Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String...

These are few of my favorite books read during 2017. Criteria?: Did the story linger after I finished the book? Did the character(s) evolve (I like excitement and adventure, but usually prefer character-driven over plot-driven books.) Were there surprises? Did it have emotional resonance? Did I excitedly look for time to continue reading it? Would I read it again? (Two of these books I've read or listened to twice.) If it was fantasy or science fiction (my favorite genres) - did it feel true?

My very favorite read from 2017, out of 100+ books, is Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust. It is an elegantly written tightly drawn suspenseful fantasy set mostly in a canoe on the River Thames, from Oxford to London, during a great flood. It is Malcolm's story chronologically before The Golden Compass takes place. Lyra is a baby in the story. This story was riveting from start to finish. I was bereft when I finished it, and immediately looked up interviews with Philip Pullman to find out when the next book in the trilogy would appear. Apparently the second volume in the series is finished - but no publication date has been set. Practicing patience here...

Number 2 in the top 5 of my top 10 is the audiobook of Born A Crime, by Trevor Noah. Read by Trevor Noah. This book gains so much nuance and flavor from the author's narration that I recommend listening to it over reading it. Trevor speaks five languages and incorporates words and expressions from those languages into his story. His memoir is both educational and greatly entertaining. It is a window into a slice of South Africa history.

Number 3 on my favorites list, The Hate U Give, was the book I sponsored this past summer for school choice summer reading for HWRHS. (I have written about this book in a previous post.)

Favorite Number 4 was a surprise as I was not expecting to like it as much as I did. The reviews and summaries did not do it justice. After reading And I Darken, I was thrilled that the second book in the Conquerors Saga trilogy was published this year so that I could go right on reading in that world. The character development of the brother and sister in the Saga is completely engrossing. It's a fantastic historical fiction story, loosely based on actual people and events during the Ottoman Empire, that feels like fantasy because of the world building. Though I have not had a chance to hear them, we also have the highly rated audiobooks of the Conquerors Saga, in our audiobook collection.

I encourage both reading and listening to The Pearl Thief, as I did. Maggie Service,the audiobook narrator of The Pearl Thief, does a superb job with the accents and the different character voices. The print format lets you savor the story and pick up some of the details that you will probably miss in the delight of listening to the Scottish accents in the audiobook.

If you read any of the books on this list, come and talk with me, I'd like to hear what you think. The book summaries below are from our library catalog, sometimes paraphrased by me. Click on the title to place a hold.

1 The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman, 2017. When Malcolm finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust, he finds himself embroiled in a tale of intrigue featuring enforcement agents from the Magisterium, a woman with an evil monkey daemon, and a baby named Lyra. Fantasy fiction. First book in The Book of Dust trilogy, prequel to The Golden Compass.

2 Born A Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah, read by Trevor Noah, 2016. The host of The Daily Show With Trevor Noah traces his wild coming of age during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed, offering insight into the farcical aspects of the political and social systems of today's world. Adult books for Young Adults. Memoir. Audiobook time: 8 hrs., 50 min.

3 The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, 2017. After witnessing her friend's death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter's life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died. Realistic fiction.

4 And I Darken, by Kiersten White, 2016. In this first book in a trilogy a girl child is born to Vlad Dracula, in Transylvania,in 1435--at first rejected by her father and always ignored by her mother, she will grow up to be Lada Dragwlya, a vicious and brutal princess, destined to rule and destroy her enemies.
Now I Rise, by Kiersten White, 2017. This sequel to And I Darken finds a vengeful Lada striking out at anyone who stands in her way and finding herself unexpectedly rejected by her skillful brother, Radu, who reluctantly works as a spy for a power-hungry Sultan, Mehmed. Historical fiction. LGBTQIA diverse. First two books in the Conquerors Saga trilogy.

5 The Pearl Thief, by Elizabeth Wein, 2017. Set in 1938, 15-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in a hospital not knowing how she was injured, and soon befriends siblings Euan and Ellen McEwen, the Scottish Travellers who found her, and later, when a body is discovered, she experiences the prejudices their family has endured and tries to keep them from being framed for the crime. Prequel to Code Name Verity. Historical fiction. Mystery.

6 Release, by Patrick Ness, 2017. Struggling with his family's religious beliefs, an employer's ultimatum and his unrequited love for his ex, Adam struggles to move on with a best friend and a new relationship while trying to find the courage to stay true to himself. Magic Realism. LGBTQIA fiction.

7 The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden, 2017. Raised on a steady diet of stories, "wild maiden" Vasilisa Petrovna, known as Vasya, has grown up wandering the grounds of her father's rural estate, befriending the spirits of the natural world. But when Vasya's pious stepmother joins forces with an ambitious young priest to force the villagers to forsake the old ways (and the old gods), they set in motion a tragedy that only Vasya can avert. First book in the Winternight trilogy. Historical fantasy. Mythological. Adult books for Young Adults

8 Tower of Dawn, by Sarah Maas, 2017. Following the shattering of the glass castle and the deaths of his men, Chaol pursues recovery by searching for healers in the southern continent while trying to convince Dorian and Aelin to ally with him and Nesryn in order to avoid war. Sixth book in The Throne of Glass series. Fantasy fiction.

9 Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by 2017. In Every Heart a Doorway we met Jack and Jill, two sisters bound together yet alienated. In this installment, we learn how they escaped their parents when they exit the world we know for a realm of fairy-tale horror via a magic stairway, appearing in a trunk in a locked room. This is a story about two young women and the trauma that shapes them; a story about love, hate, and the thin line between. Second book in Wayward Children series. Fantasy fiction. Adult books for Young Adults.

10 Killer of Enemies trilogy, by Joseph Bruchac, 2013. In a world that has barely survived an apocalypse that leaves it with pre-twentieth century technology, Lozen is a monster hunter for four tyrants who are holding her family hostage.
Trail of the Dead, 2015. With an assassin on her heels, Lozen leads a group of survivors to the valley where her family once took refuge but arrives to find a terrible surprise, forcing her to reluctantly put her trust in Bigfoot and Coyote to find safety.
Arrow of  Lightning, 2017. In the final installment of the Killer of Enemies trilogy, Lozen attempts to live a life without the violence that so far has defined her life, but the remaining Ones will not let that happen without a fight. Science Fiction.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Foodie Alert Season

Members of the Library's teen advisory board, the Teen Think Tank, are taking turns to create a monthly display in the teen area. They choose the subject for the display. This month Ava created a display of books from the Young Adult fiction and nonfiction collections featuring food, cooking, Thanksgiving, and 17th century Massachusetts. Here is a list of the books from the display:


Caleb's Crossing, by Geraldine Brooks, 2011. Growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans, Bethia Mayfield yearns for an education that is closed to her due to her gender. As soon as she can, she slips away to explore the island's glistening beaches and observes its native Wampanoag inhabitants. At twelve, she encounters Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a secret friendship that draws each into the alien world of the other. Historical fiction.

Close to Famous, by Joan Bauer, 2011. Twelve-year-old Foster, a talented baker who dreams of being a famous television chef ends up in Culpepper, West Virginia with her mother after they escape from her mother's abusive boyfriend. With the help of friends they make in Culpepper, they use their strengths and challenge themselves to build a new life. Realistic fiction.

Ghost Hawk, by Susan Cooper, 2013. At the end of a winter-long journey into manhood, Little Hawk returns to find his village decimated by a white man's plague and soon, despite a fresh start, Little Hawk dies violently but his spirit remains trapped, seeing how his world changes. Historical fantasy.

The Kid Table, by Andrea Seigel, 2010.  Explores the quirky dynamics in an extended family full of close-knit cousins who both help and hinder each other as they celebrate holidays and momentous occasions together. Realistic fiction.

North of Happy, by Adi Alsaid, 2017.  A wealthy dual citizen of Mexico and the United States rebels against his family's strict plans for his future in the aftermath of his older brother's tragic death, an event that compels him to secure a job with his favorite celebrity chef, a relationship that becomes complicated when he falls for his boss's daughter. Realistic fiction.

Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous, by Kathryn Williams, 2012.  Although 16-year-old Sophie has grown up working in her family's Mediterranean restaurant in Washington, D.C., she is not prepared to compete on the new reality show, Teen Test Kitchen, when her best friend Alex convinces her to audition. Includes recipes. Realistic fiction.

Tantalize, by Cynthia Smith, 2007. When multiple murders in Austin, Texas, threaten the grand re-opening of her family's vampire-themed restaurant, 17-year-old, orphaned Quincie worries that her best friend-turned-love interest, Keiren, a werewolf-in-training, may be the prime suspect. Urban fantasy.

Taste Test, by Kelly Fiore, 2013. While attending a New Hampshire culinary academy, North Carolina high schooler Nora suspects someone of sabotaging the academy's televised cooking competition. Realistic fiction.


Make It Messy: My Perfectly Imperfect Life, by Marcus Samuelsson, 2015.  A memoir from the world-famous chef describes his life as an orphan in Ethiopia, upbringing by his adoptive family in Sweden, and the cooking lessons from his adoptive grandmother that lead him to train in some of Europe's most demanding kitchens.

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, by Lucy Knisley, 2013.  Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly. In her memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe. Memoir in graphic format.


Big Snacks, Little Meals: After School, Dinnertime, Anytime, by Rose Dunnington, 2006. A handy cookbook presents a delicious array of snacks and mini-meals that are delicious, fun to make, and nutritious--such as baked apples, guacamole, cheese straws, and chicken fingers.

Cook Your Way Through the S.A.T.: Recipes Worth a Thousand Words, by Charis Freiman-Mendel, 2011. Master frequently-asked SAT vocabulary. Each of the 99 easy recipes is matched with a fun-fact blurb containing 10 SAT words.

Foodprints: The Story of What We Eat, by Paula Ayer, 2015.  A guide for sorting food myths from reality from prehistory to present day. Includes statistics, further reading, and extensive list of sources.

Giving Thanks, Poems, Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving, edited by Katherine Paterson, 2013. Presents an illustrated collection of gratitude-themed poems, prayers, and praise songs from a wide range of cultures and religions.

The Green Teen Cookbook: Recipes For All Seasons - Written By Teens For Teens, by Laurane Marchive, 2014.  A cookbook for beginners and for all those interested in pursuing an eco-friendly lifestyle, includes 100 favorite recipes and tips for eating on a budget in a healthy and environmentally friendly way.

Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants, by Christopher Nyerges, 2014. Written by an expert on wild foods and a well-known teacher of survival skills. More than a listing of plant types--it teaches how to recognize edible plants and where to find them, their medicinal and nutritional properties, and their growing cycles. Includes folklore about plants, anecdotes about trips and meals, and recipes.

A Teen's Guide to Gut Health: The Low-FODMAP Way to Tame IBS, Crohn's, Colitis, and Other Digestive Disorders, by Rachel Warren, 2017.  For teens experiencing GI distress, including IBS, Crohn's disease and colitis,  this quick and accessible guide explains a two-part elimination diet to help  identify which foods are causing discomfort. Offers meal plans, shopping lists and easy recipes to help transition and find relief.

Hello, Cupcake!, by Karen Tack, 2008. An array of cupcake designs explains how to use snack items and common candies to create a variety of confectionery masterpieces to suit any occasion, from a big-top circus cupcake tier for a child's birthday, to a white cupcake Christmas wreath, ghost chocolate cupcakes, turkey cupcake place cards, or sausage and pepperoni pizza cupcakes for April Fool's Day.

The Mayflower and the Pilgrims' New World, by Nathaniel Philbrick, 2008. Offers the true story of the pioneers who crossed the Atlantic to establish a new world in Massachusetts, the challenges they faced upon their arrival, and their relationship with the local Native Americans.

Plants vs. Meats: The Health, History, and Ethics of What We Eat, by Meredith Hughes, 2016.  Examines the nutritional, historical, and ethical aspects of food consumption, discussing popular diets, providing facts about farming and the future of food, and encouraging readers to make informed, personal food choices.

So You Want To Be A Chef?: How to Get Started in the World of Culinary Arts, by Jane Bedell, 2013.  A step-by-step guide for young culinary enthusiasts interested in pursuing a professional cooking career shares inspiring stories while drawing on industry experts to outline steps to becoming a chef, caterer, and restaurateur.

Starting From Scratch: What You Should Know About Food and Cooking, by Sarah Elton, 2014. Food activist Sarah Elton presents a young reader's manifesto about the sense of taste and the science of eating that discusses topics ranging from measurements and the chemical aspects of cooking to substitute ingredients and the importance of choosing healthy foods. Appendices offer basic recipes, an approach to pairing foods , a guide to doing measurements and conversions, and a brief selected list of cookbooks.

What the World Eats, by Faith D'Aluisio, 2008. A photographic collection exploring what the world eats featuring portraits of twenty-five families from twenty-one countries surrounded by a week's worth of food.

You're the Cook!: A Guide to Mixing it Up in the Kitchen, by Katie Wilton, 2005.  Designed for the inexperienced cook, this book focuses on four food products: eggs, cheese, pasta, and berries (strawberries and blueberries). Where the food product is harvested or made, how to properly store it and its nutritional information is discussed then followed by five recipes using that food product.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Choice Book

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas has been hovering at or near the top of The New York Times' Young Adult Hardcover bestseller list for 25 weeks now. It's in my top 5 favorite books for 2017, and is the book I chose to sponsor for HWRHS's summer reading choice list this year. Although, I originally considered picking from the fantasy or science fiction genre as I did last year (The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison), after reading Thomas' book the decision was over. The book sang choose me! choose me!! The story is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and could not be more relevant to our current time. The story and characters immediately draw you in and carry you through the course of a terrible event with insight, heart, and a sprinkle of humor. There was no other book I could choose over this one for the high school choice list. Tomorrow I'll be meeting with 15 of the 30 students who signed up to read the book over the summer. (53 books were sponsored this year.) A second group of 15 students will be meeting with Principal Eric Tracy as he too chose to sponsor Thomas's book. As part of my preparation for the book discussion I put together a read-a-like book list for The Hate U Give, which is shared below. Descriptions are whole or paraphrased from our library catalog. Titles are linked to the catalog.

If you liked THE HATE U GIVE, by Angie Thomas,

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor black neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Starr's life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her. But what Starr does--or does not--say could destroy her community.
Genre: Realistic; Contemporary
Storyline: Character-driven; Issue-oriented

you might also like:
these Fiction read-a-likes about Racism, Race Relations

Cover image for Allegedly : a novelCover image for Bright lights, dark nightsBright Lights, Dark Nights, by Stephen Emond, 2015. Walter Wilcox's first love, Naomi, happens to be African American, so when Walter's policeman father is caught in a racial profiling scandal, the teens' bond and mutual love of the Foo Fighters may not be enough to keep them together through the pressures they face at school, at home, and online.
Cover image for How it went down
Allegedly, by Tiffany Jackson, 2017. When Mary, a teenager living in a group home, becomes pregnant, authorities take another look at the crime for which Mary was convicted when she was nine years old.
Cover image for All American boysCover image for Flygirl
How It Went Down, by Kekla Magoon, 2014. When 16-year-old Tariq is shot to death, his community is thrown into an uproar because Tariq was black and the shooter is white, and in the aftermath everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events agree.

Cover image for Black and whiteAll American Boysby Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, 2015. When 16-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn's alternating viewpoints.

Flygirl, by Sherri Smith, 2009.  During World War II, a light-skinned African American girl "passes" for white in order to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots.
Cover image for Piecing me togetherBlackand White, by Paul Volponi, 2005. Two star high school basketball players, one black and one white, experience the justice system differently after committing a crime together and getting caught.

Cover image for American streetPiecingMe Together, by Renee Watson, 2017. Tired of being singled out at her mostly-white private high school as someone who needs support, Jade would rather participate in the school's amazing Study Abroad program than join Women to Women, a mentor-ship program for at-risk girls.

AmericanStreet, by Ibi Zoboi, 2017.  When Fabiola's mother is detained upon their arrival to the U.S., Fabiola must navigate her loud American cousins, the grittiness of Detroit's west side, a new school, and a surprising romance all on her own.

Fiction read-a-likes that are 
Culturally Diverse, Character Driven, and Issue Oriented

Cover image for The lines we cross
The Lines We Cross, by Randa Abdel-Fattah, 2017.  Basketball enthusiast Michael attends anti-immigration rallies with his parents until a friendship with Mina, a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan, compels him to question his family's politics. Their mutual attraction demands they come to terms with their family's concerns and decide where they stand in the anti-Muslim politics of the time.

Cover image for The radius of usCover image for Yaqui Delgado quiere darte una paliza The Radius of Us, by Marie Marquardt, 2017.  After being mugged, 17-year-old Gretchen is still struggling to deal with her fears when she meets Phoenix, an 18-year-old immigrant from El Salvador. Told in alternating voices.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, by Meg Medina, 2013.  Informed that a bully she does not know is determined to beat her up Latin American teen Piddy Sanchez struggles to learn more about the father she has never met, until the bully's gang forces her to confront more difficult challenges.

If you liked THE HATE U GIVE, by Angie Thomas,
you might also like these Nonfiction books:

Cover image for Racial profilingCover image for They called themselves the K.K.K. : the birth of an American terrorist groupTheyCalled Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group, by Susan Bartoletti, 2010. Uses personal accounts unearthed from oral histories, congressional documents, and diaries, to unveil the creation of the Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee, and its spread across the American South. (Narrative Nonfiction)

Cover image for In the shadow of Liberty : the hidden history of slavery, four presidents, and five black livesCover image for Between the world and meRacialProfiling: Everyday Inequality, by Alison Behnke, 2017.  An in-depth analysis combining research with personal stories that explores the history, the many manifestations, and the consequences of this form of social injustice.

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2015. Told in a series of essays written as an open letter to his son, Coates confronts America's racial history and details what it has meant and what it means to be black in America. (Memoir)

Cover image for Invisible man, got the whole world watching : a young black man's educationCover image for March : Book OneIn the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives, by Kenneth Davis, 2016. An examination of American slavery through the true stories of five enslaved people who were considered the property of some of our best-known presidents.

MarchBooks 1, 2, & 3, by John Lewis, co-written by Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell, 2013-2016. Congressman John Lewis's first-hand account of his lifelong struggle for civil and human rights. (An Autobiography in Graphic Novel format)

Cover image for The rap year book : the most important rap song from every year since 1979, discussed, debated, and deconstructedInvisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's Educationby Mychal Smith, 2016. A prominent journalist and contributing writer to The Nation magazine describes his education and the experiences of black masculinity against a backdrop of the Obama administration, the death of Trayvon Martin, the career of LeBron James and other pivotal influences that have shaped race relations in today's America. (Memoir)

The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed,Debated, and Deconstructedby Shea Serrano, 2015. Serrano examines the history and culture of rap music--from artists' backgrounds to issues of race, the rise of hip-hop, and the struggles among its major players--both personal and professional. Covering East Coast and West Coast, famous rapper feuds, chart toppers, and show stoppers.

Did u hear about the rose that grew from a crack
in the concrete?
Proving nature's law wrong it learned 2 walk
without having feet
Funny it seems but by keeping its dreams
it learned 2 breathe fresh air
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared!

                 --Tupac Amaru Shakur 1971-1996

The Rose That Grew From Concrete, by Tupac Shakur, 1999. A collection of verse by the late hip-hop star Tupac Shakur includes more than 100 poems confronting such wide-ranging topics as poverty, motherhood, Van Gogh, and Mandela. Included are facsimiles of the poems in Shakur's handwriting, with scratch outs and corrections, distinctive spelling, and ideographs (a drawing of an eye for I, etc.).