Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Introducing Emily!

Next, meet Emily of the Headquarters library!

 

NAME: Emily Green

HOMETOWN: Inman, SC

THEN WHAT: I graduated from Converse College in 2010 with a BA in English and a minor in Secondary Education. I spent most of my life wanting to teach middle school students, and I have taught in several schools as a long-term substitute, including McCracken and Woodruff Middle School. These days, though, I’m happy to be surrounded by books in the library, and I’m excited to get to know the teens who come to HQ.

FAMILY: I’m an only child, and my parents are Tom and Janie Green of Inman, SC.

HOBBIES: It’s a given that I love to read, and curling up with a book I’m excited about and a white chocolate mocha is my favorite way to relax. I also enjoy cooking, crocheting, and being crafty in general. On the flip side, though, I can be quite loud and silly. I love listening to music and breaking out into song at unexpected times (though you won’t find me doing that here in the library!), and I also love hearing my favorite bands live.

FAVORITE QUOTES: “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are your works and that my soul knows very well.” – Psalm 139:13-14 (NKJV)

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:25-26 and 33-34 (NKJV)

FAVORITE TEEN BOOKS: I love anything by Sarah Dessen, as well the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty. I’m a bit obsessed with all things Hunger Games, and I wish I had Katniss Everdeen’s fire and strength (as well as my own older version of Peeta).

FAVORITE NON-TEEN BOOKS: Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

RECENTLY READ: Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality is the best book I’ve read in a long time. My favorite teen book that I’ve read this year is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I used at least half a box of tissues on that one, but I loved it because the characters were so honest and real to me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Travis' Book Review: The Punk Ethic by Timothy Decker

 

Timothy Decker’s Punk Ethic is a story about a 17-year-old musician named Martin that attempts to explain the traditional ethics of punk music to the current generation. One day, after writing a story about the atrocities of landmines, Martin’s teacher asks him, “What are you going to do about it?” Suddenly, the typically unmotivated Martin is inspired to meet the challenge and focuses on organizing a benefit show to raise money toward disarming landmines.

 

The change in Martin’s character from unmotivated youth into activist is a nice character shift because it demonstrates the idea of making a stand for a cause you believe in. This helps the author convey and highlight the DIY attitude and pragmatic nature that is the foundation of punk. To help his cause, Decker ever utilizes a very inspiring quote by Theodore Roosevelt:  “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  

 

While the novel does have its flaws, like Martin’s sometimes lackluster dialogue and Decker’s mishandling of a few complex themes that appear near the end of the novel, the success of the story is that the writer does capture the often misunderstood ideals of traditional punk philosophy.  In that way, this novel may just inspire someone.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Introducing Travis!

SCPL Teens has gotten a lot of new faces this summer! Over the next few weeks, we'll be featuring them here so you'll know who to look for when you need a recommendation for your next awesome teen read. 

Today, meet Travis of the Headquarters library!

 

 HOMETOWN: Spartanburg, SC

 THEN WHAT: I graduated from USC Upstate with a B.A. in Journalism, where I also worked as a tutor for voice and diction. After graduating, I fell into customer service and management but decided it wasn’t for me—I needed to pursue my interests! So, here I am!

FAMILY: Tim, Martha, and Crystal are my immediate family, but I have a number of friends that are as close to being brothers as I’ll ever have.

HOBBIES: I love the arts in general - making music, writing, drawing, painting, and photography. I’m also a big music, film, video game, and comic book junkie. Don’t let that fool you, though, I spend my mornings in the gym, and I’m a football fanatic!

FAVORITE QUOTE:  It’s from a song by Frank Turner:  Life is about love, last minutes and lost evenings, about fire in our bellies and furtive little feelings, and the aching amplitudes that set our needles all a-flickering, and help us with remembering that the only thing that's left to do is live." 

FAVORITE TEEN BOOKS: I love Naruto and, of course, Harry Potter, but I have a soft spot for classics like Hatchet and To Kill a Mockingbird.

FAVORITE NON-TEEN BOOKS:  Fight Club, The Crow (graphic novel), Final Crisis, Revolution on Canvas, and Neuromancer

RECENTLY READ: Punk Ethic, Old Man Logan, the latest Shonen Jump, and currently pacing through A Song of Fire and Ice 

Jennifer's Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

 

 Lola wants three things in life – to go to the winter formal dressed as Marie Antoinette, to have her parents approve of her boyfriend, Max, and to never, ever see the Bell twins again. Other than those three wishes, things are going pretty smoothly for 17-year-old Lola. Twenty-two-year-old Max is the perfect boyfriend, and Lola’s well on her way to meeting her New Year’s resolution of not wearing the same outfit twice during the year. However, things are about to change when wish number three fails to come true, and the Bell family returns to the house next door, along with twins Calliope and Cricket. (Yes, his name is Cricket.) Cricket was Lola’s first love and first heartbreak, and life turns topsy-turvy now that he’s returned.  Commence love triangle – who does Lola really want, Max or Cricket?

 

Author Stephanie Perkins writes a compelling story about the confusion and thrill of love. Unlike many authors who incorporate romance into their stories (whether it’s paranormal, contemporary or other), Perkins shows us why the two protagonists fell in love. It’s beyond the physical (although there is that); it’s a deeper emotional and intellectual connection between the two protagonists. Far too many novels seem to make a love connection based on “smoldering eyes” and “tousled hair” and “eyes that burned into me” instead of a true bond between the two. Lola’s love goes beyond this.

 

But Lola and the Boy Next Door is not just a contemporary romance; it’s also a book of self-discovery. Beneath the outfits that Lola creates, who is Lola really? This is a theme that Perkins returns to again and again, as Lola lovingly describes each of her elaborate costumes. (She wants to be a costume designer when she’s older.) Whether she’s dressed like Cleopatra, complete with wig and kohl makeup, or like a 1950s waitress, Lola rarely looks the same two days in a row. The few times she’s caught in her own skin – her hair down, jeans and a plain shirt, someone is bound to say it’s rare to see the “real Lola.” Although Lola brushes the comments off at first, they begin to get to her – does she dress this way to hide her true self? Which Lola does her friends, family and love interests prefer?

 

I really enjoyed Lola, perhaps more than Perkins first novel. Lola is bold and independent. She may have a streak of selfishness, and her loyalty to her friends and family is tested by her relationship with Max, but she works hard to remain true to herself in order to discover what she wants and needs out of life.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Susan's Book Review: Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun by Geoffrey Canada

  

Fist Stick Knife Gun is an autobiographical graphic novel by educator Geoffrey Canada. 

If you’ve seen the documentary Waiting for “Superman,” he’s the guy at the beginning who uses the title phrase to explain what he felt he was doing as a child growing up in the Bronx in the 50s and 60s. I like reading stories about other people’s lives, especially when their life is so different and more dramatic than my own. Things that stressed me out as a kid: getting all A’s to make my Dad happy, arguing with my big sister over petty things, wishing my cats could live indoors. Things that stressed Canada out as a kid: proving he could fight to kids on his block, proving he could fight to kids at school, worrying that he really didn’t know how to fight. All that and his mother was raising four boys on her own in a tough neighborhood.

This book covers his life from age 4 to somewhere in his mid-teens and then shows him in college at the end. I was interested in those lost years because I wondered when he decided to go to college and how that went over in his neighborhood, so I looked him up online and turns out he went to live with his grandparents in Long Island in his mid-teens, so that might explain that. In any case, Canada went on to earn a Master’s degree in education from Harvard and then went back to New York City to help kids as president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone. I’m fascinated by people who devote their lives to causes bigger than themselves and this book helped me to realize what inspired Canada to do just that. 

Fist Stick Knife Gun was originally released as a non-fiction book in 1995, but I think a graphic novel adaptation was a smart move and I will be sure to suggest this book to teens I think will like it!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Heather's Book Review: Steampunk: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant

As much as I love steampunk, I have to admit that I often get jaded with it.  For every innovative entry, there seem to be twice as many books or movies that stick some brass goggles or clockwork bits on a character without giving them any purpose other than to look cool.  Fortunately, Steampunk:  An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories is an entry to the former category.  This collection of short stories, compiled by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, flaunts all the gears and steam and clockwork that one would expect, but it also explores new heights and depths of the genre. 

 

The compilation features stories by such familiar authors as Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, and Garth Nix, as well as several authors that I was previously unfamiliar with, but definitely intend to look up now.  The stories themselves explore varied and entertaining ground, from the somber almost-romance of Cassandra Clare’s “Some Unfortunate Future Day” to the steampunked  Ancient Rome found in M.T. Anderson’s “The Oracle Engine.”  If you can stomach some vaguely disturbing grossness, it’s hard not to enjoy the morbid optimism of Cory Doctorow’s “Clockwork Fagin.”  The Sherlock-Holmes-meets-Frankenstein spirit of Ysabeau S. Wilce’s “Hand in Glove” made it another of my favorite stories. 

 

The anthology slows down somewhat in the middle, since the stories found there are less conspicuously steampunk than one might expect, but their takes on the subgenre—more magical realism than outright fantasy—are nonetheless intriguing, even if their pace is a bit leisurely.  Anyway, soon after this little break, the anthology regains its momentum, closing with a set of stories that arguably epitomize everything steampunkers love about their favorite genre—adventure, quirky inventions with bombastic names, and societies where people are inseparable from clever machines, whether they like it or not.

I’m not typically a fan of short story anthologies; oddly, I get impatient with the length of the individual stories.  However, this was one of the few that I not only enjoyed, but whizzed through in a mere few days, and even admired for the variety of its contents and the way they were organized.  On its back, the book calls itself “an anthology that defies even as it defines the genre.”  For once, a book praises itself accurately.