First ETC Meeting!

The first Englewood Teen Council (ETC) meeting will be Feb. 28, 2009 at 1 p.m. This is an open meeting, so if you want to check us out, please drop in and participate. Go here for more information.

Guitar Hero Tournament in March!

ttw09_logoThis year’s Teen Tech Week theme is Press Play @ Your Library, and what better way to celebrate that then with a gaming contest? On Saturday, March 14, we’ll be holding a no-holds-barred Guitar Hero tournament in the children’s room of the Englewood Public Library. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and include food and drinks. Awesome prizes for the winner and first runner-up will be awarded at the end of the tournament.

Think you have what it takes? If you are between 12 and 18 years old, sign up by calling 303-762-2555 or stopping by the library’s reference desk. Tournament players will be limited to 16 people, so sign up early if you want a spot. There will be a waiting list in case of no-shows and a few times for free play before and after the tournament begins. And of course, we want a big, enthusiastic audience, so please come cheer them on even if you don’t want to play!

Schedule details and rules are posted here; flyers with the details will also be available in the library at the reference desk and in the Teen’s Cool Cafe.

Bonechiller, by Graham McNamee

bonechillerAuthor: Graham McNamee
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (Random House)
Genre: Horror
Pages: 294
Call number: Y McNamee

Don’t look for it on the map. The place is so small it doesn’t even get a dot. Once a year they get a new WELCOME TO sign put up, but it doesn’t last a week before it’s so full of buckshot holes you can’t even tell the name of the place, and you sure don’t seem welcome.

Nowhere–officially known as Harvest Cove. Tucked away in the Big Empty that makes up most of Canada . . . .

If you’re looking for somewhere to hide, this is it.

Harvest Cove is a tiny, out-of-the-way community trying hard to be a summer cottage location, with not much success, and in the winter the population dwindles. Perfect for Danny and his dad, who are drifting from place to place on the run from the past. His dad takes a temp job as the winter caretaker of the marina, and Danny goes to school with army brats from Base Borden. His core group is Pike, loyal but psycho and obsessed with explosives; his anxiety-ridden brother Howie; and Ash, a fierce, half-Ojibwa boxer that he has a mad crush on. It’s a cold, bleak winter, and late one night on his way home, Danny is attacked by a huge white beast that blends into the ice and snow until it is nearly invisible. Still, he manages to see enough to terrify him, and the speed of its attack makes it nearly impossible for him to escape. But escape he does, after the beast stings him on the hand with its sharp tongue. That’s when the nightmare really begins. Because that’s when Danny realizes he didn’t get away after all. It’s still hunting him night after night, toying with him, and soon his friends are in danger too.

This had a good, monster movie feeling to it and is one of those books in which the title works on several levels. Because it’s written in present tense, with short, fragmented sentences, it feels like Danny is actually telling you the story as it happens. There aren’t a ton of books written in present tense, and it’s interesting to see what a different reading experience that is. It’s very cinematic, and it works well to convey Danny’s panicky frantic scrambling during the beast attacks. The descriptions of this tiny town during a freezing winter is excellent — much of the action happens at night out in the below-freezing wasteland of ice and snow, and the sense of isolation, of there being nowhere to run and no-one to help, is terrifying.

The descriptions of the monster are cool, very vivid and scary and menacing. But I don’t feel the Wendigo-ish mythology was really put to use, so the monster wasn’t nearly as effective as it could have been. There were some cool variations and extrapolations on Wendigo lore, and it’s not like I expected the characters to snap their fingers and go “A-ha! Wendigo! We know this for sure because it is exactly like the Wikipedia entry!” but I was annoyed by how vague the author left it. It’s clear he did his research. Did he have to leave it all out?

That might just be me over thinking things, however. Overall, this is a good, scary, tension-filled story, and with such an amazing cover, I think it’s definitely one to pick up. If you read this one, let me know in the comments what you thought about the monster, and if I really am just super picky.

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New Books – February 2009

shiftShift. Charlotte Agell. Y Agell.
In fifteen-year-old Adrian Havoc’s world, HomeState rules every aspect of society and religious education is enforced but Adrian, refusing to believe that the Apocalypse is at hand, goes north through the Deadlands and joins a group of insurgents.

kendraKendra. Coe Booth. Y Booth.
High schooler Kendra longs to live with her mother who, unprepared for motherhood at age fourteen, left Kendra in the care of her grandmother.

palacePalace of Mirrors. Margaret Peterson Haddix. Y Haddix.
Fourteen-year-old Cecilia has always known she is the true princess of Suala, but when she and her best friend, Harper, decide to speed up her ascendancy to the throne, they find danger and many imposters who challenge her claim.

howtoditchHow to Ditch Your Fairy. Justine Larbalestier. Y Larbalestier.
In a world in which everyone has a personal fairy who tends to one aspect of daily life, fourteen-year-old Charlie decides she does not want hers–a parking fairy–and embarks on a series of misadventures designed to rid herself of the invisible sprite and replace it with a better one, like her friend Rochelle’s shopping fairy.

latent_powersThe Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine. April Lurie. Y Lurie.
Fifteen-year-old Dylan’s friend Angie is making a film about him while he is busy trying to keep his older brother from getting caught with drugs, to deal with his mother having left the family, and to figure out how to get Angie to think of him as more than just a friend.

More new books

Vampires continue to take over your television

The CW (home to shows like Supernatural, one of my favorites, and awakeningGossip Girl) has picked up a pilot based on L.J. Smith’s Vampire Diaries series.

Originally published in 1993, Vampire Diaries revolves around a young woman torn between two vampire brothers. The brothers — one good, one evil — are battling for her soul, and the souls of her pals, family, and the small town where they live.

The CW has reunited with Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Dawson’s Creek writer Kevin Williamson to executive produce and write. Julie Plec (Kyle XY) is also on board to write and executive produce.

Read the Variety article here. All four of the Vampire Diaries books (The Awakening; The Struggle; The Fury; and Dark Reunion) are available in the teen paperback section of the library.

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

gracelingAuthor: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Harcourt, 2008
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 480
Call number: Y Cashore

I’ve read a lot of first novels lately, and it feels like despite the chaos and pessimism surrounding the publishing industry right now, there are a lot of first-time authors being published in YA. This is one of the better debuts I’ve read.

Katsa is a Graceling, one of a small number of people in the Seven Kingdoms born with the ability to excel at a special skill, called their Grace. Gracelings are marked by their eyes — Katsa has one blue and one green — and the fear that surrounds them severely limits their choices. Katsa, Graced with killing, is forced to become the assassin/enforcer for her uncle, King of the Middluns, torturing and killing those who displease him. This life of violence is all she knows, though she tries to atone by running a secret Council that works to bring justice to the kingdoms. On a mission to rescue the kidnapped grandfather of a royal family, Katsa runs into a man who unexpectedly matches her blow for blow in a fight. When he turns up again in her kingdom, she learns that he is a prince, the grandson of the man she rescued, and a Graceling as well. Prince Po is Graced with fighting, and he and Katsa quickly develop mutual respect and affection for each other. Together they travel to an isolated kingdom to find out the truth about the kidnapping of Po’s grandfather, and along the way, Po challenges the assumptions Katsa has made about herself and her Grace.

I can’t think of a lot of fantasy novels that mix such a kick-butt heroine with a romance that actually makes sense for the character. (I think Tamora Pierce’s Tricker’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen is another example.) Katsa is afraid of her Grace and her own anger. She doesn’t know how to make friends, much less be in love, without losing herself, and she struggles hard against her emotions. The only time she feels at peace, through much of the book, is when she’s fighting, because only then does she feel like herself. She’s determined never to marry, because she believes marrying can only come at the cost of her own independence, and I love how that never changes, though she eventually admits her feelings for Po. Po allows Katsa to be herself, and vice versa.

It’s the strength of Cashore’s characterizations of the two leads that really make this book excellent, though the plot elements — the kidnapping, the evil king Graced with a horrible power, the secret about Po’s Grace, the ending — are compelling in their own right. Cashore also writes some excellent fight sequences, which is important in a book with two main characters that are awesome at fighting. Katsa’s and Po’s practice battles, where they try to wipe the floor with each other, are a lot of fun to read. Finally, there is a good mix of great witty banter between Katsa and Po (Katsa especially can be quite funny) and a lot of heartfelt and sometimes heartbreaking moments that give the characters and story depth without weighing it down..

Overall, I think this fantasy has everything going for it. I mentioned readers of Tamora Pierce liking this book above, but I also think readers who like Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series would enjoy this book for the intricate political intrigue, complex characters, and the romance between two equally powerful people.

Check out Kristin Cashore’s blog for news and information on her current projects!

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