Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Epic

Just finished Conor Kostick's Epic. If you're a gamer, particularly if you're into RPGs, you might especially enjoy this one. It's about a society where all real violence has been banned, but decisions are made, resources allocated, and educational opportunities determined, by the outcome of an online virtual reality game called Epic. All free time is spent on the game so that people can try to acquire skills and equipment for their players. That also means that no one is spending the time or resources to try to better society or improve productivity, so there are shortages. When young Eric's father is exiled, he convinces a group of his friends to go try a few seemingly impossible tasks in the game that could free his father as well as free the society from the game. In addition to the gaming aspect of the story, you also have a corrupt central government complete with backstabbing and double-dealing, so there is some political intrigue as well. I enjoyed this one very much. I'm ordering Saga, the sequel, so if you check this one out, look for Saga sometime soon.

Additional Volunteer of the Year Photo

Ok, I got an additional photo from the Volunteer of the Year reception. It's not actually much better than mine, but if you happen to look better in this one, you might appreciate it. Enjoy! And once again, a big THANK YOU to the Teen Advisory Group for all of their hard work!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

New "and" Magazine Is In

We just got a big stack of the latest edition of "and" magazine, that great magazine written entirely by local teens. They are on the sides of that big octagonal display unit down near the teen area. If you're a fan, come on in and pick up a free copy. If you've never seen it, here's your chance to check it out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

United Way Volunteer of the Year Reception

Congrats to the Teen Advisory Group (TAG) on being nominated for the United Way Volunteer of the Year in the Group category. The reception was held last night. Not everyone could make it, but the group was well represented. If you've been under a rock for the last year or so, and don't know what the TAG has been up to that qualified them for the nomination, let me fill you in. In addition to helping to plan teen programs at the library, including the incredibly popular Teen Summer Reading Program (which they have been doing since 2004), last year their fundraising efforts completely furnished the new teen space in the library, and started the circulating video game collection. This year they have purchased a Wii for video game days. So thank you to all of the TAG members! Pics from last night are below. If Kyle's mom's came out better, I'll add them later.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

Just finished Gabrielle Zevin's Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. I really like Zevin's Elsewhere, so I was looking forward to this one. Zevin did not disappoint. This is another one with a great couple of opening lines: "Above all mine is a love story. And like all good love stories, this one involves chance, gravity, a dash of head trauma." The story is about Naomi, who, just before the start of her junior year of high school, accidentally falls down the school steps. The resulting head injury leaves her with no memory of the last about 4 years of her live. She has to reacquaint herself with both family and friends, causing her to question why she bothered with some of the people in her live, as well as why she avoided others. It makes you wonder how you would look at your own live if you had to do it with fresh eyes. How many of your friends are just there because, well, they always are? If you had to choose them again, would you? What about your boyfriend or girlfriend? What activities are you involved with that you do just out of habit? What if you could start fresh? Along with the questions is a love story with a few twists. There is some mature content, but nothing graphic. Highly recommended for high school students as well as older, more mature middle-schoolers.

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Right Behind You

Gail Giles, if you're out there Googling your name again, thank you for another great book. (If you don't get the reference, see my previous posting What Mrs N's Been Reading - Playing in Traffic along with Gail Giles' comment.) I just finished her latest one, Right Behind You. As usual, Giles has again given us a teenage main character who is about as screwed up as a person can be and still be somewhat functional, yet is so likable that you can't put the book down. This time it's Kip McFarland, who at the age of nine, killed a seven-year-old friend by setting him on fire. He spends the next several months in a silent shock and the next several years in an institution for violent juveniles. He is released as a teenager, under a new name, and relocates with his father and his new wife, to try to start fresh. The story is told as Kip sees events. His struggle to adjust to a regular school, not be able to tell anyone anything about his past, and living with the guilt and nightmares takes its toll, and Kip makes a mistake that costs everyone. Giles is right - the parents in this one have plenty of baggage, but everyone should have someone in their life who will support them to the extent that Kip's dad and stepmother do. A thought-provoking and actually hopeful book, recommended for high-schoolers. I'm anxiously awaiting Giles' next one. She has yet to disappoint me.

What Mrs N's Been Reading - The Death Collector

I'm way behind on these postings as well. If I can get to them all before I need to leave for a meeting, I have a 3 book backlog going that I hope to knock out today, or maybe tomorrow. First off is Justin Richards' The Death Collector. I enjoyed this one. You gotta love a book that starts out with these lines: "Four days after his own funeral, Albert Wilkes came home for tea. Even the dog knew there was something wrong." It takes place in Victorian London, so it has some of those Dickensian elements like the orphan pickpocket. But there's also a mystery, chase scenes, the evil rich guy trying to take over the world, his creepy henchmen who do his dirty work for him, and elements of an industrial Frankenstein. I always hesitate to say this anymore, after Stormbreaker, but this would make a pretty darn good movie in the right hands. There's plenty of action, likable characters, and opportunities to do some cool special effects. When I get a chance, I'm going to see if Richards has any other books out that I don't have in the collection. Highly recommended for middle schoolers especially, and especially boys. Enjoy!

MS Video Game Tournament Results

Sorry this took so long to post. I was scrambling to get out of here for another event on Sunday, and have been really scrambling to get publicity stuff together for the upcoming Teen Summer Reading Program. (Yes, it's almost that time again!) I finally have a little breathing room to do stuff like this. Anyway, we had another real nice turnout. Everyone's enjoying the Wii, and as you can see from the pics below, that darn Nerf ping pong continues to be incredibly popular. We actually had kids waiting in line to play that! Does anybody know where I can find another one of those? The one we have came out of my basement. I'd love to have a second one, but I think they stopped making them years ago. If anyone has one collecting dust in their basement, I'd be happy to take it off your hands. Anyhow, back to the tournament... We had 25 kids enter the tournament plus a handful of folks just playing other games and taking in the ambiance. Danny T emerged victorious this time with Patrick Y coming in second place. If you missed it, pics below.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Monster List of New Books

I just posted a monster list of stuff that's hit the shelf in the last few days. There's literally something for everyone - chick books, sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, additions to series, and new series. Everything from James Patterson to Lynne Ewing. If you can't find something you'll like in that list, I give up! To check out the list go to New YA Books: Too Many for Details , then check one out! Enjoy!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

First Wii Video Game Tournament

We just wrapped up our first video game tournament with our brand new Wii. Everyone had a great time playing Brawl. The group opted to play teams this time. Thank you to Tim and Zach for making the big sacrifice to come and play ahead of time and unlock characters. I think the winners were Josh H and John P. If I'm wrong, someone please correct me.
A few pics are below if you missed it, including proof that, yes, girls do come to these, too. Some of them do quite well, I might add. Tournament for middle school students is next next Sunday. See all of the 8th-graders I tossed out today then!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

New Audiobooks Just In

Ok, for a little change of pace, a few new books on CD just hit the shelf. Most are simply audio versions of familiar books - Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, Forever in Blue, and Ptolemy's Gate. The slightly more noteworthy addition (Nothing against the others. They're all good titles.) is a new one by Tamora Pierce, Melting Stones. This one has been released on CD over a year before the anticipated publication of the book, so you won't find it in print for quite a while, but you can listen to it. It’s the story of Evvy, a young stone mage introduced in Street Magic, who accompanies her guardian Rosethorn on a mission to study a mysterious plant die-off, but they soon discover another far greater threat.

If you enjoy audiobooks, check these new ones out!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What Mrs. N's Been Reading - The Game, The Wessex Papers, and The Government Manual for New Pirates

Once again, I'm way behind in posting, so you'll get 3 books today.

The Game by Diana Wynne Jones is the story of Hayley, a young girl who has grown up with her grandparents, then is suddenly shipped off to relatives that she didn't know she had. The cousins all play a game that begins with swearing to never tell anyone about the game - never a good sign. In the game, the kids go to the mythosphere, a sort of parallel world made up of strands, that are from myths and fairy tales and have to retrieve strange objects. I don't want to give too much away, but as the story unfolds, you find out Hayley's family's connections to the mythosphere, and some dark family secrets. A quick read that's great for fans of mythology. It's well-written. In fact, even when the action slows down, you're still drawn in and hurrying to get back to the book after you've set it down.

I picked up The Government Manual for New Pirates from out of a pile of donations, and read it just to see whether I wanted to add it to the collection or put it in the pile of Teen Summer Reading giveaway books. I'm definitely sticking it in the collection. If you have a warped, dry sense of humor, like me, you'll probably like this one, too. The basic premise is that Calico Jack and cohorts kidnapped someone who could read ("a real, honest-to-God writin' man, what knows all the letters and most of the words") , taught him the rules and ways of pirates, and made him write it all down for people that want to become pirates but can't get someone to teach them. It's an incredibly short read. I read it in one short sitting. And it had me laughing out loud in places. If you want this one, you'll have to wait a while, since it hasn't been processed yet, but keep an eye out for it.

I also read Trust Falls by Daniel Parker, the first in The Wessex Papers series. It's a soap-opera-like story that takes place at an exclusive boarding school in Connecticut which is controlled, for the most part, by the AB's (alumni brats - children of filthy rich alums). Enter a kid from the city who needs a year at a prep school to get into the college of his choice, who has never experienced anything quite like this place. This was a very strange book. I liked it and I hated it. The whole world of privilege thing just annoys the heck out of me, but some of the storyline was just so bizarre that I kept reading just to find out where the heck this could possibly be going. I'll warn you that the book doesn't actually wrap things up. As I finished it, I realized that Parker is also the author of the Watching Alice series that was set up the same way. Basically, the series should have been one longer book, but they broke it into 2 or 3 books with no real closure at the end of any but the last one. There's some mature content (not real explicit though) so not appropriate for younger middle-schoolers. If you decide to pick it up, understand that you need to read a few more to get closure. I might actually pick up the sequels because I'm still shaking my head and wondering where the heck he could possibly be going with some of the plot lines.