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Read this!

by: 
Melissa, Belmar

The time has come to vote for your top 10 favorite titles of 2015! Voting for the 2015 Teens' Top Ten is now open through Teen Read Week (Oct. 18-24). There are 24 titles to choose from or you can nominate your favorite book that didn't make the list. Not sure about some of these titles? Take a look at the book trailers to see for yourself. 

 

 

by: 
Aurora, Teen Contributor

Everyone has certain core traits that can be used to describe them at any point in their life so far, and likely will be continue to being a key part of their personality. Some people are kind, or funny. Some people are bossy. Some are athletes or artists. Others are animal lovers. I am a reader. I have read more books that I care to admit, and if there is such a point of reading too much, I have reached it. I was the kid who would stay up way past their bedtime with a good book. I was the kid who would get grounded from reading. However, I don't own all that many books. I go through so much material that it has never made any sense for me to buy books, because they last me maybe a week. So, any of the books that I own are books that I have loved so much that I needed to have on my shelf, either to reread and reread and reread again, or to give to my friends to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to read these books.

I tell you all of this because it is difficult to put into just a few words how spectacular these next two books are.

The first one is The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. This one starts out with Charlie, getting ready for his first year of high school, writing letters in his journal to a friend. This friend isn't real, in the strictest sense. He is someone that Charlie has invented who will just listen to him, and understand him, because "[he] needs to know these people exist." This creation of this partial friend gives the book a completely honest feel--all of Charlie's emotions, everything he is going through, it is laid out for you to see. He is lonely, lost, and confused. And every single ounce of those emotions, you feel it. And you feel his joy, and desire to fit in, when he meets Patrick and Sam, two seniors, who teach him about music and friendship. This book is about growing up and learning who you are. It's about music and literature and life and love. It goes through his first year of high school, and to me, it is just one of the best books ever written. And, though I cannot believe that I am about to say this…the movie actually does the book justice. Part of that is due to the strong musical component, which comes across much better on a screen, and the other part is because I adore Emma Watson. This is a book for anyone who is starting high school, especially if you have ever felt like an outsider. TRIGGER WARNING: this book goes into some heavy topics, which is half of what makes the book as amazing as it is, but if you are sensitive, I might stay away from this book.

The second book is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. This is lighter than Perks, so I love it in a completely different way. Without a doubt, out of every single book that I have ever read, this one resonates with me the most. Center to the story lays Cath, a girl starting her freshman year of college with her twin sister, who has been her best friend and partner in crime for years. But, suddenly, Wren doesn't want to be her roommate, and worse, doesn't really seem to share their lifelong interest in the Simon Snow books, about a young boy who goes to wizarding school. When I read this book, I happened to be a freshman in college, where all of my friends had gone off, and I stayed close to Lakewood. I might, perhaps, also share a certain obsession with Simon Snow, I mean Harry Potter. So, this book means a lot to me on a personal level. However, it cannot be said that this is the only reason that Fangirl is an amazing book. For one, Rainbow Rowell is a phenomenal author. She writes characters that I automatically fall in love with, and creates relationships that are beautifully real. From Cath's strange roommate (and based on stories from my friends, those are really the only kind) to Cath's inability to leave her room for dinner, so she ends up living on energy bars, this book is funny. But because of her relationship with her sister, her father, her mother, the book has its serious notes. Honestly, this book is perfection, and I am not doing nearly a good enough job at telling you why you should read it. But, as an added incentive, Rowell is writing Carry On soon, the last book in the Simon Snow series. This will be a treat to anyone who loved Fangirl, which, in my opinion should be everyone who has read Fangirl, and anyone who is unusually obsessed with stories about wizarding schools (meaning most everyone who has read Harry Potter).

So, whether you are going to high school or college for the first time, or simply want a good book to start off the school year, there is no doubt in my mind that The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Fangirl are two of the best books for those purposes, or really just for reading.

by: 
Aurora, Teen Contributor

There is something about putting your sunglasses on, hopping in a car and driving that just says summer. The music, of course, must be blasting. This means if you are listening to the eighties music that your dad puts on (seriously, I don't think I know anyone else, except perhaps my brother, who had whole albums of KISS and Lynyrd Skynyrd music memorized before they hit the fourth grade), or country music, which, to me anyway, is practically created for the sole purpose of road trips. Even if you are not a country music fan, go on a road trip, find a country station (there will be at least one if you have half a radio signal) and just try listening to it. But you have your music, possibly a good friend and the road. 

And, while there is something so beautifully summer about road trips, it is also an indisputable fact that there is also something inherently literary about road trips. I speak of course, of the undeniable metaphor that exists in road trips or even just trips in general. You know, the whole "it's not the destination, it’s the journey" sort of thing that likely appears on lots of cross-stitched pillows. But, while I may jest, there does in fact lay a kernel of truth. Many authors use these literal journeys to parallel metaphorical ones. The perhaps most obvious example would be Jack Kerouac's On the Road. (I would say more here, but I confess I have managed to let this sit on my to-be-read pile for far too long. But it is literally about a road trip and a quest for self-knowledge. Even if I had read it I think my point would be made). Another classic literary example is John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. I did read this one. And I really wish I hadn't. It is my own personal opinion that if you actually loved this book, you are either a) an English teacher or b) a librarian. No mean to cause offense but this might literally be the book that I have liked the least of all of those that I have finished. But I digress, in the tale of the Joad's trip to California; there are undeniable themes of growth and starting over. For another, more contemporary example of road trips, we find John Green. He seriously loves his metaphors. Paper Towns has the most obvious road trip, and he has stated in one of his vlogs that he likes road trips because "they are a really good metaphor." (He has literally two thousand vlogs, so I really cannot point to which one, exactly this came from. But I promise it's there. Also, it may have been the inspiration for this post). 

Without a doubt, road trips are deeply entrenched in the metaphors of finding yourself. But they are also light and fun, very summery. So, here are a few of my favorite books that feature a road trip:

Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Okay, so this one is a not quite a traditional road trip. It starts when a girl gets a letter, or rather thirteen letters, in the mail from her aunt. Getting mail from aunts is a fairly normal thing, even if the number of letters isn't. But Ginny's aunt had died a while ago of brain cancer. And the first letter sends her off to London with nothing much more than a little bit of money and some vague instructions. From there, Ginny is sent on crazy adventure all around Europe just trying to follow her crazy aunt's instructions. This is a terrific read, and wonderfully fast paced, and it is light and funny, although it does have its serious moments. I most definitely give this (and actually all of Johnson's other books, really) five out of five stars.

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

This one is a little more serious than Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes. A while before the start of the book Amy's father died in a car crash and now the remainder of the family is packing up and moving cross-country. So, it is a road trip from California to Connecticut for Amy as soon as she finishes the school year with old family friend, Roger, to meet up with her mom. As you can guess by the title, things don't exactly go as planned. Filled with great detours, including a quick visit to Yosemite, an ill-advised trip through the desert, and a stop at Graceland, this book also tackles some more serious topics like the death of a parent and a brother who is in rehab. Really, as the road trip seems to imply it is all about picking up and moving on with your life, even when something catastrophic happens. It is equal parts light and serious and it is a wonderful book. I give this one 4.5/5 stars. 

Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer

I'll be honest with you; it has been a really long time since I have read this book. But I do remember a tall girl who worked at a local shoe store, run by an old woman who, for some strange reason decides to enlist this random sixteen year old employee to drive her across the country to some conference in Texas (probably) in order to prevent the sale of her shoe-store empire to some corporate monster. And really, whenever you put an old lady in a car for an extended period of time…you know funny things have to happen. When I read this I most definitely gave the book a 5/5 stars. However, because it has been a while I will give it a 4/5 stars, just in case my past self was nicer about book ratings than my current self was (because I totally was). In any case, I hope you enjoy this one as much as I remember enjoying it.

In Honor by Jessi Kirby

Out of these four books this one is arguably my favorite. As with most of the other books it starts with the death of a close family member; in this case, Honor's brother, who was killed in Iraq. And, as in Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, Honor receives a letter from her brother several days after his funeral. It contains tickets to a concert in California and seeing this as a last request she decides she has to go. So, armed with nothing more than her brother's Impala, her brother's (still slightly drunk) former best friend and her trusty red cowboy boots, Honor sets off. (Have you noticed that so many of these books started with dead family members? I think that it's because the road trip is essentially the grieving process, all tied up into one nice literary package. Also, many of these books have very interesting passengers. Because there needs to be some humor in these books that start with such a morbid beginning. Really, to me it is not just the deaths, or the comic relief, that makes these books, but the ways in which the authors combine them to create fun books that also border on the serious. In all honesty, that's why I love road trip books). Without a doubt, I give this book 5/5 stars. Even if it doesn't seem like something you'll like, its only about two hundred pages, so it's not much of a time risk, even though I promise that it is worth it.

And that's all for now. Hopefully you decide to try out one or more of these books, or even go on a road trip of your very own. After all, reading and road trips…isn't that what summer is all about?

by: 
Caitlin, Teen Contributor

Book Basics Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Published: 2012, Amulet Books

Genre: realistic fiction

Star Rating ★★★★ Buy It

Short Summary- Greg Gaines is “casually friendly” with almost all the social groups in his Pittsburgh high school. He’s not really friends with anyone, except Earl Jackson, his “co-worker”, whom he makes mediocre movie re-creations with. This way of life suits Greg just fine, until his senior year of high school when his mom forces him to hang out with a classmate (with whom he has a painfully awkward history with) who’s just been diagnosed with leukemia, Rachel Kushner. This, of course turns Greg’s entire world upside down, as a forced friendship evolves into a genuine one.

What I Liked- This is an insanely hilarious book. It’s not your stereotypical cancer book: the characters don’t fall in love, and the relationships between them are cringe-worthy awkward. But this is why I liked the book so much. It’s real. It’s an accurate portrayal of the struggle of fitting in in high school, overly involved parents and the depressing void that is cancer. The narrator, Greg, is in no way perfect yet the reader finds themselves wishing they knew him in real life because of his weird (some might say twisted) sense of humor and relatable philosophies on high school life. All the characters were very well developed and delightfully quirky.

What I Didn’t Like- There was very little that I didn’t like about this book. The language was, at times, profane and somewhat excessive, I thought. A lot of the humor in the book is pretty profane as well. Also, I felt the female character, the dying girl (Rachel) was under-represented and probably could have been featured for a larger portion of the book.

In Conclusion- This is not your average teen-with-cancer book. In fact, that’s what it makes it so great: it stands in a category of its own. The hilarity and awkwardness of this book is what makes it so awesome: it’s relevant, poignant, and real. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is relatable yet unique and enjoyable for teens and adults alike.

Read It Before You See It- The movie adaptation of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl wowed at its Sundance Film Festival debut, winning the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award. It’s out in theaters everywhere now, but I had the chance to attend an advanced screening when the library took JCPL Teens earlier in June, and I have to say: if you liked the book, you’ll love the movie. It’s equal parts humor and heart and will keep you in tears of laughter and emotion throughout the entire movie. Though the cast doesn’t feature a lot of recognizable names, the three main characters (Thomas Mann plays Greg, RJ Cyler plays Earl and Olivia Cooke plays Rachel) did an excellent job portraying their fictional selves. I also had the chance to meet Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler, and they were as quirky in real life as they were onscreen. As for how the book and movie compare, the book is (as it usually is) better, but the plot line is followed fairly closely and the unique narration style from the book is expertly placed in the movie. It’s a great movie, and I highly recommend it whether you’ve read the book or not. (But seriously, read the book first. ;)) You can watch the trailer here.

Also, if you liked this review check out my blog for more book reviews and recommendations! 

NOTE FROM JCPL TEENS STAFF: We're giving away 28 Me & Earl & the Dying Girl lunch bags for part of our Summer Reading weekly prize drawing this week! Log your Summer Reading minutes before midnight on Thursday for a chance to win!  

Image Credit: Caitlin, Teen Contributor

by: 
Aurora, Teen Contributor

OH MY CLARK GABLE, you guys. I cannot describe how amazing this book is. I mean, usually I dedicate these blog posts to at least four or five different books, just so that everyone can find something they like. But this book…this book gets its own post. It's that great.

So, for one, it has a really weird narration style. It has these twins, Jude and Noah, who alternate telling their stories. But, the half told from Jude's perspective is four years ahead of Noah's. So there are all of these plot elements, like a major family tragedy, that would be spoilers in Noah's half, but because of the way its told, you actually already know what happened. At the same time, though, there are four years of the story totally missing, so you get to spend the entire novel putting the pieces together. Really, it's just cleverly done. 

For another: the characters. They have such vibrant personalities. Noah, in his chapters, is constantly painting these crazy rainbow portraits. It colors the world red and green and blue and allows you to see into the mind of this extremely talented artist. That alone would make his chapters worth the read, but he is also twelve years old, and trying to figure out who he is. This is sometimes a painful plot to try and read, but I promise you that Jandy Nelson treats the matter in a truly beautiful way. And Jude. What can I say about Jude? She is a sixteen year old girl who has had to live through the family tragedy that has not yet happened to Noah. She is lost, and doesn't really know where she is going. Also, I should probably mention that she frequently talks to the ghost of her dead grandmother. These two are so alive in their respective chapters, they have such strong, unique personalities, it is impossible not to fall in love with them.

For a third, it treats real topics. Noah is trying to sort out his romantic attraction to the boy who moved next door, and Jude is still trying to cope with that family tragedy (which I don't want to spoil, even though it isn't much of a spoiler). There are also many other emotions swirling about, making I'll Give You the Sun an honest and beautiful read.

And it also won the Printz Award this year. If you don't know a lot about the Printz, it is an award given out once a year to the best book in young adult literature. So, if you don't want to take my word for it, some super-duper committee also thinks it is pretty awesome.

As for my rating, I obviously give it five out of five stars. However, when I keep track of books for myself, I have to add another category, because sometimes five stars just isn't enough. For these books, I assign it to my "Favorites" shelf. And if you didn't hear some sort of music in the background when you just read "Favorites" then you didn't read it right. So go try again until you hear that weird music that tells you the word is ridiculously important. And now that you understand the magnitude of that shelf, know that I'll Give You the Sun is one of the few books to have actually made it to that particular shelf. So it is dang good. 

Go and read it. 

Go on. 

You'll thank me later. 

by: 
Aurora, Teen Contributor

*Lets out a long, loud sigh, which contains several months’ worth of stress, as well as various dates, facts, and figures that I will never be required to know again* Summer. It is finally here. And if you are anything like me that means one thing: you have no idea what to read. Seriously, the entire school year you are probably making it by on a book a week, if you're lucky, and those are probably presets: sequels that have just been published, or favorite authors who have finally released a new book. (Shadow Scale and Hellhole, I am looking at you.) But now it is summer, and you are not constrained by tedious projects or dry textbooks. You are free!

So, now what?

I'll tell you: Kid's books. That's right, kid's books. Don't forget about all of those J Fiction books out there, just because you have technically, probably, aged out. (And we all know that secretly, at least some of the time, we are all still six. Or five. The point is, you never actually grow out of the J Fiction section.) So, if you are in that awkward phase where you look to old to be looking in the kid's section by yourself, but not quite old enough to have your own kids to be looking for, here are some recommendations.

1. Don't forget about your old favorites. No, I'm not talking about Harry Potter, we all know you probably re-read that once every few years anyway. Well, most of you anyways. I'm talking about books that you read in single sittings, laughing, getting weirdly attached to characters, but for some reason you never picked them up again. For me, this brings to mind A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Seriously, these were great books as a kid, but now reading them after a few years, they are almost funnier. They are extremely dark, but with a sort of humor that I imagine was directed towards teenagers. I liked them as a kid, but now…I have to say that I am even more impressed. I might not be able to speak for all kid's books, but I guarantee that if you go back and read some old favorites, you are going to have a great time, not only in remembering why you loved them in the first place, but also likely in discovering some tidbits that make more sense in your older, wiser* brain. Definitely give these (or any of your old favorites) 5/5.

*Wiser, mostly in the sense that I am using it in a cliché phrase. I'm not sure that any of us should actually ever be considered wise.

2. Now, for some recent finds on the J fiction shelves. If you like fairy tales, especially those that seem to combine stories from all sorts of backgrounds, you might want to try The Sisters Grimm. And I do apologize if you have already read these. Sometimes I am behind on the times. Back when moving to the "New World" was a thing, the Grimm Brothers packed up all (most) fairy tale creatures and moved them to the East Coast, a town called Ferryport (formerly Fairyport, haha, so clever), which allows no one to leave its borders. (Holy cow, I never realized how much this sounded like the show Once Upon a Time before.) Now, I will warn you that the first book is not the best written, but the story intrigued me enough to read the second. The writing does seem to improve, and the story seems to get more interesting. My favorite part: Puck. Such a sassy little fairy, who believes he rules the world, but he is really still a child who, eventually, somehow gets talked into coming and living with Granny Grimm. How do you think that is going to work out: the trickster king being, for lack of a better word, domesticated? I certainly wouldn't want to live with him. So, pretty much an easy read with some rewritten fairy tale characters, who keep butting into each other's universes (also each other's business, but that's sort of obvious). This may not be my number one recommendation, but it only takes a couple of hours. I'd give these ones 3.5/5, though do note that the low score is lower because of the first book.

3. New find: The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch. I'm not really sure about you, but I am willing to read this book just based off of its title, and the name of the author. I mean, how awesome is the name Pseudonymous for a pseudonym (or nom de plume, or penname, or alias, or whatever)?! Also, the back cover is written entirely in backwards words. Like, if weird word jumbles are not your favorite thing, you might actually need a mirror to read the cover of this book. So, apparently I am in fact, telling you to judge a book by its cover. Well, more specifically, all of the writing that appears on said cover. And if all of that isn't enough for you to want to read this awesome book, it has one of those narrators who aren't supposed to be telling the story. And (s)he keeps talking to you! I find those narrators the best. Fourth wall? What fourth wall! I feel like I should tell you more…but it's a secret, right? Nah, I'm not scared of any super-secret organization (well, maybe, we will get to that later). There is a missing magician, and a mysterious box called the Symphony of Smells. Mmm…synesthesia. One of my favorite literary thingy-mabobs. It just makes all the descriptions so much better. I mean, how can you taste the cold? How can you hear the color blue? Seriously, the next time you write, try to use some synesthesia. The style of this book probably fits right in there with anything written by Lemony Snicket. Less morbid, but still that same wit and great narrator. Definitely a 5/5.

4. Now…secret organizations. Imagine that there was a school that took the best and brightest of today's children. Geniuses who might be sabotaging Prime Minister's speeches, or who might be world class diamond thieves. Or maybe someone who was simply dared to hack into the government…and did it. These are the kind of people that go to H.I.V.E. The Higher Institute for Villainous Education. (I told you there was a secret organization I might be scared of. Wouldn't you be? All the little twelve year old geniuses in the world being trained to be super-villains?) Also, there is some pretty cool AI (artificial intelligence) going on here--and you know, every time an AI comes around, there are always weird existential questions (feel free to ignore those or not, depending on your mood). And…I actually don't think I need to say more. It is a secret school for SUPER VILLIAN CHILDREN! So, 5/5 for Mark Walden.

Okay, guys, that's all I've got for now! It should keep you busy for at least a couple of weeks (or days, or hours, depending on how fast you read…). Enjoy! There will be another post later this month so check back in!

by: 
Aurora, Belmar Teen Contributor

Welcome, all you avid readers, all you book-lovers, all you bibliophiles! Okay, so all of these words mean pretty much the same thing, but you get the point. Now, it is suddenly a new year, and if you are like me, you probably have this perpetual problem of not having anything to read. Literally, ANYTHING, even when you are surrounded by shelves upon shelves of books! Okay, so I exaggerate. But, it can still be tough to find new, great books to read. So, out of all of the books that I've read in 2014, here are a few of my favorites, some new, some old.

1. First of all, there is Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Of course, most of you have probably read this already, for I seem to have been late to the bandwagon. It doesn't hurt that a movie adaptation just came out in 2013 (it wasn't a complete, total disaster, anyway), so it is still probably pretty fresh on everyone's radar. It's a great sci-fi book, always worth a re-read. (Also, if you feel like looking at it from a new perspective, go do some research on the Cold War. It is really interesting how the conflict between the Buggers and the humans might actually resemble what was actually happening between the Americans and Soviets at the time the book was being published.) But, as amazing as Ender's Game is, that is not the point of this particular recommendation. Several years after his initial publication in the Enderverse, Orson Scott Card came out with another, parallel series, which starts with Ender's Shadow. This is exactly his first story told from Bean's point of view. You do not need any prior knowledge to read Ender's Shadow and it is just as good, and arguably better than the original series. If you loved Ender's Game, or really just sci-fi, you have to read Ender's Shadow.

2. The next book is probably not very well known. I found Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira by accident. But, the premise sounded interesting: a girl is given an English assignment to write a letter to a dead person. So, the novel is told in these letters to Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin, and all of these other dead famous people while, really, Laurel is trying to cope with her own sister's death, which hadn't happened all that long ago. While this book is unlike anything that I've read before, if you liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky, this should be the next thing you read.

3. On a lighter, and fluffier, note, the trilogy that begins with Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins might have just been the most adorable thing I have read all year. Okay, so yes, it is definitely one of those sappy teen love stories. But the sap is minimal, the writing is good, and the characters are real. If you want a light read, basically comfort food, these are the books for you.

4. Now, on a much darker note, there is The Child Thief by Brom. Just Brom, only the one name. This is a darker retelling of Peter Pan, which essentially sprung from the idea that maybe the boys that Peter takes to Neverland don't want to stay forever. It is dark, and it is creepy and it has a few drawings, done by the author, which shows you what is happening in his own re-imagined Neverland. If you like retellings, especially ones that tend to take the stories to darker, more haunting places, or if you just want to see Peter Pan from a drastically different view, I would definitely try reading The Child Thief.

5. Now, I know that one of the most popular series that has been around in the last few years has been The City of Bones (well, it started out as a trilogy, then there were two trilogies in the same series, and a prequel series, and now there are more spinoffs being made, so...) universe. And one of the only (actually, the only) character to appear in all of the published books so far has been the mysterious High Warlock, Magnus Bane. Now, if you would like to know anything more about Magnus, like, perhaps, why he is not allowed in Peru, or what really happened to Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution, or even how characters like Raphael Santiago came to be, you might want to pick of The Bane Chronicles, an illustrious collection of short stories.

6. Okay, dragons. I can't not make a list of books that people should read without bringing up dragons at least once. Because, first of all, dragons are awesome. And, second, with Game of Thrones picking up speed, dragons are becoming more popular anyways. So, for a more unique take on dragons, try reading Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, where the dragons are cold, logical, mathematical beings who can fold themselves into human form, with a few issues with the humans themselves. Also, the sequel is set to come out in early 2015, so what better way to start off the New Year? DRAGONS.

7. Most of you have probably read The Book Thief. Most of you have probably also read Markus Zusak's other book, I Am the Messenger, which is also several different kinds of amazing. If you haven't read the latter, and are expecting it to be like The Book Thief, don't. Ed Kennedy is just a cab driver, until one day he begins receiving mysterious instructions in the mail. It sounds like a bit of a trope, but I promise, it's worth the read.

8. Another book that I found to be unique and interesting is Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Spoiler alert, the main character dies. Okay, that's not a spoiler; it's actually the premise of the book. The main character dies, and then relives her last die seven separate times. It definitely brings up a great question: if you knew it was your last day, what would you do?

9. Here is another supernatural book, where certain people get unique powers: The Diviners by Libba Bray. Also, the sequel comes out in April, so I am very excited for that. But this isn't really just another one of those supernatural books. This one is set in the 1920s, where Evie O'Neill is sent to live in New York City with her uncle, who happens to run a museum for the occult. So, maybe my summary makes it sound like a bit of a cliché. It's not! Also, it is totally the reason I have started to use the word 'copacetic' wherever possible.

10. This is the last book that I read in 2014, and without a doubt, it is also one of the best. I have read pretty much everything E. Lockhart has written in the past, and while I am not a huge fan of her Ruby Oliver series, I love her other standalones, especially The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (note to self, reread that in 2015) but We Were Liars is its own kind of special. It's about a family that spends their summers on a private island, with a core cast of characters, the Liars. I would love to tell you more about this book, but I don't think I will. To borrow the words from the inside jacket: "Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE." The advice is spot on.

So, while the list might not have ten books that you will like, I guarantee that there should be at least one book on the list that you will absolutely love. Here's to another year of reading!

 

If you are a book lover like Aurora, please send us a countdown of your favorite reads!

by: 
Cheyenne, Lakewood Teen Submission

I Am Malala is the inspiring story of Malala Yousafzai, the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban. Malala's story starts with her father's dream of starting a school, which shows that her passion for education is genetic. Malala also ventures in to talk about her life before the Taliban, which is shockingly challenging, much having to do with her father's school. She talks about the beginnings of the Taliban in Pakistan, and how even before she was shot, she had a powerful voice through her blog and copious speeches. She addresses the mistreatment of women as the Taliban's power grew. In the concluding chapters, she gives third person details of her shooting, mainly from her family's point of view. The book ends with her miraculous recovery and new life in Birmingham, England.

I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5. I highly recommend reading it  for book reports, however, it is a fun read all by itself.

by: 
Mykenna, Columbine Teen Submission

 Mykenna on her inspirtaion for her illustration...

"I wanted her to be a cute and spunky, shojo-styled girl.

If you love Mykenna's illustration you might check out the manga series, Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz. His name is Boris, and despite his human form and piercings and tattoos, he is not your typical punk teenager. For he is the Cheshire Cat, complete with cat ears and a tail, and a penchant for riddles. Boris is madly in love with Alice, and Alice is vulnerable and lonely. But will she fall for the Cheshire Cat? 

 

*story synopsis from goodreads.com

 

by: 
Kallie, Columbine Teen Submission

My Mad Hatter picture art style is inspired by the work of Katsura Hoshino, who illustrates the  D. Gray-man Series.  

Gray-Man is a manga series, a japanese style comic book.  The series follows Walker, a born exorcist, fighting the Akuma. Together with his fellow exorcists fighting under the command of the Black Order, Walker leads the battle against the Millenium Earl, the evil "being" out to destroy mankind.

 

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