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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.

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 link between rhythm and reading

Image c.o. freedigitalimages.net, by imagerymajestic.

Image by imagerymajestic, via freedigitalimages.net

This just in from the Journal of Neuroscience: researchers have discovered that learning to keep a steady beat can enhance your language skills and make you a better reader.

A recent study tested the rhythmic abilities of a group of Chicago high-schoolers to establish a link between beat-keeping mastery and language aptitude. As it turns out, both of these abilities are managed by the same part of our brains. Moving in time with a beat trains the brain to listen carefully and pick out subtle auditory cues.

Human language is inherently musical– we don’t talk like robots, but let our words rise and fall with emphasis on certain syllables. Our normal speech patterns move with a sense of rhythm, so it makes sense that practicing music may improve the ability to use and interpret language, too. And since reading requires us to understand and anticipate the way that language moves, exercising your rhythm skills can also help to build your reading skills.

Whether you dance, sing, practice an instrument, or just drum your fingers along with the beat, this new info is an awesome reason to keep listening to (and making) music.

You can find musical masterpieces of every genre at the library, or check out Freegal, which allows you to download 3 new songs a week using your CLP library card.

And of course, we’ve got you covered on books, too. Listen to music — > become a better reader —> read cool books about music:

Beats, Rhymes, & Life: What We Love and Hate About Hip HopNick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

 

 

Learn to Speak Music

 

 

 

Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetic of Hip Hop    The Vinyl Princess

Reading & Writing This Week at CLP

I’m sure that by now, Teen Summer Reading (TSR) is old news.  However, if you haven’t signed up yet, I do encourage you to stop by your local library, say hi to your librarian, and sign up!  You can earn nifty prizes and free books, as well as an invitation to your branch’s spectacular End of Summer party just for teens.

If you’d like to share what you’re reading with other teens, look no further than Hazelwood’s Teen Lounge and Book Club on Tuesday, July 2 from 2-3pm.  Bring a book you are reading and share what you loved or hated about it over snacks, crafts and games.  Refreshments and free books are provided.

Reading memehttp://memebase.cheezburger.com/tag/reading

Let’s say you’ve been reading all summer long, and you figure that you’ve already read a fair amount of books by different authors, of varying genres and writing styles.  You figure it’s about time you try your hand at writing something of your own.  Look no further than East Liberty’s Creative Writing for Teens on Saturday, July 6 from 3-4pm.

This special creative writing workshop will feature special guest and YA author Siobhan Vivian, author of The List and Burn for Burn.  Not only do you get to meet this fabulous author, but she will also help you improve your writing!  Registration is required, so register here, or by calling 412-363-8232 or emailing barbert@carnegielibrary.org.

one does not simply write a novelhttp://writerswrite.co.za/writing-truths-16810

Happy reading & writing!

-Amy, CLP-Lawrenceville

East Liberty’s Teen Book Club: What will we read next??

Once a month, since the fall, a small group of teens has been meeting at East Liberty to discuss books.  As the book discussion facilitator, I think you should think about joining us.

You never know what will come up in a book discussion.  So far we’ve read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, Panther Baby by Jamal Joseph, and a smattering of  poetry, including some of Anne Sexton’s takes on Grimm’s Fairy Tales in her Transformations.  

miceandmen  shipbreaker  pantherbaby

We’ve talked about whether the American Dream is essentially depressing, how the world might look in 10-20 years time, the politics of the late 60s in America and why there’s not a Black Panther Party today, community service, and the difference between “bird sitting on a branch” poetry and poetry you might want to read.

Books are a great place to start from if you want to end up talking about anything and everything.

readyplayerone

Next month we will be reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  This is a story of a puzzle quest in an immersive online world, called OASIS, coded and put together by a reclusive computer genius obsessed with the culture of the 1980s.  Whoever solves his puzzle – by successfully collecting 3 keys– will inherit a giant fortune.  Five years after the announcement of the puzzle, and the genius’s death, the first key is found by a teenager in Oklahoma City.  And the race is on.

So put your copy on hold today and discuss with us on Saturday, March 16th at 2 pm.  80s music and snacks provided.

-Tessa, CLP – East Liberty.

Journey to the Pacific Northwest

Over Christmas, I will be heading back to the Pacific Northwest, where I spent the first twenty-something years of my life.  Yes, I’m excited to see friends and family.  But there’s just something about that ol’ PNW that you can’t find anywhere else.  The dreary, wet, somber, gray weather of winter, surrounded by old growth forests and mountain peaks that you know are there, even if you can’t quite see them through the gloom.

A colleague, upon hearing that I grew up in the Northwest, asked me what it was like to grow up in the land of serial killers.  While that’s not exactly fair, I’ve compiled a list of books set in Washington (state) that may give you a sense of why it’s an appealing location for serial killers, vampires, time travellers, sinister doppelgangers, ghosts, and just plain regular folks like you and me.  Happy reading!

Dangerous Boy

Envy

Girl Wonder

Ten

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Body Finder

The Jewel and the Key

Twilight

Unraveling Isobel

Whale Talk

An Unexpected Journey Begins!

hobbitbook

It has been a long wait, but The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey movie is finally being released next weekend.  The Hobbit has always been one of my favorite books and I loved the LOTR movies by Peter Jackson.  I already checked out our copy of the book to read next week before I see the movie.  If you are looking for things to do before the movie is released, the Carnegie Library has a TON of options for you!

hobbit

Some ways you canYou can read the book by JRR Tolkien, watch the Lord of the Rings movies, or attend the Night in Wilderland: Hobbit Movie Anticipation Party at the Main Library next Thursday at 8:30!

You can also watch the trailer for the new movie by clicking on the image below:

Reading

Jim-CLP Sheraden

Teen Influences: The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Hi! My name is Noori, and I am going to be a senior at The Ellis School.  I live near the middle of nowhere, my taste in music is a tad on the eccentric side, I love photography, I’m absolutely obsessed with the 1920’s, I love to read poetry and also really wish that I had the talent actually write some, I love shopping, and I do not have any pets, though I would love to have a cat! I have always loved to read, & I read as many different types of books as possible, although my favorites are mostly classics.  One of my favorite authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald, once said, ““That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”, and I could not agree more.  Reading is more than a hobby for me – it is a passion.  It’s endless entertainment, and it is always engaging. 

English wasn’t always my favorite subject.  Honestly, I recall absolutely hating it until 9th grade. At my school, English was never really a grammar based class.  It was always more of a literature class.  I think people eventually come upon something (in my case it was a book) which initially pulls them into a subject. I mean, I did always read a lot, even when I was little, but I did not enjoy reading classic literature.  Honestly, what kid in middle school really does? I think that my love for literature and, in turn, my love for English class can all be brought back to one initial book that lured me in.

The summer before 9th grade, we had to read The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.  For people who have not read it, the novel covers two days in the life of Holden Caulfield, a tall and skinny, anxious and depressed teenager who flunks out of boarding school.  Salinger’s Holden Caulfield is so relatable for teenagers, probably because he is one himself. Like one of my favorite Fitzgerald quotes above states of literature, the novel left me feeling both engaged and connected with the dialogue and characters. As Holden wanders through New York City, utterly lost while still so cocky in his attitude towards others, I saw someone who I could relate to.  Though the average teenager, myself included, does not feel nearly as mentally unstable as Holden probably is, one does feel a bit of reassurance in Holden’s nihilistic attitude.  Clichés present adolescence as a time of “finding oneself” – most teenagers would more likely agree that it is a time of being lost. Arguably, these two things may be the same, but there is a difference in the outlook, a difference in perspective. Being a teenager means feeling sort of lost, and through Holden Caulfield, one realizes that though he/she may feel lost, he/she is not alone.  Reading a book is like taking a trip through someone else’s mind.  Through this, we find similarities and we have the ability to see differences in the ways in which people think.  I think that this makes reading a very vital activity, because through reading, one acquires a better understanding of both him or herself and people in general.  Reading makes us more understanding of people, their emotions, situations, behavior, etc., and, in turn, we become more empathetic.

The Catcher in the Rye led me to a revelation that literature is not always stuffy.  I guess it was a sort of literary awakening!  I realized that literature isn’t just about old dead people doing boring things a long time ago – it is interesting and relevant. Literature does not mean always reading books like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, where everything clearly seems like it occurred a long time ago.  That being said, I’m not saying that either of those two novels is any less credible.  They are just harder to relate to initially – at least they were for me.  The Catcher in the Rye acted as a sort of gateway to more classic literature for me.  After reading this book, I began to enjoy English class.  I loved discussing it, because I felt like I really understood the book’s meaning and its purpose.  In the words of Holden, English class no longer felt “phony” to me – I finally felt like I could have a connection to the books that I read.  Soon after, I began reading more and more, and I began to love all of it.  I graduated from The Catcher in the Rye to books like Lolita, Crime and Punishment, Wuthering Heights, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and almost every book that  F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway have ever written.  The Catcher in the Rye introduced me into a literature in a way that made all of those books that we hear about, that sound so pretentious, distant, and scary, relatable and real. Now I know that I want to major in English Literature in college, and I owe it to this one book for developing my interest and passion. That begin said, I think that The Catcher in the Rye is a book that everyone should read.  Even if you don’t normally read much and you feel like reading doesn’t really interest you, I strongly recommend giving it a chance! You never know how one relatively small book could impact you.

Teen Review: Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

My name is Clara, and I am 14 years old. I go to Science And Technology Academy and I am in the 10th grade. In my spare time when I’m not reading a good book, I dance in competions, do cheerleading, and play sports.

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Hello fellow readers! I just finished reading Perfect by Ellen Hopkins, and I wanted to tell you how great the book is! The book is all about the struggles that teens in everyday life face, with trying to please their parents, trying to fit in, and mostly tring to be perfect in the eyes of others.  In the story, four high school seniors struggle with trying to be perfect and the problems they encounter from these struggles.   The poetry in the book only make the book easier and more fun to read, and lets you veiw the characters through different eyes. I would recomend this book to anyone who likes reading edgy teen books, and wouldn’t mind opening their eyes to something new.

Memorable Memoirs

I am nosy and I love learning about the lives of others—partly because it makes me feel more normal.  Reading about other people is one of the more socially acceptable ways to learn about the idiosyncrasies and sordid histories of real people.  Generally, I can’t get behind biographies, autobiographies, let alone any other type of nonfiction.  But stick a well-written memoir in my hands, and I’m hooked from beginning to end.

Because memoirs are artistic retellings of a life, they are more narrative and have more of a story structure than other nonfiction genres.  According to Wikipedia, “Memoirs are structured differently from formal autobiographies (which tend to encompass the writer’s entire life span), focusing rather on the development of his or her personality…  [The memoir] is therefore more focused and flexible than the traditional arc of birth to old age as found in an autobiography.”

Here are a few engaging memoirs, highly recommended,  to use as an escape away from this heat wave into someone else’s life.  You can also find a wonderful list of memoirs on our Teen page.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This book documents the author’s childhood with an alcoholic father and unattentive mother. Under these circumstances, Walls and her siblings were forced to fend for themselves, providing their own food, shelter and clothing–even if it meant picking through dumpsters.

The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez

In this book, Rodriguez shares her experience growing up in the shadow of low expectations, reveals how she was able to fake her own pregnancy, and reveals all that she learned from the experience. Stereotypes, and how one girl found the strength to come out from the shadow of low expectations to forge a bright future for herself.

America’s Boy: A Memoir by Wade Rouse

Born in 1965 into a small town in the heartland of America, Wade Rouse didn’t quite fit in. He struggles with his own identity through the loss of a brother and the traumas of being different.

Breaking Night by Liz Murray

The memoir of a young woman who at age 15 was living on the streets but survived to make it to Harvard.

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