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The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

TestingThe Testing

by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing is not your average dystopian– I have been reading plenty of dystopian novels lately and when  I came across The Testing, I knew I had to check it out.  Yes, there is a strict and some may say corrupt government in place which puts its young people through trials, however this is where this dystopian differs from the rest.  In order to attend college, those who live in the United Commonwealth must participate in the Testing.  For Cia, who desperately wants to attend college, her chances of qualifying for the Testing are very limited, since there have been no candidates from her colony selected to take part in the Testing for years. This year, however, there are four and Cia is one of them.  Cia knows she will never see her family again, but she hopes that it is because she has passed the Testing and enters college and not because she failed.  Cia knows that if someone fails they are never seen again.  Cia’s father participated and passed the Testing.  Before she leaves he warns her to not trust anyone.  It is then that Cia knows the Testing is more dangerous than she ever could have imagined.

This novel really picks up when Cia enters Tosu City to participate in the series of exams to determine her fate.  At first they just seem rigorous, but as Cia continues to advance, the tests become more and more intense and soon it is not a fight to attend college, but a fight to stay alive.  As Cia progresses, she also begins to make allies and enemies.  Her strongest ally is Tomas, who is from her colony but who she barely knew while growing up.  As they get closer and rely on each other more, a romance forms, and when they enter the last test– a physical show of force as students fight to survive a trek through dangerous territories riddle with traps and deadly competition–Cia and Tomas will do everything they can to be sure each survives. 

I would definitely recommend The Testing to anyone that likes dystopian fiction, especially fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.  It’s also a good read for those who like a lot of action and adventure, but be warned: there are some gruesome scenes in this novel!  Also be sure to look out for the sequel to The Testing, Independent Study, which hits bookshelves in January!

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on November 25, 2013 Categories: Action/Adventure, Dystopian, Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Staff Pics

Baby’s in Black by Arne Bellstorf

babys in blackBaby’s In Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and the Beatles

by Arne Bellstorf

If you are a fan of the Beatles, then you will definitely want to pick up the graphic novel, Baby’s In Black.  Through black and white drawings, Arne Bellstorf tells the story of the “Lost Beatle” Stuart Sutcliffe.  Sutcliffe was the original bass player for The Beatles when they were starting out, playing seedy clubs in Germany in 1960.  Sutcliffe is a fascinating part of The Beatles history, as he was also an accomplished artist and writer who chose to leave The Bealtes right before they made it big.  While playing with The Beatles in a dive bar in Germany, Sutcliffe met Astrid Kirchhherr, a local photographer.  Astrid also plays an important role in The Beatles history: she shot some of the most famous early portraits of The Beatles when they were in Germany, and are also some of the only photos that include Sutcliffe in the mix.  Shortly after meeting, Stuart and Astrid fell in love.  It was then that Sutcliffe  decided that The Beatles were not for him.  He wanted to stay in Germany with Astrid and focus on his painting.  Tragically, though, Sutcliffe’s life was cut short when he died from a brain hemorrhage in 1962.  He never had the chance to marry Astrid or to see how successful The Beatles would become. 

This graphical novel really does justice to the story of Sutcliffe’s time with The Beatles and his romance with Astrid.  The author, Arne Bellstorf, worked closely with Astrid to get details right and put the emotional punch in this story that only Astrid could provide.  It is also a really great snapshot of the short time that The Beatles spent in Germany, playing wherever they could, right before they became uber-famous.  Finally, the art in this book is pretty simple, but also really expressive.  I think the style of drawing was my most favorite things about this graphic novel, and I am a huge fan of The Beatles so I loved getting  a new insight to a story I know well.  Here are a couple of examples of the art in Baby’s In Black:

Babys in Black 1

This first example is of Astrid and her boss looking artwork and talking about light and expression in classic art. It’s really cool how the art is depicted here, and how they are talking about the expression and lighting which is exactly what comes through in the art of Baby’s in Black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Babys in Black 2

In this second photograph, Bellstorf recreates Astrid’s famous photos of The Beatles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on November 20, 2013 Categories: Art, Graphic Novel, Music, Nonfiction, Staff Pics

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (reviewed by Colleen, Teen Services Librarian)

Coldest Girl in ColdtownThe Coldest Girl in Coldtown

by Holly Black

A girl.  A vampire.  A disease, and a quarantined city.  Trust me this is nothing like Twilight–it is so much better!  I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I heard that one of my favorite authors was going to write a vampire novel.   However, I was sure that if anyone could give a new spin to the vampire genre, it was Holly Black. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed!

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown starts with a grisly scene.  We meet Tana as she wakes up in a bathtub.  She must have fallen asleep the night before at the party, or passed out…  Either way, as she makes her way through the house, she uncovers horror after horror as most of the partygoers have all been killed.  Tana knows that only one thing could have created this gory scene: vampires.  In Tana’s world, vampirism is a disease that has been spread like any epidemic.  Once bitten by a vampire, a person has 88 days to sweat out the disease.  As long as they don’t submit to the craving of human blood, the infection will clear up.  Very few, however, can resist the craving.  Once infected, a human must enter a Coldtown, or quarantined areas of cities that were created to contain the spread of the disease.  Coldtowns are seen by some as very glamorous.  There are a ton of feeds and videos coming out of the Coldtowns, on different social networking sites, that show all the fabulous parties, fashion, and different trends in these strange cities.

As Tana tries to escape the gruesome aftermath of the party, she unknowingly comes upon her ex-boyfriend who was bitten and survived.  She also finds the vampire Gavriel.  Without giving too much away, Gavriel was at the house against his will.  Tana, also possibly infected, can only come up with one plan: to take Gavriel and Aidan to the nearest Coldtown.  What follows is Tana and Aidan’s fight against infection, the unraveling mystery of the eccentric Gavriel and his dedication to Tana, their fight to survive life in the Coldtown, and a ton of other colorful characters and action and adventure.

As I said before, I was not disappointed by the awesomeness of this book!  However, knowing how much I love Holly Black’s character development and plot turns in her past novels, I don’t know why I doubted her.  Like her previous books the Curseworkers series, Tithe, and Valiant, Black brings you into this novel with an attention-grabbing beginning that just keeps getting better as you keep reading.  The pace is fast and engrossing, and I love all the characters that Black created.  Tana is a kick-butt, but damaged girl, whose attraction to danger gets her into a lot of trouble.  She was very interesting to read, and you never really knew what Tana would do next, but she was also very much a sympathetic character because she cared so much for those around her.  Her ex-boyfriend Aidan provided a lot of comic relief, but also some uncertainty because he was infected.  And finally, there was Gavriel, who by no means is an Edward Cullen clone.  Gavriel was mad, literally, which made him so unpredictable that you honestly don’t know if he is in love with Tana or if he wants to kill her.   The mystery of how Gavriel was driven mad is unraveled slowly, which makes the reader read that much faster.  Additionally, supporting characters that pop up along the way to and in Coldtown are colorful and crazy and add so much to the story.

Definitely pick this book up if you are a fan of the supernatural and/or vampires.  Also pick this book up if you want a fast-paced, exciting read that you can’t put down.  Click here to find The Coldest Girl in Coldtown in the Library!

This book is recomended for readers in high school and older.

The author, Holly Black, will be visiting the Mount Prospect Public Library on Tuesday, September 10, at 7 p.m.  She will be talking about The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and signing books.  Click here to register for the event!

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on September 4, 2013 Categories: Action/Adventure, Events, Fantasy, Fiction, Staff Pics, Supernatural/Paranormal

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

UltravioletUltraviolet

by R.J. Anderson

What would you do if you woke up in a psychiatric ward, with no memory of how you got there?  That is what happens to Allison at the beginning of Ultraviolet.  We meet Allison when she awakes, restrained in a bed in a psych ward.   As she remembers  more and more about what happened to her, the mystery is revealed as to the strange and unexplainable event that occurred that landed her in that bed.  Allison witnessed her classmate Tori’s death.  However, this was a death that was like no other because Tori literally unravelled before Allison’s eyes.  Allison does not know if what she saw was real, she thinks it is, but is too scared to tell anyone.  Even worse, the police suspect that Allison may be guilty of Tori’s murder since she was the last one to see her alive.

Ultraviolet is an exciting read! It is one part mystery and one part science fiction, and I guarantee you will never guess the truth of what Allison saw.  This novel definitely kept me guess up until the end of the book.  One cool thing about this novel is that you never really know if Allison can be trusted, but the story is from her point of view so you wonder if you are getting the true story.  I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who likes a good mystery, and also to those who like sci-fi, action and adventure reads.  Click here to find Ultraviolet in the Library!

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on May 16, 2013 Categories: Action/Adventure, Fiction, Science Fiction, Staff Pics

The Blessed by Tonya Hurley

OK, I admit it: I picked this book up purely because of its cover.  The girl is so creepy and there is something not quite right about her–I think it is the eyes… Anyways, I am glad that I judged a book by its cover, because The Blessed turned out to be a really good read!

This novel starts out as we are introduced to three different teenage girls.  Each of these girls finds themselves in the same emergency room on the same night.  Agnes is the kind of girl who tries to do everything right, but ends up feeling miserable.  She tries to kill herself after her most recent breakup with a boy who she was head over heels in love with.  Cecilia is a very talented musician, but she is heading down the wrong path.  After a gig, she parties a little too hard and is rushed to the ER when she almost drowns in a puddle.  Then there’s Lucy.  She is a famous socialite who has everything anyone could want.  Unfortunately, that comes with a price, as she is surrounded by people who are a bad influence.  She is brought into the ER because of an accidental overdose.  After each of these girls are treated and released from the ER, they are visited by an enigmatic stranger.  The young man says his name is Sebastian and he gives each girl a bracelet.  What follows is a strange story that connects the three girls’ fates together as they mirror the saints they are named for.  Sebastian holds the key, however, to the truth about why these girls’ lives mirror the saints’ lives.

The Blessed is good pick for anyone who likes realistic fiction, with a mysterious air about it.  While reading this novel I was never really sure if there was something supernatural going on or not.  Plus, all three of the main characters (Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy) were very interesting and you really wanted to get to the bottom of what was happening to them.  The Blessed is also pretty suspenseful.  I would definitely call it a page turner and it will leave you guessing all the way to the last page.  Click here to find The Blessed in the Library!

 

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on April 11, 2013 Categories: Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Staff Pics, Supernatural/Paranormal

March Madness is upon us

March is the ultimate month to be a basketball fan!  If you can break yourself away from NCAA tournament, then check out some of these basketball themed books (click on the cover to find it in the Library!):

The Final Four

by Paul Volponi

YA VOLPONI, P.

Alternating chapters center on four different players on the two teams that meet in a semi-final game of the NCAA Final Four Tournament.

  Last Shot

by John Feinstein

YA MY FEINSTEIN, J.

Two eighth grade students win the opportunity to cover the NCAA Final Four first hand as journalists, but while reporting live at the tournament they uncover a scandal that involves blackmail.

  Game

by Walter Dean Myers

YA MYERS, W.

Drew is a senior living in Harlem and has dreams of making it in the NBA, but he has to learn to control his anger issues first.

  Boy21

by Matthew Quick

YA QUICK, M.

Two basketball teammates, one black and one white, form a connection through tutoring and find that they have a lot more in common than they had first thought.

  The Pick-Up Game: a Full Day of Full Court

YA SS PICK-UP

This collection of short stories focuses on different perspectives of one pick up game played on a hot day in July in New York City.

  Girl Got Game

by Shizuru Seino

YA GRAPH SEINO, S. V.1

This manga series centers on Kyo, whose father is determined to live out his NBA dreams through his daughter.  Her father signs her up for the boy’s basketball team and Kyo masquerades as a boy on the team to make her father happy.

  Basketball Slave

by Mark Johnson

YA 796.323 JOHNSON, A.

Andy Johnson’s son, Mark Johnson, tells his father’s story of how Andy became one of the original Harlem Globetrotters.

  In the Paint: Tattoos of the NBA and the Stories Behind Them

by Andrew Gottlieb

YA 796.323 GOTTLIEB, A.

This is a collection of high res photos of some of the more unique NBA tattoos and the first hand stories by the players about why they got them.

 

  When March Went Mad

by Seth Davis

796.3236 DAVIS, S.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are famous for one of the most well known basketball games in history: the 1979 NCAA Championship game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Indiana State Sycamores.  Davis retells the events that led up to the famous game.

  Longshot

by Lance Allred

796.323 ALLRED, L.

Lance Allred is the NBA’s first deaf player.  In this memoir he tells his story of growing up in a fundamentalist Mormon household, realizing his dream of being in the NBA, and how hard it was to get there.

  The Ultimate Book of March Madness

by Tom Hager

796.3236 HAGER, T.

This book includes a history of every NCAA tournament from 1930 to present and provides an analysis of the top 100 games played in the tournament.

 

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on March 7, 2013 Categories: Action/Adventure, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Guys Reads, Mystery, Nonfiction, Realistic Fiction, Staff Pics

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

Embrace

by Jessica Shirvington

Violet is just like every other girl about to turn seventeen years old.  At least she thought she was.  As her birthday approaches, Violet starts having some pretty disturbing dreams.  Then her dad gives her a gift that was promised to her on her seventeenth birthday by her mother that has passed away.  This gift is the start of Violet uncovering her true nature and why her mother died.  Violet is a Grigori: a protector of humanity who is half human and half angel.  However, Violet can give up her Grigori nature and go on being a normal teen.  She has to choose whether or not she wants to embrace her powers.  If she embraces her Grigori power, she becomes a warrior in an epic battle between the protectors of humanity (the Grigori) and the angels who have been exiled from heaven and who want to overtake the human race (the Exiles).  Making her choice a difficult one is her good friend, crush, and training partner Lincoln.  Violet discovers that he is also a Grigori and would be her Grigori partner if she chooses to embrace.  What will Violet choose?  And does she really even have a choice?

Embrace is a fast past and exciting read for anyone who likes epic supernatural books.  And don’t be turned off by the whole angel story line–the angels in Embrace range to truly evil to truly kick-butt.  What I really liked about this book, though, was the character of Violet.  It is hard to believe that a character who has to choose between being normal and being a powerful angel of protection would be easy to relate to, but Violet is!  The supporting characters are all pretty interesting too.  As Violet learns more and more about the Grigori world, she meets a whole range of Grigori, some who have been living for hundreds of years.  Also, to add another level of interesting to this book–it was originally published in Australia and while it doesn’t necessarily take place in a specific area of Australia, there is that feel of the Australian way of life throughout the novel.

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on January 10, 2013 Categories: Action/Adventure, Fiction, Staff Pics, Supernatural/Paranormal

Teeny-tiny Mochimochi by Anna Hrachovec

Teeny-tiny Mochimochi 

by Anna Hrachovec

If you know how to knit and love tiny things, then you should checkout the book Teeny-tiny Mochimohci!  You’ll find over thirty different tiny creations to make.  There’s tiny animals, tiny edibles, tiny humanoids, and more.  There are a ton of photos of these cute creations, as well as step by step instructions on how to create most of them.  Even if you are still learning to knit or if you don’t know how to knit at all, these creations are so cute and fun to look at!  For example, here’s the tiny cupcake:

And the tiny gnomes:

You can also check out the Mochimochi Land website: http://mochimochiland.com/

There’s a blog that you can follow, some additional how to instructions for all things knitting and stitching, and a gallery that features some of Anna Hrachovec’s creations as well as creations submitted by fans of Mochimochi.  Right now the results of the Mochimochi Land photo contest have been posted on the blog.  Here’s the winner:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on December 20, 2012 Categories: Crafts, Nonfiction, Staff Pics

Teen Boat by Dave Roman and John Green

Teen Boat: the angst of being a teen–the thrill of being a boat!

by Dave Roman and John Green

Teen Boat is a collection of comics that follows a boy named Teen Boat, who is seemingly your average teen guy, but who has the unique ability to transform into a boat.  As you can imagine, this comic collection is filled with hilarious adventures where Teen Boat gets into trouble because of his unique ability.  One of the funniest escapades chronicles Teen Boat trying to get his driver’s license.  Teen Boat is not comfortable in cars (because, duh, he’s a boat), so he puts off getting his license.  However, he wants to impress a girl at school who is really into cars, so he decides to try and get his license.  He has to wear floaties when he starts to learn how to drive, though, because he is so scared.  Then, when he takes the test, he spills his instructors coffee.  The coffee spills into Teen Boat’s ear, which holds his nerve center for turning into the boat.  Since liquid has hit his Teen Boat nerve, he turns into a boat inside the car!  Teen Boat is now a boat with a car underneath him.  He looses control and crashes into a semi carrying a tanker of gas.  Is this the end of Teen Boat!?  You’ll have to pick up this laugh out loud comic to find out.

Writer, Dave Roman, and cartoonist, John Green, have created a very interesting and easy to read collection of comics that, I have to admit, I have not seen or heard anything like this before.  The style of the art of Teen Boat reminds me of Archie comics.  It is a traditional comic, thankfully in color, but Green adds to Roman’s sidesplitting, humorous writing by adding his own funny imagery.  Check out some of the art style of Teen Boat below.  Included at the end of this book is the description of the creation process between Roman and Green.  They both worked very closely on Teen Boat, and there was a lot of back and forth between the author and the cartoonist.  You can really tell how much they were both in sync when creating this comic.  Teen Boat is definitely a great read for those who like out there comics that are filled with humor and ridiculousness.  Click here to find Teen Boat in the Library!

 

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on November 20, 2012 Categories: Action/Adventure, Fiction, Funny, Graphic Novel, Staff Pics

Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow

Pirate Cinema

by Cory Doctorow

Set in a near future dystopian Britain, Pirate Cinema centers on Trent McCauley.  Trent is an average teenage guy, with an obsession for creating movies.  Not the regular “point the camera and action!” movies, though.  Trent takes footage from old movies (his favorite are old films starring the popular actor, Scot Colford) and splices them together to create a new movie.  What Trent does is technically illegal under copyright law.  But Trent just can’t stop making his movies, and he knows what he creates are really good.  Trent just assumes that since everyone illegally downloads movies, music, and whatever else, as long as he is careful he will be fine.  However, Trent is not careful and he gets caught.  As punishment, his entire family cannot access the Internet for an entire year.  This means his sister can’t do her homework and continue to be an A student, his mom can’t get her medical prescriptions, and worst of all his dad cannot work.  Trent is ashamed and feels so guilty that he runs away from home to the streets of London.

One his first day on the streets he meets Jem, a street kid that helps him survive.  Jem and Trent actually do pretty well for themselves.  They find food for free from the dumpsters of grocery stores and restaurants and they find an abandoned pub that they refurbish and are able to live in (illegally).  They are so comfortable, in fact, that Trent is able to start making his movies again and soon he finds himself being recognized in the underground  pirating culture of London.  Trent’s underground fame, however, gets him involved with a political movement that wants to legalize downloading and copying licensed works for creative use.  Is Trent in over his head, or is he just the right person to take this movement all the way to Parliament?

The main focus of this Pirate Cinema is technology, piracy, fair use, and the right to creative expression.  However, this  novel is packed with a  ton of interesting issues.  There’s the drama of Trent living on the streets and learning how to survive, the family issues that Trent has to deal with, and there is even a love interest for Trent.  You should definitely pick this book up if you are interested in technology, especially when it comes to fair use and creative expression.

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on November 16, 2012 Categories: Dystopian, Fiction, Guys Reads, Staff Pics