Kill the Boy Band

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Title:  Kill the Boy Band

Author: Goldy Moldavsky

Summary: Four girls, Apple, Erin, Isabel and our narrator are as different as can be, but they are united by their undying devotion to the world’s most popular, if only marginally-talented, British boy band, the Ruperts. Incredibly, just before a big show in Manhattan, the intrepid super-Strepurs (a fandom name derived from spelling the band name backwards, of course) find themselves in a position that any fangirl would envy: Alone in a hotel room with one of the boys. The problem is he is there against his will, sort of kidnapped and tied to a chair, with everyone in the Ruperts’ universe looking for him, from his fellow singers to his stylist to his girlfriend to the hordes of fans jamming the streets outside the building. As the girls sink deeper and deeper into the mess they’ve made, cracks in their bonds begin to show, proving that people are not always what they seem to be, and that maybe you can never truly know anyone, even your best friends.

This fast-paced, smart and hilariously funny story is part mystery and part an examination of the ups and downs (and downright insanity) of being part of a fandom. The language is blunt and at times profane, the reality of the situation is bizarre and often dire and the pages practically turn themselves, revealing ideas about fandom, adolescence and life itself that are more profound than can be described without spoilers. Put this at the top of your too-read list!

Who will like this book?: Fans and stans. Mature readers who like twist-and-turn psychological mysteries, and stories with potentially unreliable narrators. Anyone who has ever worshipped a boy band.

If you like this, try this: Born to Rock by Gordon Korman. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. The Haters by Jesse Andrews. I am (not) the Walrus by Ed Briant.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

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The Song Machine

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Title: The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Machine

Author: John Seabrook

Summary: Have you ever wondered why the music on the radio all sort of sounds the same? This book will tell you why…and basically, you can blame Sweden. Author Seabrook investigates the way most pop music is made today: by armies of technicians individually responsible for each element of the tune, from melody to lyrics to the all-important hooks that grab and keep the listener’s attention. The science of modern song craft is explored in-depth, with details about the rise of Scandinavian hit-makers like Max Martin (who has produced more number 1 hits than anyone besides George Martin, who worked with the Beatles), the type of artists who thrive under the guidance of super-producers, the fate of the session musicians who have been replaced by computer beats, and what the digital future of music means for record labels, artists and the listening public.

This book will resonate with anyone who loves music, especially those who love (or love to hate) today’s top hits and hit-makers including Katy Perry, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and the Weeknd. It’s a great choice for anyone looking for something a little different to read this winter season.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who are interested in the mechanics of music production. Non-fiction fans who like reading about contemporary topics.

If you like this, try this: How Music Works by David Byrne. Decoded by Jay-Z. For younger readers: Learn to Speak Music by John Crossingham. For a perspective on this trend from a different era: Rhythm Ride: A Roadtrip through the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Chopsticks

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Title: Chopsticks

Author: Jessica Anthony

Designer: Rodrigo Corral

Summary: Glory is a piano prodigy who lost her mother when she was young. Her father, a music teacher, has raised her to be the next big thing in classical music and she becomes famous for reinterpreting the classics by weaving in rock and roll and other whimsical songs, like her favorite, the famous Chopsticks waltz. When Frank Mendoza, an Argentinian boy with a talent for drawing, moves in next door he and Glory begin to fall in love  but things deteriorate rapidly when Glory’s father takes her on a world tour. Soon she is unable to perform anything but Chopsticks. Upon returning home Glory disappears…or does she?

This unique story – a sort-of graphic novel told entirely through pictures, IMs, newspaper clippings, letters, and other items – forces you to piece together the truth as you read. You learn about Glory’s childhood and Frank’s rebellious streak and as soon as you think you know where it is all heading, Chopsticks shifts direction. Even though the evidence is right in front of you, the ending will be a shock to your system. In fact, you’ll probably want to read it all over again from the beginning (just like I did!) to pick apart the clues you didn’t even know where there. Chopsticks, a collaboration between author Anthony and legendary book cover-and-graphic designer Corral, is a haunting puzzle that will stick with you for a long time.

Who will like this book?: People who like strange and quirky books. Anyone who likes a good mystery where the clues seem to be right in front of you the whole time. Romantic-types looking for a unique love story.

If you like this, try this: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Revolution

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Title: Revolution

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Summary: It is 2010 and Andi Alpers doesn’t want to live. Since the accidental death of her little brother Truman, her life has been turned inside out. Her mom is lost to grief. Her dad only cares about whether or not she can keep it together long enough to finish high school. The only time Andi feels free of the crushing weight of sadness and guilt is when she plays her guitar. Or when she downs the antidepressants that leave her in a fog.

It is 1795 and Alexandrine Paradis wants to live. Through a chain of seemingly miraculous events, this ragged street performer entered the inner circle of the French court, assigned by Marie Antoinette herself to act as a light-hearted companion for her grieving young son. But now that little Louis is imprisoned by the revolutionaries, Alex must find a way to atone for the mistakes she has made and the damage she has done.

When Andi’s dad insists on dragging her to France so he can supervise her work on a senior thesis, she finds an old diary hidden in the case of an antique guitar. As Andi begins to read Alex’s words, two seemingly distant worlds begin to blur and then collide. This book is a fast-paced blend of realistic and historical fiction that will keep you turning pages. Andi and Alex are sharp, witty, sympathetic heroines you will root for and author Jennifer Donnelly’s gorgeous writing will have you reading sentences over and over again because they are so beautiful and so true.

Who will like this book: Fans of books that alternate between the present and the past. Anyone interested in the era of the French Revolution. Musicians, artists, actors and other assorted Bohemians.

If you like this, read this: A Northern Light, also by Donnelly. The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner. For mature readers, Juliet by Anna Fortier.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Talking to Girls About Duran Duran

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Title: Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut

Author: Rob Sheffield

Summary: Some bands are for guys. Some bands are for girls. And if you can master talking to girls about those bands, you can figure out why girls are the way they are. Right? In this upbeat and often moving memoir, music writer Sheffield describes growing up in the 1980s  and how the music that defined that era also defined his young adulthood – from the powerpop of Madonna to the novelty rap of Young MC to the raw girl-luring power of…Hungry Like the Wolf?

The chapters, each named for a different ’80s song, describe the joy and terror of growing up in a close-knit, girl-dominated Irish Catholic family in Boston and leaving them behind to go to college and get a job, all the while learning to be who you are, even if you are a guy who loves a band like Duran Duran. You might not catch all the references and you may have no idea what a Walkman is, but this coming of age story will leave you smiling – and maybe you’ll even hum along in the car when your parents put on their own ’80s favorites.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who love nothing more than discovering a new band.  Any guy with bossy sisters. Or cool sisters. Anyone who has fantasized about driving an ice cream truck in the summer.

If you like this, try this: Sheffield’s first memoir, Love is a Mix Tape. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother) by Micol Ostow.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

So Punk Rock

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Title: So Punk Rock (And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother)

Author: Micol Ostow

Summary: Ari is a high achieving sophomore at Gittleman High, a Jewish school. He gets almost-perfect grades and isn’t very popular, with parents who are strict and focused on academics (not unlike my own parents) and a little brother who is their parent’s angel, making Ari look bad. If his parents find out that he plays in a band, they would kill him. He has the mind of a righteous teenager and is in fact the best friend of the smoothest kid in school, Jonas. He also has to deal with a forlorn crush on Sari Horowitz. But Ari has a plan to change his social standing: He will start a rock band. 

By picking up members from unexpected places, Ari manages to get a band together. They play an opening to a bar mitzvah and instantly gain fans at school, and to Ari’s delight, the attention of Sari. This band of wannabes gets a few gigs and outside fans, but it can it really last? As his parents’ disapproval becomes apparent and social drama and confusion ensues, Ari struggles to keep the band together by tiny threads that may not even exist.

Who will like this book?: Ostow has captured the essence of a classic high school band. Complete with the ups and downs, readers who have survived high school will see a bit of themselves in this book. This drama-filled novel is sure to keep you flipping pages, and is a very good read for anyone who is or has ever been a teenager or likes punk or rock music. It shows how some people follow their dreams towards the first steps of rock stardom, and how easily it can go all wrong.

Recommended by: Ben, Fairfield resident and avid reader

Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie

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Title: Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie

Author: Jordan Sonnenblick

Summary:  Eighth-grader Steven Alper is a rock star drummer, at least according to his annoyingly cute five-year-old brother.  The same cute brother that is the star of Steven’s English class journal entry exploring  the topic “The Most Annoying Thing in the World.”   Add the annoying brother with a crush on an unattainable girl, an occasionally irritating best friend,  a love of drums, and the regular school drama and you have Steven’s life. 

That is until the day Steven’s brother falls from a bar stool while Steven is making him breakfast and develops a nose bleed that just won’t stop.  The reason behind that non-stop nose bleed will change the lives of everyone in the Alper family and will lead to the most difficult year of their lives.  Steven struggles with the lack of parental attention and rebels against school, but through it all he maintains his quirky sense of humor and a pretty good heart. 

Who will like this book ?:  Those who like drama but can also appreciate a clever character who handles that drama with a bit of humor.

If you like this, try this: Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick,  Deadline by Chris Crutcher, or Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass.

Recommended by: Jen, Branch Teen Librarian