Have you at any time woke up in the morning or during the day wished you could start the day over again and not recall anything? It may be due to something as simple as the water heater is broken, spilling coffee in your lap on the daily commute, or planning dinner. What if it were truly possible we could wake up the next morning with our minds cleared of all previous events of the past day, days, or even years?
This is the obstacle faced by Christine, the protagonist, in S.J. Watson‘s first novel Before I Go to Sleep. The book opens with Christine waking up in a bedroom. She is unable to recollect what has happened and unable to determine who is the person sleeping beside her. Christine is told by the stranger, who turns out to be her husband Ben, that she has was in an accident and suffers from amnesia. Each day, she is left not knowing what occurred the previous day.
Afterwards, she sees a cell phone in her small bag and notices a Dr. Nash is calling her. Christine begins to regain some of her composure through their conversation where it is suggested she keep a diary of what happens each day. As a result, she will have an artifact to look back on past days in the hopes of recovering from her amnesia. Christine hopes to figure out what triggers these episodes of not remembering. Essentially, will she be able to live her life with purpose or not?
This novel is the product of Watson’s participation in the first Writing a Novel course at Faber Academy. It contains drama, action, suspense, and an emotional thrill ride that can be enjoyed by readers from varied backgrounds and interests in genres. For those who might be interested, Watson’s second novel, Second Life, was recently release and is available at the library.
Formats Available: Regular Print, Large Type, eBook, Audiobook, Downloadable Audiobook
Reviewed by Micah, Shively Branch
Allison Hobbs has written a book that is gritty, raw and brutally honest about the dark underworld of sex trafficking. Fifteen year old Gianna “Lollipop” Strand goes to the boardwalk to meet a friend and befriends Bullet. Unbeknownst to her, he is an ex-con who abducts her so that he can be her pimp.
Not intended to be a book with a happy ending, Stealing Candy warns about the dangers of living on the streets. It reminds you to keep a close eye on your children so that they know about the hidden dangers of talking to strangers. It also reminds you to focus on what is important in life.
I wish this book was more kid friendly. I would definitely have recommended it to some of my younger readers but Hobbs has created a very graphic tale that can, at times, be utterly disgusting. I’m not saying that she isn’t a fabulous writer but even I had to skip lines because they were too strong for me to take.
Formats Available: Book
Reviewed by Damera, Okolona Branch
The Arrival – Shaun Tan
The Arrival is proof that a good story doesn’t even need words. A stunning narrative of an immigrant’s experience in a new and alien land, it’s like having someone play solos about hope and isolation on your heartstrings.
Barbarian Lord – Matt Smith
This is the comic book that Vikings would have written if Vikings wrote comic books. Sure, there are other comic books that try to capture the age, or even just borrow the aesthetic, but Barbarian Lord reads like a deadly-serious re-telling of one of the Icelandic Sagas.
Marvel Illustrated: The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde; Roy Thomas; Sebastian Fiumara.
It’s a hard task to adapt a longer book to graphic format, but Marvel does a fantastic job with The Picture of Dorian Gray. Taking a dark, psychological, Gothic novel and adapting it successfully to graphic format – that’s nothing short of a miracle.
Astro City: Confession– Kurt Busiek; Alex Ross; Brent Anderson.
If you never read comics because you felt superheroes were flat characters and the world they are set in simplistic, Confession will change your mind. Smart, sensitive, and nuanced. The storytelling will keep you glued to the page.
Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others – Mike Mignola
Although the third in the Hellboy series, this volume of short stories speaks to the soul of the series: respect for the source material. If you like gritty, pitch-perfect renditions of folklore and mythology, and a bit of dry humor on the side, this is the book for you.
Formats Available: Graphic Novel
Reviewed by Katherine, Highlands-Shelby Park Branch
EDITOR’S NOTE: Originally posted on LFPL’s Teen Blog at http://blogs.lfpl.org/teen/2015/01/07/something-for-everyone-in-5-comic-books/
First off I must tell you that I’ve been an avid fan of Jane Austen since I was a young teenager. I have read most of the reimagined books including ones that had zombies and vampires. I was very interested about the Austen Project when I heard that they were going to be taking many of Austen’s classics and reimagining them for modern times. Emma was the third of this new series to be released and Alexander McCall Smith was chosen to pen this one.
McCall Smith has taken the basic pieces of the classic story and reinvented them into a modern retelling of the classic. It is written for the modern reader, leaving out much of Austen’s original speech that can be daunting for today’s readers. Emma’s father now becomes an intense hypochondriac worrying about vaccines and antibacterial soap. Emma also gets a modern upgrade with a new mini Cooper that she drives around town. There are also many quips about McCall Smith’s town of Edinburgh, Scotland that you may not catch unless you have actually traveled there.
While Emma was not my favorite of Austen’s books, I do believe this book does honor the original character’s personalities. While Emma was not a favorite of mine in the original book, I really formed a dislike for her in McCall Smith’s book. I think that it’s because he took a lot more time to develop the main characters (Mr. Woodhouse, Emma, Harriett) then Austen did in the original. In doing this, he however leaves little time for Mr. Knightly and others in the story. This was the only disheartening part of the novel for myself because the reader misses out of Emma’s blooming relationship and it seems like an afterthought at the end of the book. The author does leave some of the original formality in the book, including mention of the room Mr. Woodhouse entertains his guests in and also some very formal speech.
The story is delightful overall and a fun beach read. I would recommend it to readers, but would recommend that they possibly read the original after or before reading McCall Smith’s re-imagination. Many die hard Austen fans may view this is a heresy, but I think McCall Smith does a wonderful job both paying respect to the original, but also putting a new spin on the classic story. The book would also be a good primer for readers that are slightly frightened to begin reading Austen’s originals. Overall this has been one of the best re-imaginations of Austen’s classics yet.
Formats available: Book, E-book
Reviewed by Sara, Okolona Branch
“When I was growing up in Port Clinton 50 years ago, my parents talked about, ‘We’ve got to do things for our kids. We’ve got to pay higher taxes so our kids can have a better swimming pool, or we’ve got to pay higher taxes so we can have a new French department in school,’ or whatever. When they said that, they did not just mean my sister and me — it was all the kids here in town, of all sorts. But what’s happened…is that over this last 30, 40, 50 years, the meaning of ‘our kids’ has narrowed and narrowed and narrowed so that now when people say, ‘We’ve got to do something for our kids,’ they mean MY biological kids.” – Robert D. Putnam
In his latest work, Robert D. Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, puts forth an issue that he fervently believes should today be one of the primary topics of domestic public policy at the government level and household discussion among the citizenry: the drastic and growing divide in the United States between affluent and non-affluent children.
In order to support his supposition, Mr. Putnam narrates many stories of both rich and poor children that he learned of through the personal interviews that he and his team of ethnographers and statisticians had with these young people. While these interviews originate in towns and cities across the country, he has an especially narrow focus on his hometown of Port Clinton, Ohio in which he compares and contrasts the picture these current narratives paint with that of his own personal past in which he believes the phrase “our kids” would be taken to refer to all the children of a particular community, as opposed to one’s own biological offspring; in other words, people in the United States today tend to not care about an issue if it does not directly affect their own children, even if the overall society suffers, and Mr. Putnam warns that this is a dangerous trend, as everyone and society as a whole benefits from the success of “our kids.”
“The evidence suggests that when in American history we’ve invested more in the education of less well-off kids, it’s been good for everybody,” Mr. Putnam states. “My grandchildren are going to pay a huge price in their adult life because there’s a bunch of other kids, in principle just as productive as them, who didn’t get investments from their family and community, and therefore are not productive citizens. The best economic estimates are that the costs to everybody, including my own grandchildren, of not investing in those ‘other people’s kids’ are going to be very high.”
Our Kids is highly engaging and balances the personal narratives with much data and many graphs that do not overwhelm, but rather compliment his point. Mr. Putnam does a fine job of defining and describing an issue of great import to the country today, which he hopes, and others I am sure hope, will not become partisan; rather, the focus should be on solutions.
“This investment is not yet seen as a partisan issue, and it shouldn’t be a partisan issue. The notion that all of us have a shared interest in investing in our shared future, which is these kids, is not and has not historically been a partisan issue.” – Robert D. Putnam
Source of quotes:
Putnam, Robert D. (2015, March 19). Why you should care about other people’s kids. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/care-peoples-kids
Formats Available: Book (Regular Type and Large Type), eBook, Audiobook (CD)
Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill
Summer is the season of family vacations and this means often long road trips accompanied by restless travelers of all ages. Regardless of your reading preference or road trip companions, the absolute best way to pass the time on a long road trip is by listening to an audiobook. Sharing an engaging story with your vacation companions can stave off the repetition of, “are we there yet?” and turn even the most reluctant reader into backseat book critic.
Below you’ll find a few of my favorites from a variety of genres and talented narrators. In most cases I have a personal preference for authors as narrators, but some very talented voice actors are noted below. Most genres listed feature children’s (C), teen (T), and adult (A) titles. Although the adult titles may not be appropriate for children/teens, adults should not restrict themselves to only adult titles. A well-executed audiobook, although geared toward a younger audience, can easily be enjoyed by all ages. No matter the variety of personal tastes filling your vehicle there is an audiobook (or two, or three) that will meet your needs.
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum narrated by Brooke Shields & Paul Rudd (C)
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline narrated by Whil Wheaton (A)
- Matilda by Roald Dahl narrated by Kate Winslet (C)
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (C)
- The Collected Stories of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne narrated by Stephen Fry, Judi Dench, etc. (C)The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan narrated by Jesse Bernstein (T)
- The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson narrated by Michael Kramer (T)
- The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket narrated by Tim Curry (C)
- The Martian by Andy Weir narrated by R. C. Bray (A)
- Longbourn by Jo Baker narrated by Emma Fielding (A)
- Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry narrated by Paul Michael (A)
- The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert narrated by Juliet Stevenson (A)
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green narrated by Kate Rudd (T)
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee narrated by Sissy Spacek (A)
- Wonder by R. J. Palacio narrated by Diana Steele, Nick Podehl, & Kate Rudd (C)
- The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian narrated by Jesse Eisenberg (T)
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein narrated by Moreven Christie & Lucy Gaskell (T)
- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by C. Alan Bradley narrated by Jayne Entwistle (A)
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie narrated by Dan Stevens (A)
- The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith narrated by Robert Glenister (A)
- Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn Keene narrated by Laura Linney (C)
- Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty narrated by Caroline Lee
- Bossypants by Tina Fey (A)
- Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (A)
- Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling (A)
- Life by Keith Richards narrated by Johnny Depp (A)
- The Ultimate David Sedaris Boxed Set by David Sedaris narrated by the author, Amy Sedaris, Ann Magnuson, & special guests (A)
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot narrated by Cassandra Campbell & Bahni Turpin (A)
Reviewed by Magen, Highlands-Shelby Park Branch
The Hugo Awards are given to the creators of the year’s best science fiction and fantasy works. Winners will be announced at this year’s Hugo Awards Ceremonies during the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention (also known as Worldcon), which will be held at Sasquan, August 19-23 in Spokane, WA.
Today we’ll be focusing on those for Best Graphic Story. The following nominees can be found in the LFPL catalog:
Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch
Saga, Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
To see the complete list of this year’s categories and nominees, visit www.thehugoawards.org.
Sophie Kinsella, best known for her Shopaholic series for adults, takes a stab at teen fiction with Finding Audrey, the story of a 14 year old who suffers from a severe social anxiety disorder. Throughout the book the reader is aware that Audrey wasn’t always the socially avoidant person she has become, something happened at school the previous year that has made her unable to even look another person in the eyes. She wears dark glasses, doesn’t leave the house, and the very thought of many social situations leaves her in bed for days.
The reader joins Audrey at an important moment in her life; she is stuck with what is left of her after ‘”an incident” involving several other classmates. Audrey is slowly progressing towards feeling better with the help of her chaotic and hilarious family and Dr. Sarah. Then Linus enters Audrey’s life. A friend of her brother’s, Linus is able to help Audrey talk through her feels and offers support in a way she felt safe and comfortable. As her personal health improves a sweet romance blooms between Linus and Audrey that makes you feel all warm inside.
This is a great summer read, newly published, and sure to make you feel great. It’s warm and gooey with hilarious family moments. Laptops of chucked from windows, video game tournaments are lost, and at the heart of it all a serious message of teenage bullying and learning to overcome fears. We never learn exactly what happened to Audrey – though we get small glimpses. I think the not knowing makes the title more accessible to readers who might come to the book with a variety of issues in their own life.
There have been many teen books on the market that specifically detail the type of trauma their character has endured and while I find those helpful I think the flexibility of ambiguity. It also ensures the book remains overall upbeat and light – we get the PSA without feeling low at the end. I laughed so many times with this book, I hope you will too. Enjoy!
Formats Available: Book (Regular Print)
Reviewed by Lindsay, Southwest Branch
Global warming has ravaged the planet in this dystopian tale of dwindling land and water needed to grow food and a government with little care for its people. Nere is a young teen whose world is falling apart around her, even faster. The supply of a rare medicine needed to help her breathe on land, is running out. Two years ago she lost her father in an accident, or so she thought. Then her beloved brother left after an argument with Gillian, their mother. Cam, her best friend, is involved with smugglers that could cost him his freedom, if not his life. Her only escape from all the chaos around her is the time she spends in the water training and communicating, telepathically, with a family of dolphins.
Then the day comes, when the Western Alliance, the world’s rulers, have decided to move the people of the village away from sea. For three young teens Nere, Rory, Cam’s little brother, and Lena, an old school friend time has run out. In a final act of desperation, Gillian reveals the secrets she has been keeping. Nere and the others are part of an experiment; their genes had been altered so they could live in the world’s waterways and they must take the final steps that will make living on the land impossible. James, her brother, had been part of the experiment too, but something had gone terribly wrong. The three teens must now set out on a journey to find the underwater settlement her father has been building for years, thousands of miles away. Gillian, Cam and Lena’s parents gather to say goodbye and give them instructions when soldiers show up to prevent them from leaving. A fight breaks out. Not everyone escapes.
The surface world is dying and humanity’s only chance for survival may be life under the sea. The journey is more than just the miles the teens will have to travel. They must face the reality that they will never be able to live on land again and while life under the sea is beautiful it is also deadly. While, not all the danger they face comes from the marine life. The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke is the first in a trilogy.
Formats Available: Book (Regular Type)
Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch