Looking for ways to spend your days relaxing this winter break? Check out this Mental Floss post about 11 Classic Video Games You Can Play Online. Personally, we can never get tired of Pacman! Also, be sure to check in at the Library, where we have an extensive video game collection for teens. Click on some of the images below to see if some of these staff favorites are checked in today!
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 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:
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 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!
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!
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!):
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 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 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!