In Real Life

IRL

TitleIn Real Life

Author: Cory Doctorow

Illustrator: Jen Wang

Summary: Anda is shy in real life, but online she is a kick-butt character in the massively-multiplayer role-playing game Coarsegold Online where she has begun to make friends with other players. The line between what is right and wrong starts to blur when she befriends a gold farmer who collects valuable objects in game to sell for money out of the game.

Who will like this book?: Fans of characters with strong morals. Graphic novel readers, and online game players.

If you like this, try this: Ms. Marvel Vol. 1, No Normal  by G Willow Wilson,illustrated by Adrian Alphona.  Page by Paige by Laura Gulledge. The Eye of Minds by James Dashner.

Recommended by: Stephanie, Librarian

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I’ll Give You the Sun

Title: I’ll Give You the Sun

Author: Jandy Nelson

Summary: Vibrant, outgoing Jude and shy, artistic Noah are twins. They may not be identical, but they have been together forever. Despite petty jealousies over their parents’ affection, their mother’s ambition for both of them to attend a prestigious art academy, or the attention of local bullies, Jude and Noah can always find their way back to each other. When the unthinkable happens, their bond is shattered and their roles seem to reverse, leaving the twins isolated from each other and their true selves. Brother and sister each have a piece of the whole story of what happened, but because of their grief and guilt, neither of them will share it or begin to help the other heal.

As we learn about these fully realized, complex characters – Noah narrating from age 13 and Jude from three years later, readers see how it all fell apart. This Printz Award-winning book will stick with you for a long time – it is literally gorgeous to read, especially the chapters from Noah’s perspective. It can be heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny, often in the same paragraph.

Who will like this book: Fans of literary fiction. GLBT readers. People who like stories that make you put the pieces together.

If you like this, try this: The Sky is Everywhere, also by Nelson. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. All We Know of Heaven by Jacqueline Mitchard.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Fables

     Fables Vol. 20: Camelot

Title: Fables

Author: Bill Willingham

Illustrators: Mark Buckingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and more

Summary: First printed in 2002, the comic series Fables has endured, becoming one of the most beloved continuing series in recent memory. Forced out of their familiar Homelands by a dark and deadly figure known only as the “Adversary,” the legendary characters of myth and tall tales made their way to our world to establish Fabletown, where, as immortals, they have lived and thrived into our modern age. But the people you meet on these pages bear little resemblance to your favorite cartoon royals and monsters. When Jack (of Beanstalk fame) rushes to tell Bigby Wolf, sheriff of Fabletown that his girlfriend, Rose Red has disappeared and their apartment is covered in blood, an investigation into a possible murder begins. Following Bigby’s every move is Snow White, Rose’s sister and deputy mayor of Fabletown.

Over the course of its 12 year run (collected into 20 volumes so far), Willingham weaves in both beloved figures from the most popular fairy tales to obscure characters you may have never heard of. The nature of the story also changes, from murder mystery to domestic drama to epic quest. This is a great story to curl up in, because the twists and surprises will keep you turning pages, and some will even break your heart. With the end of the story coming soon (in early 2015,) this is the perfect time to start Fables at the beginning.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who like ‘fractured’ fairy tales – new spins on familiar stories. TV watchers looking for something a bit grittier than Once Upon a Time. Fans of ongoing graphic novel series such as The Walking Dead.

If you like this, try this: Into the Wild and Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. The series The Unwritten by Mike Carey. And if you can’t get enough of the Fables world, read the prequel, 1001 Nights of Snowfall.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Our Favorite Books of All Time

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!)

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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.

Ask the Passengers

[Cover]

Title: Ask the Passengers

Author: A.S. King

Summary: Astrid Jones has a secret, one that she can’t even really define. What she needs is someone to talk to, but who? Her mother has been obsessed with keeping up appearances since the family relocated from the city to the small, close-minded town of Unity Valley. Her dad is busy bouncing from job to job and getting stoned in the attic. And her sister is the perfect, popular small-town girl who their mom has always dreamed of – basically, everything Astrid isn’t. She can’t even really talk to her best friend Christina, who uses her cover as another perfect Unity Valley girl to hide the fact that she is gay. So Astrid lies on the picnic table in her backyard and watches the planes overhead, sending all her love up to the strangers flying through the sky. After all, she feels like she has no one to share it with on the ground.

As Astrid begins her senior year, she is feeling pressure from all sides:  Her mom wants her to date and keeps pressuring her friend Christina to find her a guy, while her co-worker and maybe-girlfriend Dee wants her to come out to her family and friends. But even the idea of calling herself either gay or straight seems dishonest. Taking inspiration from her philosophy class and the great thinkers she is studying, Astrid must begin to take her eyes off the sky and navigate her world here on Earth. With insight from the airline passengers themselves, this honest and beautiful story about coming to terms with who you are and not letting other people tell you what you should be will move you. Readers will want to see Astrid’s story to the end and close the book with a sense of hope and joy in their heart.

Who will like this book?: People who likes stories about how friendships can shift and change over time. Teens who are questioning – their sexuality, the reasons why we do the things we do, or just life in general. Readers who feel the pressure to be perfect. Anyone who has looked at a plane in the sky and wondered about the people on it and where they were headed.

If you like this, try this: The Difference Between You and Me by Madeline George. Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin. The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Code Name Verity

Title: Code Name Verity

Author: Elizabeth Wein

Summary:  Set in World War II, this story tells the tale of two young women and their harrowing experiences serving their country.  Verity is a secret agent captured by the Gestapo after parachuting into Nazi-occupied France.  She is given two options by her captors: reveal everything she knows about England’s defenses and her mission or face torture and an excruciating death.  Verity believes she will die regardless of her decision, so what she must come to terms with is how much she is willing to reveal.  Given paper and ink, she is tasked with betraying her country, yet what she puts down is so much more.  In her writings, she tells the story of her captivity, her past life and how she became friends with Maddie, the pilot, who flew her into France and subsequently crashed.  Her story is a tribute to friendship, a test of courage, and revealing look at how it feels to face the possibility of one’s own failings.

Who will like this book:  Fans of historical fiction and strong female characters will love this emotionally charged story.  That being said, this is really a book for anyone who appreciates a good story with amazing characters.  Code Name Verity is a book you regretfully close after finishing and recommend to all your friends the next day.

If you like this, try thisThe Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow, Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

Where Things Come Back

Cover

Title: Where Things Come Back

Author: John Corey Whaley

Summary: Cullen Witter lives in a sleepy little Lily, Arkansas, where not much ever seems to happen until the summer after his junior year, when everything begins to tailspin. It begins when his cousin overdoses. Later, someone claims to have seen a legendary – and thought-to-be-extinct – woodpecker nearby, causing his whole town to go crazy trying to capitalize on the media frenzy surrounding the bird. Worst of all, his beloved brother Gabriel disappears. Cullen’s heartbreaking summer is contrasted with the story of a young man who returns from a failed mission in Africa, which in turn sets in motion a chain of events that will surprise you.

Cullen is an ordinary guy placed in an extraordinary situation. Not only is he dealing with the usual stresses of growing up – finding and keeping love, dealing with an annoying job and surviving his boring hometown – he has to keep it together as his family and friends deal with the sudden loss of Gabriel. This book, which won the Michael L. Printz award, is mesmerizing and beautiful. It is hard to describe just how very good it is. This is the kind of writing that sticks with you for a long, long time.

Who will like this book?: Mature fans of fiction that is realistic but not ordinary. Adventurous readers who like a touch of mystery. Fans of Sufjan Stevens (his song Chicago inspired the story and the title.)

If you like this, try this: Happyface by Stephen Emond. Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony. If you are intrigued by the woodpecker stuff, try The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Phillip Hoose.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian