Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Vote for your favorite teen book!

Voting is now open for YALSA's (Young Adult Librarian Service Association) top 10 books for teens!  Visit  to see the nominees and vote for your favorite book on the list.  I'd have a hard time deciding between Eleanor and Park, The 5th Wave, Winger, and This Song Will Save Your Life.  Let your voice be heard and vote now through October 18th! 

Speaking of The 5th Wave,  just heard that Liev Schreiber (of X-Men fame) will star in the movie version to be released in 2016!  Also Chloe Grace Moretz, who stars in the recently released movie version of Gayle Forman's fabulous book If I Stay will play Cassie.   No movie trailer yet.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Short books with substance

Summer reading is winding down for Trumbull students. Only 2 weeks left!  If you haven’t done your required summer reading yet, don’t panic.  There are plenty of books in the Teen Spot that are under 250 pages and still have a lot of meat and good storylines.  I have assembled a good number for display for you to choose from.  Here are a few that I suggest:

Gary Paulsen isn’t just for 4th and 5th graders.  Two books geared towards middle and even high school readers are Nightjohn and Soldier’s Heart.  Both are historical fiction.  Nightjohn is a spare story that takes place in the 1850’s on a southern plantation. Nightjohn is a slave who risks everything to learn to read and teach other slaves to read. A mere 92 pages, this one is full of heart.  Soldier’s Heart is a Civil War story about a little known volunteer infantry regiment of Union soldiers in Minnesota. It’s based on the true story of Charley Goddard, who was only 15 at the time of his enlistment.  Only 102 pages!  A little longer at 216 pages is John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, an incredibly moving story of the friendship between two boys at Auschwitz concentration camp.  It’s a book that you will not want to put down. 

Short stories are good to read at the beach or at the pool, or just before falling asleep at night.  Two collections easily read in the two weeks left are Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales by Brian Jacques and Anne Frank’s Tales From the Secret Annex. Anne Frank’s stories (which she kept in a journal separate from the famous diary) are certainly more difficult to read, but will give those interested in this historical figure a better insight into her life in the attic.  Brian Jacques is, of course, well known for his wildly popular Redwall series. This collection of stories reveals a darker, eerier side to the author. Both books are under 150 pages.

A couple of classic teen books under 150 pages are S.E. Hinton’s Rumblefish and Robert Cormier’s Heroes. If you read and liked The Outsiders by Hinton, you will enjoy Rumblefish as well.  Heroes is a disturbing story of vengeance told by the author of The Chocolate War.
Sports lovers, pick up Crackback by John Coy.  It’s a high school football story about the pressures of being the best and what one player is willing to do to get there.  A little longer at 201 pages, this one also includes questions at the end to get you thinking about what you are reading.

There’s nothing like a novel in verse format for a quick read, and the late Walter Dean Myers’ Street Love is a short verse novel about star-crossed first love in an urban setting. Katherine Applegate's Home for the Brave is a bit longer, but in verse novel format it's a quick read about African refugee Kek's difficulties adjusting to life in Minnesota.

What the Sea Wants by Tracy Banghart is a sweet fairy tale that takes place on the coast of Maine. Get swept up in Victoria’s unearthly attraction to the sea in a spare 62 pages.  

You’ve got two weeks left of summer, so come check out our “skinnies” display of shorter books perfect for kids who are not avid readers. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer reading suggestions

Summer reading is well under way!  As you know, the lists you received from public middle and high school contains suggested titles. You may read whatever you want.

Here are some suggestions if none of the listed titles sound right for you:

If you love a good mystery try the Mike and Riel mysteries by Norah McClintock. Mike is a 15 year old high school student living with his uncle who is only 10 years older than him and not a very attentive guardian. Riel is Mike's history teacher and a former cop. Together they work to solve the mystery behind Mike's mom's death in Hit and Run, the first in the series.

The Neil Flambe mysteries by Kevin Sylvester are perfect for middle school age mystery lovers!  Neil's only 14, but he's already a very gifted chef, who also has a talent for solving mysteries.  First one is Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders.

Who doesn't love reading a really good love story?  Gayle Forman has written a winner with Just One Day. It's the story of good-girl Allyson who, during a trip to Europe with her school, impulsively leaves with teen free spirit and Shakespearean actor Willem on a trip to Paris that lasts one day. When he disappears the following day Allyson is left with a broken heart and a year of self-discovery. The sequel to this one is Just One Year, which recounts the year from Willem's point of view. Good beach reads.

Steampunky, sci-fi series The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer has been wildly popular. If you haven't yet read this series, start with Cinder. It's about cyborgs and is a futuristic take on the Cinderella story.  Follow Cinder with Scarlet, then Cress

For some humor with a bit of adventure and mystery thrown in there's Au Revoir Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber. Perry is forced by his parents to escort frumpy exchange student Gobi to prom to enhance her American experience.  However Gobi is definitely not what she appears to be. She is a highly trained assassin and ends up taking poor Perry for a wild ride through the city on promo night.  There's a sequel too: Perry's Killer Playlist.

If you are into laying around at the pool or beach with your eyes closed, pick up an audiobook.  It's a great way to get your summer reading done while enjoying the summer!

And don't forget the 2015 Nutmeg nominated books!  There are 10 for middle school and 10 for high school. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Books added to the shelf in May

For those of you following the Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson, book number 7, The Insider,  is now on the shelf.  This is the end of the series, and the darkest one yet with demons, witches and wraiths all wreaking havoc at Disneyland. It promises to be a great ending to a great series.

In Amy Plum's new book, After the End, young Juneau lives in an isolated clan believing that a third world war has destroyed the civilized world.  When she returns from a hunting trip to find the rest of the clan has disappeared, she sets out in search of them and discovers that the life she has been living is a lie. Lots of intrigue and adventure in this one, by the author of the popular Die For Me series.

Do you like verse novels, like Ellen Hopkins' and Sonya Sones' books?  Gabrielle Prendergast, the author of Audacious,  has a new verse novel called Capricious.  If you have never tried a novel in verse, they are quick reads and usually tell a pretty complex story in spare language.  Try this one.

Caged Warrior by Alan Sitomer takes place in Detroit Michigan and chronicles the world of underground Mixed Martial Arts fighting. McCutcheon is one of the star fighters, even though is just a high school student. You will cheer him on as he attempts to leave this life and make a better life for himself and his beloved little sister.  But his violent and mob-related father has other plans for him. 

The third and final book in the Slayer Chronicles  by Heather Brewer is here as well.  This series is a companion series to the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod.  Lots of secrets are revealed in this one that will keep you reading until the end.

Free to Fall by Lauren Miller is set in the near future when everyone is controlled by, what else, their smartphones!  Similar to M.T. Anderson's great sci-fi book The Feed, an app on the phone makes decisions for everyone so that they can get on with the important job of just enjoying themselves. But some hear that little whisper of a voice within that tells them something contrary to the phone app. It's called The Doubt, and Rory is starting to listen to it carefully. 

There's mystery in Searching for Sky by Jullian Cantor. River has lived her entire life on an island, completely unaware of the rest of the world, until she spots a boat that ends up taking her to live with her grandmother in California, a world that terrifies her. She wants nothing more that to return to the only home she has ever known.  But there is a secret on the island that some will do anything to keep hidden. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Attack on Titan Manga is here!

The debut of Attack on Titan on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim has drawn a lot of attention from anime and manga fans.  This is a young adult anime series based on the Manga series by Hajime Isayama. Great news!  Volumes 1 through 4 of the manga series have arrived and are on our shelf in the Graphic Novel area of the Teen Spot!  Volumes 5 and 6 are on order and will be here soon as well.  If you're a manga fan, even if you've never seen the anime, pick up volume 1 and let me know what you think.Check out the anime here:

This is a futuristic tale of a post-apocalyptic world in which only a very small faction of humans remain due to the emergence of strange giant humanoids called Titans whose intent is consuming (literally, eating!) all of mankind.  What humans remain have walled themselves inside of a city that they believe will protect them from the Titans who continue to hunt them.  It is not a story for the weak of heart. The manga is rated for older teens (16 and up) and the anime is TV-MA. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

***Awesome Book Alert***

The Madman's Daughter
by Megan Shepherd

In 1896 H. G. Wells published his classic novel The Island of Dr. Moreau.  The book dealt with a disgraced formerly eminent physician named Henri Moreau who was driven out of England after his cruel experiments with animals were discovered. In question was the then legal practice of vivisection, experimental surgery on live animals. This practice was hotly debated and soon made illegal due to the cruelty the animals were exposed to.  He then settled on a small volcanic island and continued his experiments. The story is told from the point of view of a shipwrecked scientist who gradually learns of the activities of Dr. Moreau.  Shepherd's wonderfully grotesque novel tells basically the same story, but from the point of view of the doctor's estranged daughter Juliet (there is no mention of a daughter in the original story). The characters from the original are all there, Montgomery the assistant and Juliet's love interest, Edward the shipwrecked scientist, and of course, Henri Moreau.  Shepherd does a fabulous job writing this story in the same Victorian era style as the original was written in. It will catch your interest from the first chapter and hold it until the very end.  This book is the first in a proposed trilogy.  Read the original book, too!  

Friday, May 2, 2014

2015 Nutmeg Award nominees are here!

Thank you all who voted for your favorite book to win the 2014 Nutmeg Award.  Votes are being tallied as I type, and the winners will be announced by May 15th at the latest.  In the meantime, the 2015 Nutmeg Award nominees have been announced and are ready for your perusal in the Teen Spot.

First up in the Teen category (that’s grades 7 and 8) is See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles. This is a sad sweet story about a middle child who feels invisible in her very busy family.  When unspeakable tragedy strikes, the whole family struggles to stay together.  

Next is Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon. It’s a techie type thriller with a lot of action and a little romance thrown in.  Secrets abound, and it’s a wild ride to the end!

Carley, the main character in One for the Murphys by Linda Mullaly Hunt is a foster child who has never known a stable happy-ish family until she ends up in the Murphy family temporarily.  All runs pretty smoothly until her mother shows up and wants her back. Now Carley has a difficult decision to make.

Like fantasy with a bit of humor?  Then The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde is for you!  Clever and funny, this one is a quick, funny, enjoyable book to take to the beach.  And you will end up wanting to own your very own Quarkbeast by the end. 

More thrills await in Kate Messner’s exciting book Eye of the Storm.  Jaden’s dad is a scientist who has been conducting mysterious weather experiments in Russia, experiments that were banned in the United States. Fast-paced and full of action, this one is for sci-fi fans and mystery fans alike.

March Madness basketball season is the topic in Paul Volponi’s book The Final Four.  More than just a sports book, this one looks at the lives of four of the players and how they went from kids to being in the biggest basketball tournament ever.  

Guitar Notes by Mary Amato is about a developing friendship between perfect student Lyla and outsider Tripp. A sweet story with music as a backdrop.

More excitement and thrills in S.A. Bodeen’s great survival story The Raft. Robie and Max are stranded on a life raft in the middle of shark infested waters after the plane they were on crashes in the Pacific Ocean.  A true survival story, this one will keep you turning the pages.

Sci-fi fans will want to check out Insignia by S. J. Kincaid. Tom is training to be an outer space soldier in this one. If you liked Ender’s Game, you will want to read this one. It’s the first in a trilogy.

The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen is about a competition between four orphans to be the one to impersonate the son of the king of Carthya, which is on the brink of civil war.  Very popular, this one was voted a top ten for teens by the American Library Association.

The High School selections (for grades 9 through 12) have something for every reader’s taste. 

 Boy 21 by Matthew Quick (of Silver Linings Playbook fame) is a sports story that’s about so much more that you almost forget the sports part! Troubled Russ is convinced that his dead parents are coming back for him in a space ship. Only Matthew Quick could pull this one off!  Quirky and touching, it’s a read-in-one-night book.

Historical fiction fans and those who are interested in World War II will like Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. It is the story of a young female spy and her friend, a fighter pilot, who have to fight for survival when a plane goes down in Nazi-occupied France.  

More historical fiction with some horror and a bit of fantasy in Libba Bray’s atmospheric book The Diviners. Set in the roaring twenties, seventeen year old party girl Evie finds herself battling a supernatural serial killer in the dark streets of New York City. 

The main character in David Levithan’s fine book Every Day wakes up each day in a new body. We never know if “A” is male or female, because the body “A” inhabits can be either a boy or a girl. Interesting take on the “love has no gender” theme.

Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon was written to be read in one sitting. The action takes place in one night and is told from 3 points of view, Lucy, a mysterious graffiti artist called Shadow and his poetry-writing friend Poet. Short and lyrical, this one’s a winner!

Do you like verse novels? Get ready for a heartbreaker in Martine Leavitt’s book My Book of Life by Angel. Parts of this one are hard to read, and the theme is also difficult, but give it a try. 

The Khmer Rouge was a vicious rebel force in Cambodia during the Viet Nam war. Not many fiction books are written concerning this tragic period in history, and that is part of what makes Patricia McCormick’s book Never Fall Down stand out.  This is based on the true story of a young boy forced to become a child soldier in the Killing Fields. 

Out of the Easy by Ruth Sepetys is about Josie, a young woman who grew up in a brothel in 1950’s New Orleans and dreams of attending Smith College in Massachussetts. You will root for her as she struggles to gain her dream.

Horror fans, prepare to fall in love with the book The Reapers Are the Angels, a sleeper by Alden Bell that won the Alex Award (given to a book written for an adult audience but that has teen appeal).  Beautiful language abounds in this zombie apocalypse book whose protagonist is an extremely strong 15 year old girl who has never known a world without zombies. 

Louise Erdrich (author of The Birchbark House among others) is known for her stories of Native Americans. The Round House is a sad story told by 13 year old Joe Coutts who is desperately searching for the truth about what happened the day his mother was brutally assaulted in a sacred building on the reservation where he and his family live. Atmospheric and beautifully written, this story will stay with you for a long time.

So, come check out one or two to get yourself started on next year’s Nutmeg Award nominees!