Memories are one of those things that we hold on to. Our memories can be a source of comfort and pain. But, they are ours and unless we choose to share them, they remain ours. Not so in Lauren Mansy's book The Memory Thief. The book is set in a time and place where memories can be spent like money. The ability to possess other people's memories equates with power, and there are gifted individuals who can steal memories with a simple touch. Etta is gifted, but she has chosen to not use her gift, until her mother is facing death and her mother's memories are set to be auctioned off. Etta is determined to protect her mother's memories, but it means she will have to use her gift to steal other valuable memories.
The Iowa Choice Awards were chosen recently and we have many of them already on the shelf. So, I chose one from each, the Teen Choice, and the High School Choice to share with you.
The Iowa Teen Award books are written with younger YA readers in mind. On the list for 2020 is Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippincott, with screen play authors Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis. This is a book about survival and living. Stella has a lung disease and believes that if she keeps her distance from everyone, she will stay healthy. Will also has a lung disease. But, he wants more than just survival, he wants to live. So, when their paths cross, Stella has to decide if she wants to take a chance and get close to Will. The story highlights the pain and choices that those with a crippling illness deal with every day.
On the High School Choice list is On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. The High School Choice Award list includes books that are geared more to older YA readers. This is the story of a young girl who wants to make a name for herself through rap music. It appears that her life is falling apart. Her dad died, her mom lost her job, the fridge is empty, and they might get evicted. With so many things to be angry about, Bri pours all of that emotion into her rapping. Who knew it would become a viral sensation and it would set a course for Bri that maybe isn't who she really is. This is a story about how circumstances can define the person; and sometimes it's hard to win against circumstances.
What are we willing to give up? That's a question that many of us deal with every day. Am I willing to give up some time to help a friend? Am I willing to give up a cookie to stick with my diet? That is a question that some deal with on a much higher level, and that is an underlying thread in Julia Keller's book The Dark Intercept.
The Dark Intercept is a science fiction story with two earths. New Earth and Old Earth and people live in relative harmony because they have given up their emotions. A crime-prevention device called the Intercept monitors emotions. But, what happens when someone gets in trouble and faces danger because of the Intercept? This book may challenge your ideas about what you are willing to give up.
January is a time when we take a few moments to look at ourselves and reflect on where we are and where we want to be. It's a time when we set goals, and when we set goals, we need resources to help us to achieve them. We added several new books to our Young Adult non-fiction that might give direction for setting and meeting goals. Today I'll mention two of those books.
First is, Think Confident, Be Confident for Teens by Marci G. Fox and Leslie Sokol. Being a teen can be hard, and many times self-esteem takes a hit. This book is written to help teens understand why they feel the way they do, and what they can do about it. The book offers lots of questions and time for reflection in how to change "give-up thoughts into go-to thoughts." Go-to thoughts are the ones that recognize the feelings, but don't bring the person down. They offer a way out and an empowerment toward a stronger self-esteem. Included are several chapters with stories of teens and how they dealt with destructive thinking to become strong and confident.
The second book is, Your Brain Needs a Hug by Rae Earl. Who doesn't enjoy a hug? The first thing that stands out to me about this book, is the recognition that we are human and humans are not super heroes. We make mistakes and we deal with problems. This book takes a look at how the brain deals with a variety of mental issues. Chapters include anxiety, phobias, depression, OCD, and more. Illustrations keep the reading interesting and fun and the writing is conversational and relaxed. Maybe that's part of the point, relax - we're all human.
I chose two very different books to talk about today. They're both about young people, and they're both about relationships and loss.
The first book is One Here is Lonely by Sarah Everett. This book takes a look at a young girl and how she deals with the loss of a classmate who was killed in a car accident. It gives us a glimpse into what happens when we find our comfort through electronics as she starts to talk to the ghost of the deceased through her phone and her social media. Because of the relationship that she creates with "digital Will," her real life relationships start to suffer. So this book is about coping with loss, and overcoming loss.
The second book is a different type of loss and coping. That's Not What I Heard by Stephanie Kate Strohm is like a life size game of "Telephone." If you haven't ever played the game, you start by telling someone something and then they pass it on to another person, and finally you go around the group and find out how much the message has changed from the original. Well, maybe that's how rumors start. It's also how people get hurt. Sometimes it's hard to get back to the truth, and equally hard to recover from the lie.
Each year the Iowa Center for the Book chooses three books for the designation "All Iowa Reads." The program was established in 2003 to promote a sense of community across the State of Iowa by encouraging schools, community organizations, and book clubs to all pick up the same book to read and discuss. The program started with just adult books, but expanded to include teen and children's selections. This year's selections were announced by the Iowa Center for the Book on November 6th.
The adult book chosen this year is The Mothers by Brit Bennett. This is a debut author known for her essays. Her book is a study of a modern black woman and her position in society. It should provide lots of good reading and interesting discussion.
The Young Adult book is Hey, Kiddo! by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. The author shares his memoir through a graphic novel. The author was raised by his grandparents because his mother was in jail. As a young child, he didn't know his father. When he learns his father's name, he also starts a journey to try to find him. The author shares his struggles and his triumphs as he finds himself.
Finally, the children's selection is The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. This book takes us on a mystery as the main character finds a clue to a hidden treasure in her deceased grandmother's house. Old houses, mysteries, and hidden treasure always work together to provide a fun story.
So, I hope you'll think about picking up one of the All Iowa Reads books and join your neighbors and friends in some fun discussion.
Some series seem to be meant to go on and never die. Today I'm talking about three series that have been around for quite a while, and have new books being added.
The first is a book that came out in June of 2019. It is the third book in the sequel to The Number Four Series, by Pittacus Lore. It is Return to Zero. It all started with nine extraterrestrial teenagers who escaped their own planet to find refuge on earth. Since then, they have been hunted as their enemies plan for their extinction. We have seen alliances and betrayals and this addition to the series continues to build on who can be trusted. As the teens join forces, new threats will be revealed.
The second book that I will mention today is the fifth in the Legend series by Marie Lu. Rebel is due out in November, 2019. This is a dystopian series that causes the characters to question what they are told, and how they have been brought up. After conflict and rebellion, what is left? That is what Rebel tries to answer. For those who have followed this series and loved the characters, you will certainly want to read this look at life after the trilogy.
Finally, a surprise addition to a great series. Suzanne Collins is adding a prequel to the Hunger Games. Set to come out in the spring of 2020, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes us back to the time after the first rebellion so that we can see the reconstruction period. What caused the districts to be set up with the structure that led to the Hunger Games? How did the capital become the city of corruption that we see in the trilogy? What characters were around to witness the changes and come to the conclusions that made them who they are? We can all look forward to finding the answers to the questions about how a country moves toward corruption and how we should respond.
Well, summer is ending and school is back in session. That means our schedules start to shift to a new routine. It means less time outside, less time racing from activity to activity, and more time reading. It also means more time to write about books. So, here's the latest book that I have been reading.
Hull Metal Girls by Emily Skrutskie follows the stories of two young people that have entered the governments elite fighting force. One joined because she saw it as the last hope for saving her family. The other does not know why she is there. Her memories have lots of holes. When a person joins the elite force, they give up their individualism as their bodies are melded together with a computerized exoskeleton. Not everyone survives the melding process, but those who do relinquish their ability to act independently from the others. This creates a very interesting story line as our protagonists begin to question whether the government truly has what is best for the people as their priority.
It has been a while since I have written. We are off and running with a very busy summer schedule and my regular time for writing has been more interrupted than not. But, I'm here to tell you that we have lots of new books on the shelf. Today, I want to tell you about a couple of books that are retellings of familiar stories, and one book that tells another story of history.
First, a retelling. You can guess what story comes with a title StepSister. StepSister by Jennifer Donnelly is a Cinderella story. But, it does not focus on the beautiful Cinderella. It focuses on the stepsister that would do anything to win the prince, including cutting off her toes so that her feet would fit into the glass slipper. Maybe this is a story of what a young person might be willing to do to be seen as more lovable, more beautiful, more worthy. Maybe it's also a story about learning to love yourself for who you are.
One more retelling is Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell. This story may be less recognizable than Cinderella, but it is still timeless. This is the retelling of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. It is the story of how three separate lives come together, and revolution takes place. Set in a world where the elite control and the poor are starving in the streets, it is a tale of rebellion, spying, control, secrets, and the power of choices.
Now, a bit of history. There seems to be a whole new collection of books highlighting wars being published. These books are more than just a recounting of the battles and the generals. These books introduce the unsung heroes. Secret Soldiers: How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis is written by Paul B. Janeczko. The special troops were known as the Ghost Army. These weren't soldiers in the normal sense of the word. They were actors, camouflage experts, and set designers. Their job was to make the Nazis believe what they were being told concerning the Allied troops. That meant staging scenes with inflatable tanks and sound effects. That meant playing a dangerous game of make believe. This one will give you a whole new perspective of war.
Hi! I'm Sonya, the Young Adult Librarian at Algona Public Library. I'll be sharing about YA books - old and new.