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If at First You Don’t Succeed, Die, Die Again

A Midsummer Night's ScreamLove triangles, a cursed movie set, magic potions, gruesome murders; R.L. Stine’s newest teen fiction A Midsummer Night’s Scream has it all. Claire Woodward is a 16-year-old girl living a life of privilege in Hollywood. Her parents own a film studio and have finally given consent for her to act in one of their movies, the remake of Mayhem Manor. The excitement of being cast in a movie with her best friend as well as some notable actors is tempered when talk turns to how the movie set is cursed. The original Mayhem Manor was a horror film about six teens who get trapped in a spooky old house and one by one, die a terrible death. Shooting stopped after not one, but three of the actors died during the filming. Sixty years later the producers elect to reshoot the movie at the same location. Author R.L. Stine has proven to be a master of macabre with the success of his Goosebumps and Fear Street series, so readers will not be surprised when his newest novel takes a decidedly dark turn.

 

This story is part teenage romance, part horror story. There is a mystical element in the character of Benny Puckerman, who peddles magic potions, can only be seen by Claire and has his own agenda regarding the movie remake. Claire narrates the story in a casual conversational tone, at times directing comments to the reading audience. Those discerning readers looking for a sophisticated Shakespearean work should keep on looking, but if you are interested in a quick-moving, fantastical tale with a nice touch of suspense, A Midsummer Night’s Scream will really get your heart pumping.

Jeanne

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A Degree in Fandom

A Degree in Fandom

posted by:
September 27, 2013 - 7:55am

Cover art for FangirlIn Rainbow Rowell’s latest young adult novel, Fangirl, Cather is a huge fan of Simon Snow, a fictional Harry Potter-like book and movie series. Cath isn’t a casual fan, she’s the definition of a fangirl — she doesn’t just read the books and watch the movies, she goes to midnight release parties, writes well-known fanfiction and interacts with other Simon Snow fans online. The Simon Snow fandom has been Cath’s escape from the problems in her life for years. As Fangirl begins and Cath heads off to her first year of college at the University of Nebraska, she falls further into fandom.

 

Cath expected to room with her twin sister Wren, as they have all their lives, until Wren tells Cath that she doesn’t want to be roommates anymore. Cath is surprised and understandably upset. When Wren begins partying heavily at school, Cath becomes increasingly worried and feels isolated. Meanwhile, Cath has to deal with her standoffish roommate Reagan and Reagan’s potential boyfriend, Levi, who is in their room constantly and has definitely captured Cath’s attention. Cath also has to deal with the typical college adjustments — the dining hall, classes, meeting new people and romance, all the while maintaining her fangirl status.

 

Fangirl is a coming-of-age story about a girl enraptured in fandom who has to figure out how to deal with her changing life and how her life as a fangirl fits into it. The novel has excerpts from Cath’s fanfiction, which is an added bonus for anyone who has ever been a super fan. Others will be able to identify with Cath’s adjustment to campus life and her attempts to find her place in the world. Fans of Rowell’s earlier young adult novel Eleanor & Park will find Fangirl lives up to their expectations.
 

Laura

 
 

Holly Black to Visit Reisterstown Branch

Cover art for The Coldest Girl in ColdtownAuthor Holly Black will visit BCPL’s Reisterstown Branch on September 23rd at 2:30 p.m. to meet her readers and talk to teens about her new novel The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Black has written many novels for children and teens, including co-authoring the bestselling Spiderwick Chronicles series. This dark new novel features vampires, but it isn’t the typical teen vampire novel. Black brings a new twist to vampire mythology in this spine-tingling story.
 

Seventeen-year-old Tana lives in a world that is a lot like ours. The big difference is that in her world vampires aren’t just found in stories. They are real, and they are terrifying. When someone survives being bitten by a vampire, that person is infected and becomes Cold. Those who have been infected become crazed, craving blood beyond reason. If they drink human blood while infected, they turn into vampires. Special walled cities called Coldtowns have been created to quarantine both vampires and the infected. Coldtown is a dangerous and terrible place. Most humans fear vampires and Coldtown, but some romanticize it and find it glamorous. They see the endless Coldtown parties that are broadcast on TV and the Internet 24/7. They don’t understand the horror that takes place there, so they think that they want to be part of it.
 

When Tana wakes up at a party to discover that all of her friends have been massacred in a bloody vampire attack, she finds that the only other person left alive is her ex-boyfriend Aiden who is now Cold. Tana is bitten during her escape, so she takes Aiden and a mysterious vampire named Gavriel to the nearest Coldtown. She knows that she has to go inside with them, but everyone knows that once you enter Coldtown, you won’t ever leave.

 

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a compulsively readable novel that is written for teens but will also appeal to adult readers. Tana is a strong heroine, and Black’s world of vampires is unique and compelling. Readers will race through this story, eager to find out what happens to Tana next.
 

Click the link for more information about this exciting opportunity for teens to meet Holly Black, or contact the the Reisterstown Branch.

Beth

 
 

Seeking Solace in Revenge

Seeking Solace in Revenge

posted by:
September 18, 2013 - 7:00am

Cover art for Premidiated What would you do if someone caused your best friend to attempt suicide? Josin L. McQuein’s upcoming novel Premeditated describes just how far one devastated teen goes to exact revenge for her comatose best friend. Claire is more than Dinah’s best friend; she is her 14-year-old cousin too. Claire attempts to kill herself leaving her best friend and close family wondering why. Though her attempt was unsuccessful, she unfortunately hits her head on the sink as she passes out and is living in a coma, teetering on the brink.
 

Dinah is devastated when she hears about her cousin and she searches Claire’s room to find her diary and discover what caused her to feel like she needed to commit suicide. After reading the diary, Dinah uncovers that it was because of a 17-year-old prep school boy she’d been spending time with. Upon learning this, Dinah decides that she is going to destroy his life like he destroyed Claire’s. Before she can set her plan in motion, she must transform her edgy and alternative persona into a prep school Barbie doll for the covert mission.
 

This book follows Dinah in her efforts to find retribution and solace in bringing her own special kind of justice. The novel unfolds the story of Dinah’s transformation as well as Claire’s secret past and how she came to feel that suicide was her best option. Readers who enjoy Premeditated, may also enjoy Laurie Halse Anderson’s book Speak, which unfolds much like Claire’s story.
 

Randalee

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A Sharp Minor

A Sharp Minor

posted by:
September 17, 2013 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Lucy VariationsNational Book Award-finalist Sara Zarr is known for her spot-on portrayals of contemporary American teens. In The Lucy Variations, Zarr once again writes teen characters with pitch-perfect voices and concerns. While in her previous work she dealt mostly with middle-class families, this novel is a bit of a departure, looking at the rarefied world of a family of classical music prodigies. As a child and young teen, Lucy was a top concert pianist who was known among this elite group of musicians. But suddenly everything changed, and Lucy stopped playing altogether. Now, will her younger brother Augustus (“Gus”), a pianist prodigy himself, take up the family mantle?
 

Zarr is a master of plotting and examining family dynamics. Lucy’s grandfather, the patriarch of this musical family, shows utter disappointment and disbelief that his granddaughter with so much promise throws it all away when faced with adversity. Meanwhile, Lucy’s father has to recalibrate his life after having been her de facto manager for so many years. And Lucy and Gus have a supportive, intelligent sibling relationship, a nice change from the often-adversarial portrayal of siblings in books for teens.
 

Glamorous whirlwind tours of European concert halls, backstage intrigue and grand parties contrast with Lucy's desire to simply be a normal teen. Her friendship with down-to-earth Reyna provides grounding. The possibility of reclaiming her former glory comes in the appearance of Gus’ new piano teacher, who encourages Lucy to sit behind the keys again. Readers will be drawn in to the often unfamiliar world of a teen whose love of classical music is lost and regained.

Todd

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Waiting for the End of the World

Waiting for the End of the World

posted by:
September 10, 2013 - 7:00am

Half LivesSara Grant’s Half Lives begins on what seems like any other day, but readers quickly discover that the world is never going to be the same. Icie receives a 911 text from her parents, and hurries home to find the family’s bags packed and her parents ready to head to the airport. Working for the government, they have intercepted information about a bioterrorist attack set to happen in the coming days. They plan to fly to Las Vegas to hide in an unused nuclear waste bunker just outside the city. With little time to explain the situation to Icie, the family travels straight to the airport, where they separate to avoid raising suspicions. When Icie arrives in Las Vegas, she can’t find her parents, but follows through on their plans to travel to the bunker, hoping that they’ll meet her there. Along the way, she meets Marissa, Tate and Chaske who join her in the bunker as the effects of the attack begin.

 

Meanwhile, sometime in the future, a group of people living on a mountain are in the middle of a religious ceremony. This group follows The Great I AM, a religion filled with “Just Sayings,” and its own set of unique rules. They refuse to leave their mountain as they fear the terrorists who destroyed life “out there.”  The action begins when a group of outsiders from nearby Vega comes to the mountain and a power struggle ensues.
 
Grant’s Half Lives switches between Icie’s attempts to survive the end of the world and the post-apocalyptic story on the mountain. Readers will be anxious to find out how these two fast-paced, intense stories work together. This novel is a thrilling read for fans of dystopian novels.

Laura

 
 

Brothers vs. the World

Brothers vs. the World

posted by:
September 9, 2013 - 7:00am

The End GamesThere is much to be afraid of in the dark. Michael wakes to screams and discovers that his little brother is not in the Pokémon sleeping bag next to him. He must be sleepwalking again, but there is more than one dark shape moving around their camp, and the screams do not sound human; at least not living humans. Thus begins the nonstop action in The End Games by debut novelist T. Michael Martin, a zombie apocalypse thrill ride with a strong brotherly bond at its center.

 

On Halloween the world as we know it came to an end. What replaced it was something that 17-year-old Michael calls "The Game." Survivors play by a series of rules laid down from the “Game Master” in order to reach the safe zone. Michael and his 5-year-old brother, Patrick, have now been playing The Game for weeks, battling strange zombie-like monsters called “Bellows,” in hopes of reaching safety and reuniting with their mother. Unfortunately, The Game is starting to change, and there are other players who don't play by the rules.

 

Yes, there are zombies. Yes, there is thrilling action. Yes, there are evil villans and multiple plot twists and turns. But the heart of this story is the love between the brothers. Michael’s only thoughts are to protect Patrick morning and night, day after day, until the end. Martin gives enough glimpses into the past, before The Game, for the reader to understand the very special and unique relationship between the boys even then. Their struggle to survive is a heart-wrenching one, so keep a tissue handy. Recommended for fans of zombie fiction, action-adventure or stories of unique sibling bonds.

Sam

 
 

Choice and Consequences

Choice and Consequences

posted by:
September 6, 2013 - 7:00am

If You Could Be MineAt its heart, Sara Farizan's contemporary coming of age novel If You Could Be Mine is a love story about the romantic relationship between two teenage girls from Iran and the complex decisions they face. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, there are no public displays of affection between the sexes, no Facebook, no women in football stadiums. But for best friends Sahar and Nasrin, it never mattered. They had their stolen kisses and untested promises. They had each other. Since they were small, Sahar never doubted she wanted to marry her best friend, Nasrin.

 

 Unfortunately, relationships like Sahar and Nasrin’s must be kept secret in a country where any one gay is an enemy of the state. So, when 18-year-old Nasrin decides to do what society expects and marry a young male doctor because "he makes sense," Sahar can hardly breathe. She searches for a way they can be together openly. She believes she has found it with sexual reassignment surgery, a legal option in Iran. The problem is that Sahar is not even sure she wants to be a man. "She needs to know this isn't a game. It isn't something you just try on," a transgender acquaintance she meets through her cousin explains.

 

Farizan, an Iranian American who was born in the U.S., exposes in her simple writing style the absence of choices for young women while weaving in historical perspective. She does not condemn Iranian culture. "I respect a woman's decision to cover up as long as it is the woman's decision," Sahar says. It shows the naïveté, impulsiveness and self-deprecating humor that define youths who are still defining themselves. Mature teens and adults alike will find a tender yet compelling read in this fresh debut.

Cynthia

 
 

A Summer of Change

A Summer of Change

posted by:
August 23, 2013 - 7:55am

Cover art for When You Were HereDaisy Whitney’s When You Were Here is a realistic teen novel that takes place during one particular summer of Danny’s life. All Danny’s mother wanted was to see him graduate from high school, but she succumbed to cancer two months before the momentous day. As he faces graduation, and college after, Danny is all alone in the world; the only exception is his loyal dog, Sandy Koufax. His only human comfort since his mother's passing has been his ex-girlfriend, Holland, whom he still loves. This only causes him more trouble and heartbreak. A few days after graduation, a letter from the caretaker of the family’s apartment in Japan convinces Danny that he needs to travel to Tokyo to learn more about his mother’s life and cancer treatments.

 

When Danny arrives in Tokyo, he meets Kana, the caretaker’s daughter, who was friends with his mother. Kana shows Danny what his mother did during her last months in Japan, taking him to his mother’s favorite places, and eventually to her doctor. Meanwhile, the two become friends, with Kana becoming someone Danny can confide in about his love for Holland and his grief from losing his beloved mother. As the story progresses, Danny learns that his mother wasn’t entirely truthful with him, and that there are secrets he needs to fully uncover.

 

When You Were Here is a coming-of-age novel dealing with the changes that most teenagers go through after high school. In this case there is the added drama of Danny’s loss, which adds another layer to the story. Older teens that are fans of realistic fiction will enjoy Whitney’s latest novel.

Laura

 
 

Life in the City of Lights

Life in the City of Lights

posted by:
August 14, 2013 - 7:00am

Belle EpoqueSet in the late 1800s just as the Eiffel Tower is being built, Elizabeth Ross’ Belle Epoque tells the story of Maude Pichon, a 16-year-old girl who ran away from her small French village to Paris. Maude’s fresh start in the City of Lights doesn’t go exactly as she’d planned, as she has trouble finding work, and quickly runs out of money.  However, things seem to be turning around for Maude when an ad for a job with the Durandeau Agency catches her eye, and she is hired on the spot. The details of the job are sketchy; Maude only knows that the work is supposed to be undemanding and well-paying.

 

On her first day at the agency, Maude learns that the young women are hired by wealthy Parisians as repoussoirs. The owner of the agency, Durandeau, had the idea that rich Parisian women need a repoussoir, an ugly woman, to make them seem more beautiful in comparison. Maude is dismayed at the thought that she is ugly enough for the job, but given her dire financial situation, she feels she has no choice but to accept the work.

 

She is quickly hired by Countess Dubern to be the repoussoir for her daughter Isabelle, with the caveat that Isabelle can never know that Maude has been hired to spend time with her. Instead, the countess tells Maude to pretend that she is a distant relative of a friend, who has just arrived in Paris for the season. Maude quickly gets swept into Parisian high society, attending operas and balls, dressed in the latest fashions, all the while becoming friends with Isabelle, whom she is supposed to be deceiving. Belle Epoque is a fascinating novel—a coming of age story, mixed with a bit of romance, and a lot of history—perfect for fans of historical fiction.

Laura