Staff Pick of the Month: January 2011

The Body Finder

Kimberly Derting

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High school student Violet Ambrose can find dead bodies through her ability to hear, smell and taste what she calls echoes.  Her parents, aunt and uncle, and her best friend, Jay, are the only ones who know about her special ability.  When teen girls go missing and their bodies are found, Violet knows that with her special ability she can catch the serial killer terrorizing her community.  With the help of Jay, Violet attempts to track down the serial killer before she ends up as the next victim. 

Why I liked it: Kimberly Derting's debut novel is a love story full of suspense that once you start reading you will not be able to put down.  She grabs the reader’s attention by telling the story in two different points of view by alternating the chapters: Violet’s and the serial killers.  The plot is interwoven with Violet’s and Jay’s developing romance and the mystery of who is the serial killer.  I am eagerly awaiting the second book, Desires of the Dead due out February 15, 2011.

Three words that describe this book: suspenseful, page-turner, and paranormal.

You might want to pick up this book if: you like paranormal/mystery romance novels that are full of suspense!

If you like this book, you might also like: Desires of the Dead (Due out 2/2011; Sequel to The Body Finder) by Kimberly Derting, Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz, Wake by Lisa McMannor, and My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent.


Reviewed by Angela Parks – Teen Librarian.



Staff Pick of the Month: February 2011

Ship Breaker

Paolo Bacigalupi

Nailer scavenges ancient beached tanker ships for leftover copper wire and other useable metals. The work is dirty and dangerous, but at least he has a job; there are others who would fight fiercely for a place on the light crew. After a particularly nasty storm blows through his coastal settlement, he and his friend Pima find a girl in the wreckage of a luxurious clipper ship. She says her family will offer a reward beyond imagination for her safe return. Can they trust her? Or would they be better off leaving her for dead and scavenging the clipper’s wealth instead?

Ship Breaker was awarded the 2011 Printz Award for literary excellence in young adult literature and also made the 2011 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults list, compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association.

Why I liked it: The characters are compelling. Nailer, his friend Pima, and a host of other characters are believable and engaging without seeming like caricatures. And Nailer’s world is immersive, but Bacigalupi manages to create it without long, drawn-out paragraphs of description, instead relying on telling details to create a setting that jumps off the page. The society Nailer has grown up in is also thought-provoking—alarmingly, one does not have to squint too hard to see the similarities between his world and ours.

Three words that describe this book: dystopian, adventurous, and gritty.

You might want to pick up this book if: you like your action tinged with an ominous look into the future.

If you like this book, you might also like: other dystopian fiction, like The Maze Runner by James Dasher, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Uglies by Scott Westerfield, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, or The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith.

Reviewed by Courtney Sammis – Library Associate.



Staff Pick of the Month: March 2011


Maggie Stiefvater

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Addicted to romances with hot, sensitive, supernatural guys? Shiver Introduces another great teen love story told in alternating chapters between two characters, Grace and Sam. 

Grace has always watched the wolves living in the woods behind her house with fascination. She is drawn to one yellow-eyed wolf that seems to protectively watching over her.

Sam has survived a tragic past to live his life caught between two worlds. Running wild with the pack during the winter and spending the summer trying to enjoy the precious months of being human. 

When Grace and Sam finally meet, the connection is immediate but they must fight to stay together as winter nears and Sam fears this maybe his last summer as a human. 

Shiver was included in 2009 on ALA Best Books for Young Adults by the American Library Assocation, Publishers Weekly Best Books and Amazon Top Ten Books for Teens. 

Why I liked it: This love story is intense, sweet and suspenseful. I am on "Team Edward" but Sam takes the vampire vs. werewolf boyfriend debate to a whole new level. The book also introduces a new concept to the werewolf mythology that I enjoyed.   

Three words or phrases that describe this book: romantic, forbidden love, wolf-shifters.

You might want to pick up this book if: you like spicy teen paranormal romances with lots of conflict.

If you like this book, you might also like: other paranormal romances, like Fallen by Kate Lauren, The Hollow  by Jessica Verday, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia, or Glimmerglass by Jenna Black.

Reviewed by Janolyn – Library Assistant.



Staff Pick of the Month: April 2011


The Powerful Story of the Boy Who Loved Anne Frank

Sharon Dogar

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You probably already know the story of Anne Frank and her life hiding in a secret office annex in Nazi occupied Amsterdam.  Annexed includes much of the same events as the Diary of Anne Frank, except for one crucial difference; this version is told from the perspective of Peter Van Pels.  

What was it like to be forced into hiding, your only link to the outside world, a sliver of light shining in through the attic window? How do you mature in both extreme isolation and a lack of privacy?

It’s 1942 and Peter is nearly sixteen -years -old. Other boys his age are fighting, but Peter is stuck hiding with his mom, dad and his father’s business associate, Otto Frank and his family, including the inquisitive Anne.  Stuck in the annex for two years, Peter fights with his parents, struggles with his Judaism and becomes closer and closer to Anne.  How can they make sense of what is happening around them?

Although Anne’s dairy ends with in August 1944, Peter’s story takes readers beyond their betrayal, to the Nazi death camps and ultimately to the horrific fates of those that lived in the annex.

Previous reading of the Diary of Anne Frank is not necessary to the understanding of Annexed. However Anne’s diary is a great companion and provides a complexity that would otherwise be missed.

Why I liked it: I’ve always been fascinated by Anne Frank’s years in hiding and Peter’s account is a powerful, new perspective. Even though Annexed is a fictionalized account, Peter’s version feels more real than Anne’s unfailing optimistic diary. Peter has feelings if anguish, isolation and angst that ring true.

Three words or phrases that describe this book:  poignant, heart-wrenching, lingering

You might want to pick up this book if: You like retellings of historical events, or especially if you were moved by the Diary of Anne Frank

If you like this book, you may also like:  The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, Anne Frank Remembered: the story of the woman who helped hide the Frank family by Miep Gies, Night by Elie Wiesel, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne or Briar Rose by Jane Yolen.

Reviewed by Madison, Library Assistant.



Staff Pick of the Month: May 2011

Half Brother

Kenneth Oppel

Ben’s parents are bringing home a new baby brother, but this is no ordinary little brother.  Zan is a baby chimpanzee.  Set in 1970s Canada, Ben’s family takes part in an experiment to see if a baby chimp can learn language.  They dress him in clothes and a diaper, feed him with a bottle, and play with him like he is a human baby.  But when Zan starts to grow up and get strong and dangerous, what will happen to Ben’s new little “brother”?

Why I liked it: This is a thought-provoking story with some funny moments and it really captures your heart.  Opal’s characters and story really drew me in and made me empathize with Ben, Zan and all the people who try to help them keep their “family” together.  I also am interested in babies, language acquisition, and family dynamics.  That makes it sound kind of boring, but it isn’t!  I couldn’t put this book down because I wanted to find out what would happen to Zan next.

Three words that describe this book:  animals, family, funny

You might want to pick up this book if: You love animals.

If you like this book, you might like: Language Instinct by Steven Pinkler, Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey, Dog Boy by Eva Hornung, The Emotional Lives of Animals by Marc Bekoff

Reviewed by Sarah P., Library Associate.



Staff Pick of the Month: June 2011

The Family Greene

Ann Rinaldi

Cornelia Greene is both intrigued by her mother, Caty Littlefield Greene, and hopelessly confused. Caty is the loving wife of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene, but she constantly flirts with other men such as General Anthony Wayne and Cornelia’s own tutor, Phineas Miller. Cornelia is even more upset when her sister hints that Cornelia is not the daughter of Nathanael, but rather an officer that was at Valley Forge with both Caty and her husband. Cornelia’s journey to find the truth about her own parentage will lead her on a journey of love of family and an understanding that life is often more complicated than it seems.

Why I liked it: Historical fiction puts readers in touch with the people who make the events of history, instead of just cold, dry facts. This book introduced me to the very intriguing Caty Littlefield Green, who actually spent the horrible winter at Valley Forge with the troops. I did find some events of the book to be a bit “soap opera-ish” and the motivation of the characters for their actions somewhat less than convincing. However, this is a book that would make one want to discover more about the very daring women of the American Revolution and their contributions to the success of the war.

Three words that describe this book: secrets, family bonds, history “lite”

You might pick up this book if: You like stories about people’s feelings mixed with some good history.

If you liked this book you might like: Glory, Passion, and Principle by Melissa Lukeman Bohrer, or Chains and Forge, by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Reviewed by Sharon M., Library Associate.



Staff Pick of the Month: July 2011

Dirty Little Secrets

Cynthia Jaynes Omololu

Imagine being sixteen and not being able to bring friends over because there is mail, telephone books, trash, clothes, and pizza boxes all over the house.  Most of the stacks are all the way up to the ceiling.  This is the life of sixteen year-old Lucy.  She has just started her junior year at a brand new high school and wants to make sure nobody finds out that her mother is a compulsive hoarder.  Lucy comes home one day to discover her mother dead from an asthma attack.  At first she is ready to call 911 but then decides not to because she is afraid what the police, paramedics, and her classmates might think about her when they discover the secret she has been hiding from them. Lucy decides she will clean up the mess before calling for help, but it becomes an overwhelming task.  You will need to read the book to find out what decisions Lucy makes regarding her secret and the outcome these decisions lead to.

Why I liked it: The book made me think about what I would do if I had a family secret and how far would I go to hide it.  Further, it seems that hoarding is a big issue in our society today.  The issue has been discussed on Oprah and there is now a television show just about hoarders.  The author provides a website in her acknowledgements for help with compulsive hoarding. This book is a page-turner.  You will not be able to put it down till you are done, but when you are done you will keep thinking about it.

Three words that describe this book: secrets, romance, suspenseful                                                         

You might pick up this book if: You like to watch Hoarders on A&E or if you like a book that is a page-turner that provides a realistic problem filled with suspense and romance.

If you liked this book you might like: The Hoarders by Jean Stringam or The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin.

Book Trailer:

Reviewed by Angela Parks, Teen Librarian. 



Staff Pick of the Month: August 2011

Moon Over Manifest

Clare Vanderpool

12-year-old Abilene Tucker is sent to Manifest, Kansas for the summer of 1936 while her daddy, Gideon, works for the railroad for the summer. Abilene discovers a box of keepsakes hidden under a floor board in her new room and finds herself delving deep into the mysterious history of the town of Manifest. The keepsakes include a stack of letters from a boy named Ned to another boy named Jinx. Who were these boys? Who is the Rattler spy their letters warn of? Abilene investigates with the help of her friends and the town’s diviner, Miss Sadie, who tells of Manifest in 1917, weaving a compelling and unforgettable story.

Why I liked it: I tend to read more books that involve the future (or some version of it) than the past, so this book was a pleasant surprise. I liked seeing the town of Manifest from two different historical perspectives, which shows just how much things can change in a few years. I also always enjoy a mystery, so I was right there with Abilene hanging on Miss Sadie’s words as she told the story of what happened to Ned and Jinx. And I also really liked the cast of characters in this book—by the end, I felt like I’d actually met them.

Three words that describe this book: historical, mysterious, captivating

You might want to pick up this book if: Great storytelling gets you interested in history far faster than any textbook might.

If you liked this book you might like: Holes, by Louis Sachar, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, or The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.

Reviewed by Courtney Sammis, Library Associate.



Staff Pick: Back to School 2011

When You Reach Me

Rebecca Stead

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Miranda is just your typical 6th grader, making new friends and trying to figure out her world. Oh, and helping her mother get ready to be on the game show The $20,000 Pyramid.  Life holds few surprises until the day the notes begin to appear -notes written by someone who seems to know the future. Miranda is both incredibly curious and totally creeped out at the same time. What on earth do the messages mean and how does the crazy guy on the corner figure into all of this? All Miranda is sure of is that someone will die tragically if she can’t figure out the puzzle, and do it before time runs out!

Why I liked it: This book is incredibly fun to read because it takes place in reality, but there is an air of fantasy or science fiction surrounding the everyday events.  It made me wonder what I would do if I was given knowledge of the future – would I trust the information? Would I respond quickly or would I try to think things through? Most importantly, would I say something to someone in my own reality that might affect the outcome of important events?

Three words that describe this book: Fast-paced, fantastic, and fun.

You might want to pick up this book if: You like stories about time travel or a good puzzle.

If you liked this book you might like: Jumpman Rule #1: Don’t Touch Anything by James Valentine, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, or Brothers at War by Margaret Whitman Blair.

Reviewed by Sharon M., Library Associate.



Staff Pick of the Month: September 2011

Hot new book alert!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Laini Taylor

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Cool setting, unique characters, and deadly rivalries kick off the first book in a new series coming out September 27, 2011.  Set in modern day Prague, seventeen-year-old Karou seems to be a typical art student with bright-blue hair, tattoos, and a fiercely independent attitude. Karou’s unusual family inhabits a very different world and Karou is trained and often called upon to run dangerous errands across the globe for her loving but inhuman father.

Caught between two different existences and held back from full knowledge of her past, Karou is unsure where she fits and what her future holds. Her family’s attempt to protect her from the dangerous secrets of their world falls apart after fiery, black handprints materialize on doorways throughout the world and Karou meets a mysterious angel warrior.  As the ancient rivalry between angels and demons erupts into war, Karou must make a dangerous decision to rescue those she loves and choose sides in the deadly battle. Get your name on the hold list for this book now!

Why I liked it:   I love fantasy books with original plots and unique but believable characters. This book introduces a new mythology about angels and demons and enough complexity to continue the story in the anticipated sequel. Great characters, action, and of course some star-crossed romance add to the appeal.

Three words that describe this book:   supernatural, intrigue, romance

You might want to pick up this book if:  You love original fantasy books with great characters facing dangerous conflict along with a little romantic intrigue.

If you liked this book you might like:  Wicked Lovely  by Melissa Marr, Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black, Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, and Fallen by Lauren Kate.

Reviewed by Janolyn Schleicher.



Staff Pick of the Month: October 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Ransom Riggs

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Jacob has always had a strong bond and special relationship with his grandfather, Abe, if not particularly close to his parents. Growing up, Abe told Jacob fantastical stories about his youth and the remote children’s home where he grew up. His stories of children with special talents were always accompanied by bizarre photographs of children performing seemingly implausible feats, like levitating or creating light orbs. As Jacob grows older he sees the stories for what they are, just fairytales. He is saddened to realize that his life is completely ordinary.

But then, Abe is murdered and Jacob sees something horrific, something that lends credence to his grandfather’s crazy tales. Could the stories really be true?  

This sets sixteen-year-old, Jacob out on a journey to a lone island off the coast of Wales where he discovers the crumbling remains of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The house has been abandoned for years and it seems impossible that anyone could have lived here, but yet, the children seem to still be there…

What Jacob ultimately finds out about his grandfather’s life will forever change his own life in ways he couldn’t imagine.

Why I liked it: The story is truly original and unlike any book I have ever read. Adding to the originality is the author’s use of curious vintage photography to help tell the story.

Three words or phrases that describe this book:  mysterious,creepy and atmospheric

You might want to pick up this book if: You are looking for something different or want a creepy (but not scary) read for October.

If you like this book, you may also like:  Draw the Dark by Ilsa Bick, The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick, The Monstrumologist by Richard Yancey or The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Reviewed by Madison, Library Assistant.



Staff Pick of the Month: November 2011

The Queen of Water

Laura Resau

Born into the very poor indigenas class in Ecaudor, Virginia is sent away to work as a servant for a family of mestizos, the a ruling class of doctors, lawyers and businesspeople.  There she is treated as a slave, but never loses her vivisima or cleverness and fire within.  When she gets the chance to return to her family, Virginia is torn between her freedom and the much richer lifestyle the mestizo family provides.  Based on a true story, Queen of Water follows Virginia’s childhood as she travels between the two worlds and tries to find her place.

Why I liked it: This book is about discovering your identity.  Virginia is my favorite kind of character:  a girl who never gives up, is led by an intense desire to learn and grow and develop her own identity.  Faced with many challenges, even despite being treated like a slave, beaten and humiliated, she is always clever, always fighting and usually pretty funny as well.  Based on a true story, we follow Virginia as she moves from poor farm family, to being the servant of a family of the ruling class and even to pretending to belong to the higher class.  The story is set in a culture very different from ours, yet the struggle for identity is the same we all face.  Led by her vivisima, she never gives up, never stops learning and growing and finally finds her true place and a strong identity.  This is an uplifting, inspiring story that we all can relate to.

Three words that describe this book: inspiring, true, character-driven

You might want to pick up this book if: Strong, smart female characters; stories set in different cultures; fictionalized accounts of true stories

If you like this book, you might also like: Red Glass by Laura Resau, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, or The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Reviewed by Sarah P., Library Associate.



Staff Pick of the Month: December 2011

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

J. R. R. Tolkien

If you have ever spent time in Middle Earth either reading or watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy, then the book The Hobbit will answer some questions you may have had concerning a certain “ring of power.” If you have never ventured into this magical realm – even better! Begin here with Mr. Bilbo Baggins, a loveable half-ling, or hobbit. He loves comfort more than you or I can imagine, but his heart also craves an adventure. When it comes in the form of a perilous journey to retrieve a treasure held captive by a dragon, he has mixed emotions. Fortunately for Bilbo, and his delighted readers, he chooses the path of greater resistance, accompanied by no fewer than 13 dwarves and a wizard. This quest is one you will not want to miss!

Why I like it: Tolkien writes so clearly that all the characters are quite easy to imagine. The adventures are amusing, frightening, exciting, and thought provoking. Smaug the dragon is one of the most evil yet interesting dragons in fiction – his witty conversations with Bilbo are reason enough to read the book.

Three words that describe this book: Fantastical, tragic, epic.

You might pick up this book if: You are curious about fantasy adventure and want something with a challenging story.

If you like this book you might like: The Silmarillion by Tokien, The Hunting of the Last Dragon by Sherryl Jordan, or The Hunter’s Moon by O.R. Melling.

Reviewed by Sharon M., Library Associate.