Sad news

Posted by kacates on February 8, 2011

The BBC is reporting that Redwall author Brian Jacques died over the weekend of a heart attack at the age of 71.  Jacques wrote over two dozen of the Redwall books since its debut in 1986, featuring the adventures of talking animals in a medieval world based around the abbey of Redwall.  I know the series has been incredibly popular here since often I can't find the books on the shelves because they've been checked out.  If you haven't read the Redwall series for yourself yet, I recommend starting with the first, called Redwall, although many of the books can be read in any order.  The Wikipedia page for the series lists the books both in the order they were published, and in chronological order within the series, so you can choose to read them any way you want.

I hope you guys know this already, but stealing is BAD.

Posted by kacates on January 20, 2011

YA author Saundra Mitchell posted a few days ago about a disturbing trend – the illegal downloading of ebooks, otherwise known as stealing. Here's what she says:

I’ve been very open about the money I’ve made and not made, to help give the writing community some perspective. So I’m going to be very open about money today. I’ve told you before that I made a $15,000 advance on SHADOWED SUMMER. In two years, I’ve managed to earn back $12,000 of that.

It’s going out of print in hardcover because demand for it has dwindled to 10 or so copies a month. This means I will never get a royalty check for this book. By all appearances, nobody wants it anymore.

But those appearances are deceiving. According to one download site’s stats, people are downloading SHADOWED SUMMER at a rate of 800 copies a week. When the book first came out, it topped out at 3000+ downloads a week.

If even HALF of those people who downloaded my book that week had bought it, I would have hit the New York Times Bestseller list.

She has more about this issue here, and several other YA authors weigh in on the subject in the comments.  Basically, every time you illegally download a free copy of a book (or movie, or song, etc.), you're robbing the creator of that content of their fair earnings.  The fewer official sales, the less money they make, and the lower the likelihood of publishers taking a chance on another book of theirs.   And if you really like an author and their books, why would you do that to them?

Now, none of us are made of money, and being a book lover would be a very expensive habit if you had to buy every book you wanted to read.  Luckily, there's a much better option.  Here at the Normal Public Library, our goal is to provide the public with what they want to read.  As the teen librarian, I do my best to pick out the books that I think you guys are going to want, but I'm not a mindreader, so I always welcome feedback.  Let me know what books you're into right now, and I'll buy them.  If LOTS of people tell me they want a book, I'll buy more copies!  This way, the books sell more, the author makes more money, and the publisher is hopefully willing to take a chance on his or her next book.  And you still get to read the book for free!

Even if it's a book we don't have, you're not out of luck, because of a cool thing called interlibrary loan.  Basically, if we don't have it, we'll get it for you by ordering it from another library.  Our policy at NPL is that as long as the book is available at a library somewhere in the state of Illinois, we can get it for you here.  So unless you're looking for something REALLY obscure, you should have no problem tracking down a copy to read for free.

One last thing: the author I quoted at the beginning of this post?  Her first book, Shadowed Summer, is available right here at NPL in the teen section – in fact, we have two copies.  I recently read it myself and thoroughly enjoyed it.  If you like creepy ghost stories with a little bit of romance, then I highly suggest you run in and check it out now!  Her second book, The Vespertine, comes out this March, and I've already preordered the library's copy and can't wait to read it myself.

2011 Printz Award (and others) announced!

Posted by kacates on January 11, 2011

Yesterday the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) announced the winners of all their major young adult book awards, including the big one, the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.

I'm really excited about this year's winner, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi.  The author has written adult science fiction, and this is his first book for teens.  It's set in a dystopian near-future world in which the oil has run out and crews of young kids, including main character Nailer, scavenge materials from the wrecks of old ships and tankers.  I loved this one, and I'd highly encourage you all to run to the library and check this one out!

The Printz Honor winners are Stolen by Lucy Christopher, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King, Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick, and Nothing by Janne Teller.  It's a good bunch this year, so I hope they get lots of checkouts from you guys.

YALSA gives out lots of other awards besides the Printz, and I'm pretty happy with the results.  There are a few I haven't read but can't wait to get to.  Here's the complete list of award winners and honor books for those who are curious:

The William C. Morris YA Debut Award goes to a first-time author of a young adult book:

The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston (Winner)
Hush by Eishes Chayil (Finalist)
Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey (Finalist)
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride (Finalist)
Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber (Finalist)

The Coretta Scott King  Book Award goes to an African American author of outstanding books for children and young adults:

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (Winner)
Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers (Honor)
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Honor)
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri and Randy DuBurke (Honor)

The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults.

Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing by Ann Angel (Winner)
They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (Honor)
Spies of Mississippi:  The True Story of the Spy Network that Tried to Destroy the Civil Rights Movement by Rick Bowers (Honor)
The Dark Game: True Spy Stories by Paul Janeczko (Honor)
Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates by Jill Rubalcaba and Peter Robertshaw (Honor)

The Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award is a new award this year, going to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experience.

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher (Winner)
Will Grayson, will grayson by John Green and David Levithan (Honor)
Love Drugged by James Klise (Honor)
Freaks and Revelations by Davida Willis Hurwin (Honor)
The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams (Honor)

Several other great awards were given out as well, including the Alex Awards for best adult books that appeal to teen audiences, the Schneider Family Book Award for best expression of the disability experience, and the Pura Belpré award for books that celebrate the Latino cultural experience.  For the full list of award winners, check out the ALA's press release.  To see past award-winners, you can check out the booklists right here on this site, which I'm working on updating right now.

Great Winter Reads

Posted by kacates on December 20, 2010

Looking for something new to read over the holiday break? Why not celebrate the snowy weather with one of these great winter-themed reads? From a sweet Christmas romance to a creepy mystery on the ice to a holiday classic, there's something here for everyone. Unless, of course, you're a Grinch who hates the snow and cold, in which case maybe my next post of book suggestions should have a tropical theme.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

I just finished reading this new book from the authors of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and I think I like it even better than their first.  It's a great Christmas romance featuring two teens stuck by themselves for the holidays in New York City.  Lily starts everything off when she leaves a red notebook full of challenges on a shelf in her favorite bookstore, The Strand.  Dash finds the notebook and decides to take her up on her dares, adding a few of his own for her to complete.  With that, they're off, passing the notebook back and forth all over the city, enlisting friends, relatives, and complete strangers in their battle of dares.  But what will happen when the two finally meet face to face?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

If you're really looking to get into the Christmas spirit, then maybe you should try dipping into one of the best-loved holiday classics ever.  You've probably seen at least one of the umpteen movie adaptations of this one, but have you ever actually sat down to read the original 1843 story?  If not, then maybe it's time to join Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come in this celebration of the season.

As Simple as Snow by Gregory Galloway

Maybe you're not so much the bright and cheery, joy-to-the-world type.  If that's the case, then you might like this creepy winter mystery.  Told by an unnamed high school boy, this is the story of what happened when he met Anna, a new girl and part of the school's Goth crowd.  Anna is completely unlike anyone the narrator has ever known, and she soon draws him in with her wordplay, obscure facts, and weird hobbies.  Then Anna disappears, leaving behind nothing except a dress placed neatly near a hole in the frozen river, and a string of unanswered questions.  Now the narrator, determined to find out what happened to Anna, must retrace the five months of their acquaintance, looking for clues to her disappearance.

Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

This collection of three interconnected stories by three of the best YA authors around takes place during a massive snowstorm on Christmas Eve.  In Maureen Johnson’s tale, after Jubilee’s train becomes snowbound, she seeks shelter at a nearby Waffle House, along with a squad of hyper cheerleaders. In John Green’s story, a guy summons three friends to the Waffle House, where the combination of cheerleaders and cheesy waffles prompts big realizations. Finally, in Lauren Myracle’s entry, self-absorbed Addie atones for cheating on her boyfriend (who was stuck on Jubilee’s train) by proving she can be an angel for someone else, even if that someone is only a pet pig.

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean

You might think we've been having some nasty winter weather lately, but wait until you read this 2008 Printz Award winner, set in Antarctica.  Sym Wates has long been obsessed with the Antarctic.  She even considers herself in love with Captain Lawrence “Titus” Oates, a member of Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole who died more than 90 years ago.  So when her uncle Victor offers to take her on a dream trip to Antarctica, she jumps at the chance.  But her uncle has an obsession of his own – one that will turn Sym's dream vacation into a nightmare and threaten her life.

East by Edith Pattou

If you like fairy tale retellings, then this is the winter read for you.  This retelling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon is the story of Rose, the last born of seven children to a family living in a tiny village in northern Norway.  In Rose's community, children are believed to inherit the qualities of the direction in which they were born.  Rose was a North-born baby, said to be wild, unpredictable, and likely to travel far from home.  Rose's mother has always told her that she was born of the safe and obedient East, trying to keep her home-bound, but when an enormous white bear appears on the family's doorstep asking Rose to come away with him, she agrees, and sets off on the adventure of her life.

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

In this third book of the Tiffany Aching series, young witch-in-training Tiffany accidentally draws the amorous attentions of the Wintersmith towards her.  Now he wants her to stay forever in his gleaming, frozen world.  Tiffany needs the help of the legendary witch Granny Weatherwax and her old friends the Wee Free Men if she's going to survive until spring.  Because if she doesn't, spring will never come and the world will be stuck forever in winter.

Yet more TRW book recommendations

Posted by kacates on October 21, 2010

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen 

When Annabel, the youngest of three beautiful sisters, has a bitter falling out with her best friend Sophie, she suddenly finds herself isolated and friendless. But then she meets Owen—a loner, passionate about music and his weekly radio show, and always determined to tell the truth. And when they develop a friendship, Annabel is not only introduced to new music but is encouraged to listen to her own inner voice. with Owen's help, can Annabel find the courage to speak out about what exactly happened the night her friendship with Sophie came to a screeching halt?

Heavy Metal and You by Chris Krovatin 

Boy listens to lots of loud music and hangs with his friends. Boy meets girl. Boy falls dippy-happy-scared-as-hell in love with girl. Friends meet girl – and aren't impressed. Girl meets friends – and isn't impressed. Boy meets big dilemma. Boy plays music even louder. Big dilemma meets big, complicated resolution.

Knuckle Sandwich by Adam Palmer 

Bass player Jeremiah Springfield was born to rock. The son of a musician, Jeremiah was raised on a steady diet of his father's classic seventies rock albums. When Jeremiah meets enigmatic singer/songwriter Matt Ripke and Liz Bennett, a beautiful and talented drummer, it's a match made in Christian rock heaven. Soon the group is tearing up the youth group scene and making quite the name for themselves. But when they move from the small towns to a national tour, they learn quickly that fame isn't everything. This is the break the band has been hoping for, but can they survive life in the spotlight with all its temptation and distraction?

When the Black Girl Sings by Bil Wright

Lahni Schuler is the only black student at her private prep school. She's also the adopted child of two loving, but white, parents who are on the road to divorce.  When Lahni and her mother attend a local church one Sunday, Lahni hears an amazing gospel choir, and her life takes an unexpected turn. It so happens that one of Lahni's teachers, Mr. Faringhelli, has nominated her for a talent competition, and she is expected to perform a song in front of the whole school. Lahni decides to join the church choir to help her become a better singer. But what starts out as a way to practice singing becomes a place of belonging and a means for Lahni to discover her own identity.