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Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall

by Rachel Hawkins

Sophie knows she’s a witch.  She doesn’t know much magic, but she knows she has the natural ability.  Her father, who she’s never met, is a warlock.  Sophie’s mother has brought her up as best as any mortal could while trying to teach her daughter everything she knew about magic.  That’s how Sophie knew how to do the love spell that got her into trouble.  It wasn’t a love spell for her, though, it was for a girl on prom night that Sophie just happened to come across crying in the girl’s bathroom.  With good intentions, Sophie performs the spell to give the girl a perfect prom night.  However, when you’ve had no formal training in witchcraft, you’re bound to make mistakes.  Sophie makes a big one: turning a potential prom date into a love crazed maniac.

As punishment for her reckless spell casting, Sophie is sent to Hecate Hall, a.k.a. Hex Hall.  Hex Hall is a reform school for Prodigium (witches, fairies, and shapeshifters).  While everyone else at Hex Hall knows all about the Prodigium life, Sophie is clueless since she was raised by a mortal.  Sophie is miserable, having made a bad impression on her first day.  The only friendship she finds is in her roommate Jenna, a vampire who they have just recently let into the school.  Three beautiful and popular witches have declared Sophie their enemy after she refuses to join their coven, Sophie instantly starts crushing on an unattainable guy, and one of the teachers is definitely out to get her.  Sophie’s student life can’t get much worse…that is, until students start getting attacked and Jenna gets blamed.

This summary barely scratches the surface of the story in Hex Hall.  There is a lot going on in this novel: mystery, supernatural creatures, action and adventure, and even romance.  The characters of Sophie and Jenna are likeable and the relationships that develop amongst the students in Hex Hall are fun to read about.  There are also a lot of really interesting supporting characters.  This novel reminded me a little of Harry Potter, however, there was a lot more mystery here.  Pick this book up if you like a good fantasy read that has a little bit of everything. 

This book is also the first book in a series, and luckily books two and three are already on the shelf:

Click here for book two: Demonglass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for book three:  Spell Bound

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on October 2, 2012 Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Staff Pics, Supernatural/Paranormal

Safekeeping by Karen Hesse

Safekeeping

by Karen Hesse

Safekeeping is a new dystopia novel that is so realistic, you will feel like it is something that could happen tomorrow.  Set in the near future, the world is much like our world today.  However, the President of the United States is assassinated at the beginning of the novel.  This prompts the American People’s Party to take control of the government and institute martial law.  The narrator, Radley, is in Haiti volunteering at an orphanage when the President is assassinated.  She sets out to return home to her parents, because she is so worried about them, despite the warnings that it would be safer to stay in Haiti.  When Radley returns to her home in Vermont, she finds the house abandoned and does not know what to do.  Her home is not safe, and Radley is not safe since she has none of the new official documents or adults to take care of her.  Radley does the only thing she can think to do: she sets off on foot to walk to Canada with the hope that she will find her parents there.

Along the way Radley has to survive on discarded food that she often finds in dumpsters, steal to survive, and get out of more than one threatening situation with dangerous people.  The roads are not safe, so Radley sticks to the wilderness.  It is there that she meets Celia and her dog.  Though Radley is being cautious, she can’t help but stick to Celia.  Eventually they begin to survive together.  Will they make it to Canada?  Will they both survive in the wilderness?  Will Radley ever see her parents again?  Pick up Safekeeping for a dystopian that is unlike many of the ones being published today.  It is quiet but exciting, poetic and cerebral.  Safekeeping is a novel that will keep you thinking about it long after you have put it down.  Also included are photos taken by the author that make the story even that much more moving.

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on September 19, 2012 Categories: Dystopian, Fiction, Staff Pics

Astonishing X-Men: Gifted by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday

Astonishing X-Men: Gifted

by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday

If you’re like me, then you can’t get enough of X-Men.  Instead of going back and watching all the movies again, I suggest picking up Astonishing X-Men: Gifted by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday.  Yes, Joss Whedon is the guy that brought you The Avengers movie earlier this year, and is most famous for his TV show Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.  

The story of the first volume, Gifted, is this:  Professor X is on sabbatical and Jean Grey is dead.  Cyclops and Emma Frost are acting as heads of Xavier’s School.  Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, and Beast are joining the faculty and make up the new X-Men team.  Most of the story in Gifted is told through Kitty Pryde’s point of view.  News breaks of a possible cure for the mutant strain, while at the same time the X-Men encounter a new enemy–Ord.  But, the new cure and new enemy may be one in the same…

Before reading Gifted, I had not known much about Kitty Pryde (only that she was from Deerfield, IL!).  As soon as I got into the story, though, she definitely became my new favorite X-Men character!  The way that Whedon and Cassaday portrayed her made her a really relatable character.  I also really got into the storyline that developed with her and Colossus (Peter Rasputin) .  Also, there’s Lockheed, Kitty Pryde’s pet X-Dragon, and for that alone you’ll want to pick this book up!

The story had me hooked from the beginning but Cassaday’s artwork in this comic is also really well done.  It conveys the emotion of the action.  A lot of strips are done in single colored tones that fits the mood of what’s happening on the page.  One of the best examples of this is where Kitty sees Colossus (Peter Rasputin) for the first time after she believes him dead. All the strips are done in all red tones and are interlaced with black and white memories. It is really visually appealing.  Check it out:

 

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on September 17, 2012 Categories: Action/Adventure, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Guys Reads, Staff Pics, Supernatural/Paranormal

The Pricesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes

The Princesses of Iowa

by M. Molly Backes

Paige Sheridan had it all.  She was beautiful, popular, and in line for Homecoming Princess.  Her friends and boyfriend were perfect, and she thought her life was perfect.  Paige’s world fell apart, though.  At the end of her junior year, Paige is in a drunk driving accident.  Only her friend Lacey is seriously hurt, but Lacey is able to heal.  The relationship between Lacey and Paige, however, seems like it will never heal.  Not only is there blame about the accident but Lacey is mad at Paige for abandoning her after the accident.   Paige’s mom sent her to Paris for the summer after the accident.  Paige was miserable there, having to babysit for a dysfunctional family, but all her friends thought she was off on the perfect summer vacation in Paris.

The Princesses of Iowa is about how Paige recovers and heals after a life changing event.  Paige’s friends and boyfriend treat her differently when she returns from Paris.  Nothing is the same and Paige is no longer sure what she wants out of life.  Paige starts to heal, however, through writing.  She is enrolled in Creative Writing and her new teacher, Mr. Tremont, is able to guide Paige into unlocking a talent for writing that she never knew she had.  The Princesses of Iowa is a great read for someone who is looking for a good realistic fiction book with not a lot of drama.  Basically, this is a story of a girl trying to figure out who she is.  Paige’s transformation from shallow and boring to thoughtful and interesting is a great one to read.  This is also a great book for anyone who is interested in writing and how it can be used as a creative outlet.

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on September 11, 2012 Categories: Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Staff Pics

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Enclave

by Ann Aguirre

War and a plague have destroyed New York City.  Many generations ago, people went underground in order to survive and escape the Freaks (flesh eating monsters).  However, the Freaks have been growing down below and the people underground are in trouble.  Deuce lives in one of the last safe enclaves.  At the beginning of the novel, we meet Deuce as she gets her new name and is given her role as one of the huntresses in her enclave.  Unfortunately, Deuce’s hunting partner turns out to be Fade, a guy who came from topside but who has proven to be valuable to the enclave as a hunter.  Since he was not born in the enclave, not many people trust Fade.  When Deuce first hunts with Fade she learns why.  Fade doesn’t like to follow the rules.

Deuce, however, has trained and worked hard all her life to be a huntress and always follows the rules.  As Deuce continues to hunt with Fade outside the enclave she soon learns how desperate their situation is.  Freaks are everywhere and they are getting smarter.  After Deuce and Fade disobey direct orders, they are sentenced to a mission to travel to the nearest enclave.  When they arrive and find it decimated and overrun by Freaks, they return with warnings to their leaders.  But they are ignored and Deuce begins to see the flaw in her enclave’s leadership.  As Deuce begins to challenge authority, her home in the enclave is threatened.  When she and Fade are both accused of hoarding (an illegal practice) they are banished to the topside.

Without giving away too much more, the plot of Enclave really starts to unfold as Deuce and Fade go topside.  Their fight to survive in the post apocalyptic New York City is a hard one.  They encounter Freaks, gangs of savages who call themselves wolves, the sun (which Deuce has never seen before), injury, and finding safe food and water.  This is a survival story as much as it is an action and adventure read.  Be sure to check out Enclave if you want a fast paced, exciting read!

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on September 6, 2012 Categories: Action/Adventure, Dystopian, Fiction, Science Fiction, Staff Pics

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races

by Maggie Stiefvater

On the island of Thisby, deadly water horses rise from the sea every year.  These carnivorous beasts have claimed the lives of many–some have been taken while too close to the water and some have been taken during the Scorpio Races.  The Scorpio Races are held every year and draw in tons of tourists from the mainland.  During the races, men try to tame water horses to race down the beach.  It is a deadly spectacle, but one that is tradition on Thisby.

For Sean, his father was lost when competing in the races when he was a young boy.  Since then, Sean has dedicated his life to the races and to his tamed water horse, Corr.  Corr is the only family Sean has left, but for Sean there is always a threat that he will lose Corr.  Sean is only allowed to race Corr because he works for the Malverns, and the Malverns own Corr.  Sean is the water horse whisperer of Thisby.  He seems to hold some magical secret of how to tame the wild beasts.  These abilities have helped in the races, where he has won for the last four years in a row.  But for Sean, winning freedom for himself and for Corr is his ultimate goal.

For Puck, both her parents were taken by the water horses while on the beach.  That left her with her two brothers, one older and one younger.  Puck’s older brother is leaving Thisby and without him they will lose their parents’ house.  The only way Puck can think to keep her house and her brother is to compete in the Scorpio Races.  Winning the races will provide Puck with the money to insure that she can take care of herself and her younger brother, as well as keep the house.  It will also keep Puck’s brother on the island until the races are over.  Due to a loop hole in the rules of the Scorpio Races, Puck is not only the first female to race but she is also the first to race a normal horse, her beloved horse Dove.

The Scorpio Races is told in alternating chapters from Sean and Puck’s point of views and it is a captivating read.  At first you get to know Puck and Sean as individuals and the hardships that life has thrust upon them.  Then, as they become connected from participating in the Scorpio Races, you see their relationship develop.  Maggie Stiefvater weaves a wonderful tale that incorporates action and adventure, monstrous beasts, and the love that blossoms between two warriors.  Definitely pick this up if you want a good fantasy read.  It is fast paced, interesting, and very well-written.

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on August 30, 2012 Categories: Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Staff Pics

Curveball: the Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick

Curveball: the Year I Lost My Grip

by Jordan Sonnenblick

The summer before Peter’s Freshmen year, he suffers a serious arm injury while pitching in his little league championship game.  The game was a critical one, because it would have shown his soon to be high school baseball coaches that he was a gifted pitcher that could easily make the JV team.  Now, however, Peter’s pitching days are over.  The injury to his arm required surgery and Peter seems to has lost any idea of what to do with himself now that he can’t play baseball.

Peter’s only other passion in life has been photography.  His interest has been cultivated through years of spending time with his grandfather, who is a professional photographer.  Peter has learned all the ins and outs of a camera, both old school and digital.  When he walks into his first day of Introducton to Photography, he is clearly ahead of the class.  Both Peter and another student, Angelika, are sent to the Advanced Photogtraphy class.  Being the only two Freshmen in a class of upperclassmen instantly creates a friendship between Peter and Angelika. 

Peter and Angelika’s friendship becomes something more, however, when they begin working together taking photos for the yearbook.  Things seem to be changing for Peter as he begins to find out who he is when he can no longer be the star pitcher.  However, as Peter begins to find himself, his grandfather seems to be losing himself.  Can Peter get his family to recognize that their grandfather needs help before it is too late?

Curveball has a lot going on in its pages.  At first this novel seems pretty simple: a guy has to figure out who he is when he can no longer be a sports star.  However, with the addition of a possible new girlfriend, a best friend who truly believes Peter will pitch again, and a grandfather whose mind is slipping, Peter’s life is complicated.  When you’re reading Curveball, though, you never feel like you are overwhelmed with Peter’s problems.  It is a really good read that never feels like there is too much drama.  I also really liked Peter.  He was relatable and is a character who had flaws that he was able to overcome. 

You should definitely pick this book up if you are looking for a good, realistic read that has a cast of characters that feel like your own friends and family.

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on August 20, 2012 Categories: Fiction, Guys Reads, High School, Realistic Fiction, Staff Pics

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Graffiti Moon

by Cath Crowley

A lot can happen in one night.  On the night of their high school graduation Lucy, Ed, and Leo set out on a night of adventure with their friends.  Lucy and her friends Jazz and Daisy want to spend the whole night in search of  Shadow and Poet, a couple of graffiti artists that are making their mark in their Australian city.  Lucy, who spends her free time as an apprentice to a glass blower, is obsessed with Shadow’s artwork and knows that he is the guy for her.  All she has to do is find him, which she has been trying to do for months now.  Her friends Jazz and Daisy assure Lucy that before the night is over they will find Shadow.

Ed and Leo are Shadow and Poet, but no one knows this.  Only their good mate Dylan knows their secret identities.  The three guys are in a bad place, though.  Ed has dropped out of school because of his dyslexia, lost his job, and his girlfriend.  Leo is in debt to a thug for $500 and is also dealing with a hard breakup.  Dylan is having problems with his girlfriend Daisy, who he is sure is about to dump him.  To try and fix things with Daisy, Dylan tells the girls that he knows Shadow and Poet.  The girls recruit Dylan, and his two friends Ed and Leo to help them track down the artists.  The guys lead the girls through the city on a search that cannot succeed.  Along the way, Ed and Lucy grow closer, even though they are convinced they hate each other after a bad date.  Leo and Jazz decide they were meant to be with each other, and Daisy and Dylan continue their fight.  However, with such a big secret can Ed and Lucy and Leo and Jazz really find love this night?  Also, what will the guys do when it gets to be 2 a.m. and they have to take part in a robbery to fix Leo’s debt?

Graffiti Moon is told in alternating chapters in the voices of Lucy, Ed, and Leo.  Each voice is so distinct and you really get to know these characters.  This is definitely a character driven novel.  It’s also great that this whole story unfolds in just one night.  There is adventure, comedy, romance, and art all rolled up into one novel.  This is a great read for anyone looking for a fun, fast paced read that has a little bit of everything.

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on August 7, 2012 Categories: Art, Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Staff Pics

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy

by Robin LaFevers

Ismae Rienne is born with a horrible scar running down her body, that marks her as the daughter of Death. She is feared and ridiculed by the local villagers and abused by her father. When her cruel father sells her to an even crueler husband, Ismae must escape or be killed.  She finds refuge at the convent of St. Mortain, where she is trained to be an assassin. The sisters of St. Mortain have long trained to assist the god of death in his pursuits. During her convent training, Ismae finds that she has many special gifts that help her excel as a handmaiden of death. The abbess assigns Ismae to the court of the Duchess of Brittany to protect the young Duchess and discover the traitors within the court. Of course, this means killing anyone with the the mark of Mortain. Trapped within the social confines of court life, Ismae must determine who she can trust and who she cannot. The smallest mistake, will lead to death. To make matters worse, Ismae has fallen for Duval, a man who may be marked by Mortain.

Grave Mercy is set in 15th Century France where danger, mystery, and death lurk around every corner. There is plenty of court intrigue, along with several memorable characters. The relationship between Ismae and Duval is intense and filled with many difficult choices for both characters. This is a great read for anyone who likes either historical fiction, fantasy, or mystery mixed with a good romance.

Watch and enjoy the book trailer.

By Barbara, Teen Outreach Librarian on July 31, 2012 Categories: Book Trailer, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Staff Pics

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Little Brother

by Cory Doctorow

Marcus is an expert with a computer, and he has to be.  In his school computers rule.  They are not only for doing schoolwork, but technology is being used to keep track of and spy on the students.  In Marcus’ near-future world, technology is slightly more advanced than it is today.  In order to have some sort of  freedom and control while being online, Marcus has figured out how to maintain his privacy online while staying under the radar, mostly through hacking. 

This all changes one afternoon when Marcus and his friends skip class to join in a scavenger hunt as part of one of their favorite online games.  San Francisco comes under attack from terrorists and Marcus and his friends finds themselves close to the attack.  So close, in fact, the he and his friends are taken in by the Department of Homeland Security as possible threats.  Even though they had nothing to do with the attacks on San Francisco, Marcus and his friends are interrogated for days in an unknown prison about their involvement.  When they are finally set free, their lives are changed forever.  Marcus is scarred by the interrogation and to make matters worse his best friend Darryl was never released.

Marcus takes to the net determined to fight against all the new restrictions, curfews, and increased DHS presence in San Francisco as a result of the terrorist attacks.   Marcus feels that his story must be told and that people must fight back against Big Brother.  However, by fighting back, he risks everything… even his life. 

Little Brother is a great book for any reader.  There is a lot of action in this book and a good mystery.  Little Brother also makes you question if this could really be our future.  It is really believable that this world could one day be ours, and if it is, we all need to be better informed about how to maintain our privacy online.  This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and also give you a lot to think about.

Click here to find Little Brother in the Library!

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on July 30, 2012 Categories: Dystopian, Fiction, Guys Reads, Mystery, Science Fiction, Staff Pics