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!
Softly bathes the world
In an eerily peaceful glow.
Simply small crystallized water droplets
But that hold so much beauty and mystery
They drift down towards the cool earth
A gentle landing
As the flakes clump together -
They swallow sound and movement
*photo (c) Martinak15, flickr creative commons
I blinked, unsure of the moisture on my cheeks now. Were they tears? Or merely the rain?
“So…you’ve been trying to warn me? All this time?”
She nodded, reaching out to me.
“You must come with me. The lightning within you is what can save both of these worlds.”
I blinked, and reached up to wipe the wet strands of hair from my eyes.
“What? The lightning within me.”
Her expression did change this time, showing an aura of impatience.
“Eli, there is no time! I’m being stretched over two worlds just to talk to you. This storm is raging across the dimensions, and you are the only one who can stop it!”
“But what if I do stop it? Will I ever see you again?”
This time, she looked down, turning her hands over. She was looking through them. She was barely an outline in the darkness.
“No, Eli," I shivered, droplets shedding from my jacket. "You won’t. I’m an echo of a memory, from another world. I don’t exist. Not anymore. I died. I’m never coming back. I’m just the messenger. You must come.”
“But…you’re here, you’re talking, you have a personality! How could you be gone?”
She seemed to sigh, and reached out to touch my face. Her hand passed through my cheek, and re-emerged from my chin. It felt like a soft breeze.
”Eli, I’m not here. I can never be here. Just come with me, and you can save two worlds.”
“But not your world?”
She shook her head sadly.
“My world is dead and gone, with no hope for it. I speak on behalf of another world, not my own.”
I hugged myself tighter.
“How do you know I can do it? And why should I do it if it won’t even benefit you?”
Her pale lips parted in a sad smile, one that pierced my heart.
“I know because you have done it. In another world, in another time…you succeeded. But that version of you no longer has the power. You must do it because it will release me from the worlds. To be free.”
This time, I knew it was a tear that rolled down my face, hot and salty.
“But…do you know how much you have tormented me, in my sleep, confusing me during the day…how could you do this to me!”
Clasping her hands, she lowered her gaze.
“For that, there is no excuse. I apologize, for any pain I have caused you.”
I shook my head, and dashed away the hot tears on my cheeks.
“You are hurting me more than anything else in the entire world.”
Her eyebrows furrowed a bit more, and she glanced at my face.
“That shouldn’t be happening…it must be a transponder issue. The dreams were never supposed to cause you trouble, and neither am I.”
I whipped my head from side to side, and would have grabbed her shoulders if I could have. Instead, I just squeezed myself tighter.
“Why do you have to do this? Make me choose…”
”Choose what? There is no choice. Come with me, and save the worlds.”
I sliced my arm through the storm, swiping her argument aside.
“That’s not what I mean. You’re making me choose between the better of two whole worlds, and you. You’ve made me fall in love with you.”
Shock radiated from every molecule of her ghostly essence.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen. You must save the worlds!”
“But loose you? I don’t even know your name, and I can’t bear to loose you! If this storm ends, I’ll never see you as you are now ever again! I won’t see you at all!”
“You must come…”
Still, she pleaded, though a note of doubt had crept into her voice.
“Not yet. Let’s stay here. Just for a minute. With the storm.”
“The storm must end.”
“Just for a while longer.”
I looked out across the plain, my heart thumping in my chest. She was going to leave. Forever. If I did this…
The fate of two worlds.
Or the girl.
The dead girl who was being shuttled across dimensions just to talk to me. What was I doing?
“I’m so selfish…”, I muttered, and shuffled my feet.
Finally, I nodded.
She held out her hand, and I reached for it. Then, I pulled back.
“Wait! Before I go-tell me your name. Please.”
“Elhodie. My name is Elhodie.”
“I love you, Elhodie.”
I took her hand.
And for one second of bliss, we were together.
From across the storm.
I had put on this armor plenty enough
to know the weight of it.
And I say, I still say, that I would not like to take it off.
When I fall asleep, I wake up with bruises covering my back, my arms, my neck.
My legs chafe, and the press of steel against my body chills me.
I will keep it on
even in my sleep.
And no, it doesn't matter how much you ask,
because I know the pain of listening to someone
and realizing the consequences.
There are always consequences
and you are too young to
So I comb your hair
and plait the silky strands
until my chained fingers
smell like strawberries.
And I kiss your cheek
and tell you to do well in school
and to have fun
and come back home safely.
Every day, with my heavy armor, plaiting your lovely hair
kissing your cheeks and saying farewell, you grow and grow
and your hair is long and short at times but I plait it as best as
these clumsy fingers can manage
and you smile and kiss me on on the forehead and run off to classes,
before turning around and telling me to at least take off the armor
for a little bit.
And I might smile, but my eyes say no, and you sigh but let it go and are gone not a moment after.
Come home safely, I say.
I will, you reply.
Until one day
And I want to die
for being so careless.
And by the time I find you
the damage is done
and you are naked in the cold of reality
so I slip off my armor
and beckon you into it
and lean against these brick and mortar walls
as you cry into my arm.
This armor won't protect you, I say quietly,
it never protected me, after all.
but it hurts to know
and I slip a kiss onto your battered cheeks.
It made me feel safe,
but it never helped
and in the end I took it off, anyways.
a child who learned more of the world than I did
and took it by the heart to fight it just the same
a child who knew nothing until everything
was thrust onto her shoulders
and she was cold
and it was snowing
and she was alone
until her mother ran to find her
a little bit too much late.
a child who woke up faster than she would have liked
but was brave enough
to keep going.
Steel lays rusting
in the corner of some alleyway
a set of armor standing stoically
over the remnants of oblivion
waiting for the next child
who seeks shelter in its arms.
And your bare hand touches mine
and we step forward with naked feet
and our eyes hold fear but more than that
they hold hope.
Because the armor is an illusion of safety
and it took me long enough
this armor stands strong
by my side.
*photo (c) of Kaometet, flickr creative commons
This piece is part of an ongoing series, read Excerpt 1 here!
The light lit up her features, and caused her golden hair to almost glow in the darkness. I looked up at her, seeing her framed by the wind, the rain, and the lightning. Beautiful and somehow wild. A dangerous beauty.
Her voice resounded, and echoed, and doubled back on itself, causing a hauntingly reminiscent sound. Like a memory, but with an undercurrent of rage, or chaos.
It took me a moment to find my voice. I no longer felt the pelting rain, or the chill from the damp.
“I—I did. What do you want?”
She looked down at me, her eyes deep and powerful, sparking something within me. Lighting flashed once more, and again she glowed, as if she was a star from the very heavens.
“Eli, will you help me?”
I could’ve said no. I could have just walked away, and never thought about it again. But I couldn’t. Her voice, her beauty, the storm…
“Then follow me.”
So I did. Mesmerized by her pale and nearly transparent figure, I followed through the grass, liquid dripping from my hair and my face. At times I would loose sight of her, only to see her again at the next flash of lightning.
“Are you going to run from me?”, she asked, stopping her strange walk for a moment. She walked through the grass, but the grass did not move beneath her feet. I squinted at her, wiping away the moisture. Would I run from her?
“No…I won’t. Take me where you want. I just…don’t leave me. I want to stay with you. Every day.”
Her expression stayed the same.
“There is no time. No tomorrow. Come.”
We continued on, across the featureless plain, until a speck of black appeared on the horizon. A tree. Leafless and boney, stretching into the sky. Sure enough, she headed straight for the landmark. When we reached the base of the tree, I wrapped my arms around myself, and huddled my shoulders. I was beginning to feel the cold now, and my teeth began to chatter.
“We are here.”
I glanced up at the dark branches.
“Where? There’s nothing here.”
Her sad eyes bored into my soul. I fell silent.
“Eli. I am nothing more than a memory. An echo, of another time, another world. There is nothing here for you, but for me, there is a world, decimated and torn. As will be your world shortly. Look up.”
I looked up. The clouds were thinner here, as the storm moved on. A strong wind passed, and soon there was a patch of open sky. The stars twinkled, and the moon gleamed, and…what was that? A dark shape…
My head snapped back towards her.
“What is it? What does it mean?”
Her gaze didn’t waver.
“It’s a planet. Circling the earth, in what we call the planet’s last dance. After that, the worlds will collide.”
Collide? I tried to breath, and tucked my hands into my armpits. I was really cold now.
”Not a day from tomorrow, the world will be painted with flames, and it will end. It will be destroyed, just like my world.”
I blinked, unsure of the moisture on my cheeks now. Were they tears? Or merely the rain?
Check back next week to read the final installment of "Across the Storm"
I never thought I would like the Hunger Games series at all! When my friend got me to watch for the first time, I fell in love with it right away! All the movies are great and I can't wait to see MockingJay when it comes out. I love all the actors and the story itself. I went to the last Hunger Games party, and enjoyed it a lot. I had many great expierences and met new people. I encourage any and everyone to go! It's a lot of fun! This year will be great too. Hope to see everyone there!
5:30-8:00 p.m. Friday, November 21
Registration Required. Come in your best Hunger Games attire - we'll have a prize for the best costume. There will be plenty of food and drink for all.
Belmar and Evergreen teens now have the opportunity to utilize laptops through our new Teen Laptop Program. Teens may check out a laptop to use in the library for 3 hours, but first they will need to have a Laptop Agreement Form signed by a parent.
Recently Arra, Teen Services Coordinator, spoke with Bailey, Heather, and Heidi, members of the Belmar Teen Advisory Board, about this new pilot project:
Arra: How do you think you will use these laptops?
Bailey: I’m going read Fan Fiction.
Heather: Because there are lots of adults in the computer area I feel it is really judgey. I like that we can take a laptop into a study room or the teen area.
Bailey: This is going to be great for NaNoWriMo. Also, I’m having fun just clicking. I like the sound of the keys.
Heidi: How do we save stuff?
Arra: You can save to a USB or Google Docs or similar cloud storage. When the machine reboots it erases everything so please don’t save anything important to the machine!
Heather: Are there rules about downloading programs to the laptops? Lots of school projects require random programs to be downloaded.
Arra: If the machine will let you download a program then it is OK to use. There is security software on the machine that will block unsafe downloads, but if there is something you need to download for school, then please let us know and we will put that request in to see if it can be approved for the future.
The Teen Laptop Program was generously funded by The Jefferson County Public Library Foundation.
I bolt upright in bed, looking wildly around.
Nothing. Nobody. My face is wet. I reach up and wipe away a mixture of tears and sweat. That dream… Still shaken, I slide my legs out of bed, and sit on the edge of the mattress. I take a rattling breath, and lower my head into my hands. It was her. Again. I groan, and look around my room. Nothing. I almost expect her to leap out at me, her hair swirling, her eyes glowing. It’s as if she’s asking for something. Pleading for help. And yet…
While she terrifies me, she also draws me closer to her. Each night, a kind of fascination with her. The enigma.
“What is she?”, I murmur to myself, lifting my head to look out the window.
“Who is she?”
There’s a storm again. I stand up, and walk to the window to look out. Not much to look at on the ground. Just endless fields of grass. But the sky…
Something about the night, and the storm, just drew me in. The flashes of lighting, the rumble of the thunder, felt to my very bones, the roiling clouds. But I only stood there for a moment before turning away. I was cold. Wearing boxer shorts to bed hadn’t been a good idea. I slid on my jeans, and shuffled to the bathroom. After flicking on the light, I squinted at my reflection in the mirror. At least I still look the same. Sandy hair, blue eyes, big nose, and then the dark circles…
I rub my face, as if that would remove the lack of sleep from my appearance.
Jerking, I spin around, back pressing against the countertop. Nothing. But I could have sworn…
There was nothing here…that I could see. She was here.
“Who—what are you?”
I eyed the ceiling, as if she was floating above me. She could be anywhere…next to me, above me, below me…
I wanted to say no. I would have liked nothing more than to say ‘No, I’m done, leave me alone.’. But I didn’t. I pulled on a sweatshirt, slipped on my old broken down trainers, and went outside. Somehow, I knew she was out here somewhere. In the storm. I stood on the porch, and looked out at the fields. The grass was being blown about by the wind, causing a soft rushing sound.
Again, that voice…
I set off into the land sea, not even bothering to pull up the hood of my jacket. Searching for her. I hunched up my shoulders against the cold drops of rain, already shivering. Lightning dashed across the sky, soon chased by his brother, Thunder. Wading through the soggy grass, I keep my head in a constant swivel, trying to catch a glimpse of whatever I was chasing.
My whole body jerked, as if I had been struck by the very lightening that lit my search.
I turned in the direction of the corporeal voice, and plunged through the grass. I ran, the rain pelting against my face, and trickling down my neck. In fact, I almost missed it because I ran. The only reason I saw it was because of the lightning. It struck, no more than a quarter mile from where I was. The shock ran up through my bones, and made my teeth rattle. My soaked hair stood on end, and I tripped and fell to the ground. I was awed by the sheer power of the storm. Flattening my hair, I stood. And there she was, right in front of me. Her eyes were sad, and they stared into my very soul. I couldn’t bring myself to look away from her. Lightning flashed again, and the wind picked up, causing her hair to flow in streams behind her.
This is the first excerpt from Emma's short story, "Across the Storm". On why Emma writes, "The reason I write is because the world around us is filled with so much emotion, and all it takes is the right words to unleash it." Please check back to continue reading Emma's work.
*photo (c) PublicDomainPictures
Twisted personality -
Beauty and elegance
In its thin, delicate petals
And the vice of a thorn.
Waves of color
Adorning the headdress
Of this sweet rose.
The thorns -
Prepared for an attack
Best weapons at the ready
To protect the fair radiance
Of the princess
*photo redredrose (c) Sarah, Aug 24, 2008.
Audrey submitted these photographs that she took of still life moments in Colorado. She notes, "I've always loved taking more natural photos rather than something with people in them. So, I like to focus more on landscapes and nature photos"
If you love photography then the library has a ton of beautiful oversized books that feature photography and art...come in and get inspired!