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Down hill from here: summer reading

Summer reading consumes much time, energy, thought, planning, budget, effort that for a public youth librarian, seeing school supplies being stocked in the market is a harbinger for relief.  We have about four weeks of summer events left.

We have done some amazing things this summer so far:

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Lord of the Rings Live Action Role Play

In this teen event, our adventures played through an original game set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth.  The quest required them to work together in order to defeat the Necromancer and his minions that attacked Minas Tirith and intended to use the port city to drag Gondor and all of Middle Earth into a shadow realm.  Teens answered riddles, faced the challenge of the unknown and stretch their physical abilities to complete the quest.

 

Ravenclaw battled Slytherin for the Muggle Quidditch challenge.  Slytherin won the game, although Ravenclaw did put up a good fight.

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Mad Science educator, Cretaceous Cara, at the Berthoud Community Center.

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Pepper painting faces at our Summer Reading Kickoff Party!

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Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn

Let me start by saying, this is birthday season in my family, which would explain the metaphor I’m going to use for this book.

Forget Tomorrow is like a lovely, rich chocolate cake that is drowning in an awful, paraffin infused, sticky sweet frosting.  The storyline is intriguing and the world view is tantalizing in its hinted at origins!  This is the cake, the bit that deserved more attention, time and care.  I wish it hadn’t collapsed under the weight of the sticky sweet romance that continually lumbered in trying to make the product look pretty and palatable while all the time ruining the best parts.

Dealing with time and time travel is challenging for the best writers, but when our protagonist is being sidetracked by water glistening in the hair of her love interest, it becomes difficult for readers to A) follow the adventure and B) care about the characters or even see them in more than two dimensions.  I am hopeful that this author will continue to write and grow.

Normally, if I don’t care for a book, I won’t finish it, nor will I blog about it.  However, this book, for all the issues I have with it, did offer enough good ideas that I wanted to include it in my blog and would recommend it to teens who enjoy romance with a little sci-fi thrown in.  With the caveat that I don’t personally promote people as possessions in romance and this book does,

Our protagonist awakes to find herself curled up with her male rescuer…”And his arm-it holds me close, traps me possessively, like I belong to him and him alone.” (p.142)

There are some gems worth digging for,

“The voice is young, so she must’ve been a newbie herself not too long ago. But her tone is heavy, weighed with the kind of complexity you get only with experience.” (p. 77)

“I think suddenly of the tree that grows in the middle of our school lobby. Students cover the bark with their initials and drawings-the only place in school where graffiti is tolerated. The only place it’s even possible. Everything else is metal and plastic.
Living things, it seems, are easier to disfigure.” (p.84)

*My son’s feeling was that he would’ve preferred to know more about the character who cut her arm to keep track of time and followed her story than the chosen protagonist.

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The Borden Murders; Lizzie Borden & the trial of the century by Sarah Miller

Author, Sarah Miller exhumed the unsolved case of the double murder of Andrew and Abby Borden.  She presents arguments gleaned from primary documents and factual information and evidence from Lizzie Borden’s trail.  Lizzie Borden was found “not guilty” by a jury of 12 men and yet the belief that she got away with murder is still perpetuated to this day in the child’s rhyme still sung.

“Lizzie Borden took an axe,

gave her mother forty wacks.

When she saw what she had done,

gave her father forty one.”

In the end I had to admit that there was an amazing lack of evidence considering the brutality and speed with which the two murders took place.  No blood, no murder weapon, nothing but the absence of a note and a financial motive could be found to connect Lizzie to the homicides.

The author and readers are left with unanswered questions and the uneasy feeling that we have left some stone unturned, that somehow we could put the pieces together in a new way to see the whole picture.  This is a well researched, true mystery from the past and a good lesson in yellow journalism.

Movie weekend

Normally, I review teen books (or junior level or children).  Over the holiday weekend, though, I vegged out and watched two Captain America movies.  However, there are a number of ponderings that came bubbling to the surface as I watched them.  My favorite scene from Captain America: the first avenger is the dummy grenade scene.

Super Soldiers are not bullies

It chokes me up every time.  This scene demonstrates Cap’s willingness to lay down his life for his fellow soldiers.  His desire to serve and protect his fellow agents is a continuing theme throughout the movie series.  In Winter Soldier, Cap takes umbrage with using a hostage liberation mission as a cover for intel gathering.  There was a scene where a young technician refuses to launch the weapons hydra wants in the air and he is threatened with a gun.  I like the fact that A) he knows his refusal will result in his death and B) the person that saves him is a female agent.

Captain’s Orders

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The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

Cat Winters reimagines Hamlet in a totally different way.  Our main character, Hanalee, has recently lost her father.  Almost a year ago he died, the court said it was due to the injuries he sustained from being struck by the car of Joe Adder, the preacher’s son, while intoxicated.  Now Joe is being released for good behavior.  Some think Hanalee should stay away from Joe Adder, but she is bent on vengeance and plans on making him pay for what he did.

Set in the 1920’s in Oregon, Cat Winter’s takes on some tough topics, like the Klu Klux Klan, homosexuality, and eugenics.  She masterfully weaves history, Hamlet, and fiction into an exciting read (plus, I love to geek out over all the Shakespeare references).

Hanalee and Joe take readers on a wild ride full of intrigue, mistrust, and violence to rival the Danish play.

This book is for older teens and emerging adults (especially Shakespeare lovers).  Parents be advised of the above topics covered as well as some cursing.

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The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

Author, Julie Berry, brings to life a story from a very dark time in history.  Protagonist Dolssa de Stigata is a young woman living in the 13th Century.  Dolssa is educated and pious, from a wealthy family.  Unfortunately, the Middle Ages were marked by paranoia, persecution, and hypocrisy, therefore, many women who dared to preach (like Dolssa) were stripped of their wealth and executed.

Dolssa’s story brings the tragedy of the inquisition into sharp focus through character’s around her as well as through her own voice.  The author brings some empathy even to the persecutors as the story unfolds for them as well.

Love, friendship, religion and piety are all examined throughout this story.  This would make a wonderful book club book for discussion or to teach in a high school history class.

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Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Alwyn Hamilton brings myth to life and gives an Eastern flavor to a teen trope in Rebel of the Sands.  The tale’s protagonist, Amani, feels trapped in the tiny desert town of Dustwalk.  Under the roof of her uncle, she is destined to be married against her will.  Amani knows she was meant for greater things.  She has one talent that may be able to get her out; she is a crack shot with any firearm.  Unfortunately, girls are not allowed to compete in the gunslinger’s competition.  She must rely on stealth and subterfuge to enter the contest.  When she meets Jin, a stranger who is almost as good a shot as Amani herself, she is led down a path to discovering a secret that she’s kept from herself.  This is a fine launch into an adventure series with a sweet romance.