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"My education was the liberty I had to read indiscriminately and all the time, with my eyes hanging out."


— Dylan Thomas

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Matter matters

Stuff Matters: exploring the marvelous materials that shape our man-made world

Title: Stuff Matters: exploring the marvelous materials that shape our man-made world
By: Mark Miodownik

Materialism’s redeemed in this polished tour de stuff. For Miodownik, remembrance of things past isn’t evoked by food or scent, but by the steel of a mugger’s knife. Why did the steel blade cut the way it did? What is steel, anyway? Why doesn’t a stainless steel spoon retain the taste of the food in which it’s dipped?

All those Whys of the teenage muggee—the hallmark of a future scientist—continue to fascinate Miodownik. He carries the reader along, so that you, too, can’t wait to get the skinny on glass or concrete or diamonds or paper…the splendid stuff of our material world.

View similarly tagged posts: non-fiction
Posted by curious on July 21, 2014 at 4:54 p.m.
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Compelling

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Title: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
By: Karen Joy Fowler

I love the explanation the narrator and main character Rosemary Cooke gives for starting her story in the middle. It’s one of the reasons I kept on reading; I knew from the outset that something interesting was being held back for later. What that was, I cannot reveal. You must read the book to find out why it leaves a deep impression.

". . . I made up a friend for myself. I gave her the half of my name I wasn’t using, the Mary part, and various bits of my personality I also didn’t immediately need. We spent a lot of time together, Mary and I, until the day I went off to school and Mother told me Mary couldn’t go.This was alarming. I felt I was being told I mustn’t be myself at school, not my whole self."

This is a psychological novel about a family, with excellent character development. It’s also funny, shocking, tragic, and well-researched.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction
Posted by April on June 23, 2014 at 10:18 a.m.
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A surplus of suspects

Buzzkill

Title: Buzzkill
By: Beth Fantaskey

Who wanted to kill head football coach Hollerin’ Hank Killdare? Well, apparently lots of people wanted him dead. But there’s only one person high school journalist Millie Ostermeyer is worried about the murder getting pinned on—her father, the assistant football coach. Millie begins her own investigation and gets help from the unlikeliest of people: Chase Albright, the quarterback of the football team. Conducting a murder investigation isn’t easy, though, especially not when Millie has to deal with a testy French teacher, a strange detective, a very supportive librarian, and all the other things that come with being a senior in high school. With help from Chase—and of course Nancy Drew—will Millie be able to solve the murder?

View similarly tagged posts: teen fiction
Posted by pughc on June 16, 2014 at 10:40 a.m.
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Wit and wordplay

Adverbs

Title: Adverbs
By: Daniel Handler

Handler is the alter ego of children’s author Lemony Snicket. He calls Adverbs a novel, but it reads like a collection of short stories. The book is full of wit and wordplay about how love is experienced. This is reflected in the chapter titles: Soundly; Briefly; Naturally, etc. There are recurring characters and themes throughout the book. I found myself creating a chart to keep track of them: volcanoes, magpies, people named Andrea or Steve. Many chapters are set in and around San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest. Handler doesn’t take himself too seriously, and as long as you don’t, either, you will enjoy this book.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction
Posted by Logophile on June 16, 2014 at 10:17 a.m.
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It's not easy

The Weight of Water

Title: The Weight of Water
By: Sarah Crossan

It's not easy moving to a new country, learning a new language, changing schools, making new friends, getting a new name because the teacher can't pronounce your given name. It's especially not easy when you are 12 going on 13 and your father has disappeared, maybe to the country you are moving to. The Weight of Water is a novel for young adults written in free verse. It is a quick read, but it will stay with you long after the last page.

Kasienka and her mother move from Poland to England with nothing but a suitcase and a laundry bag. They abandon the laundry bag on the luggage carousel at the airport because everything is so different and strange. Both mother and daughter have a difficult time adjusting, but the book is written in Kasienka/Cassie's voice. Will they learn English well, or just enough to get by? Will they find Kasienka's father? Do they really want to find him? Will Cassie make friends, be in the right grade in school, join the swim team, learn to love?

View similarly tagged posts: fiction, teen fiction, kids fiction
Posted by ogradyj on June 14, 2014 at 8:30 a.m.
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