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Teens Recommend

4 Dec

Check out these great reads suggested by the SES Middle School book group.


The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan
I think it’s a book for anyone who likes Egyptian mythology. The author knows how to show great emotion and paints a very vivid picture of the setting.
Recommended by Kimore B. Grade 8





Leviathan by Mr. Scott Westerfield
This was a great book that gives you hope and that when you least expect it and when it seems that you don’t have friends they show up in the unlikeliest of places.
Recommended by Kevin H. Grade 7




The Enemy by Charlie Higson
It’s a fast paced horror/action novel with a bit of mystery mixed in that takes place in London.
Recommended by Gavin D. Grade 8






Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
It’s a really interesting book about a bully who is sentenced to live on an island where he learns to be a better person.
Recommended by Elizabeth G. Grade 8



The teens are currently reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. (available as an ebook)







In Theaters Now

28 Nov

It’s that most wonderful time of the year, when rainy evenings are clearly meant for curling up with a favorite story or going out to the movies. Les Misérables and Anna Karenina bring two classics to life, and the adaptation of surreal bestseller Life of Pi is in theaters now. If you’re taking the whole family to the movies, check out this year’s adaptations of popular teen and children’s books.

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, by William Joyce & Laura GeringerNicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King kicks off the Guardians of Childhood series, overflowing with adventure and fantasy. The action-packed series follows the defense of the town of Santoff Claussen from the Nightmare King, and was the inspiration for the film Rise of the Guardians.


The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again, by J. R. R. TolkienComing soon is a film that book lovers have been eagerly anticipating since the highly successful adaptation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theaters on December 14th, but The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again is available now at the library. While you wait to see Bilbo on the big screen, check out the library’s series of programs, Full Circle: A Special Tolkien Event, to delve deeper into Middle Earth.

- Amanda

Games in Fiction

17 Nov

I’m a gamer from way back. I like board games, card games, puzzle games, role-playing games, video games, massively multiplayer online role-playing games—just about any kind of game really. And, because I also like to read, I especially enjoy fiction that makes playing games an integral part of the story.

Most such fiction seems to fall into the science fiction or fantasy genres—hardly surprising considering how many gamers are also fans of science fiction and fantasy. I’d like to recommend four books that mix game playing with science fiction or fantasy.

Cover of Split Infinity by Piers AnthonySplit Infinity by Piers Anthony is both science fiction and fantasy with its action split between two parallel worlds, the science fiction Proton and the fantasy Phaze. Most of the action on Proton revolves around The Game, played by Citizens for status and by serfs for Citizenship. Competition between two players of The Game consists of a preliminary metagame in which they first seek to outmaneuver each other in selecting a contest followed by their competition to win the selected contest. Contests may consist of nearly any two-player competition ranging from Twenty Questions to tiddlywinks to chess to auto racing to a dance off.

Cover of The Player of Games by Iain M. BanksThe Player of Games by Iain M. Banks is from Banks’ series of hard science fiction novels about the Culture, a post-scarcity galactic civilization in which no one has to work. Jernau Morat Gurgeh, a renowned player of boardgames and similar contests, is pressed into service by Special Circumstances—the Culture’s “secret service” organization—to travel beyond the Culture’s borders to the expansionist Empire of Azad. There he is to compete in an enormously complex game—also called Azad—played to determine social and political status within the Empire.

Cover of Ready Player One by Ernest ClineReady Player One by Ernest Cline takes place in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), a virtual universe called OASIS. The year is 2044, and the world is a pretty grim place. That’s why most people spend their lives in OASIS. They work there, play there, and some like Wade Watts even go to school there. Wade is obsessed with both the game and its late creator James Halliday, who, before his death, hid an Easter egg consisting of a series of puzzles within OASIS. According to Halliday’s will, whoever finds and solves those puzzles will inherit Halliday’s vast fortune including OASIS itself. Wade, determined to win the ownership of OASIS, has immersed himself in the decade of Halliday’s youth, the 1980s. He is certain that knowledge of the music, the movies, and especially the video games of the 1980s will be key to solving Halliday’s puzzles.

Cover of Hikaru No Go vol. 1, Descent of the Go MasterThe manga series Hikaru No Go is what you get when you mix an inside look at the Japanese world of professional Go players, two boys’ obsession with the game, and the centuries-old ghost of a legendary Go master. This series, by itself, has repopularized the ancient game of Go among Japanese youth.

Do you have any favorite game-related fiction? Please share in the comments.


Take Me Out to the Ballgame: Sports Books for Kids and Teens

2 Nov

With the World Series just ending, and football and basketball seasons underway, it’s the perfect time of year to enjoy your favorite sport on the page as well.

Anyone who’s ever made a mistake, on or off the field, will relate to the true tale of Roy Riegels, a young football player in the 1929 Rose Bowl who recovered a fumble and ran sixty-five yards – in the wrong direction. Dan Gutman’s picture book, The Day Roy Riegels Ran the Wrong Way takes readers back to this infamous moment, and makes a great read aloud for football fans and novices alike.

For readers who like variety in their sports, I recommend Guys Read: The Sports Pages. A perfect choice for reluctant readers, and for both girl and guy sports fans, these ten quality short stories by ten well-known children’s authors explore the agony and the excitement of everything from hockey, to mixed martial arts, to track and field.

For a fascinating true sports story, I encourage all athletes to pick up Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX, the Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America by Karen Blumenthal. For generations of athletes growing up in the 1990’s and 2000’s, the right for girls to play sports has never been in question. Blumenthal’s engaging nonfiction read is an eye-opening reminder that it wasn’t all that long ago that women had to fight in Congress and in the courts to prove that girls athletics are just as legitimate and important as those for boys.

Finally, don’t miss The Final Four by Paul Volponi, an action-packed novel about four teens competing in college basketball’s most elite tournament. Teen readers will be completely engrossed as these young players struggle with the intensity and competition of the national stage.

These recommended reads are sure to appeal to sports fans of all ages. Happy reading!



Blood and Blogs

30 Oct

Halloween is a day away, and suggestions for frightful reads abound. You may have even seen our own recommendations for teens here at Book Rush!

When I want a new horror book to read, I look for something that reaches past the typical horror audience in order to hook a truly unsuspecting reader. I’m usually reading “adult” and “young adult” novels simultaneously at any given time, so I’m particularly impressed by horror books that can engage readers of both age groups.

The Monstrumologist, by Rick YanceyOne recent book that took me by surprise was The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey, which was named a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book in 2010. This is the diary of Will Henry, a 12-year-old orphan and apprentice to esteemed monstrumologist  Dr. Pellinore Warthrop. When a string of savage murders afflicts a 19th-century New England town, its people turn to Dr. Warthrop for answers. Will Henry assists in the discovery of the culprit- a cunning, horrifying beast from the wilds of Africa- and accompanies the doctor into danger and madness as they try to prevent the predators from striking again. This book is not for the faint of heart; it’s incredibly gory, almost cartoonishly so, which speaks to the modern horror sensibility (in other words, blood and guts and creepy crawlies, oh my!). It’s also genuinely scary. The monsters are nightmarish, and the plentiful action scenes are balanced by pages of grim introspection, rising dread, and period scene-setting. Fans of this Dickensian splatterfest can move on to the next two in the series, The Curse of the Wendigo and The Isle of Blood.

Allison Hewett is Trapped, by Madeleine Roux On the other hand, we have Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeline Roux. Yes, the cover has a zombie prowling among bookshelves, so perhaps this recommendation isn’t surprising. The titular heroine finds herself trapped in a bookstore when the zombie apocalypse hits, and uses an emergency WiFi network to document the unfolding chaos on her blog. She builds a fanbase of readers, who watch and comment as she strikes out with her fellow survivors to find her mother, updating when she can. Along the way, Allison laments the state of her hygiene and finds unlikely romance, but in true zombie story fashion, learns that her fellow survivors can be a bigger threat than the undead. This is a surprisingly light and accessible horror read, and while it’s ostensibly aimed at adults, its style and content are appropriate for older teens, too. This one also has a followup, called Sadie Walker is Stranded.

I appreciated these books for their setting: old vs. new. The scariest thing for just about anybody is the unfamiliar and unknown, and there is a lot of both in the past (legends of paranormal monsters) and the future (the use of and backlash against technology). This Halloween, see if you can find a horror book that defies your expectations, especially if you don’t usually read horror.


Spooky Teen Reads

28 Sep

Are you a fan of the mysterious and paranormal? Looking forward to fall evenings being thrilled by tales of ghosts and ghouls? Then meet three exceptional young women in unusually spooky situations.

The Summoning, by Kelley ArmstrongAfter Chloe Saunders sees a long-dead janitor in the halls of her high school, she’s sent to a home for troubled teens. She’s diagnosed with schizophrenia and tries to focus on her treatments so that she can return to her old life. But something is very wrong at Lyle House, and Chole suspects that her housemates aren’t exactly who they claim to be. Fast-paced and suspenseful, The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong will leave you wanting more.

The Name of the Star, by Maureen JohnsonRory Deveaux is an American exchange student at a London boarding school, arriving the same day that a serial killer begins a string of gruesome murders mimicking the crimes of the infamous Jack the Ripper. As “Rippermania” sweeps through London, Rory becomes the next target of a stranger only she can see. A chilling mystery, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson also contains humor and romance against the boarding school backdrop. 

The Diviners, by Libba BrayEvie O’Neill has moved from her dull Ohio hometown to the glamour of New York City! It’s the 1920s and Evie looks forward to speakeasies, Ziegfield girls, and no one to judge her modern ways. But something serious comes up at her Uncle Will’s Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.” There have been a series of ritualized occult murders, and the police have come to Uncle Will for help. Can Evie use her special talents to crack the case before she winds up as a victim herself?  Don’t be intimidated by the size of The Diviners by Libba Bray, because once you get started it will be hard to put down. The mystery rivals any episode of Criminal Minds, the villain is downright terrifying, and the giddy fun of visiting speakeasies during prohibition will keep the pages turning. 

Can’t get enough of the creepy crawlies? Each of these titles is the start of an expected series, so keep an eye out for the spooky sequels.

- Amanda

Two Outstanding Middle-School Boys

14 Aug

New books about school days are appearing on the library shelves, and this year there are a handful that definitely stand out from the crowd. Meet two middle-school boys who will grab your attention and have you laughing and empathizing with their unusual situations.

Wonder, by R. J. PalacioWonder by R.J. Palacio follows a 5th grader through his first year of school at Beecher Prep. August has avoided going to a mainstream school due to a facial deformity. Now, he’s taking a chance that his classmates will see through his unusual looks to the funny, caring Star Wars fan inside. You’ll sneak a peek into the thoughts of Auggie and his classmates as they travel through the school year, while friendships are forged, broken, and changed. You won’t want to miss this upbeat title with a fresh take on the drama of middle school. 

Ungifted, by Gordon KormanUngifted by Gordan Korman introduces us to middle-school troublemaker Donovan Curtis. He’s that guy who can’t quite control himself– when he comes up with an idea, he does it, and usually winds up in trouble. But when the superintendent of his school catches him in the wake of some serious property damage, a wonderful mistake is made: instead of being expelled, Donovan finds himself transferred to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction! Hiding out in the gifted and talented program seems like the perfect way to stay out of the superintendent’s way, but it isn’t easy to blend in with a group of students who have genius IQs. The wacky cast of characters will have you laughing out loud, and by the end of Ungifted you’ll be rooting for the troublemakers.

Auggie and Donovan may not fit in, but they’ll be unforgettable when you’ve met them. They remind me of other great middle-school characters, like Bradley Chalkers, Max Kane, and Kevin Avery. Recommend your favorite troublemakers, Star Wars fans, and other great middle-school characters in the comments.

- Amanda

World War II Britain Through Teen Eyes

3 Aug

With the London Olympics underway, indulge your Anglophilia and learn something new with one of these recommended historical reads.

Michelle Cooper’s Montmaray trilogy focuses on the five young members of a (fictional) destitute royal family during the years before and during World War II. In A Brief History of Montmaray, Princess Sophia records the struggles of daily life in her tiny island country off the coast of Spain. When the Nazis target Montmaray for its strategic location, Sophie, her cousin Veronica, and her sister Henry are forced to defend their home against invasion.

The story continues in The FitzOsbornes in Exile as the girls join Sophie’s brother Toby and family friend Simon in England. With the cloud of war hanging over Europe, the royal teens must navigate Europe’s turbulent political waters in order to bring attention to their island’s occupation and the threat of the Nazi regime.

The final title in the trilogy, The FitzOsbornes at War (coming October 2012), takes place during World War II as Sophie and Veronica weather air strikes in London while their friends and family risk their lives for the war effort at home and abroad. Cooper weaves in lots of real history, and her characters are both entirely charming and authentically complex. Readers will be fantasizing about life as a FitzOsborne even while experiencing the terror and tragedy of Britain at war.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein depicts a strikingly different war experience, taking readers into the heart of the British resistance. Queenie, a young Scottish noblewoman and a German prisoner of war, narrates the first half of the book, interweaving the story of her friendship with working-class pilot Maddie and their ill-fated flight over France with the brutality of her imprisonment. In the second half of the book, we learn Maddie’s fate and the truth of Queenie’s bravery as Maddie struggles to escape France and save her friend. Shocking plot twists combine with vibrant characters and a detailed account of the young men and women who risked everything to protect Britain and free Europe in this memorable read for older teens.

For teen and adult readers, these two authors bring to life the courage and resilience of the British people, and provide a fascinating historical back drop for London’s two weeks at the center of the world stage.


Tabletop Fiction

10 Jul

Amidst the latest season of video games with multimillion dollar budgets and countless Facebook discussions on “nerd chic” and the credentials necessary to identify as a “gamer,” a curious thing has started to happen: the tabletop game is making a comeback. Big-box stores are starting to stock niche board games that are featured on YouTube channels, and a new generation is discovering the joys of rolling a 20-sided die.

I tend to read in clumps based on whatever topic holds my interest at the time, and since I love playing games, I often find myself seeking out fiction that relates to gaming. Thankfully, there are a lot of good choices out there for those who are sick of the mediocre video game tie-ins and “slacker gamer” stereotypes.

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, by Julie HalpernInto the Wild Nerd Yonder is a teen read with a familiar angle: quirky girl Jessie faces a crisis at the beginning of the school year, when her best friends suddenly shut her out, change their image, and even go after her crush. Feeling abandoned, she reaches out to the “odd kids,” and discovers new friendships while trying to learn the ins and outs of the game they play, Dungeons and Dragons. It’s a lighthearted introduction to the often confusing world of tabletop gaming, and is melded nicely to a relatable and hilarious story about friendships.

I Kill Giants, by Joe Kelly and JM Ken NiimuraFor a more serious story, try the graphic novel I Kill Giants. Drawn in a stark style that looks vaguely like manga, this is the story of Barbara Thorson, a young girl who spends much of her time slaying monsters in a tabletop game, and the rest of her time doing the same in her imagination. However, her heroic battles distract her from a quieter, more sinister confrontation in the real world, against monsters she doesn’t want to face.

Homeland, by R. A. SalvatoreOf course, sometimes the only thing that hits the spot is the same adventure one would find in an actual tabeltop game. The Dungeons and Dragons universe is sprawling, but the most famous character in it is probably Drizzt Do’Urden, the dual-wielding dark elf swordsman and tragic, noble hero. For those looking for fiction that emulates the high sword-and-sorcery of a role playing game, Drizzt is a good choice, and his story starts in Homeland.

Of course, you could always do what I do, and invent your own stories on the fly as you play something like Gloom or Elder Sign with friends. The results are similar to what you might find in anything by Lemony Snicket or H. P. Lovecraft, though usually a lot funnier.


Teens Recommend

22 May

Middle and high school students from the School of Engineering and Sciences meet at the Pocket-Greenhaven library for a weekly book discussion group. Here are some of the books they’ve been reading.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman  

“Wonderous mix of fantasy and comedy” –William




Chronicles of Vladimir Todd series by Heather Brewer

“Great blend of high school and science fiction similar to that of Darren Shan.” –Devante




Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan

“Awesome read that has lots of blood and gore.” –William




City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

“Great mix of action, mystery, romance and comedy.” –Ody




Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

“It’s an interesting concept” –Matthew




Monster High by Lisi Harrison

“It’s a really good book and I’m looking forward to the next one” -Kang



Have you got any great teen lit recommendations? Share them in the comments!