I just wanted to stop by and make a quick post to officially introduce myself. My name is Kelsey Sidwell, and I am your brand new teen librarian here at the Smith Public Library! Audrey and I are both excited about this new development, and she promises to stop by and visit the blog every now and then.
So, a little background. I have been at SPL since 2011, when the new building opened and we moved over from the tiny, old library on Thomas Street. I have been working in youth services for nearly all of those 7 years, but I just finished my master’s degree in library science, so I am officially a real librarian now!
I’m excited to get to work in teen services, and will be running all of our great teen programs from here on out. I am already planning some super fun stuff for next summer, so make sure you check back and see what we have in store.
To make all this introduction stuff a little bit easier, I threw together the graphic below with a few of my favorites included. I am obsessed with everything by Sarah J. Maas, my cats, coffee, and Lorde. If you guys have any questions for me, please include them in the comments below and I promise to try and answer!
About: This free-verse biography with black-and-white watercolor illustrations depicts “Frankenstein’s” young author, Mary Shelley.
Ofilia’s Thoughts: This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein so this biography of Mary Shelley comes at a perfect time. This is a gorgeous book that tells an ugly story. Fully illustrated, Judge uses poems to narrate the life of Mary Shelley. She met the promising poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, at 16 and ran away with him. Soon she found herself unwed and pregnant while Shelley was cheating on her with her own stepsister. As if this wasn’t awful enough, her infant died at 10 days old because she was born premature. The sorrow doesn’t end there. Judge argues that the pain and misery that Shelley endured at such a young age is what gave her the basis for her famous literary monster. She recounts hardship after hardship all the while the monster seems to grow in the illustrations in the background. Sometimes fully present, sometimes hidden in a landscape or in the shape of a cloud that hints at something sinister. Even if you are not a fan of Frankenstein, you cannot help but feel for this young woman who is trying to make her way in a world that doesn’t value her or her talents. Judge also includes notes on her own process and on what happened to everyone mentioned in the book. A prefect eerie read as we approach the Halloween season.
Posted in atmospheric, creepy, female protagonist, female writers, gothic, heroine, historical fiction, illustrated, Ofilia, paranormal, young adult
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
About: Seventeen-year-old Zélie, her older brother Tzain, and rogue princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are ruthlessly pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy.
Ofilia’s Thoughts: This book has some outstanding things in it. It also has some not so great things about it. Firstly, the cover is stunning. Whoever designed it should get an award. The story is told from three different points of view, which is interesting. The world, based on Nigerian mythology, is rich and interesting. The most exciting part of the entire book is that all of the characters are black and that the two main female characters are intense warriors. When I started the book, I thought this was going to be the best thing ever! And then the middle happened. It dragged and so much of it was typical YA novel nonsense. Zelie, the main character makes the same mistakes and doesn’t seem to learn or grow at all. The chapters from Inan’s point of view (he’s the crown prince mentioned above) are basically the same chapter over and over. He is caught between two worlds and each chapter he vacillates his loyalty between one or the other. He is constantly switching sides and his lack of backbone despite everything is annoying. The romance between Zelie and Inan is forced and unbelievable. It took me out of the narrative completely. The only character that has clear growth and evolves is Amari. Her point of view seemed the most honest and genuine to me. She actually used her brain and not just her gut. The action picks up in the final scenes and it ends on a powerful note, but I’m not sure the middle of the book is worth the journey.
Posted in action packed, Diversity, Fantasy, female writers, multicultural, romance, series, women, world building
Tagged Children of Blood and Bone, Legacy Of Orïsha, Smith Public Library, SPLTeenmachine, Tomi Adeyemi, Wylie TX
Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely
About: Meet Pity Jones. Actually, her name is Serendipity but everyone calls her Pity. She lives in an America that has been torn apart by a Second Civil War and ravaged by some type of biological weapons. But life is slowly becoming more civilized. And the commune where Pity lives has a definite Wild West flair to it. Before she died, Pity’s mother taught her how to shoot her custom made revolvers – and Pity is a natural. But her tyrannical, abusive father refuses to let Pity do much of anything besides cook and clean. That’s why Pity is plotting to run away with her best friend, Finn, as soon as she turns 17.
When her father announces that he’s selling her to be a breeder to a mining commune, Finn and Pity flee their homes and head east to the big city. But things don’t go as planned, and Pity instead finds herself traveling west to Cessation – a city known for its decadence and lawlessness. Pity is hired to perform as a sharp shooter in the Theatre Vespertine which is similar to Cirque de Soleil only much more sinister. It’s one of the main attractions at Casimir, an oasis of many pleasures where no one is quite what they seem to be. Pity struggles to make sense of everything in her new life while trying to figure who she can trust and who might be out to kill her.
Roben says: The pace may seem a bit slow at first but it picks up speed once Pity arrives in Cessation and begins her sharp-shooter career to pay off her debt to Miss Selene. There’s a bit of everything in this book – a sizzling romance between Pity and the elusive Max; the mystery of who can be trusted and who can’t; and Pity’s struggle with getting beyond her guilt and her fear that her father is going to track her down. Casimir is a bit of a futuristic Las Vegas – there’s gambling, drugs, alcohol, and prostitution. And, being the Wild West, there’s no end to shootouts and ambushes. Nothing’s super explicit – except the violence. You want to make sure you don’t cross the wrong people – it’s just hard to figure out who those people are! The book ends with the possibility of a sequel so we may see more of Pity (and Max?) in the future!
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
About: A ghostly story of suspense told in two voices–one still living and one dead. Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.
Ofilia’s Thoughts: This is a ghost story, but it isn’t like any ghost story you have ever read. It is detailed and complex and involves two worlds filled with characters you don’t typically see connected: ballerinas and juvenile delinquents. It’s fascinating to read and see how much these two seemingly unrelated worlds have in common. The story is told from 2 different points of view and at the heart of the story are two different crimes. One a terrible tragedy, the other horrific revenge murders. Slowly you get details about the crimes, the causes and the suspects. Weaved throughout are the tales of life in the detention center and the stories of the girls within. Suma keeps you guessing all the way to the end. Creepy and atmospheric, this one will stick with you.
Tool of War by Paolo Bacigalupi
About: If you have read Shipbreaker or Drowned Cities, then you have already met Tool and been introduced to his world – a world where the seas have risen and completely changed life as we know it. Los Angeles, DC, and New Orleans are all mostly submerged cities where giant storms wreak havoc. Large corporations run the world rather than governments. Small factions of soldiers fight in never-ending battles for territory. In this book, Tool is the leader of the faction winning to take control of DC. Tool is an augment – a bioengineered half-man/half-beast super-soldier. He was created and then conditioned to be a loyal fighting machine who would obey his master’s every command. But Tool manages to overcome his conditioning long enough to flee his master and the corporation that owns him. Now his master has decided he wants him destroyed and he is willing to sacrifice anything in order to make that happen.
Roben says: This is the third book in my favorite dystopian series. The first two books – Shipbreaker and Drowned Cities – are companion books. You can read either of them first. They are tied together by Bacigalupi’s amazing world building and the character of Tool. But you do need to read both of them before you pick up Tool of War. This third (and probably final?) book ties the characters introduced in the first two books together. And, of course, introduces a few new ones. The author addresses issues of slavery, the cost of war, the results of climate change, and the concept of our behavior being pre-determined by our genetic makeup in a thought-provoking way. A bit of a trigger warning – the books are quiet violent. Bullets fly, bodies are blown apart, and lots of people die. But you’ll have to read the book to figure out who survives and who doesn’t.
Thornhill by Pam Smy
About: Parallel, interwoven stories set in different times–one told through intimate diary entries and the other through bold, striking art–converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned building next door. Pam Smy’s Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, breathtakingly illustrated and masterfully told.
Ofilia’s Thoughts: This story is told in two different formats, which at first seems like it may be a gimmick. The first is through illustrations and the second is through a diary. Each story starts in a different place in time and eventually meets in the middle. Mary is an orphan living in a girl’s home called Thornhill. Ella’s mourning her mother and lonely because her dad is never home. Both girls are desperate in their own way. Mary’s situation seems much more urgent as the girl’s home is closing down and she is constantly tortured by a mean girl. But as the story progresses, you begin to wonder, what’s scarier: a bully that hates you or a ghost that wants you for a friend? Fast paced and creepy, this is an excellent ghost story that you think about way after you are finished with the boo!