Wednesday, October 22, 2014
All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
Judith lives in the small rural town of Roswell Station with her mother and her older brother. The time is not clear, but certainly everyone uses a horse and wagon, with farming the major occupation. Judith loves her brother and her mother, and the neighbor boy, Lucas, whom she has loved forever. People, however, avoid Judith. Four years ago, she and her best friend Lottie disappear, and Judith returned with her tongue cut out. Lottie was found floating face down in the river.
To please her mother, Judith avoids talking at all, and in reality becomes a servant in the house. Townspeople think she might have been sexually abused (she wrote in a city fathers’ meeting that she was not) and/or gone slightly mad. Lucas announces his engagement to the prettiest and most popular girl in town. Then the town is attacked. Judith knows how to save the town, but doing so will bring dire consequences, some very unintended.
Each character is well defined, with a personality that will surprise you. We are not simple people, we humans. Neither are even the minor characters.
A good reader will think they know the secrets and see the ending. They will be wrong this time.
Yes, there are sexual situations, some real, many imagined. And there is love, real love, in many forms.
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness.
Book 3 of the Souls Trilogy, this does not stand alone. However, for fans of the series, it is a great ending.
In Book 2, (Shadow of Night) Diana and Matthew returned to present time, pregnant with twins, to find the magical alchemical manuscript Ashmole 782, The Book of Life, to witches, vampires, and daemons. The new family spurs them to pursue creating a legal marriage out their illegal union of witch and vampire. To do this, they must create a new family branch, and pull all creatures closer in understanding their possibilities and origins.
Matthew’s blood disease becomes center stage when his son Benjamin Fuchs returns to create havoc, trying to destroy the family. It is this vampire that generates the central problem, suspense, and violence. And gives us an amazing ending.
I disliked dragging an entire genetics class into Matthew’s research. It did not make sense for the need for secrecy; it did help the reader to understand genetic background. Overall, the writing was not as solid as the first two- perhaps she was rushed into the third? It’s just that we all wanted a satisfying ending and soon that we forgive Harkness.
I did like the change in Diana, even in Book 2, when she became pregnant, and in this book as a mother. Always a strong character, she shows a bit of “tiger mom” aspects.
A word to teen readers: the first in the series is wonderful and accessible for teens. This book, perhaps, is for older teens.
Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn.
After a particularly horrific scene at a party, Annaliese disappears for a year. When she reappears at home, she is a very different girl. She knows in fact, that she is really a different girl in Annaliese’s body. And she knows she can’t stay in this body.
The mystery quickly becomes multi-faceted, with “another little piece” given to us slowly (agonizingly so.) Flashbacks become really annoying, even if you know the story is supposed to be revealed gradually. Anna wants to learn about her family and the boy at the party, (and the boy next door who “sees” death) but alternately remembers a razor and a mentor who seems a cross between demon and overlord.
With a slow start, the story overtakes your imagination and your knowledge of mythology, becoming a thriller you can’t put down. Unpleasant, yes- vivid to the point of disturbing violence, this is not for the squeamish. Finding a motive for Anna’s choices is difficult and a weak plotline. We understand that Anna is confused at the beginning, but she is not towards the end. However, Quinn ties it all together, letting our hearts slow down a bit.
Some sexual situations and body parts; lots of violence and cussing.
For grades 10 up who are fans of mystery horror
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
13-year-old Nate's love of musical theater invites teasing and torment by his peers and his older brother, but he is certain that he belongs on the Broadway stage. Right now, he'd be thrilled just to see a Broadway stage. When his folks go out of town leaving Nate and his brother mostly-unsupervised, Nate grabs the opportunity for escape, and heads out on a Greyhound bus bound for NYC and a Broadway audition for "E.T: the Musical."
Of course, nothing goes according to plan. Aided by a long-lost auntie, his BFF Libby back home, and a few surprising allies, Nate does arrive safely (if somewhat crumpled by the journey) and auditions for the part of Elliot.
Nate's voice throughout the story is hilarious. He doesn't know much, and he doesn't know how much he doesn't know, but he's got a goal and he's got guts, and he's got a sense of humor (which helps a lot if you don't know much).
There's some bullying, some very unhelpful parents, and some cussing (he's a starstruck 13-year-old boy stuck in Jankburk, PA -- he has reason to cuss), plus one near-miss kiss. Nate questions his own value as well as his sexuality, but through it all, he's determined to get up on that stage to sing. How can we not applaud?
Recommended for ages 12 and up.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Miss Manners would be so proud.
A few weeks ago, the Sex in the Library booktalking team journeyed to Licton Springs K-8 school in Seattle to present a program in conjuction with Banned Books week. The classes are studying censorship and reading banned books, and wanted to talk about books with controversial content.
We are happy to oblige!
We love talking about stuff like that!
Today, a stack of thank-you notes arrived. Clearly, writing the note was an assignment, but it is just as clear that message content was not dictated.
Middle school students are wonderfully opinionated!
If you would like to have Sex in the Library at your next conference, convention, or staff in-service, contact us here via the comments box or find us on Facebook.
We'd love to put together a program just for you!
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Edge of the Water (Edge of Nowhere series #2) by Elizabeth George
In the preface, we find a girl who can’t/won’t speak who is abandoned by her parents, left to wander, scared of the water, dragging a suitcase along behind her.
Now skip to Providence Sound, Whidbey Island, Washington. Jenn wants badly to leave the island and her meager existence, focusing on a soccer scholarship. She meets Annie Taylor, grad student marine biologist, who rents a very dilapidated trailer from her father. The two strike up a friendship, partly through the money Annie offers Jenn to assist her in tracking a famous black seal in the area, and partly because Jenn is drawn to Annie romantically.
Now skip to Becca, who has come to the island to escape her violent step-father, now out of jail. Becca knows he is dangerous because she hears “whispers” from people’s minds. She can’t read minds, exactly. She has also changed her appearance, gaining a large amount of weight, changing her hair color and adding glasses. This prompts Jenn to call her “fat broad,” both because of the weight, and because Jenn doesn’t think Becca is a good romantic fit for her friend Derric.
The characters, setting, and the seal are expertly intertwined in this mystery. Even those cast in supporting roles are well-defined. We care about every character in this novel, even the seal. Teens act like teens. Adults are not stupid. Unusual in a teen novel for both sets of characters to be so well drawn.
While the mystery is well done, we did find the back-flips to Silla’s story annoying. Good readers will, of course, sense the ending halfway through.
While this is the second in the series, it won’t take readers long to understand the back story. Now when is the third?????
Great for 12 up