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Girl Mans Up

posted by: April 24, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover Art for Girl Mans UpWhat does it mean to be loyal to your friends? To respect your parents? In Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard, Pen’s life is governed by the loyalty and respect others demand from her — loyalty to her best friend Colby, even if it means aiding his womanizing; respect to her old-fashioned parents, even if their expectations of who Pen should be don’t match who Pen knows she is.

 

What does it mean to be a girl? A boy? Despite others assuming at first glance she’s a boy, Pen knows she’s a girl who likes playing video games, doing yard work and (if she ever finds someone who’s interested) dating other girls. However, her mother wants Pen to wear dresses and makeup, learn how to cook and find a nice boy to date, like Colby. Colby wants Pen to be his wingman and help him create the illusion he’s a nice guy to date because he’s friends with a girl, even if she dresses and acts like one of the guys.

 

It doesn’t matter to Pen that Colby doesn’t stay in a relationship for long, that is until two things happen: One, she meets Olivia, one of Colby’s former flings who’s keeping a secret; two, she gets a girlfriend in Blake, a fellow classmate who Colby was initially interested in dating. These two new relationships force Pen to reevaluate her role as friend and daughter and her understanding of loyalty and respect. She’ll make some hard decisions about the type of person she wants to be as well as the types of people she wants in her life.

 

Girard captures not only how complicated friendships can become as children grow into teenagers but also how hard it is to struggle with the world’s perception of who you should be and how you should act versus who you know yourself to be. Girl Mans Up is brutally honest from start to finish in its depictions of gender identity, sexuality and bullying as well as the complications that accompany strained family relationships. It’s not an easy book in terms of topic, although it is a quick read, and Pen is a strong, complex character. Readers looking for more books featuring LGBTQ characters and themes should also check out The Other Boy by M. G. Hennessey and Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown.


 
 

A Taste for Monsters

posted by: April 20, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover Art for A Taste for MonstersIf you are interested in reading a work of teen fiction, especially one that involves a Victorian tale, horror and feel good story wrapped into one, then try A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby. Within the bustling crowded streets of late 19th century London, a killer, sometimes referred to as Leather Apron but more commonly known as Jack the Ripper, terrorized the town of Whitechapel. Caught in the middle of this chaotic situation are two unlikely characters who must find a way to solve this murder mystery or face its deadly and haunting consequences.

 

Joseph Merrick, a.k.a. The Elephant Man, is a major character, and this story provides insight into how his life may have been during this time period. The physical deformities that he developed as a child caused him to experience much hardship in life that ranged from extreme discomfort to hiding underneath a mask to avoid the often unwanted attention given to him around the streets of London. Despite this, Merrick was able to befriend a doctor named Jonathan Treves, who helped him to have a comfortable stay at the London Hospital until the end of his days. Along with these historical figures, an unexpected friendship develops between The Elephant Man and a young lady named Evelyn, who is hired to be his maid. Having worked as a matchstick girl, Evelyn contracts a disease which eats away at the jaw due to phosphorous exposure. As you can already guess, physical deformities are a prevalent theme throughout the book and the author encourages the reader to reflect on who really is the “monster” in the story.

 

A teen historical fiction, this is one that not only recreates the terror of Jack the Ripper but is also about being different and finding friendship despite the bleak circumstances. Those with an interest in this time period and subject matter may also want to try The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson or Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco.


 
 

The Outsiders Turns 50

posted by: April 19, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover Art for The OutsidersFifty years ago this month, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton was published. This classic in teen literature tells the story of young men in two competing gangs, the Greasers and the Socs. Set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it is a gritty, raw look at a teenage rivalry which turns deadly.

 

The novel inspired a 1983 film adaptation directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It starred unknown young actors who would go on to great fame, including Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Diane Lane, Emilio Estevez, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio and Matt Dillon.

 

The Outsiders remains a cultural touchstone. Since 1967, over 15 million copies have been sold. It is a regular required read for middle and high school students and has been translated into 30 languages. According to fanfiction.net, there are 8,100 stories based on the book. And Instagram has more than 300,000 posts which use the hashtag #staygold, an inspiration from a Robert Frost poem that appears in the book.

 

Hinton was 16 when the book was published and had no idea the impact her novel would have on generations of teens. Hinton told Entertainment Weekly last year, “I was 15 when I started writing the book, but I was even younger when I first started thinking about the story, so The Outsiders has been a significant part of the majority of my life.”


 
 

This month's BCPL's Reading Challenge is read a book recommended by a librarian. Here are some of our suggestions; select any title to learn more or to request a copy. You can participate in BCPL's Reading Challenge with the help of a parent or guardian on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #Bwellread to earn prizes at the end of each month!

 

 BCPL Reading Challenge 2017 In Partnership with WBALTV

Cover art for And the Trees Crept In Cover art for As Brave As You Cover art for Asking for It Cover art for The Bad Beginning Cover art for The Best Man Cover art for Booked Cover art for Crooked Kingdom Cover art for Du Lz Tak? Cover art for A Family is a Family is a Family Cover art for The First Step Cover art for Freedom in Congo Square Cover art for Ghosts Cover art for Giant Squid Cover art for The Girl Who Drank the Moon Cover art for Grumpy Pants Cover art for The Hammer of Thor Cover art for Hare and the Tortoise Cover art for I Dissent Cover art for If I Was Your Girl Cover art for In Plain Sight Cover art for In the Shadow of Liberty Cover art for The Inquisitor's Tale Cover art for Labyrinth Lost Cover art for Leave Me Alone! Cover art for Maybe Something Beautiful Cover art for Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! Cover art for The Passion of Dolssa Cover art for Pride Cover art for Rani Patel in Full Effect Cover art for Sachiko Cover art for Scythe Cover art for The Serpent King Cover art for The Sun is Also A Star Cover art for This Land is Out Land Cover art for Unbecoming Cover art for Uprooted Cover art for The Water Princess Cover art for We Will Not Be Silent Cover art for When We Collided Cover art for Wolf Hollow Cover art for Bringing the Outside In Cover art for A Poem for Peter Cover art for The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo Cover art for They All Saw A Cat

 


 
 

A Shadow Bright and Burning

posted by: February 15, 2017 - 7:00am

A Shadow Bright and BurningHarry Potter fans will love the magical world of A Shadow Bright and Burning, the first book in Jessica Cluess’ Kingdom on Fire series.

 

Henrietta Howell can set herself on fire, something only she and her best friend Rook know about. In their world, not all magic is created equal, especially that wielded by a woman. When Henrietta’s secret is suddenly revealed, she expects to be executed immediately. Imagine her surprise when, instead, she is dubbed the prophesied female sorcerer, the key to saving the world from the terror of the Ancients.

 

As she begins her training, however, Henrietta realizes she is not like the other sorcerers-to-be. Frustrated and alone, she seeks advice from an unexpected friend and learns of a secret that puts everything she believes into question: maybe she is not the prophesied one after all. One thing is certain, Henrietta must do whatever she can to hone her skills and blend in with her fellow trainees. Her life, and the lives of everyone around her, depends on it.

 

A Shadow Bright and Burning is a great introduction to what promises to be a powerful and enlightening series. Cluess puts an enchanted spin on an age-old tale: triumph in the face of inequality, something readers of all ages can relate to.


 
 

Rani Patel In Full Effect

posted by: February 6, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Rani Patel In Full EffectRani Patel In Full Effect is the debut young adult novel by author and child psychologist Sonia Patel, a resident of Hawaii and devout hip-hop enthusiast born to Gujarati parents. The novel follows the life of Rani Patel, a teenager living on the island of Molokaʻi with her mother and father. Rani is similarly devoted to '80s and '90s hip-hop music and shares much of the author’s background and heritage, but even with all of the obvious similarities, Rani is a fully developed character in her own right and should not be written off by readers as a “self-insert” author proxy. We see her grow and change over the course of the book, and to say that Rani Patel In Full Effect chronicles a tumultuous period of the titular character’s life would be putting it mildly. At times, the events and subject matter are downright unsettling — which is important.

 

Rani Patel is not a typical young adult novel protagonist. She isn’t white, to begin with, or shoe-horned into any particular high school caste, or fighting to save the world. Patel’s novel is, at its core, about trauma, and she does an outstanding job depicting the realities of recovery, if not the time frame. This book pulls no punches, and I respect the hell out of that and enjoyed reading it thoroughly. Sonia Patel is clearly interested in talking about the realities of being a teenager — not an adult’s notion of what that means — and the end product is dark. Very, very dark. But so is that reality, sometimes. Yet through music and the love and support of friends and family, Rani learns how to express what she’s gone through and finally acknowledge that her feelings and fears are valid.

 

And don’t get me wrong, this book isn’t all darkness. In addition to a cast of characters as culturally rich and diverse as Hawaii itself, Sonia Patel’s narrative is sprinkled through with '90s hip-hop slang and native Hawaiian phrases that let the reader play interpreter (supported by a helpful glossary, of course), and I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the poetry and raps that Rani labors over for the entirety of the novel. I would love to see Sonia Patel, who raps herself, drop the Rani Patel mixtape in the future, but the words stand on their own merit on the page and the author’s detailed description of every beat laid down by “DJ Skittles” make it easy for the reader to transport themselves to the pavilion at Pala’au State Park where Rani’s crew performs.

 

Rani Patel In Full Effect is a refreshing and important addition to the culture of YA novels as a whole. It covers so many bases and demographics normally marginalized by the mainstream that I don’t even know where to begin. Rani herself is an Indo-American teenager, acutely aware of her own sexuality, whose life has been defined by men her entire life, just like her mother and grandmother before her. She fights for native Hawaiian rights with her friends and she strives to be the first woman in her family to get an M.D. Interwoven with Rani’s story, Sonia Patel writes about the crystal meth epidemic that has plagued Hawaii for decades and decries a toxic tourist culture that preys on residents. As far as first books go, Rani Patel In Full Effect is a knockout. You can learn more about Sonia Patel’s writing endeavors and work in child psychology at her website, and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram, where she will occasionally grace her followers with clips of her rap skills and sick dance moves.


 
 

Labyrinth Lost

posted by: February 2, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Labyrinth LostFor some, having magic run in your family would be pretty cool; you could heal injuries, conjure light and even talk to the dead. But for Alex, who watched magic drive away her father and distort her memories of her favorite aunt, magic is nothing but trouble and pain. Seeking to escape her family’s struggles, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her magic. But in Zoraida Córdova’s Labyrinth Lost, rejecting the gifts of your ancestors comes with horrific consequences, and Alex is going to have to work very hard to fix her mistake if she ever wants to see her family again.

 

The trouble begins on Alex’s Deathday, the day her entire family (living and dead) gather to bestow their blessings on a bruja, or witch, newly come into her power. When Alex damages the cantos they were performing, she calls an entity known as the Devourer, who then steals her family away. To rescue them, Alex will have to journey to the world of Los Lagos, an in-between limbo where nothing is what it seems, accompanied by Rishi, her best friend, and an untrustworthy brujo named Nova. There, she’ll have to face horrific monsters, powerful curses and her own painful memories as she begins to understand not only her role as one of the most powerful bruja in a generation, but also her place in the long tradition of her family.

 

Córdova expertly blends Latin American traditions, Latinx culture and urban fantasy to create a fresh, richly detailed story filled with diverse characters, but Labyrinth Lost isn’t just about magic. Alex’s physical journey may take her through the twisted wonderland of Los Lagos, but her emotional journey requires her to work through her fears and anger in learning to accept her family’s love and acceptance.

 

Fans of the book should know this is the first of the Brooklyn Brujas trilogy, although there’s no publication date yet for the second book. Readers who enjoyed Daughter of Smoke and Bone or When the Moon Was Ours should consider giving Labyrinth Lost a try.
 


 
 

Crooked Kingdom

posted by: January 17, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Crooked KingdomCrooked Kingdom is Leigh Bardugo’s second near-perfect and engaging venture into the city of Ketterdam, and her fifth foray into the world first introduced in her bestselling Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising). I’ll freely admit that the Grisha trilogy was not my cup of tea at all, but Six of Crows (Bardugo’s first book in the duology of the same name) was easily my favorite read of 2015. Ketterdam, the cosmopolitan capitol city of Dutch Republic-inspired Kerch, is a vibrant combination of Amsterdam, Las Vegas and New York; a bustling hub of education, trade and crime. It’s in the Barrelthe lascivious, indulgent entertainment district of Ketterdam that Kaz Brekker’s gang of criminals, outcasts and misfits find themselves reeling from the events of the previous book. The Six of Crows duology is not two stories, but one long epic told in two parts.

 

The greatest strength of both books is easily the characters, but that’s more a testament of how fully realized and interesting they are than it is a condemnation of any other aspect. As the glue and primary motivating force of the narrative events, Kaz is somehow equal parts sympathetic and unsettling and is easily the best teen protagonist I’ve ever encountered.

 

Six of Crows has a split focus, however, with every chapter focusing on the perspective of a different character. I’m not usually a fan of this technique, as in my experience there are always some weaker characters that drag down the flow and only leave you longing for the chapters of characters you enjoy. I’m happy to report that Leigh Bardugo proved me wrong. Not one of these six perspectives is any less enjoyable or dynamic than the others. The story slips between them easily and feels completely natural, and Bardugo weaves the different threads of this narrative together seamlessly.

 

The first book is, in essence, a heist story with a fantasy twist, but as fans of the genre know, a good heist story doesn't end when the job does. There are always betrayals, broken hearts or some other complications that throw a wrench into the plan. Crooked Kingdom is no exception, as we see Kaz’s gang playing defense for the majority of the book in a definite departure from Six of Crows, where they successfully pulled of the biggest heist in the Grishaverse’s history. The second book is about survival , though Kaz Brekker wouldn’t be Kaz Brekker if he couldn’t spin a profit out of the situation. It’s fitting that Crooked Kingdom takes place on an island that worships the god of trade and deals, since nothing is without a price, not even the reader’s enjoyment of the book. By the end it exacts a heavy toll on the audience, and I found myself tearing up more than once.

 

I would (and do) recommend the Six of Crows duology to anyone and everyone, not just readers who enjoy fantasy, crime novels or teen books. Crooked Kingdom is my favorite book of 2016, just as its predecessor occupied that spot in 2015. These books truly do contain something for everyone, and I was disappointed to discover that this would not be another trilogy. Fortunately, I get the impression that Leigh Bardugo is far from done with the Grishaverse or Kaz’s Crows. You can keep up with her work and learn more about her worlds on the Leigh Bardugo website and, trust me, she’s very worth following on Twitter.


 
 

BCPL Top Titles of 2016

posted by: December 8, 2016 - 7:00am

Finish out this year's BCPL Reading Challenge with Collection Development's Top Titles for 2016. Stay tuned for our upcoming blogger favorites of 2016!

 

Fiction 

Cover art for Before the Fall  Cover art for A Great Reckoning Cover art for Homegoing Cover art for Lily and the Octopus Cover art for Sweetbitter Cover art for Swing Time Cover art for The Trespasser Cover art for The Underground Railroad  Cover art for The Wangs vs. The World Cover art for The Whole Town's Talking

 

Nonfiction 

Cover art for Eight Flavors Cover art for Evicted Cover art for Hero of the Empire Cover art for Hillbilly Elegy Cover art for How to Be Here Cover art for Hungry Heart Cover art for The Mathews Men Cover art for Sing for Your Life Cover art for Truevine Cover art for Victoria the Queen

 

Romance 

Cover art for Because of Miss Bridgerton Cover art for Forbidden Cover art for The Good, the Bad, and the Vampire Cover art for Haunted Destiny Cover art for Her Darkest Nightmare Cover art for In Bed With the Billionaire Cover art for Jordan's Return Cover art for Lady Bridget's Diary Cover art for Magnate Cover art for The Trouble With Mistletoe

 

Kids 

Cover art for The Best Man Cover art for Ghost Cover art for Juana & Lucas Cover art for PAX Cover art for The Plot to Kill Hitler Cover art for Raymie Nightingale Cover art for Snow White Cover art for Vietnam: A History of WarCover art for When the Sea Turned to Silver Cover art for The Wild Robot  

 

Teen 

Cover art for Burn Baby Burn Cover art for Haikyu! Cover art for Lucy and Linh Cover art for Outrun the Moon Cover art for The Passion of Dolssa Cover art for The Serpent King Cover art for The Sun Is Also a Star Cover art for Unbecoming Cover art for We Are Still Tornadoes Cover art for We Are the Ants  

 

Picture Book 

Cover art for Before Morning Cover art for Best in Snow Cover art for Grumpy Pants Cover art for Ideas are All Around Cover art for Jazz Day Cover art for The Journey Cover art for School's First Day of SchoolCover art for Skunk on a String Cover art for We Found a Hat Cover art for When Green Becomes Tomatoes

 

Music CD 

Cover art for American Band Cover art for Blackstar Cover art for Cleopatra Cover art for Here Cover art for Joanne Cover art for Lemonade Cover art for Love you to Death Cover art for Malibu Cover art for Untitled Unmastered

 


 
 

And the Trees Crept In

posted by: November 10, 2016 - 7:00am

Cover art for And the Trees Crept InAnd the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich is a psychological teen thriller that captures the author’s talent for the spooky and terrifying. The sequel to The Dead House, this novel takes the reader into the depths of something very sinister, and will scare the pants off of anyone who picks up this book. At times visually poetic, Kurtagich creates a world full of mystery and proves that the true meaning of terror may exist in the darkest corners of our imagination.

 

With a knock — more like a loud bang — two sisters mysteriously arrive at the front door of an estranged relative known as “Crazy” Aunt Cathy. After years of abuse, 13-year-old Silla and 4-year-old Nori have run out of options and make a daring escape in search of a safe haven. Far away from civilization, Silla quickly realizes that there are many secrets buried within what is known as “La Baume,” and that they are very much alone and very much cursed.

 

If you don't mind a decent scare or are interested in something that isn't wrapped up with a pretty ribbon, this is for you. For those who just can’t get enough of horror and suspense, you may also want to try The Forest of Hands and Teeth, or listen to Odyssey Award-winner, Scowler.

 


 
 

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