Favorite Quotes

"A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation. Lend and borrow to the maximum -- of both books and money! But especially books, for books represent infinitely more than money. A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold."

— Henry Miller

Reader's Link - May 2013 Staff Picks Archive

Ends well?

The Fall of Alice K.

Title: The Fall of Alice K.
By: Jim Heynen

This is an American novel, but one with such a different point of view from most I am exposed to that it kept startling me. At first I wasn’t sure that I could get into the story, but something about Alice suddenly grabbed me, and I had to finish the book. Alice K. is a very intelligent and responsible high school student with a troubled family, living on a well-run farm in Iowa that is failing due to market conditions. The setting is a devout and traditional Dutch-settled area of the state. Alice’s cross-cultural friendships and intrepid character propel her into and out of trouble. The author really gets inside Alice’s teenage head in a way that does credit to his understanding of a young woman’s feelings, although there are a few passages that I find unrealistic. I love the way he describes her relationship with the big red Ford 150 pickup she drives. My only serious disappointment was how he chose to end the story. Read it yourself and see if you feel the same way.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction
Posted by April on May 20, 2013 at 8:46 a.m.

False Promise?

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Title: The Miseducation of Cameron Post
By: Emily M. Danforth

When Cameron Post’s parents die in a car accident, she’s relieved that they’ll never find out that she had been kissing her best friend Irene. Now her grandmother and Aunt Ruth have come to live with Cameron in her small ranching town of Miles City, Montana. Aunt Ruth is a conservative Christian, so Cameron knows that being gay is wrong in her aunt’s eyes. But she can’t help it if she has feelings for girls. When she becomes too close with another one of her friends, Aunt Ruth finds out and sends Cameron to God’s Promise, a program designed to help her heal her same sex attraction. While at God’s Promise, Cameron realizes it may not be what it seemed at first. She begins to wonder if people are actually being healed, and if there’s truly something wrong with her at all.
In The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily M. Danforth writes as though Cameron is speaking directly to you. It’s written as though a friend is telling you the story; you immediately care about what is happening to Cameron, even though at many points what’s happening isn’t always nice.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction,teen fiction
Posted by pughc on May 18, 2013 at 9:19 a.m.
1 Comment

It left me thinking long afterwards…

Liar & Spy

Title: Liar & Spy
By: Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead understands that the best spy stories leave you guessing right up to the end.

This middle-grade story introduces the 12-year-old protagonist, Georges, a wonderfully quirky, underdog loner who is going through a big upheaval in his life. His father's lost his job, forcing the family to relocate to an apartment in Brooklyn and his mother to work extra shifts at the hospital. If that's not enough, Georges has lost his best friend at school to the cool crowd. Vulnerable and susceptible to influence, he strikes up a friendship with an odd boy his age in his new building named Safer, and Safer’s younger sister, Candy. At first, Georges is curious and excited to be a part of Safer’s Spy Club, and to join the quest to learn the secrets of the mysterious Mr. X who lives in the apartment upstairs. However, as the plot unfolds, the limits of their new friendship are strained.

How far should anyone be willing to go to keep a friend? As the tale unravels, it continues to surprise the reader with unexpected twists and turns, all the way up to a deeply insightful ending. Stead does an excellent job of depicting the imaginations, alliances, and inevitable betrayals of adolescents, as well as infusing her characters with the heart, intelligence, and good humor to transcend these trials.

A funny, intelligent coming-of-age/mystery story.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction,kids fiction
Posted by madsenarbogastc on May 6, 2013 at 9:19 a.m.

Wildly original


Title: Wildwood
By: Colin Meloy

What would you do if your baby brother was abducted by a murder of crows and carried into the Impassable Wilderness, a swath of forest so thick that any who venture into it are neither seen nor heard from again? Why, you’d go after him, of course! But not before stopping to think, misleading your parents, gathering some supplies, and allowing a slightly annoying yet noble and determined classmate to tag along. So it is that Prue McKeel and Curtis Mehlberg of Portland, Oregon embark upon a rescue mission armed with nothing more than a Swiss army knife, a bag of gorp, a “Bear-Be-Gone” air horn, and an overdue library book, the Sibley Guide to Birds. What Prue and Curtis discover is their own mysterious connection to a complex otherworld snugly ensconced within our own, 21st-century landscape. Wildwood, which features walking, talking, and in some cases impeccably dressed fauna (and some surprising flora), owes a great debt to C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. Yet story and characters are so richly imagined (and beautifully illustrated) through a contemporary North American lens that this tale feels wildly original. After crossing into Wildwood, Curtis and Prue are separated and placed on opposite sides of a civil war. Separately, they must navigate thickets of allegiances to find not only Prue’s baby brother, but also the answer to the question of why they alone can breach the barrier that separates Wildwood from the outside world. As the adventure comes to a climax, the story confronts a question common to all dual-world fantasy, yet rarely answered: why not simply stay in the magical otherworld? Why return to school and parents and the humdrum, workaday world? The answer to this question will send readers reaching for the next book in the series, Under Wildwood. Happy reading!

View similarly tagged posts: fiction,kids fiction
Posted by mcgrewfredem on May 5, 2013 at 8:47 a.m.

Marvelous invention

My Invented Country

Title: My Invented Country
By: Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende’s moving memoir about the country she loved and left is read so perfectly by Cristine McMurdo-Wallis that I almost want to say: Don’t read this book; you must listen to it! The many voices of Allende’s writing -- irony, tenderness, humor and harshly honest journalistic modes -- are beautifully performed. I did not hear one false note in the entire reading. If you are a critical listener, you will appreciate the sensitivity and maturity of this performance. And every listener will be educated, amused, and perhaps inspired to visit Chile. We are both charmed and sombered by her memoir, which weaves together political history, Chilean landscapes, personal decisions, and family stories.

View similarly tagged posts: non-fiction,biography,audiobook
Posted by April on May 2, 2013 at 8:22 a.m.

Seeing blindly


Title: Tangerine
By: Edward Bloor

This is one of my all-time favorite young adult novels. It has many levels that will interest the more mature reader, and has a wonderful storyline with characters that will totally draw you in. Twelve-year-old Paul is legally blind, but is a mean soccer goalie in Tangerine, Florida. His family has recently moved there, and Paul is hopeful that he can start over at a new middle school. Paul’s father is obsessed with helping his older brother Erik get a football scholarship to a good college. It seems that Paul is the only person who can see how dangerous Erik really is. This is a wonderful coming of age book, and Paul is a character totally worth rooting for.

Tangerine has won awards from the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, and the New York Public Library, among others.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction,teen fiction
Posted by bibliobug on May 1, 2013 at 1:41 p.m.

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