murdered and cursed to live the lives of 100 dogs. Centuries later, Saffron Adams is born with a complete memory of Emer’s life and all the dog lives in between. This novel is multilayered, with several storylines to keep the pages turning. There is Emer’s life in Cromwellian Ireland, her lost love, and her journey to become one of the most fearsome pirates of the Caribbean. Then there is Saffron’s difficult family situation, her hilarious struggle to repress her pirate instincts, and her driving desire to retrieve the treasure that Emer buried just before her death. Also thrown into the mix are the insights gained from centuries living a dog’s life and a disturbed middle-aged man who lives near the treasure site. Dust is the perfect combination of history, adventure, romance, and contemporary realism. High School.

33. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)
An American saga set between the beginning of the 20th century and the end of World War I, this epic novel re-imagines the seminal stories of Genesis through the entwined lives of two families in the Salinas Valley. High School.

34. Emma by Jane Austen (1815)
This classic comedy of manners centers on Emma Woodhouse, a flawed and self-deluding matchmaker with the best of intentions but little understanding of the people around her. High School.

35. Enchanted Forest Chronicles (series) by Patricia C. Wrede (1985–1993)
The series begins with Princess Cimorene, who bravely aids dragons in their battle against the wizards trying to overtake their kingdom. Middle School/High School.
Titles Include:
1. Dealing With Dragons
2. Searching for Dragons
3. Calling on Dragons
4. Talking to Dragons

36. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1985)
A child soldier and now a veteran of simulated war games, Ender believes he is engaged in a computer war game. In truth, he is commanding the last fleet against an alien race seeking the destruction of Earth. Middle School/High School.

37. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers (1988)
Seventeen-year-old Richie Perry is fresh out of a Harlem high school and doesn't have the money for college, so he enlists in the Army. Completely unprepared for the horrors he must face, Richie spends a devastating year on active duty in Vietnam. High School (mature).

38. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (2012)
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few extra years, Hazel’s cancer is still terminal. But when she meets the wildly clever and charismatic Augustus Waters at her Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel discovers a new zest for life. This is a wonderfully written book about love and loss and learning to live while coping with the reality of death, about wondering how you will be remembered after you're gone and what will become of those you love. The Fault in Our Stars is not an easy read. It is intellectually and emotionally challenging—but worth the effort. By turns brilliant, hilarious, and heartbreaking, this is a book that is not easily forgotten. High School (mature).

39. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (2003)
Eddie, a wounded war veteran killed in a tragic accident, believes he led an uninspired life. But when he awakens in the afterlife, he soon discovers that in heaven there are five people to help the deceased understand the significance and value of their life on earth. High School.

40. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (1966)
Charlie Gordon, a young man with limited mental capabilities, along with a laboratory mouse named Algernon become the joint objects of a scientific experiment to see if Charlie can become “normal.” Based on the 1959 short story of the same name. Middle School (mature)/High School.

41. Forever by Judy Blume (1975)
Katherine and Michael, along with various friends and acquaintances in suburban New Jersey, discover the possibilities and limitations of love, sex, and personal commitment. They also invent a few interesting names for body parts. High School.

42. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
This gothic horror classic is considered by many to be the first ever science fiction novel. It’s the story of the arrogant and ego-centric Victor Frankenstein, who becomes obsessed with generating a new life from stolen body parts. However, upon seeing his new creation, Frankenstein rejects his “monster,” leaving it to make its own way in the world with no direction. The results are disastrous for Frankenstein and those he holds dear. Mary Shelley was 19 when Frankenstein was first published. High School.

43. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg (1987) 
Depressed middle-aged housewife Evelyn Couch finds the power and courage to change her life after befriending Ninny Threadgood, an elderly woman she meets at a nursing home. The novel blends Evelyn and Ninny’s present day (the 1980s) with stories from Ninny’s youth in the 1920s. At the heart of these past stories is Idgie, Ninny’s strong-minded, tomboy sister-in-law, who flouted societal expectations and opened a café with her friend Ruth. High School.

44. Funny How Things Change by Melissa Wyatt (2009)
This is a quiet, thoughtful novel set in the coal-mining country of West Virginia. The small town of Dwyer is dying, so when his girlfriend Lisa asks him to move with her to Pennsylvania when she leaves for college, Remy Walker agrees. After all, even his mother left to make a life somewhere else. Still, Remy is torn: he loves Lisa, but knows he will miss life in the mountains. This is a compelling and refreshing novel, with a relatable narrator and a strong sense of place. The characters and events feel authentic rather than contrived, and the writing is crisp and eloquent. High School.

45. Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray (2003–2007)
In 1895, on Gemma’s 16th birthday, she is assaulted with a terrifying vision of her mother’s death at the hands of a mysterious dark creature. Minutes later, Gemma finds her mother dead in the middle of the Bombay marketplace. Gemma’s visions continue after she is sent to Spence, an all-girls school outside London with a strong gothic atmosphere. There she discovers the existence of secret societies called the Order and the Rakshana—and learns that she holds the power to enter a magical place called the Realms. The series is fascinating as it explores three worlds—the mysteries of Spence, the Realms, and late 19th century London—yet somehow maintains a completely modern sensibility. Middle School (mature)/High School.
Titles include:
1. A Great and Terrible Beauty
2. Rebel Angels
3. The Sweet Far Thing

46. The Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (2000)
Have you ever wondered about the story behind a painting? In this radiant novel, Griet, a sixteen-year-old girl based on the unknown subject of one of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer's most famous paintings, comes to life. High School.

47. The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)
This ageless favorite is a precursor to the current craze in dystopian fiction. It features a “perfect” world, where there is no such thing as fear or pain. There are no choices to agonize over; everything is decided for you. At the age of twelve, every person is assigned their role in the Community. When his turn comes, Jonas is chosen to receive special attention from the Giver, who holds in trust all the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. And then Jonas learns a truth from which there is no turning back. Middle School/High School.

48. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (2005)
In this heartbreaking and inspiring memoir, the child of an alcoholic father and an eccentric artist mother discusses her family's nomadic upbringing. While their parents dodged authorities, the Walls children had to learn how to support themselves, even scrounging in school trashcans for food. High School.

49. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (1971)
Originally sold as the real diary of an actual teenager, this is the faux-memoir of a 15-year-old girl in the 1960s. Despite her stable, secure upbringing—she’s the daughter of a college professor—she tries LSD at a party and is subsequently drawn into a nightmarish world of addiction, hustlers, and dealers. High School.

50. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)
This Pulitzer Prize–winning novel is a classic novel set during the Civil War and Reconstruction. It introduces its teenage heroine, the spoiled and headstrong Scarlet O’Hara, on the eve of the Civil War and follows her struggles into adulthood. This is a love story, but also an epic historical saga. Middle School (mature)/High School. 

So tell us... What books do you feel are missing from the list so far? What personal favorites do you hope will turn up further down the list? We'd love to know what you think!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

BCPL's Ultimate Teen Booklist, Part I (A–C)

Happy Teen Read Week! Have you done anything special to celebrate?

We here at BCPL have been working on compiling our Ultimate Teen Booklist. I began with a list of over 700 titles (!!!!) and recruited four BCPL compatriots to help me winnow down the list: Allison White and Patrick Yaeger, our outreach librarians in charge of teen programming; Randy Matlow, library director, sci-fi/fantasy enthusiast, and "anime sensei"; and of course Lucinda Mason, my fellow blogger and our Outreach Department supervisor here at BCPL. My intention with this list is to provide a guide to some of the best and most enduring literature written for teens, as well as highlight adult and classic titles with special teen appeal. And of course we couldn’t resist sneaking in a few of our own personal favorites just for fun.

One or more "committee" members has read each of the titles included on the list. No matter how many awards a book has won or how many "best" lists it has been included in, a book doesn't make the list if someone on the committee isn't enthusiastic about it. "Good, but I don't love it" doesn't cut it. This is by no means a complete list and will be updated on an annual basis. (We haven't managed to read all 700+ titles up for consideration, and great new books are published every year that deserve to be included!)

While the materials on this list have been selected for ages 13–18, the books span a broad range of reading and maturity levels. I have tried to give a general indication of the appropriateness of each title for different age levels, but these are entirely subjective labels and may vary from individual to individual.

So here goes...the first 25 titles (and series) on our Ultimate Teen Booklist, in alphabetical order:

 1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)
Arnold “Junior” Spirit is used to being picked on. His hydrocephaly and cheap coke-bottle glasses make him an easy target, but at least he has his best friend Rowdy, a short-tempered rabble-rouser who is always on Arnold’s side. Sick of the hopelessness that permeates life on the rez, Arnold transfers from the reservation school to the white high school in Reardon. His choice makes him an outcast on the rez—even Rowdy deserts him—and the kids at the new school view him as a definite oddity. But as he learns to navigate the new school and copes with family tragedies, Arnold begins to get a larger picture of who he is and who he wants to be. High School.

2. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (2006)
Recent high school grad and child prodigy Colin Singleton is devastated when his girlfriend Katherine dumps him. Of course this should be old hat by now, as this is Colin’s 19th dumping—all of them by girls named Katherine. Depressed over the love of his life’s rejection and the fact that his status as a child prodigy is over, Colin and his best friend Hassan— a wise-cracking, Judge Judy fanatic who lives with his parents and refuses to consider college or getting a job—head south on a road trip. This is a delightfully inventive and frequently hilarious adventure where the destination turns out to be the least of the journey. And, as a bonus, it has one of the funniest fight scenes ever. High School.

3. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (2010)
Seventeen-year-old Amy Curry is still reeling from her father’s death when she sets out on a cross-country road trip in the company of Roger, a 19-year-old college student and total stranger. Along the way, they make several unscheduled stops to take in the local color and pursue separate missions. This is a compulsively readable novel, punctuated with awesome playlists, whimsical drawings, and other mementos to document their journey and add flavor to the story itself. Amy and Roger are likeable, well-drawn characters, and their conversations are fresh and believable. This is a wonderful, heartwarming book filled with adventure, drama, romance, and laugh-out-loud humor. High School.

4. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (1996)
This engaging memoir tells the story of Frank McCourt and his family, who left Depression-era America to "go home" to Ireland after a family tragedy. It is a powerful, gritty depiction of poverty and the glimpses of hope and humor that can be found in even in the most miserable childhoods. High School.

5. Anne of Green Gables (series) by L.M. Montgomery (1908–1921)

When Anne Shirley, an irrepressibly imaginative red-haired orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm, she proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her. This is a beloved, heartwarming, often hilarious tale and the first of a series that follows Anne from the age of eleven through adulthood. Middle School/High School.
Titles include:
1. Anne of Green Gables
2. Anne of Avonlea
3. Anne of the Island
4. Anne of Windy Poplars (aka Anne of Windy Willows)
5. Anne's House of Dreams
6. Anne of Ingleside
7. Rainbow Valley
8. Rilla of Ingleside

6. Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden (1982)
From the moment Liza Winthrop meets Annie Kenyon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she knows there is something special between them. But when their relationship is discovered, Liza begins to doubt her feelings. High School. 

7. Ashfall by Mike Mullin (2011)
Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone for the weekend when a super volcano explodes and everything goes haywire. To find his family, he must trek over 100 miles through a dangerous landscape of ash and snow, trying to survive both nature and a new world in which all the old rules of civilization have vanished. This is an epic survival story with plenty of violence and peril. Touches of romance and humor are mixed in to relieve the darkness. The characters are superbly drawn—especially the brash, MacGyver-esque Darla—and the writing is solid. The unfathomable situations Alex encounters feel real and immediate, and the suspense never lets up in this gripping apocalyptic thriller. High School.

8. Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison (1992)
This is an emotionally difficulty yet riveting novel about growing up poor and white in the South. The book centers on Ruth Anne “Bone” Boatwright, an illegitimate child in a family of social outcasts who grows up with her young waitress mother, younger sister, and large extended family. It is a tumultuous childhood, especially after her mother marries “Daddy Glenn,” a jealous and unpredictable man whose behavior escalates into sexual abuse. High School (mature).

9. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (2010)
Beautiful and ruthless, Samantha Kingston is the queen bee of her high school. She and her friends party hard and do as they like, regardless of the consequences to others. But one fateful night a car crash on the way home from a party brings an end to everything as Sam knows it. Now Sam is forced to live the same day over and over until she finally gets it right. This is a raw, emotional, often beautiful book as Sam reexamines her life and relationships. High School.

10. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)
Sethe, an escaped slave living in a “spiteful” house with her 10-year-old daughter Denver, is haunted by a terrible choice in her past and her neighbors’ disapproval. After reconnecting with a friend from her days of slavery, Sethe’s life is once again turned upside down by a mysterious woman named Beloved, who quickly becomes a dominate force in Sethe and Denver’s home. Set primarily in post-Civil War Ohio, this story in not narrated chronologically; instead it is peppered with flashbacks, memories, and nightmares. High School (mature). 

11. Big Fish by Daniel Wallace (1998)
When his attempts to get to know his dying father fail, William Bloom tries to reconcile his memories of his dad with the tall tales and heroic feats Edward Bloom would use to describe his life. As he revisits his father’s mythic tales, William discovers that his father’s exaggerations might—just might—have some basis in reality. High School. 

12. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause (1997)
A beautiful teenage werewolf falls for a human boy and must cope with the expectations of her pack and the danger that her secrets will be discovered. High School (mature). 

13. Bloody Jack Adventures (series) by L.A. Meyer (2002–Ongoing)
Streetwise orphan Mary Faber is thirteen (or thereabout) when she disguises herself in boys’ clothes and renames herself “Jack” to trick her way onto a pirate-hunting warship of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy. What follows is an adventure story to remember, as Jacky spends two years keeping her secret (mostly) and plunging headfirst into endless misadventures. There are pirates, shipwrecks, exotic settings, and even a bit of romance. This is a wonderful read, with excellent use of description and dialog—and Jacky is a clever and enterprising character that guys and girls will adore equally. (Description for Bloody Jack, book one of the series. ) Middle School (mature)/High School.
Titles include:
1. Bloody Jack
2. Curse of the Blue Tattoo
3. Under the Jolly Roger
4. In the Belly of the Bloodhound
5. Mississippi Jack
6. My Bonny Light Horseman
7. Rapture of the Deep
8. The Wake of the Lorelei Lee
9. The Mark of the Golden Dragon
10. Viva Jacquelina! 

14. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2006)
Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death narrates the story of Liesel, a young German girl who is eking out a meager existence for herself by thievery when she encounters something she can't resist—books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares stories to help sustain her neighbors during bombing raids. Middle School (mature)/High School.

15. By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters (2010)
Daelyn Rice is irreparably broken, and after several suicide attempts, she's determined to get her death right this time. So she visits a website for “completers” and blogs about her life, revealing a history of bullying that traces all the way back to kindergarten. Meanwhile, an unusual boy tries to draw out the “freak who doesn't talk.” High School.

16. Carrie by Stephen King (1974)
High-school misfit Carrie White is tormented by her peers at school and repressed at home by her domineering, ultra-religious mother. But after discovering her telekinetic powers, she finds a way to exact revenge. High School.

17. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951)
In this classic tale of teenage angst and rebellion, sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield leaves behind the hypocrisies of his boarding school and goes on a “four-day odyssey” in New York City. High School. 

18. Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness (2008–2010)
Imagine if your every thought was broadcast like a radio signal—and you could hear the thoughts of everyone around you, even animals. On the planet of New World, settlers are besieged by this endless “Noise,” a result of biological warfare between the planet’s resident aliens and the first human colonizers. Or, at least that’s what Todd Hewitt, the last boy in a town of men, has been told. Supposedly the Noise germ killed all the women on the planet—including Todd’s mother—but just as he is preparing himself for his initiation into manhood Todd stumbles upon a dangerous secret that sends him on the run and makes him question everything he’s ever believed. High School.
Titles Include:
1. The Knife of Never Letting Go
2. The Ask and the Answer
3. Monsters of Men

19. A Child Called “It” by David Pelzer (1995)
This ever-popular favorite tells the story of a child's abuse at the hands of his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother. High School. 

20. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (1974)
It’s easy to talk about what you believe, but actually taking a stand can be absolutely terrifying. That's what Jerry Renault learns when he refuses to participate in his school’s annual candy drive and incurs the wrath of senior Archie Costello, his gang of followers, and the school administration. High School. 

21. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)
This epistolary novel relates the story of a poverty-stricken African American woman in South in the first half of the twentieth century. Celie became the child bride of a violent and angry widower, but manages to her sustain herself through letters to God and to her sister in Africa. Eventually, Celie’s difficult marriage reveals itself to be a blessing of sorts when she discovers love, hope, and courage through an unlikely friendship with her husband’s mistress. High School (mature). 

22. The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe (1902, 2009)
This anthology contains all of Poe’s (1809–1849) poems and tales as well as his only complete novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, a horror/adventure story about a stowaway on a whaling ship who must endure mutiny, starvation, cannibals, and the ocean’s horrors on his way to the South Pole. Key stories and poems include “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and “The Raven.” Most titles are suitable for middle school, though the novel and a few other titles may be best for more mature readers. Middle School/High School. 

23. Crank (series) by Ellen Hopkins (2004–2010)
Kristina Snow is the perfect daughter—until she meets Adam, who introduces her to “the monster.” As she becomes increasingly addicted to crystal meth, Kristina becomes a very different person, struggling to control her life and her mind as she grows up and has children of her own. Novels in verse. High School (mature).
Titles include:
1. Crank
2. Glass
3. Fallout

24. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (2010)
In 1970s rural Mississippi, two boys—one black, the other white—build an unlikely friendship despite parental discouragement. Decades later, they are thrown together again. One is town constable; the other is the town pariah and lead suspect in the disappearance of a teenage girl. A perfect blending of place, character, and voice give this quiet literary thriller the feel of a classic. High School. 

25. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (2003)
This is the simple yet extraordinary story of a 15-year-old autistic boy who investigates the death of a neighbor's dog only to uncover shocking secrets about his own family. It is heartbreaking, funny, and remarkably written to convey the workings of an autistic mind. The novel was originally published for adults, but another version (edited for profanity) was later published for younger readers. High School. 

So, that's our list so far. Next week, I'll reveal our next 25 titles!

Any favorites you think we should consider (or reconsider) in the A–C range? What other books do you hope will be on the list?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Congratulations to the winners! (And a Last Chance Giveaway!)

Congratulations to the winners of our Fall 2012 Giveaway!

A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer DuBois
(May 2012)

"Thrilling, thoughtful, strange, gorgeous, political, and
deeply personal, Jennifer duBois's A Partial History of
Lost Causes
is a terrific debut novel. In prose both brainy
and beautiful, she follows her characters as they struggle
to save each other. This is a book to get lost in."
–Elizabeth McCracken
Entry #57 Kayla Druin
Entry #106 Rachel C.
Entry #211 Tiffany Holbert
Entry # 75 Kayla Druin
Entry #114 Michelle Tidwell 
Entry #17 Kari
Entry #122 Tiffany Holbert
Entry #131 Nikole Seay
Entry #128 Tiffany Holbert
Entry #177 Bethany
Entry #56 Anonymous (June M.)
Entry #129 Nikole Seay
Entry #224 Sami H.
Entry #83 MaryBeth G.
Entry #180 Bethany
Entry #136 Jessica
Entry #227 Anonymous (Rachel M.)
Entry #45 Marissa L. Sanders
Entry #19 Kari
Entry #144 Jessica
Entry #175 Bethany
Entry #153 Barbara P.
Entry #222 Sami H.
Entry # 149 Barbara P.
Entry #212 Dasha
Entry #88 Cindy H.
Entry #132 Mary Ann

All winners have been notified by e-mail. If you have any questions, please contact me at

....But wait! We have one more ARC available. For those of you who didn't win, A Partial History for Lost Causes is still up for grabs. It's a contemporary fiction novel with a historical twist and a dash of political intrigue. The ARC goes to the first person to leave a comment below (be sure to leave your e-mail address so I can arrange pickup!) Ready... Set...Go!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

NEWS: 2012 National Book Award Finalists Announced

Awards season has arrived! National Book Awards finalists were announced yesterday; winners will be announced on Wednesday, November 14 at the National Book Awards Ceremony. So far, there's been no drama like last year's "accidental" nomination of Lauren Myracle's Shine.

The finalists are:


This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers 
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers    **ARC up for grabs in our 2012 Fall Giveaway


Iron Curtain The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956 by Anne Applebaum
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4 by Robert A. Caro
The Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez
House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid

Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations by David Ferry
Heavenly Bodies by Cynthia Huntington
Fast Animal by Tim Seibles
Night of the Republic by Alan Shapiro,
Meme by Susan Wheeler

Goblin Secrets by William Alexander
Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

So... have you read any of the nominated titles? Are there worthy titles you think are missing from the list? Let us know your verdict and picks!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

GUEST REVIEW: Gentle's Holler by Kerry Madden

Allison, our teen and adult programmer here at BCPL, has a new guest review for you! 

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Audience: Younger Teens/Tweens (middle school)
Series: Maggie Valley #1

Summary: Livy Two Weems is a young girl in North Carolina, who dreams of being a songwriter but is always brought out of her dreams by her nine younger siblings.  Her father is an aspiring banjo player, her mother is constantly the rock of the family.  Livy Two is growing up poor and only wants to make things better for her poverty stricken family, especially her younger sister Gentle, who is blind.  Tragedy strikes, and Gentle is trying to come to grips with it, and help her family survive the turmoil in its wake.

Allison's Review:
When I was younger I read The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings, and when I picked up Gentle’s Holler I was not expecting to find the same story. The blurb on the inside cover made me want to read about Livy Two, whose twin sister Olivia died at birth and to whom she sometimes prayed. I wanted to read about the poverty-stricken family and Livy Two’s sibling who was blind. I wanted something new. If I hadn’t already read The Yearling, I may have really enjoyed the story.  However, Gentle’s Holler seemed more like an endeavor to retell Rawlings's classic tale.

There are some really touching parts of the story, like Livy Two’s dedication to finding something to help her younger sister Gentle function as normal without her sight. When Livy’s older brother Emmet leaves the family, we are drawn in to her heartbreak. When Grandma Horace arrives to help the family out of despair, the reader can genuinely feel the tension between family members.  And, when Livy’s father is desperately hanging onto life, I could identify with her fears and emotional state. 

I’m not sorry I took the time to read the book, but I wish that the writer would give us something a little more original to ponder.
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