Book Review: Luna

Luna by Julie Anne Peters

SUMMARY: Peters tells two stories in this groundbreaking novel--one about Regan, and the other about Liam, Regan's transgender brother, who is the son his father expects by day but a young woman, Luna, by night. Fiercely protective of Liam/Luna, Regan has put her life on hold; she worries about her brother's female self being discovered and the family's reaction, and she fears that her brother may someday give in to despair. While Regan wonders if she will ever be able to have a life separate from the needs of her sibling, Liam seriously begins to consider a permanent change.

OPINION: I was not very impressed with this book. True, it is one of only a few teen books that deals with this issue, but it was not very believable. For example, the parents and other minor characters seemed two-dimensional and stereotypical. Then there was Liam/Luna, a high school genius who was independently wealthy from his computer business. If that wasn't enough of a stretch, then he leaves school and his business to run off to the West Coast to live with a transgender person he met on the internet. That is not a good way to deal with your personal issues, people!


Book Review: The Sunbird

The Sunbird by Elizabeth E. Wein

SUMMARY: Telemakos is a blend of royal lines from two different countries: Britain and Aksum. He is also an exceptional listener and tracker, resolute and inventive in his ability to discover and retain information. Now his aunt Goewin, the British ambassador to Aksum, needs his skill to thwart the plague that threatens Aksum through black-market salt trading. This challenge will take all of Telemakos’s skill, strength, and courage--because otherwise it will cost him his life.

OPINION: The book reminded me of The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, as well as Trickster's Choice and Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce, because of the main character is a spy. This fantasy book takes some inspiration from The Odyssey, yet also draws on ancient African history. The story takes place Aksum, Africa, an area that is now Eritrea and Ethiopia. It is the third book the author has written featuring this kingdom, the first two being The Winter Prince and A Coalition of Lions.


Book Review: Please Don't Kill the Freshman

Please Don't Kill the Freshman: A Memoir by Zoe Trope

SUMMARY: Zoe Trope's caustic coming-of-age diary rants and raves through her increasingly irrelevant high school career. Zoe's entries chronicle her tortured search for truth in love and art, her faltering faith in the value of activism in the face of universal apathy, and her bottomless disdain for just about every figure and fixture in her high school life.

OPINION: The stream-of-consciousness style writing style makes it stand out from other YA books. Also, the characters are called things like "Techno Boy," "Sloppy Charcoal," "Plum Sweater," "Tupperware," "Vegan Grrl," etc. This actually tells you more about the characters than their real names ever could. And an interesting note: Zoe Trope (not her real name) wrote this book in high school.


Book Review: Whale Talk

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher

SUMMARY: Life as a person of color is not easy in the Pacific Northwest, home of the Aryan Nation. A natural athlete, T.J. Jones sees racisim and hatred in his community every day. This is part of the reason he refuses to play organized sports. That is, until he finds diversity and challenges the religion of athletics by bringing together a swim team of school outcasts.

OPINION: Everyone has their personal demons, and the people in this book really struggle. The book is hopeful, though, with swim team success and family healing. The end made me cry. If you liked Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, this book is similar in its writing style and treatment of issues.


Book Review: Devil in the White City

Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

SUMMARY: The glittering world of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair made Buffalo Bill's Wild West show and the Ferris wheel world famous. It also served as a cover for psychopaths and serial killers. Uncover the planning and execution of the fair...as well as the planning and execution of murder...

OPINION: This gripping book is nonfiction, but reads like a novel. It is long, but I couldn't put it down. There is a hometown connection, too: a Philadelphia detective solved the serial killer case! You can find this book in print, on tape, or on CD in the adult section of the library.


Book Review: Prom

Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson (NEW!)

Best quote from this book, when the main character is talking about her house:

"It was still spring, so the living room was a shrine to our baseball team, the Philadelphia Phillies. In the fall, Dad made it into a shrine to the Eagles (football). Winter was always a little weird. We'd get Flyers decorations (hockey), 76ers decorations (basketball), and Christmas decorations (baby Jesus, who was a Philly fan from way back)." --p.38

SUMMARY: Ashley doesn't care about the prom at all, but she is the exception in her urban Philadelphia high school. Everyone else is going crazy with prom plans...until their math teacher is arrested for stealing all the money from the prom account...

OPINION: This book is about average teens who are faced with an unreal situation. This story is part humor, part Cinderella, and part suspense! An interesting aside: In the author's notes, Laurie Halse Anderson gives props to Philadelphia's former modern rock station Y100 (*sigh*), which she listed to while writing the book!


Book Review: Margaux with an X

Margaux with an X by Ron Koertge (NEW!)

SUMMARY: Margaux is the dream catch of every teenage male within her radar. She has perfected the arts of beauty, popularity, and sarcasm to escape the world of her her money-addicted parents (Dad = professional gambler, Mom = professional shopper) and a long-hidden secret. But, strangely, Margaux feels more like herself with David Riley, a scrawny, weak-chinned, animal loving oddball who has some secrets of his own.

OPINION: This book is a short read, but not too easy. Margaux loves words and ideas, which leads her away from her shallow, popular crowd. I didn't even know all the words she did...I had to look some up!!! If you like this book, we have Stoner and Spaz by the same author.


Book Review: Curse of the Blue Tattoo

Curse of the Blue Tattoo : Being an Account of the Misadventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman and Fine Lady by Louis A. Meyer

SUMMARY: After being exposed as a girl, Jacky Faber is forced to leave the Dolphin and attend the elite Lawson Peabody School for Young Girls in Boston. But growing up on the streets of London and fighting pirates never prepared Jacky for her toughest battle yet: learning how to be a lady. And whenever Jacky roams the city in search of adventure, trouble is never far behind.

OPINION: This is the second book about Jacky. I have not read the first one (Bloody Jack), but now I am going to! I seriously couldn't put this book down. Everything in my house got negelected while I laid on the couch and read away the afternoon. Doesn't that sound like fun?! The only bad thing about this book: there is a HORSE named GRETCHEN!!

Book Review: No Shame, No Fear

No Shame, No Fear by Ann Turnbull

SUMMARY: This is fast-paced historical drama set in England in 1662 amid the turmoil of the religious persecution of the Friends. Susanna Thorn, 15, is a Quaker with a strong and committed independent spirit. William Heywood, 17, is educated and comes from a wealthy, respectable family that adheres to the Church of England. They meet when she moves into town to work and develop a bond that cannot be broken by religion, law, or parents.

OPINION: This is an incredibly romantic piece of historical fiction that reads like a fluffy beach novel. I convinced our resident romance fan Ashley M. to read this book (against her will--she hates historical fiction) and she voluntarily told me she enjoyed it. She even recommended it to the book group members last week. So if that isn't a reason to read it, I don't know what is.


80s Forever!

Well, maybe not, but at least for one night. We rocked the house with our way cool 80s vibe last Friday!

We started with some video clips of Michael Jackson’s dance moves, including scenes from Thriller, Billie Jean, and Bad. We also checked out Weird Al’s Fat video for laughs. Then, Brad came by and taught us some of Michael Jackson’s moves for our dance contest. Later, we did 80s activities, including board games, puzzles, Nintendo, a Coke-Pepsi taste test, celebrity then-and-now photo matching, a find Gretchen in the 1986 class photo contest, and the wall of 80s slang. And who could forget the “Put Michael Jackson’s Faces in Order” game! We wrapped up with video clips from Labyrinth and a spread of 80s food, including the legendary candy salad bar.

Thanks to the TAB for all of their ideas and help with this event! Huge thanks to Giselle and her parents for their dedication to all things 80s.

If you missed 80s night, you can find out everything you want to know @ the library. Find killer fiction and non-fiction books along with awesome websites that are totally bodacious! And don’t forget to check out the kickin’ photos below (and a few really excellent ones in a lower post from last Friday).

Remember Me to Herald Square by Paula Danziger
The Ghosts of Departure Point by Eve Bunting
B, My Name Is Bunny by Norma Fox Mazer
Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal
Wolf Rider: A Tale of Terror by Avi
Strictly for Laughs by Ellen Conford
Scorpions by Walter Dean Myers
The Runner by Cynthia Voigt
Mel by Liz Berry

The Eighties by Adrian Gilbert
The 80s by Dan Epstein
The 80s & 90s: Power Dressing to Sportswear by Clare Lomas
1980s by Jane Duden and Gail B. Stewart
The 1980s: From Ronald Reagan to MTV by Stephen Feinstein
The 1980s edited by James D. Torr
1980s Pop by Bob Brunning

Everything in the 80s
80s Nostalgia
Play some gnarly 80s games online
Pure 80s Brit Pop Music Site
80s fashion styles and brands
80s TV Commercials and Slogans

Back to the Future (1985)
E. T. (1982)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Flight of the Navigator (1986)
Labrynth (1986)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Say Anything (1989)
Short Circuit (1986)
War Games (1983)
Weird Science (1985)