Archive for the ‘Recommended Reading’ Category

Cover Blindness

What is cover blindness? Don’t you mean, “color blindness”?

No, I mean COVER blindness! This summer, YA books have banded together to ask you to ignore all the clues you usually rely on to pick books. The YA books decided they wanted you to try being “cover blind”: choose them based NOT on their cover art. You can’t see what book lies within the confines of the envelope until you check it out and take it home. Okay, you can open it in the library – but ONLY after  you’ve checked it out and made the commitment!

photo of covered books in YA area

Challenge yourself to go beneath the surface of book covers and possibly discover a great book you might not otherwise have picked up! All the cover blind books either feature a question that is at the heart of the book, or a one-sentence summary or hint of what the book is about. You choose which one speaks to you!


New Books Highlight: Fantasy, Mystery, Romance

After looking at three dystopian books last week – that genre that seems to be taking over the world – let’s look at three brand new books in other genres.

Midwinterblood by Marcus SedgwickMidwinterblood

With its creepy title, this book sounds like a horror story. It’s really a little fantasy, a little paranormal, a little mythology, a little dystopia, and, yes, a little horror. There’s not just one story here, but there is one story. It’s made up of seven different vignettes – seven interwoven tales set on the same creepy Scandinavian island called Blessed. There are funny things afoot on Blessed, and it appears there have been since the beginning of time. Each piece of the puzzle takes place in a different era, starting in 2073, going back through the 10th century, and ending in time unknown. Fantasy, mythology, and paranormal fiction lovers should pick this up.

Sneak Peek! “The sun does no go down. This is the first thing that Eric Seven notices about Blessed Island. There will be many other strange things that he will notice, before the forgetting takes hold of him, but that will come later.” (Text copyright © 2013 Marcus Sedgwick)

Shadowlands by Kate Brianshadowlands

Rory Miller’s life changes forever when she is nearly the victim of a serial killer. She escapes, but she knows who he is and what he almost did to her. She and her family enter Witness Protection, which means starting over in a new place, with a brand new life. Until one of Rory’s new friends goes missing. Has the killer she ran from found her? As teens continue to go missing in Rory’s new home of Juniper Landing, other seem unconcerned, but Rory is determined to track down the truth. If you like a little mystery with your stories, and a little supernatural with your mysteries, check this one out.

Sneak Peek! “His hands felt like ice. He rubbed them together, the dry scratching an even tempo in the otherwise quiet woods.” (Text copyright © 2012 by Alloy Entertainment and Kieran Viola)

Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheedcinders and sapphires

And now for some romance! This is positively Downton Abbey from the perspective of two teens, one a rich young woman, and the other, her ladies’ maid. Lady Ada Averley has just returned from India to her family home at Somerton. A new ladies’ maid is found for her, Rose Cliffe, who is the same age as Ada. The two become close, despite their very different upbringings. Ada finds herself inexplicably involved in a less-than-expected romance with Ravi, an intelligent young Indian man in England to attend Oxford. Forbidden romance, upstairs-downstairs relationships a la Downton, and riveting writing make this a keeper.

Sneak Peek! (from the Prologue) ” Lady Ada Averley leaned on the rail of the steamboat Moldavia, feeling the hum of the ship’s huge engines through the steel, a rhythmic shudder like a giant’s breathing. The black sea glittered with the reflection of the stars above her, and the wind tugged at her had and loosened the dark curls that framed her pale face.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Disney Publishing Worldwide)

New Books Highlight: More Apocalypse, Please

Whew! It’s been a busy week. You might have noticed that last week I took a break from the New Books Highlight feature. Just to keep things super fresh, I thought I’d let it lie for a week and then come back full force!

SO many apocalypses and dystopias are happening in YA books, it’s super hard to keep up. But I’m not one to ignore a trend. And I happen to really like this trend! Authors keep doing super awesome, unheard of things with the whole apocalypse – and what comes after – thing. From disease to environmental degradation to techno warfare, there are many, and many hauntingly realistic, ways for the world to end according to YA lit. Here are three new books to check out immediately if you’re a fan of the genre, too!

The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewelives

This one is actually a sequel to The Way We Fall which came out last year. After the deadly virus killed off hundreds in Kaelyn’s island town, spreading beyond the quarantine to send a wave of terror washing over the rest of the world, Kaelyn knows she must do something to stop the destruction. She finds a vaccine for the virus in the remains of her father’s lab and sets out on a quest to the mainland to find someone who can help her by reproducing it.  People on the mainland, though, are dying in droves, and killing for the very vaccine Kaelyn carries. All the thrills of a dystopian/post-apocalyptic story!

Sneak Peek! “This is how the world ends: with the boy who used to be my best friend stepping off the ferry, hair shaggy and tangled, face too thin, looking at me like he isn’t sure who I am. Like he isn’t sure of anything.” (Text copyright © 2013 Megan Crewe)

Doomed by Tracy Deebsdoomed

A dystopian take on the classic Greek myth of Pandora and her infamous box? Yes! In this techno-apocalypse, Pandora is a normal teen who, when her long-lost father sends her some heartwarming childhood photos via email, unwittingly unleashes a super-virus on the world that takes down the grid. Internet, cell phones, everything is gone in the click of Pandora’s mouse. All that is left, once all power in the world is gone and people are plunged into mania, is a game that Pandora’s father created. Pandora’s Box. She must beat the game, with the help of some good friends of course, to save the world. High stakes technology thriller at its best.

Sneak Peek! “My seventeenth birthday starts with betrayal. Lies. Mayhem. Fear. It ends the same way, but that’s a different part of the story. At least for now.” (Text copyright © 2013 Tracy Deebs)

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardnermaggot moon

This is a slightly different take on apocalypse and dystopia. It’s more similar to books that were written closer to the time period in which this story is set, 1956, than to other brand new dystopian novels. In an unnamed country, simply referred to as “the Motherland,” impure and different people are squashed into ghettos, living in poverty, with the threat of torture looming. Standish is unique among the “impure” different people in Zone 7, where he lives. When he gets expelled after witnessing the killing of a student in his school, Standish knows the scary camps are next for him. But Standish knows a very important secret about the Motherland that may end up saving him from the totalitarian empire. Another very unique, and literary, look at dystopia.

Sneak Peek! “I’m wondering what if. What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. What if Hector had never gone looking for it. What if he hadn’t kept the dark secret to himself. What if…Then I suppose I would be telling myself another story. You see, the what ifs are as boundless as stars.” (Text copyright © Sally Gardner)




712 book club this week!

Thursday is the February meeting of the 712 Book Club for y’all in grades 7-12. We’re reading our way through some different kinds of dystopian fiction, since there’s so much of it and it varies a lot! (Last month was Enclave by Ann Aguirre, which was awesome. The sequel, Outpost, is out now and is similarly great.) Read on to find out why you need to be reading this book right now:


all these things i've done

This Thursday, in honor of last week’s Valentine’s Day – a day that celebrates all things chocolate – we’re reading All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin. In the dystopian world that she imagines, food is somewhat limited, water is rationed, phones are strictly landlines and cost a bundle, alcohol is legal for everyone, and coffee and (worst of all) chocolate are utterly illegal.

Anya Balanchine’s family is the Russian mafia and she’s a no-nonsense kind of girl. She runs her family, her immediate family that is, as she is in charge of her sister, brother and ailing grandmother (who was born in 1995, just to give you some idea of when this story takes place), after  her father was gunned down when she was young. Even when her older brother, who is mentally handicapped, is recruited to work for “the family” under somewhat suspect terms, and she gets sent to jail for dishing out poisoned chocolate, Anya keeps it together. Nothing can cause her to waver from the path of doing what’s right for her family and friends. Luckily for us, there is a forbidden romance in Anya’s future. It might be the only thing that can shake up her cynical, overly practical worldview and let her change her life, and that of those around her, for the better.

The world is not an easy place in this dystopian version of New York City, yet the cool thing about Zevin’s futuristic NYC is that the government’s corruption and distorted sense of rules and regulations have meant that life is sort of a throwback. There are no hover cars or people living on the moon, because dystopia means that people really just live harshly. The rules are strict, and so just like in historic times, such as the Prohibition Era in the 20s, people find a way to get around them. There are speakeasies. And weirdly harsh prisons. Teens get “high” on coffee and chocolate, but don’t like the taste of alcohol, which is legal for everyone, so don’t drink it much.

It’s a really cool example of the dystopian idea that is everywhere in books these days. More like the sci-fi dystopian classic Fahrenheit 451 than the more violent and dark books like The Hunger Games, it’s realistic fiction zoomed into a future gone a bit wrong.

Come chat about it over pizza and chocolate (which is legal here, thank goodness) this Thursday!

Best of 2012

The new year is off to a roaring start, but there is still time to pause and think about the best of YA lit in 2012! In fact, there’s never a better time to think about the best books of the year than early January. The Youth Media Awards – a series of book awards including the Newbery and Caldecott medals – are named every January and Milwaukee County Teen Book Award voting is also underway.

If you’re like me, you might find yourself wondering what awesomeness you missed during the previous year. No matter how hard you try, you’re bound to miss some of the best books just because they’re always checked out, you’re busy finishing a series you’re in love with, or you’re on a genre kick and just can’t get out of it. It’s not too late! The wordle above is a really fun look at the most talked-about YA books published in the previous year. Take a look, see which ones you haven’t heard of, and get reading. BONUS: many of these are also nominees for the MCTBA, so the more you read, the better you can vote!

New Books Highlight: New Books, New Year, New You!

This week I’m showcasing some new nonfiction at SPL that has to do with self-betterment/inspiration, just because it’s that time of year when we all think about such things. Yeah, I know: no one really keeps their New Year’s resolutions. But, it’s still worth it to start the year off with an inspiring book or two. Who knows, maybe this really will be the year you achieve your dreams! YOLO!

New Year’s Resolution #1: Write. You should read…

Just Write, Here’s How! by Walter Dean Myers

Myers’ slim volume of writing advice – Myers is, by the by, one of the biggest YA authors of the 90s-2000s – packs a punch. Myers gives you some great prompts and practical tips, while also filling you in on a little bit of his own experience and what works for him.

New Year’s Resolution #2: Volunteer and get involved more. You should read…

A Random Book About the Power of Anyone by Talia Y. Leman

High school student Talia Leman shares her random and awesome experiences in harnessing the power of herself and kids like her. When she was in the 5th grade she got inspired by the tragedies in the wake of way that Hurricane Katrina affected the people of the south, and took action to raise over $5 million with the help of other kids around the U.S. She was in 5th grade, you guys! Her wonderful writing is really off-beat and funny, and she will inspire you.

New Year’s Resolution #3: Understand others, understand yourself. You should read…

The Letter Q: Queer Writers Notes to Their Younger Selves edited by Sarah Moon

Queer writers from all genres and types of books come together in this anthology to share their experiences and their worlds through writing letters about the future to their younger selves. This is the ultimate “It gets better…” read and will help you find your path to hope and understanding this year, whether or not you are LGBTQ.

So read on and challenge yourself to keep those resolutions!

MCTBA 2013 nominees announced!

The list of 15 nominees for the 2013 Milwaukee County Teen Book Award is here! Nominees include some books that have been popular here in Shorewood, such as The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Be sure to vote for your favorite before March 1, 2013. Remember, you don’t have to read all of them to be able to vote. If you read one and you liked it, why not make it your choice for the award!

Ashes by Ilsa Bick

Alex is hiking in the woods when an electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device and killing billions. Alex must survive in this new world, learning who can be trusted and who is no longer human. For all of you post-apocalyptic fans!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Diagnosed with stage IV thyroid cancer, Hazel has always known her fate. But when she meets Augustus Waters at a cancer support group, Hazel struggles to change her outlook on life and love. This is a laugh-out-loud funny read, true to John Green’s style, yet also a deeply sad book.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

In a tale full of dragons and royal scandal, Seraphina is a strong willed young lady who uses her musical talents as a distraction for her own dark secret. Sure to become a new fantasy favorite!

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The day that Rory Deveaux arrives in London is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city. Rory is the only one who saw the prime suspect – and now Rory has become his next target. This play on the Jack the Ripper story is as thrilling as it is magical.

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

17-year-old Althea must marry well in order to support her family and maintain their ancient castle. When the perfect bachelor arrives in her tiny town she thinks they may finally be saved, except that his annoying business partner keeps getting in the way!

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

Tired of his parents’ fighting and being bullied at school, Lucky Linderman begins dreaming of being with his grandfather, who went missing during the Vietnam War, but a summer in Arizona with his aunt and uncle and their beautiful neighbor, Ginny, help him find a new perspective.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

In the 15th-century kingdom of Brittany, Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where she learns that the god of Death has blessed her with dangerous gifts – and a violent destiny.

Legend by Marie Lu

Day is the most wanted criminal in the Republic. June is its most valuable asset. When Day is accused of killing June’s brother, she will stop at nothing to hunt him down – but what if everything she thought she knew was a lie? Bonus: the sequel, Prodigy, is coming soon!

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick

Finley’s life is basketball, so when he’s asked to befriend a nationally ranked player at the same position, he’s unsure of what to do. Events from both boys past start to surface and shape their uncertain futures.

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick

Peter’s life as a baseball star is over, and now he needs to find something else to do. Of course, he can’t tell his best friend he’ll never play again, just like he can’t tell his parents about his grandfather’s forgetfulness.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

EPIC ALERT! Puck Connolly is the first girl to ever attempt the race. Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. But can they control the deadly water horses long enough to survive? Check out Stiefvater’s other 2012 release, The Raven Boys: Book 1.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Karou was raised by monsters. Her life as an art student in Prague is constantly disrupted by horned chimaera Brimstone’s mysterious errands to foreign cities. But when black handprints appear burnt into Brimstone’s doorways, coinciding with mysterious sightings of fiery angels, Karou is about to lose everything – and gain a whole new world. The sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight, is now out!

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

A wireless operator during WWII, Verity is a spy and master of deception – and a Nazi prisoner. In exchange for Allied wireless codes, she is allowed to live one day for each new piece of the truth. But as Verity’s story, and the story of her friendship with pilot Maddie, is slowly revealed, the truth is not always what it seems.

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

In and out of hospitals for a life-threatening illness, sixteen-year-old Cam spends the summer with her family in Promise, Maine where her mother hopes the town’s mystical healing qualities will save her.

How to Save a Life by Sarah Zarr

Jill’s mother is adopting a child from a pregnant teen after the death of her father. Mandy is 19 and running away from the life she knows to give her unborn child a better life than she had. Both girls will need to face their pasts to find the family they need now.

New Books Highlight: Really Real

Are you a fan of realistic books? Books that tell it like it is? Books that show you people just like yourself and those that are startlingly different? Books that explore huge problems that anyone could encounter (but hopefully won’t!), and small problems that plague every average human? Then check out these new gritty, realistic new reads that will have you pondering life’s deeper questions…

(P.S. New to the New Books Highlight: First lines (or first few lines) to get you hooked! For every title I recommend here, I’ll include the first line to give you a little sneak peek!)

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Harper Scott’s sister June died right before her high school graduation. And now their parents are splitting up. They also insist on splitting June’s ashes in half, and there Harper draws the line. She and her best friend Laney steal June’s ashes and set off for California to set things right and offer one last tribute to June. Shady Jake Tolan comes on the scene, offering Harper solace – yet also the possibility of another devastating revelation about June’s death, through his mysterious connection to her.

Sneak Peek! “According to the puppy-of-the-month calendar hanging next to the phone in the kitchen, my sister June died on a Thursday, exactly nine days before her high school graduation.” (Copyright Hannah Harrington, 2011)

All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin

Alex and Thea Parrot are rich, privileged, loyal and jealous sisters throwing the party of the year when their parents go out of town. The story that unfolds is full of the grit of friend, family and romantic relationships stretched to the max and possibly torn apart as Thea tries to take what Alex has (popularity, looks, and more). Narrated from the alternating perspectives of the sisters, this is a delve into a psychological reality you will be both startled and drawn in by.

Sneak Peek! “She gets into the car and then she can’t drive it. Can’t even start the engine for the gift of the air conditioner. She is a living corpse roasting in sun-warmed leather.” (Copyright Adele Griffin, 2012)

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

Becca longs to break free from her suffocatingly small town. When she discovers a corpse on the day after her high school graduation – the day the freedom she has longer for is finally within reach – she retreats into herself, afraid of the horror that has come so close to home. Becca’s summer is spent in near-madness as her story becomes intertwined with that of the corpse, Amelia Anne. A little horrifying, totally gritty and raw.

Sneak Peek! “They found her just after dawn on June 24th, crumpled awkwardly  by the side of the road with a rust-colored blossom drying in the dirt beneath her.” (Copyright Kat Rosenfield, 2012)

New Books Highlight: Exciting Sequels

It’s time for another look at some brand new sequels that are now available at Shorewood Library! If you’re gearing up for some exciting reads to take you through the upcoming winter break, add these to your list.

Seconds Away by Harlan Coben

The second book in the bestselling Mickey Bolitar, following 2011’s Shelter. In this thrilling read we follow Mickey and his friends as they investigate the murder of a classmate’s mother. Mickey still struggles with his own father’s death, and the many questions surrounding the Abeona Shelter, while also trying to be a normal high school dude. Thrills abound!

Diva by Jillian Larkin

This is actually the third book in The Flappers series (following Vixen and Ingenue), and also the stunning conclusion to the stories of Clara, Lorraine, and Carmody. History, romance, parties and trouble are the main elements of this super fun read that will transport you to 1920s Manhattan while also reminding you of your own life. It’s like Gossip Girl with more fringe and illicit activity (if that’s even possible!).

The Girl is Trouble by Kathryn Miller Haines

Sequel to The Girl is Murder, this mystery set in New York City in 1942 will keep you guessing until the end. After her mother’s (supposed) suicide, Iris Anderson finds herself helping unravel mysteries at her father’s detective business. When the sleuthing gets personal as Iris starts to learn more about her mother’s death. Mystery lovers, check this out!


New Books Highlight: Mysteries

This week on the Shorewood shelves you’ll find some new mysteries waiting to be solved (or possibly not…). From a new take on Sherlock Holmes to a haunting tale by a very famous mystery writer, if you’re a fan of the genre you’re sure to be pleased:

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane

Sherlock Holmes is 14 and we find him not at his familiar Baker Street address, that comes later, but staying in the English countryside while on break from school. The year is 1868 and even the relatively calm rolling farm country proves to be full of intrigue. Sherlock, expecting nothing but boredom during his vacation, is happy to be swept up in a mystery when two local men die from what appears to be the plague. Fans of the original Holmes stories, and any of its other incarnations, will love this one! (P.S. The sequel, Rebel Fire, is also available now!)

Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos

When Rachel’s brother, an addict who can’t seem to keep out of trouble, disappears, Rachel blames herself. And when an anonymous note arrives saying that he is in danger, Rachel knows she must do all she can to find and save him. She and Michah’s best friend Tyler set out on the trail with nothing more than a slim lead and a lot of hope.

The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George

When she travels to the isolated and eerie Whidbey Island, near Seattle, Becca King does not leave her secrets behind her. Becca finds some solace in the friends she makes, especially Diana with whom she shares psychic abilities. This is the first in what promises to be a cycle of books about Becca and her friends, and the haunting mystery and romance that the encounter on Whidbey Island. Elizabeth George is a best-selling author of mysteries for adults, and this is her first offering for teen readers.