RightBook

The Fairfield Public Library Reader's Advisor for Teens – Reviews, Recommendations, and More

Our Favorite Books of All Time March 7, 2014

Filed under: Booklists,Books You May Have Missed,Classics,Librarian Favorites — Book Mavens @ 11:39 am

In celebration of the 200th post on RightBook, Nicole and Jen are thrilled to present something you  might have wondered about – and that we are often asked about – our personal favorite teen books ever. Here are two lists (because we can’t stop at five picks each!) that are not ranked, but sort of grouped into our “all-time, can’t live without favorites” and our “but we really, really love these ones too!” lists. Enjoy, and feel free to share your own favorites in the comments.

*Please note: Some books may have mature themes and content*

Nicole and Jen’s Top Ten

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Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd (2008) – Fergus must decide whether to leave Northern Ireland for medical school in Scotland, or stay to support his family while his brother is imprisoned and on hunger strike. The history of the IRA is not familiar to many in the US, but this tale brings ‘The Troubles’ to vivid, terrible life. Ms. Dowd only published a few books before her death in 2007. Each is, in their own way, pitch-perfect. This one, mysterious and romantic, is the very best. – Nicole

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2006) – It took a lot of prodding from other librarians before I picked this up but it remains an indispensable part of my reading history. Narrated by Death, it’s the story of an orphan who learns how to be a good person while the world is falling apart around her in WWII-era Germany. This story radiates with life and joy. Don’t wait as long as I did to read it! – Nicole

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (2012) - This is my ‘trapped on a deserted island and can only bring one book’ book. It’s historical fiction at its very best, taking a war we all learned about, weaving in historical tidbits we never knew, and gifting us with characters that define courage, loyalty, and true friendship. – Jen

Graceling by Kristin Cashore (2008) – This was released around the same time as The Hunger Games. While many would say that series feature an iconic female heroine, I would like to introduce you to Katsa. In this start to an essential fantasy series, Ms. Cashore has created an intricate world where people with extraordinary abilities must decide whether to use their talents for good or for evil. Always hurling its characters forward into the unknown, many recent young adult series owe a debt here. – Nicole

Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1998) – You may debate whether the first few in this series are Children’s or Young Adult, but there can be no debating the fact that this series changed the landscape for fantasy books and how the world views Young Adult literature. – Jen

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008) – Yes, there was dystopian YA before Hunger Games. And, Lois Lowry’s The Giver and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series deserve huge praise for paving the way, but The Hunger Games is really the book that launched this widely popular genre. – Jen

Paper Towns by John Green (2008) – Oh, this book…After a night of pranks and petty crime, Margo disappears and Q is convinced that she wants him to find her. As sharply witty as all of Mr. Green’s books, this is about what it means to be ‘real,’ to live and love authentically. I read this cover to cover in one night and actually gasped out loud when I turned the last page and saw the words rushing to the end. – Nicole

The Princess Bride by William Goldman (1973) – “Hello, My name is Inigo Montoya; you killed my father; prepare to die.” Often quoted and much loved this 1973 tale was presented as an abridgment to The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern, a book that doesn’t actually exist. With that as a starting point, how can you not love a story that’s a comedy, an adventure, a fantasy, a romance, and a fairy tale all in one? – Jen

Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas (1996) – Every loser has a story. When we meet Steve, living in California, he is a stoner burnout in jeopardy of failing out of school. This is the story of who he was before, when he lived in Texas – smart, earnest, and deeply in love. I return to this book every few years and I am always profoundly moved by it. The cover makes sense once you finish it, I promise!  - Nicole

Unwind by Neal Shusterman (2007) – Abortion, adoption, euthanasia, organ donation taken to the extreme…oh Neil Shusterman thank you for not underestimating the intelligence of the young adult population. Thank you for understanding that these are issues teens are ready to examine, understand, and debate. And, thank you for conceiving of this thought-provoking and utterly unique sci-fi thriller – Jen

 

More Favorites (we can’t help it!)

 http://hmhbooks.com/lifeasweknewit/Images/lifeasweknewit.jpg               http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/69/Perksofbeingwallflower1.jpg               http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/fe/Uglies_book.jpg     

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (2012) – A girl sends her love into the sky because she feels she has no use for it on the ground where she lives. This book is about finding your truth and fighting for it. I can’t think of another author I am as excited to watch in the coming years as Ms. King. – Nicole

Graceling by Kristin Cashore (2008) – Hands-down the best YA female protagonist in fantasy fiction. To even try to describe her awesomeness would be a mistake because one could never do her character justice. You simply must experience the book first hand, she’s just that great. – Jen (Nicole agrees…see above)

Inexcusable by Chris Lynch – I’m a fool for unreliable narrators, and rarely do you find one as fearsome as Keir. Of course, he’d tell you he’s a good guy. This should be required reading, paired with another, much more famous book I’ve selected for this list. – Nicole

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (2006) - This is one of those rare books that never fails you when you recommend it to someone. The draw of it is that it takes a major worldwide catastrophic event and explores it from the point of view of one teen girl and her family. She’s not trying to save the world, but rather just survive and maintain a shred of hope. It’s a sci-fi book with a dose of reality that makes the reader wonder what he/she would do in this situation.  - Jen

The Perks of Being Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (1999) - It’s been on the top 10 challenged books of the 21st century five times, but it’s also required reading in many high schools. There’s nothing like a controversial, yet extremely well-written book. It’s a book for anyone who has every felt like they just don’t fit in, which is probably just about everyone. – Jen

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (2010) – It seems like there are dystopian adventure stories being written for young people left and right these days. This environmentally-themed adventure is the best. That’s all. – Nicole

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (1999) – Before I knew I was going to be a Teen Librarian I worked as a bookseller and stumbled upon this book. The story of a young girl who chooses to mute herself rather than reveal her trauma, this book is simply essential, now more than ever. – Nicole

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (2005) – This was one of the first assigned readings I had in my YA lit class when I was getting my library science degree. I’d never read anything quite like Uglies. The combination of original storytelling, action, and interesting characters drew me into the YA section and I have never left. Westerfeld is a prime example of the fact that some of the most inventive storytelling is now being found in the YA section. – Jen

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (2011) – The book I hand to adults who question the literary merit of young adult fiction. I wish I could read it again for the first time, the story was so powerful and its characters so indelibly real. I might have whooped aloud in my office when it won the Printz. – Nicole

OKAY! We just thought of some more favorites, looking at past things we’ve blogged, books we can’t bear to not see on this list, but we have to stop somewhere (for now!) Everything we’ve posted over the past several years is something we really liked so take a look. And always feel free to come see us at the Main or Woods Branch and we’ll be happy to share even more of our all-time books with you.

 

The Nazi Hunters February 7, 2014

Filed under: Adventure,Award Winners,Guy Books,Non-Fiction — Book Mavens @ 1:04 pm

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Title: The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi

Author: Neal Bascomb

Summary: Adolf Eichmann was a decorated Nazi officer and a key figure in the transport of Jews and other ‘undesirable’ populations from Hungary to overcrowded ghettos and eventually to the deadly concentration camps located throughout eastern Europe. He prided himself on his efficiency and the lengths he would go to in convincing that these moves were in the best interest of those who would eventually perish in the Holocaust. After the war was over and Nazi Germany had fallen in 1945, Eichmann disappeared. This is the story of how this wanted man was found, captured half a world away in Argentina and brought to Jerusalem to stand trial for his atrocities 15 years after the end of the war.

This gripping page turner delves into the espionage work done by several key players, from ordinary citizens whose lives had been shaped by the horrors of war, stake out artists and military men who could be compromised in an instant,  and up to the highest offices in the Israeli government. The seven-year operation had to be completed with absolute secrecy and precision and even though you know the outcome, it reads like the best kind of spy thriller and is a great choice even if you aren’t a fan of non-fiction reading.

The Nazi Hunters won the 2014 YALSA Award for Excellence in Non-Fiction for Young Adults.

Who will like this book: Anyone in interested in World War II or Israeli history. Readers who like learning about ‘secret’ or lesser-known stories in history.

If you like this, try this: Mature readers should check out Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt. Eichmann in My Hands by Peter Malkin, a key figure in The Nazi Hunters. 

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

 

Fangirl December 31, 2013

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Title: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Summary: Cath is into Simon Snow. Really, really into it. She spends a lot of her free time writing slash fiction about Simon and his roommate Baz as they study at an enchanted school for magicians. Cath might be painfully shy, but her posts online gather thousands of hits and sometimes it seems like she has as many fans as the actual author of the Simon Snow stories. She used to write with her twin sister, but as they head off to college for freshman year, Wren has been drifting away: She cut her hair and left Cath to dorm with a stranger. As if leaving home and having to deal with all sorts of new people weren’t bad enough.

As Cath progresses through freshman year, her life is constantly thrown into disarray – her sister seems to party all the time, her dad is more manic than usual, her brash roommate insists that she eat in public with her and two boys vie for her attention. The one thing that keeps her focused – her epic, two-years-in-the-making fic – needs to be finished before the final Simon Snow book comes out in the spring. Cath is a queen of the fandom – but can she thrive when the computer is off? This book caps off a remarkable year for author Rainbow Rowell, and like her wildly popular Eleanor and Park, this is a beautiful, funny and deeply-felt story that will have you laughing and crying in equal measure.

Who will like this book: Fangirls, of course. Anyone who has spent even a bit of time inserting themselves into the Harry Potter stories. Romance readers.

If you like this, read this: Eleanor and Park, also by Rowell. OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

 

LIE December 10, 2013

Title:  LIE

Author: Caroline Bock

Summary: Jimmy saved Skylar’s life. Or at least, that what she would say. After her mother died and her dad drifted away to work in the city, it was handsome and funny Jimmy, the new boy in town, who drew her back into the world. But now Skylar is in an impossible position. You see, the girls don’t tag along when the boys go out ‘beaner hopping’ on Friday nights, jumping Latinos to scare them away from town. Usually it’s nothing serious, just some stupid fun. But when Skylar’s boyfriend Jimmy takes it too far and picks up a baseball bat, a Salvadoran man is left dead on the street and a small town on Long Island spirals into disbelief. And as the police begin to ask questions, the words of her best friend echo in Skylar’s ear: “Everybody knows. Nobody’s talking.” If Skylar shares what she knows about what really happened, her whole world will fall apart.

As this breathtaking debut novel alternates points of view between Skylar, her friends, her father, and other members of the community, including the victim’s younger brother, a clearer picture begins to emerge of what exactly happened that night but the question remains: How could such smart kids participate in such a senseless, violent acts. This is realistic fiction at it’s finest, a gripping page-turner with gut-wrenching twists and turns that will leave you stunned.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like intense stories that don’t shy away from difficult topics. People who like books that have multiple characters telling the story.

If you like this, read this: Shine by Lauren Myracle. Response by Paul Volponi.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe October 22, 2013

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Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Summary: Aristotle and Dante meet for the first time at a public pool in El Paso, where Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim. Over the long summer of 1987, the two boys, both loners, become best friends. Dante is confident and free-spirited. Ari, with an older brother in jail and a father emotionally scarred by his time in Vietnam, is more guarded and unsure of his place in the world. Over the course of the next year and a half, the extraordinary relationship between Ari and Dante is tested, first by an accident, then by a separation, and finally by a revelation: Ari is into guys.

After they reunite for another summer, Ari must come to terms with how he has changed in the past year, the secrets about his family’s history and his own uncertainty about his feelings for his best friend. This is a lovely story about what it means to be a friend and what it means to become a man. Ari and Dante will live on in your heart long after you’ve finished turning the pages of this book.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like beautiful, poetic language. Romance fans. Teens who are questioning their place in the world.

If you like this, try this: Ask the Passengers by A.S. King.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

 

Zom-B October 7, 2013

[Cover]

Title: Zom-B

Author: Darren Shan

Summary: It begins in a remote village in Ireland.   Footage of vicious zombie attacks and brutal military responses goes viral.  B’s London-based gang of friends and family see the clips, but everyone seems to think it is some kind of hoax.  Some think it is a promo for an upcoming film, others theorize that it is a terrorist plot, or even the ultimate practical joke.  Life goes on for everyone in the rest of the world.

And, life for B means dealing with an abusive and racist father, protecting a battered mother, hanging tough in front of friends, and going to school.   Potential zombies aside, the biggest issue in B’s life is dealing with the urge to go against Dad’s bigotry.  Sometimes it is just easier to agree with him because an unhappy Dad is a violent one.  Unfortunately, it’s becoming evident that  B’s decision to just pretend to go along with Dad’s views is beginning to influence how B behaves towards kids from other racial backgrounds.  Even at school, B is receiving mixed messages about tolerance and B’s finding it hard to separate right from wrong.

However, that internal struggle is momentarily sidelined the day B’s school is attacked by zombies.  The attack is sudden, and B and a group of diverse students  must get over their shock and disbelief immediately if they are to escape the carnage.

Who will like this book?:  This incredibly fast-paced book is great for fans of action and, of course, zombies.  There are some graphic novel-type illustrations that further enhance Darren Shan’s creepy vision of the zombie apocalypse.   This addictive first of a proposed 12 book series already has the next three books in print and subsequent ones are scheduled to be released approximately three months apart.

If you like this, try this:  Of course continue on with the series!  But while you wait, get hooked on Jonathan Maberry’s Rot and Ruin series, Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel series The Walking Dead, and Charlie Higson’s The Dead.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

 

Rose Under Fire September 9, 2013

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Realistic Fiction — Book Mavens @ 3:08 pm
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[Cover]

Title: Rose Under Fire

Author: Elizabeth Wein

Summary:  Wein set the bar incredibly high with her debut novel Code Name Verity, my top pick for 2012, but she doesn’t disappoint with this follow-up companion.  Wein revisits some of her characters from Verity, but this is truly Rose Justice’s story.  Rose, an American pilot, amateur poet and recent high school graduate, volunteers for the Airport Transport Auxiliary, a British civilian organization that ferried military aircraft and service personnel during World War II.

While flying back from Paris to England, Rose is captured by the Nazis and taken to Ravensbruck, a woman’s concentration camp in Northern Germany.  There Rose learns to live a life of extremes - extreme hunger and torture, extreme cold and fatigue, and the extreme courage and loyalty she witnesses in her fellow inmates.  And, it is with some of those courageous inmates that Rose creates a family. It’s a family held together by tragedy and hope for each other, composed of sisters who were subjects of brutal medical experimentation by Nazi doctors and a “mother” whose children and husband were murdered.   And, the sacrifices these family members make might just save some of them so that they can reveal the Nazis’ inhumane experimentation to the world.

*Rose Under Fire does contain some spoilers for Code Name Verity, so despite it being a companion book, I would definitely recommend starting with Code Name Verity.

Who will like this book?:  Historical fiction fans will appreciate Wein’s thorough research and ability to create characters true to the time period.  However, the subject matter, storyline, and characters are so compelling that anyone who enjoys drama or stories about courage in the face of inhumanity will find this book well worth their time.

If you like this, try this: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, and Briar Rose by Jane Yolen,

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

 

 
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