Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Books in the YA Dept

Looking for more books to add to your summer reading list? Make sure to check out the new books in the YA department.
Here are just a few of the titles to whet your appetite:

Heist Society by Ally Carter
Prom Dates from Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Shooting the Moon by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Captivate by Carrie Jones
A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee
Ash by Malinda Lo
The Long Way Home by Andrew Klavan
Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr
Smudge Marks by Claudia Osmond
Epitaph Road by David Patneaude
I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder
The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade
Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

...and many more!

Book Review - Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reason’s Why has been on my “to read” list for a long time. But the truth is I kept putting it off and finding other books to read first. Why? I knew the subject matter was going to be pretty grim. Asher’s debut novel centers around Clay Jensen, a high school student who just received a mysterious package with no return address. Inside Clay finds 7 cassette tapes and when he plays them he hears the voice of Hannah, a girl from school who committed suicide. “I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why…” As Clay spends an agonizing evening listening to Hannah’s last words and discovering his place in her tale the reader is enveloped in Asher’s vividly drawn world. This incredibly moving story exposes how connected our lives are to one another and sheds a light on the harsh realities of high school, gossip, and the lasting effects of suicide on those left behind. I wish I had read this book sooner, that I hadn’t put it off. I could have been recommending this book to people months ago. I hope Thirteen Reasons Why finds its way on to the required reading list of every high school. This is a book that needs to be read.

For more information visit
the book's official website.

From product description:
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May Mt Laurel Book Club Meeting

The Mt Laurel Book Club met Thursday to discuss Gilead by Marilynne Robinson at the new Mt Laurel Public Library. The book was well liked by the group. We all felt like it was beautifully written in a way that evoked intense responses upon reflection. This book was described during the meeting as a soothing and peaceful read due to the writing style of the author, which earned the book the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
I personally loved the book. Many times when I read a book that has been lauded as "the book," I don't always agree. This one, however, lives up to all of the hype. This book is written in the format of a pastor writing a letter to his young son as he approaches his death. The letter is to provide his son with a connection to his past and guidance for him as he becomes a man. This letter leads the pastor to examine events in his life and provide clarity into larger life issues such as forgiveness and his vocation as a pastor. Again, I have to say this is a very beautiful book. I had an emotional response to Gilead while reading in the sense that it made me think of my grandfather and the life he led before I ever knew him. So often, I think of my family in the only context that I know them, such as mother or father. In that context, it is hard to see them as "real" people who struggle with issues of faith, career vocations and problems with their own parents or siblings. I would not call this book an "easy read" but I would recommend it to someone who is looking for depth and a sense of introspection that will linger past the last page.
From Publishers Weekly: Fans of Robinson's acclaimed debut Housekeeping (1981) will find that the long wait has been worth it. From the first page of her second novel, the voice of Rev. John Ames mesmerizes with his account of his life—and that of his father and grandfather. Ames is 77 years old in 1956, in failing health, with a much younger wife and six-year-old son; as a preacher in the small Iowa town where he spent his entire life, he has produced volumes and volumes of sermons and prayers, "[t]rying to say what was true." But it is in this mesmerizing account—in the form of a letter to his young son, who he imagines reading it when he is grown—that his meditations on creation and existence are fully illumined. Ames details the often harsh conditions of perishing Midwestern prairie towns, the Spanish influenza and two world wars. He relates the death of his first wife and child, and his long years alone attempting to live up to the legacy of his fiery grandfather, a man who saw visions of Christ and became a controversial figure in the Kansas abolitionist movement, and his own father's embittered pacifism. During the course of Ames's writing, he is confronted with one of his most difficult and long-simmering crises of personal resentment when John Ames Boughton (his namesake and son of his best friend) returns to his hometown, trailing with him the actions of a callous past and precarious future. In attempting to find a way to comprehend and forgive, Ames finds that he must face a final comprehension of self—as well as the worth of his life's reflections. Robinson's prose is beautiful, shimmering and precise; the revelations are subtle but never muted when they come, and the careful telling carries the breath of suspense. There is no simple redemption here; despite the meditations on faith, even readers with no religious inclinations will be captivated. Many writers try to capture life's universals of strength, struggle, joy and forgiveness—but Robinson truly succeeds in what is destined to become her second classic.