Category Archives: Reading

Sneak Peek: YA to Watch for in 2016

Before reading this post, it is important to note two things:

  1. These books are in no particular order (other than alphabetical, by author’s last name). They are not ordered by release date OR genre. Some of them do not have a hard release date…just a guestimate (or guestiDATE).
  2. There is loads of YA bookish “coming soon” news on the interwebs. I tried to glean the best of the best, but I had no method of doing that other than using my librarian brain.

Here we go! As determined by Librarian Barrows, the most anticipated YA fiction on the 2016 horizon. All books are linked to their respective Goodreads pages.

Glass Sword (Red Queen #2), by Victoria Aveyard

Bookishly Ever After, by Isabel Bandeira

Passenger, by Alexandra Bracken

The Crown (The Selection #5), by Kierra Cass

A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro

Lady Midnight, by Cassandra Clare

The Fever Code (The Maze Runner #0.6), by James Dashner

The Land of 10,000 Madonnas, by Kate Hattemer

The Love that Split the World, by Emily Henry

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire, by Rosamund Hodge

We Are the Ants, by Shaun David Hutchinson

Exit, Pursued by a Bear, by E.K. Johnston

Rebel, Bully, Geek Pariah, by Erin Jade Lange

Untitled (Young Elites #3), by Marie Lu

Heartless, by Marissa Meyer

Stars Above, by Marissa Meyer

The Mystery of Hollow Places, by Rebecca Podos

The Shadow Queen, by CJ Redwine

Riders, by Veronica Rossi

Calamity, by Brandon Sanderson

The Raven King, by Maggie Stiefvater

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love, by Sarvenaz Tash

Into the Dim, by Janet B. Taylor

The Muse of Nightmares, by Laini Taylor

My Name is not Friday, by Jon Walter

P.S. I Like You, by Kasie West

The Last Star, by Rick Yancey

And finally…an anthology of YA goodness!

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, featuring stories by:Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith

 

 

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Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling Trilogy (so far)

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Kelsea Raleigh grew up in hiding, training for her future on the throne as Queen of the Tearling. Although she received the best education any fledgling Queen could hope to receive, Kelsea grew up in ignorance of the problems that plagued her realm. She wasn’t surprised when the Queen’s Guard came for her, after all, she was always meant to take the throne back from her uncle. What Queen Kelsea did not anticipate were the dangers she would encounter before she even ascended the throne. Dodging the elite assassins hired by her uncle become the least of Kelsea’s worries when she enters the Tearling capital and discovers the internal chaos and corruption destroying her realm. But even this pales in comparison to the threat of neighboring Mortmesne and its leader, the Red Queen.

Kelsea may have Queen’s blood in her veins and questionably magical sapphires to prove it, but is her cunning and strength enough to save the Tearling from internal chaos, making ready to face the Red Queen’s impending attack? How is Kelsea supposed to rule when she falls victim to pre-Tearling flashbacks, rendering her catatonic for hours? Can the Queen’s Guard set aside its own internal disputes to support Kelsea Raleigh in her attempts to bring justice to her realm? And who is the mysterious, handsome Fetch? Why does he show up precisely when Kelsea needs him most?

The Queen of the Tearling trilogy is being hailed as the YA version of A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones, to you HBO watchers). However, the comparison is not made to belittle Erika Johansen’s work as little more than a rip off. The Tearling‘s similarities lie in its complexity and uncensored approach to medieval-like rule. George R.R. Martin refuses to create wholly good or wholly bad characters, asking questions like: what happens to the realm when the war is over, after the “good guys” win? Johansen’s characters and their motives defy easy categorization. I think what makes this book a YA fantasy novel (rather than high-level fantasy, like Martin’s work) is Kelsea Raleigh’s POV, which naturally leads the reader to root primarily for her cause. However, Tearling‘s hero and her world leans far closer towards Westeros than Hogwarts. Despite initial appearances, there’s few clear good and bad guys in this series.

My main complaint for Tearling was world building. I use was purposefully. Although I was enamored with the story in Johansen’s first installment, I was disappointed in the lackluster and unclear depiction of the Tearling. I was wistfully remembering the fantastic world building of Seraphina or Harry Potter. Then I read the second Tearling installment. As Johansen further reveals the mysterious crossing to the reader, more world building falls into place. I can’t say much more without being spoilery, but I want to suggest being patient with a couple world building holes in the first novel.

Overall, two thumbs up for the Tearling trilogy. Shout out to Hollywood for nabbing film rights and for the rumors that Emma Watson will play Kelsea in the film version!

-Signing off, Jenny Barrows (who is also reading A Song of Ice and Fire and is starting to wonder why her world is so suspiciously fantasy-free)

 

Summer Reading Survey Results 2015

Hello everyone, and welcome back: to Hopkins, to the library, and to the Calarco Library Blog!

Once again, the librarians sent out a summer reading survey to the whole school, asking you to pick one book out of everything you read this summer – required or not – as your very favorite. We received about 250 responses from students, faculty, and staff, which proves just how much you like reading. Or us. Or how accustomed you are to filling out surveys.

You continue to read a large variety of books: nonfiction, fantasy, sci-fi, mysteries, classic novels, contemporary fiction, poetry, and John Green.Untitled Infographic

Last year, The Fault in Our Stars was by far and away Hopkins’ favorite summer read with 15 votes. The playing field is a little more even this year, with the top three books getting 6 mentions apiece. John Green continues his domination of the YA landscape with Paper Towns. Next, proving that the Pulitzer committee knows what they’re talking about, we have All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. And rounding out the top three is To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Whether it’s the release of Go Set A Watchman, its status as a required summer reading book, or if Mrs. Riley just answered the survey a bunch of times, the story of Scout and Atticus remains popular.

Other popular books include:

5 votes: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

4 votes: The Great Train Robbery, by Michael Crichton; Looking for Alaska, by John Green; and Watchmen, by Alan Moore (shout-out to my adviser group!)

3 votes:  And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie (+1 “All the Agatha Christie books on the list”); The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, by Mark Haddon; Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee;  and Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell

We’re exceedingly pleased that most respondents (133 of you!)  read 5 or more books this summer, although we have some questions for the two seniors who admitted to only reading two books. Let’s hope at least one of them was The Tragedy of Arthur.

Book Survey Recommendations

Below is a spreadsheet of all the Summer Reading Survey favorites. Any items made available by the Calarco Library are color coded: blue = regular book, yellow = kindle book, green = both.

Remember, just because summer’s over (boo!) doesn’t meant reading is (yay!). Stop by Calarco Library for a book or Kindle – maybe one recommended above!

-Signing off, Jenny Barrows and James Gette, who both recommend The Alienist, by Caleb Carr

Summer Reading 2015!

JG: It’s almost summer! Time for sun, sleep, and – of course – reading. Last summer I read a lot, but it was mostly within my comfort zone; lots of sci-fi, mysteries, and YA. This year, I’d like to stretch myself a bit.

So here are the rules for the self-imposed summer reading challenge:

1. Read from the Hopkins Summer Reading List

2. Fulfill the Summer Reading requirements: three books I haven’t read before, plus the books for my grade. Since my advisees will be 10th graders next year, I’m going to read along with them.

3. No genre books. No fantasy, sci-fi, mysteries, or graphic novels. There is nothing wrong with reading and loving these kinds of books, but I read them all the time, and the point of this is to try something new.

So what am I going to read?

I’ve read The Great Train Robbery before (as a 10th grader), but it’s been long enough that I plan to re-read it.

After this, the list gets a little murkier. I plan to read one classic novel, one work of contemporary fiction, and one nonfiction book. Here’s the short lists:

There. Nine options which will condense into three books (though I can read more if I want to!), plus the two grade-required books for a total of 5.

…That’s not enough.

So here’s the other books I’d like to read this summer. No restrictions. Which means ghosts, murder, and explosions.

  • Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie.
  • The Shadow Throne, by Django Wexler.
  • The Alienist, by Caleb Carr (yes, this is on the Summer Reading List. But it’s a mystery, so it doesn’t count for my personal challenge. But you can read it!)
  • All of the Peter Grant books, by Ben Aaronovitch. I’d read the first one (Midnight Riot) a couple years ago, but on a recommendation from Ms. Ford I’ve been listening to it on audiobook, and it is fantastic. This summer I am going to walk everywhere and listen to the whole series. Or at least the next few books.

No plan survives the first encounter with the library catalog, so I’m sure there will be additions and subtractions as the summer goes on. But as of right now, I’m pretty happy with this list!


JB: We aren’t counting down the days until summer (25) or anything, but seriously, summer. While some consider sunscreen to be a summer necessity, I carry a book/kindle/device with kindle app at all times. Last summer I did not have as much time to read as anticipated, but this summer I feel cautiously ambitious. I don’t have any challenges, per se, but I do hope to read more diversely than usual.

Here are my 2015 Summer “Challenges”:

  1. Read from the Hopkins Summer Reading List.
  2. Read more dudes (I tend to read a lot of female authors).
  3. Read fewer white people. I usually do O.K. with this, but I am making a conscious effort this summer.
  4. Don’t restrict by genre or type. I want to mix in some older stuff, non-fiction, and genre with my FAVORITE type of book – the modern fiction novel.

What will I be reading? Take a look

    1. Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin.
    2. The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi.
    3. All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
    4. To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf
    5. The Alienist, by Caleb Carr

As Mr. Gette said, I have free reign for anything I want to read off the summer reading list. To also cite Mr. Gette, I doubt I will follow this list as closely as a needlepoint pattern.

  1. Missoula, by Jon Krakauer
  2. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick
  3. An Untamed State, by Roxane Gay
  4. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews
  5. The Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen
  6. The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters

What are you planning to read this summer? Did you set any goals or challenges for yourself? Tell us in the comments!

-Signing off, Jenny Barrows and James Gette (the former already suntanned, the latter already sunburned)

March Bookmobile Highlights

Ms. Barrows’ Highlights

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The 5th Wave -Rick Yancey

Yancey masterfully weaves together classic elements of sci-fi, dystopia, and adventure fiction in The 5th Wave. The world of Yancey’s creation undergoes five “waves” of destruction orchestrated by an alien species, and each installment leaves his world and its main characters more destroyed and fragmented than before. The characters – Cassie, Sam, Ben and Evan – lead adult-less lives (an often employed tactic of YA literature)  and are therefore forced to struggle and survive amidst the devastating and seemingly irreversible five “waves” of annihilation. There’s nothing technically “new” in Yancey’s story, but the masterful layering of elements creates a rich, fulfilling read. Bonus points to Yancey for making the leading female character 12 and therefore that much more likeable.

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The Miseducation of Cameron Post -Emily M. Danforth

The day before her parents die in a car accident, Cameron Post is kissing her best friend Irene. In the fallout, Cameron finds herself cultivating a shoplifting habit and barely surviving the guardianship of her ultra-conservative religious Aunt Ruth. As Cameron struggles to hide something she has barely discovered, she cannot help but seek information and experience. When Cameron befriends Coley, the heterosexual picture-perfect cowgirl, it becomes a matter of time before Cameron’s sexuality is discovered. A tribute to Montana and the early 1990s, The Miseducation of Cameron Post transcends coming-out tropes and YA stereotypes.

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The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy -Kate Hattemer

A sleeper hit of 2014, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy follows Ethan and his three best friends as they react to the takeover of Selwyn by a reality TV show designed to exploit the talent of the art academy’s students. As the title suggests, the protest takes the form of poetry – specifically, guerrilla poetry inspired by Ezra Pound’s Cantos. However, Ethan and his friends soon understand the depth and detail masterminded by the creators of the reality TV show.

Mr. Gette’s Highlights

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Graceling –Kristin Cashore

People who are Graced have a special talent; dancing, painting, or – in Katsa’s case – killing. Forced to be  a thug for a tyrannical king, Katsa figures out a way to make her life – and her world – better, by setting up a secret resistance. The sequel, Bitterblue, delves into espionage. Both are a lot of fun.

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl -Jesse Andrews

I’m going to be straight with you: this is a book about cancer. It is also very, very funny. If those two facts seem irreconcilable to you, trust me – Andrews manages to pull it off. When Greg’s mother insists that he rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel (who has leukemia), the socially-awkward  Greg’s best idea is to show her the terrible movies he makes with his friend Earl. Don’t dismiss this as a John Green rip-off –  this is a very different book that stands on its own. The film is coming out in July, and got great reviews at Sundance. Read the book first!

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Seraphina –Rachel Hartman

In the kingdom of Goredd, an uneasy peace exists between humans and dragons. It’s the 40th anniversary of the peace treaty, the dragon ambassadors are coming to the human capital, and a member of the royal family has just been murdered in a very dragon-like way. In the middle is Seraphina, assistant court musician – and secret half dragon. She teams up with the brave, smart, and (unfortunately) engaged Prince Lucian to figure out whodunnit. The much-awaited sequel comes out tomorrow (March 10)!

New Fiction News: December 2014

Here’s what’s new in the library: come pick something up to read over break! If nothing here appeals, we’ve got hundreds more to choose from.

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The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

Who can you trust when anyone around you might be an alien in disguise – a hostile, deadly alien bent on conquering Earth? Cassie is on her own, trying to get her brother back, and is understandably wary of the people she meets (no matter how handsome). The aliens are wiping out humans – and they’re winning.

I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson

A novel in two parts, alternating between Noah and his twin sister Jude. There are three years separating Noah and Jude’s stories, with tragedy separating them. Love, loss, and a whole lot of art. Recommended for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell.

The Ploughmen, by Kim Zupan

The strange relationship – and similarities – between a deputy sheriff adept at finding missing persons, and a serial killer awaiting trial.

The Rithmatist, by Brandon Sanderson

Sorry, not the sequel to Steelheart (That’s Firefight  – it’s coming out in January!) This one’s about a boy who is fascinated by magic he cannot himself use. That magic: chalk drawings that become living (if still two-dimensional) creatures. And someone is using them to kill students.

Stone Mattress: nine tales, by Margaret Atwood

A collection of short stories that include a black widow, a haunted fantasy author, a woman in a retirement home dealing with both protestors and visions, and a woman mistaken for a vampire.

Stranger, by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith

A post-apocalypse dystopia. People with strange powers. An ancient, dangerous book. Carnivorous trees made out of crystal. Telekinetic squirrels.

Telekinetic squirrels.

Stranger is finally out, three years after the authors refused an agent’s request to change the sexuality of one of the point-of-view  characters from gay to straight. You can read all about it here.

And more!

The Eye of Minds, by James Dashner

Midwinterblood, by Marcus Sedgwick

Monument 14, by Emmy Laybourne

Revival, by Stephen King

Our Favorite Spooky Books

It’s late October, and Halloween (and Pumpkin Bowl!) are right around the corner. Here are some of our favorite creepy, eerie, and downright horrifying books to get you in the mood for the best holiday.

Ms. Barrows Recommends:

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House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski. A story inside a story, but even more complex than that. Basically, a family is living in a house that is larger inside than outside. And there’s other stuff. There’s weird page formats, including footnotes for footnotes (often citing fictional sources) and word layouts that depict events happening in the book. The result? Readers report feelings of claustrophobia, agoraphobia, and overall creepiness.

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The Passage, by Justin Cronin. Just do yourself a favor and read this book. Need convincing? Click here.

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The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. Terror, sheer terror, drives Jackson’s story. Forget monsters, who needs monsters when you have the good ol’ human psyche? Dr. John Montague, in an effort to investigate the supernatural, invites individuals who have been affected by unexplained events to come and visit Hill House. What is Hill House, you ask? Well it is just about the creepiest mansion ever constructed. The only people to take Dr. John Montague up on his offer are Theodora and Eleanor, the story’s protagonist. What follows is an exploration of the gray area between the supernatural, imagination, reality, and delusion. In a tightly written 174 page book Jackson develops a sense of tension and terror with each sentence.

Mr. Gette Recommends:

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The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. “There was a hand in the dark, and it held a knife.” How can you go wrong with an opening line like that? Boy’s family is murdered, boy is raised by ghosts, murderer comes back to finish the job. devil

The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. Sometimes truth is stranger (and scarier) than fiction. Devil follows two men: the architect who designed the Chicago World’s fair, and the murderer who used the fair to ensnare his victims. Includes creepy murder house!

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House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski. Ok, sometimes fiction is a lot stranger. Even the premise of the book isn’t that simple: a man tells a story about a neighbor who wrote a scholarly paper on a documentary that doesn’t seem to exist. The documentary is about a man who discovers that his house is bigger on the inside than the outside: and it’s not as friendly as the TARDIS. Add in a ton of footnotes, footnotes with their own footnotes, words with their own color schemes, non-vertical writing – just reading this book is an adventure.

-Signing off, James Gette and Jenny Barrows (who are cowering in fear under a book fort)