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The Selection

bookcoverCANTCU9F

Today I will be reviewing The Selection, Book One of the Selection Series by Kiera Cass.   Here is a summary of the book for anyone curious:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime.  The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth.  To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels.  To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.  But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare.  It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her.  Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want.  Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.  Then America meets Prince Maxon.  Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.”

Characters

This book combined stereotypes with a breath of fresh air. I really loved America, Maxon, and Marlee.  My one complaint is that some of the characters do lack a developed personality and backstory, but this is the first book in a trilogy.  This book was jam packed with interesting character relationships. A secret love interest is unveiled early on, which definitely complicates the plot. I very much enjoyed the relationship between Maxon and America, but you will have to read to see how that plays out. The relationships between America and the other Selected really was intriguing. While some simply don’t get along with her, she instantly makes a few friends. At the same time America is technically competition, so we are never too sure about how things will end up. I really enjoyed this element of suspense.

Setting

The setting of this book at first confused me.  After a bit of investigating I learned that this books takes place in America.  While we don’t know how far into the future this book takes place, it seems like it has been at least a hundred years.  Now royalty is the main form of government and rankings determine your income, social class, and job.  It‘s very interesting to read about.  At the same time this author didn’t elaborate on the surroundings well.  It might just be me, but I like a very vivid setting to think about.  I like to know the colors of the walls, the little flaws in the architecture, and that sort of thing.  While we did get small descriptions of the setting, I just feel it could have been stretched out more, especially with the castle.

Plot

The plot of this book took old clichés and made them new.  I enjoyed discovering the little details of the government, and trying to figure out what would happen next, yet parts of the book seemed so close to many other dystopian novels.  Mainly the book reminded me of The Hunger Games.  Take out the death in The Hunger Games and replace it with broken hearts, and you have the majority of this plot.  I am not going to complain about this more than I need to, as there were plot twists, original characters, and many events that were completely original, but you might get the same feeling I did when I read it.

The Final Verdict

I really enjoyed the authors writing style!  I thought dialog was realistic and humorous.  The actions the characters took were interesting to read about, and were described in a way that I felt like I was witnessing them.  My one complaint was sometimes it was hard to figure out who the speaker was.  I get a 7.5/10!  This falls right in-between decent and good for me, but you should make up your mind for yourself.  I recommend this book to anyone looking for a book that has interesting characters and plot, with the warning that any Hunger Games fan might find themselves bored with the story.  And if you like love stories, you will like this much more than I did!  The book itself isn’t all that long (only about three-hundred pages) so I recommend you get at least halfway through before you decide.  The beginning can be hard to follow, but it picks up towards the start of the actual Selection.  Thankfully the library systems has lots of copies in print and digitally.  Please let me know what you thought of it! I’m always interested in hearing opinions.  But please, mark spoilers for anyone trying to see if they are interested.

Happy Reading!

-Laurel

Laurel is an overly creative person that is looking for good books to read.  While she fills her spare time with crocheting, filming, editing, drawing, sewing, writing, and crafting, she always has a little time to read.  She enjoys books that have an intricate plot and fresh new characters, but does not like books with a lot of romance.  Hopefully she will find what she is looking for.

Snow Fun

My last post marked the first day of winter, just over a month ago.  So far, the winter weather in Pittsburgh has been VERY COLD and a bit snowy too!  According to the National Weather Service Forecast Office for Pittsburgh, the average high temperature in January 2013 was 39 degrees with an average low of 24 degrees.  This month, the average high is 33 degrees with an average low of 15 degrees.  The lowest temperatures so far this month were -5, -7 and -9 degrees.  In 2013, the lowest temperature was 4 degrees.

The good news is that winter provides lots of opportunities for fun things to do indoors and out!

Snow Fun Outdoors

snow204

Snow Fun Indoors

Snowmen Treats--Easy Food

Snowmen Treats–Easy Food

Have fun,

Stay warm,

~Marian

Super Bowl 48!!

Super_Bowl_XLVIII_logo

Since I am getting sick of winter and the polar vortex, I have decided to write about something that will make me happy-the upcoming Super Bowl.  This year’s matchup is a rarity in that it will be a meeting between the best offense in the league (the Denver Broncos) and the NFL’s best defense (Seattle Seahawks).  This is only the fifth time this has ever happened and so far the defenses have won 3 out of the first 4 times it has happened.

This will also be the first time the game will be played outdoors in a cold weather stadium and the weather could play a factor in the game.  If the conditions are bad it could hurt Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense as he has historically had some of his worst games in bad weather.  Another thing to watch is the Richard Sherman ‘controversy‘.  He caused an uproar after the NFC Championship game when he was mocking the 49ers Michael Crabtree.

If you don’t care about the game on the field, there is also the halftime show featuring Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and there should be some awesome commercials.  Either way, it will help us forget about the cold!!

Happy Martin Luther King Day

Honor Dr. Martin Luther King by celebrating, studying and practicing non-violence. Spread love, not hate.

mlk

Below you will find books and films about Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.

eyes on the prize

we shall overcome

freedom riders

the words of mlk

soundtrack for a revolution

journey of a king

african american lives

Happy reading! Seek peace, my friends!

Michael B. @ CLP-Hazelwood

Hot off the press: January’s brand new books

New years bring new books, and 2014 looks like a promising one for page turners. We’re already off to an excellent start with January’s crop of new fiction. Check out three of the most anticipated YA novels of the new year:

The Impossible Knife of Memory

Since Haley was a little kid, she’s been on the road with her father, a troubled veteran still haunted by his experiences at war. Now they’re settling down in his hometown so she can attend school and try to have a normal teenage life for the first time. As Haley adapts to high school and navigates an attraction to her classmate Finn, her father begins to unravel and she soon finds herself fearing the worst. In The Impossible Knife of Memory, Laurie Halse Anderson (author of Speak and Twisted) explores the impact of PTSD with this poignant father-daughter story.


Hollow City In the highly anticipated sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs spins another segment in the strange saga of the Peculiars– a group of people with extraordinary powers who spent decades in a time loop that kept them stuck on the same day in 1940. In Hollow City, the Peculiars leave the time loop and their small island to venture into the wider world. Will they discover others like them, or only enemies? Best get yourself on the list for a copy of this one ASAP, and check out the creepy book trailer, too.


Her Dark CuriosityIn The Madman’s Daughter, Juliet Moreau delved into the depths of her father’s madness to discover his frightening secrets in the gothic mystery inspired by H.G. Wells’ classic The Island of Dr. Moreau. Fans of the first book will be glad to get their hands on Her Dark Curiosity, which finds Juliet back in London as a rash of grisly murders breaks out. As she struggles to pick apart the mystery, Juliet realizes the past is never far behind. The release date for this one is still about a week away, but keep your eyes open for it in a library near you!


So there you have it– three long-awaited titles to start 2014 off with a bang. What books are you looking forward to this year?

The Labs @ CLP: MLK Workshop

Aerial view of the March on Washington Photo credit: Getty Images

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s speech, “I have a Dream,” is considered one of the most important cultural and historical moments of the 20th Century. Dr. King was just one of the speakers at The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the largest protest demonstration in U.S. history. Check out an original flyer for the event from the archives of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania!

On August 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people of all races marched peacefully from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to lobby for the passage of civil rights laws. Just two months earlier during a live broadcast, President Kennedy unveiled plans to pursue a comprehensive civil rights bill in Congress. The ‘March on Washington’ was one of the first protests to have extensive television coverage, so in addition to the quarter of a million people in attendance, millions watched from home. It proved that protests do not need to be violent to be powerful. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom became the landmark event in the movement that led to the successful passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Dr. King thrilled the crowd with his “I Have A Dream” speech, but did you know that the his planned speech was originally called “Normalcy, Never Again?” The speech became known as “I Have a Dream,” but those words were never in the draft of original speech. They were ad-libbed into his speech after Mahalia Jackson, one the music performers urged him, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.” She had heard him talk about his dream a few months earlier at a huge rally in Detroit. Even though Dr. King was warned to stay away from talking about his dream by his adviser, due to it being “trite” and “cliche,” King was encouraged by Jackson to ignore the advice. Would the speech have had the same reach, political impact and resonance 50 years later without it? Score one for the dreamers.

Photo credit: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

Photo credit: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

The Labs invites teens of all skill levels to take part in workshops. Mentors lead project-based workshops according to the weekly theme, providing software and equipment tutorials. Workshops are informal, fun, and drop-in friendly. The Labs @ CLP is available to our teen patrons in grades 6-12.

This week all Labs locations will be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington by recreating the event using Google Street View and the graphics editing program Adobe Photoshop.  Create 360 degree panoramic views of the march, while expanding your knowledge of Photoshop and its collection of blending tools. You’ll even be able to insert YOUR image into the historic photographs and take home a printed artifact of the finished product. This is a photography and design workshop that is not to be missed!

Tuesday, January 14th | 4:00 – 7:00 PM
CLP – Main
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412-622-3121
thelabs@carnegielibrary.org

Wednesday, January 15th | 4:00 – 7:00 PM
CLP – East Liberty
130 S. Whitfield Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
412.363.8232
eastliberty@carnegielibrary.org

Thursday, January 16th | 4:00 – 7:00 PM
CLP – Allegheny
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
412.237.1890
allegheny@carnegielibrary.org

An example of what you can do at The Labs this week!

Created by Chris from CLP – LABS

Want more? Check out these materials about the Civil Rights movement in America.

lauren @ CLP – Woods Run

Tropical Imagination

Earlier this week, I was certain that the media was making up this whole polar vortex thing for ratings. Turns out, a polar vortex is a real weather pattern and the term has been around since 1853!

polar vortex

Polar Vortex as seen on http://earth.nullschool.net/

Schools closed. Water pipes burst. Historically low temperatures were recorded. Here in Pittsburgh, the temperature dropped to a record low of minus 9 degrees! Have you seen the panorama of the frozen city?

river

Frozen Allegheny River on January 7th. Source: Justin Merriman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

For those of us who aren’t fond of winter storms and cold snaps, there is some hope! With the winter solstice behind us, there is a bit more sunlight each day. And the first day of spring will be here soon too.

Until then, here is a list of novels full of warm destinations (some good, others not so good) to keep your imagination warm!

the summer i turned pretty

beauty queens

along for the ride

holes

island

one crazy summer

- Michael @ Hazelwood

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