Non-Fiction Addiction

Non-fiction for teens sure does have a bad rep. This monthly feature will introduce non-fiction titles that are fun and informative and hopefully bring to life the wealth of relevant and amazing titles that are out there.

This month’s book: When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals by Jeffery Masson

 Summary:

 Animals do in fact lead emotional lives, according to Masson. He has managed to find hundreds of anecdotes from the published works and field studies of such noted behaviourists as Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Cynthia Moss that support his theory. It seems that, despite the fact that anthropomorphism is among the worst of scientific taboos, these respected scientists cannot help but notice the similarities between human and animal behaviour. Chapters are organized by topic, such as fear, love, grief, and even compassion and beauty. An index provides access by species and by personal name of both people and animals. An excellent resource in psychology, this title will also be a useful addition for animal research. Its clear and conversational style makes it interesting for general readers as well. A well-documented, compelling, and thought-provoking defence of animal emotions

 Thoughts: This is actually for adults, but I thought that there would be quite a few older teens who would be interested in this topic. I just finished reading The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti and the librarian said that sometimes teens ask for the book that Calletti quotes (which doesn’t exist) and they give them this one instead. I haven’t read it yet, but I skimmed it and the language looked very accessible and the stories pretty compelling.

Fallen by Lauren Kate

After an unexplainable accident with a boy, Luce finds herself enrolled in a strange reform school called Sword & Cross. Everything about it is a little odd, especially the other students.  This doesn’t bug Luce too much because she feels a little odd herself; she sees strange black shadows and she can’t seem to remember what happened to the boy who died. Except the shadows seem to be acting up and there is this strange guy named Daniel that is inexcusably rude to her that she swears she knows from somewhere. The more she tries to piece together about Daniel and the school the more things spin out of control and without trying Luce finds herself at the centre of something very dark and dangerous.

This summary makes the book sound like the Awakening series by Kelley Armstrong, but it’s really not.

Fallen is a compelling blockbuster paranormal romance about a regular girl in love with a fallen angel.  Sound familiar?  It might contain many of the more predictable elements of this genre, but I must confess it was the best one I’ve read…possibly ever.  It’s long, which might seem daunting, but it’s actually very well paced. Kate takes the time to lay the ground work of the story, building up the characters and setting the stage for the rest of the series. The relationship between Daniel and Luce was fascinating and their story was made more compelling by the interesting and vibrant supporting characters. I also thought that Kate did a beautiful job of giving the reader an incredible climax, while leaving much of the story unanswered. I’ve read a lot of negative reviews, and I’m not sure why. Luce was a lovable character – witty and fun to read, there was enough mystery to keep me captivated, the story was rich and avoided the over cheesiness that is often plagued by this genre and the ending left me hooked. I can’t wait for the sequel, definitely the better of the two fallen angel books released last fall.

You might enjoy Fallen if you like books with: a paranormal romance where the average girl falls for the otherworldly boy, mystery and unanswered questions, battles between good and evil, seemingly impossible romance/love, a full cast of characters instead of just one or two, fast paced action.

Also by Lauren Kate: The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove

If you liked Fallen you might also enjoy: Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Additional Info:  I think I read somewhere that this is going to be a 4 part series, but regardless the sequel Torment is set to be released September 28th 2010.

Author website found here.

Rating: W3.5/4   C4/4   P4/4   O2.5/4   PP4/4   CR4/4 (Amazing cover!!!)

Grade Level: MJS

mini break

 

Sorry for my lack of posting last week, I spent a few days at my parents place. Their house is sandwiched between two lakes and it’s the perfect place for reading and relaxing, not so great for internet though.

Program – Mosman Public Library,Aust.

I know I usually do American or Canadian library programs, but that doesn’t mean other countries are not coming up with fun and innovative programming.

I stumbled across the following program from Mosman Public Library in Australia because of an assignment I had to do and I thought it was so much fun I had to post it. It’s a beautiful marriage of books and art (my two favourite things) and one of the more creative programs I’ve seen in a while.

Caution: for some, this program might be considered sacrilege – and yes, books were destroyed in the process.

 On April 13 the Mosman Public Library in Australia held an event called Altered Books, free for ages 12 and up.

 “Mosman Library will be running an Altered Books workshop to show you how old books can be creatively recycled into new sculptures, photoframes or anything else the imagination fancies!”

 This kind of thing makes me giddy!

Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman

After escaping the clutches of her middle school drama queen friends, Charlie wants to start high school drama free. Things go well for her; on the first day she makes a few great new friends and joins the newspaper. Things are even better when her old next door neighbour Will shows up looking amazing. Things seem to be going fine for her and her new friends as they navigate the ups and downs of high school, including dating, grades, sports, etc. That is until Will gets caught in a horrible hazing scheme gone wrong and someone ends up in the hospital. Charlie is torn between doing what is right and her feelings for Will, and at the end of the day she might just lose everything…

Readers who enjoy realistic fiction that puts a strong emphasis on the daily grind of being a teenager in high school will love this book. Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials is witty and sweet and Wiseman does an amazing job of creating down to earth and relatable characters. While there isn’t too much in the way of plot development, the book reads rather quickly as you just can’t get enough of the dynamic Charlie. It was definitely honest and fresh and I appreciated the balance between highlighting the importance of friendship and relationships and the realities of bullying and insecurities. I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience, and feel that despite some negative reviews it definitely does add something to the YA sphere.

 “..to all the teens and kids I work with. I tried my best to write something that would reflect your experiences of what it is like to be your age today – for the good, the bad and the ugly. I believe what you are dealing with is important and should be respected as such. I hope I did right by you.” – from the book’s acknowledgements.

 You might enjoy Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials if you like books with: realistic high school setting, characters that you could encounter in your real life, a focus on friendship rather than relationships, humour.

 Also by Rosalind Wiseman: Queen Bees and Wannabes and Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads (Boys, Girls and Other is actually her first YA novel)

 If you liked Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials you might also enjoy: Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood by Eileen Cook, Something Maybe by Elizabeth Scott, Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen and The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk

Additional Info: Did you know that one of Wiseman’s other books, Queen Bees and Wannabes was the basis for the movie Mean Girls?

Author website: http://rosalindwiseman.com/ – amazing website/resource

Rating: W4/4   C4/4   P3/4   O2.5/4   PP3/4   CR3.5/4

Grade Level: JS

 Other Covers

Road to Bliss by Joan Clark

After a city wide blackout, fifteen year old Jim decides it’s time to leave home and head west. He catches a ride with a trucker and ends up in a remote area of the prairies called Bliss, living in an abandoned home. While living there he meets Miriam, a young girl who lives on the neighbouring farm called Majestic Farms. In an attempt to get closer to Miriam, Jim takes a job at Majestic Farms and discovers that Miriam is part of an extreme religious cult. When Miriam decides to leave and seeks Jim’s help, Jim will discover the importance of family and his own capabilities in this coming of age tale.

Road to Bliss is a beautifully written story. While extreme religious movements are nothing knew to YA, this one stands apart as the story is told from both the male perspective and the outsider perspective. I thought it was refreshing and fascinating. Jim is a likable and relatable character and any reader will enjoy watching his growth over the course of the book. His thoughts on life, himself and Majestic Farm are especially compelling. One of the things I found really interesting about Road to Bliss was that Joan Clark did not give the names of any of the places in the story. Usually it bugs me when Canadian authors mask their Canadian settings. However, I felt that by relying on descriptions and not giving any location identification it meant that the story was easily transferable to anywhere.  I thought it made the story much more accessible. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Road to Bliss and I highly recommend it to both genders.

You might like Road to Bliss if you enjoy books with: a slower paced plot, third person narrative, strong characterization where the main character spends a great deal of time on personal reflection, captivating settings, male voice.

Other books by Joan Clark: The Word for Home, Latitudes of MeltHand of Robin Squires

If you enjoyed Road to Bliss, you might also like: Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee, Almost Home by Jessica Blank, What Would Emma Do? By Eileen Cook

Non-fiction Connection; the Prairies: Prairie Builders: Reconstructing America’s Lost Grasslands by Sneed Collard, The Prairies by Kate Riggs,

Rating: W 3.5/4   C 4/4   P 3.5/4   O 3.5/4   PP 2/4    CR 4/4

Grade:  JS

Coming Soon to a Library Near You

Coming Soon to a Library Near You is a weekly feature inspired by Jill at Breaking the Spine that looks at upcoming books.

This week’s Book: How to Make  Bird

Author: Martine Murray

Release Date: June 1st 2010

Summary:

It’s dawn, on an empty road in the countryside. Empty, except for the girl in the long, red evening gown, standing next to a bicycle, and looking back at the home she’s about to leave. Mannie wants to forget the terrible things that have happened here, but there are questions that need to be answered before she can let go. Questions about her elegant but unstable mother, her brother Eddie who’s always overshadowed her, and his friend Harry Jacob, who might or might not be Mannie’s boyfriend. Mannie needs to find out what really happened, and her only clue is an unfamiliar address in the city, written on a scrap of paper found in Eddie’s room. As Mannie makes her way into town, the mystery of this vulnerable, quirky girl is revealed piece by piece in a story about growing up and listening to your heart.