Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New and Novel: Crime Novels

Series versus stand-alone, hard-boiled versus cozy, historical versus contemporary, a carefully planned menu versus potluck? Picking the best crime novels of the year is no easy trick.
~Bill Ott* 

Looking for a few good books full of mystery and suspense?  Here are some of the best-reviewed (and Booklist recommended) reads of the past few months.  Covert operations! Daring escapes! Obsession! Treachery! Psychological character studies! Enigmatic strangers! These books explore all the malevolent forces at work in the world, and their aftermath.

The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer

In the Morning I'll Be Gone by Adrian McKinty

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah

Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh

The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale

The Ascendant by Drew Chapman

Decoded by Mai Jia 

Deliverance of Evil by Roberto Costantini

North of Boston by Elisabeth Elo

Precious Thing by Colette McBeth

The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon                

The Fever by Megan Abbott

The Director by David Ignatius

The Bone Seeker by M. J. McGrath

The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh

One Kick by Chelsea Cain

The Son by Jo Nesbø


The Year's Best Crime Novels: 2014 [Booklist]*

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Blame It On Phryne: Return to the Jazz Age

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
~F. Scott Fitzgerald

The fabulous Miss Phryne Fisher, Australia's divine and fearless 1920s detective, has her own TV series. Downton Abbey is moving into the Jazz Age.  Woody Allen made Midnight in Paris, then Magic in the Moonlight. Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby had everyone falling in love with this classic all over again. It's almost 2020, 100 years since the Jazz Age, and perhaps nostalgia has already kicked in, because there are currently a lot of Lost Generation items at the library that will have you wanting to bob your hair (women) and slouch around in your Oxford bags (men). If you want to feel a Roaring Twenties vibe, try kicking back with one of these likely titles!


Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation by Judith Mackrell

Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway's First Wife by Gioia Diliberto

American Cocktail: A "Colored Girl" in the World by Anita Reynolds with Howard M. Miller

Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance by Carla Kaplan

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of the Great Gatsby by Sarah Churchwell


Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough

Empire Girls by Suzanne Hayes

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

The Last Nude by Ellis Avery

The Sisters by Nancy Jensen

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty 


"Here's What a Bestseller Looked Like in the 1920s" [HuffPost Books]

"The Roar of the Crowd" [The New York Times]

"Hats, pearls, and all that jazz woo style mavens" [Christian Science Monitor]

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mind-Bending YA

Pete Hautman’s The Klaatu Terminus completes a trilogy that dares to make a number of narrative and temporal shifts, each of which challenges readers to hold tight—or possibly let go?—of the sensical reins. The forefather of such mind-bending sleight of hand is Kurt Vonnegut, whose Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) has inspired generations of rule breakers. Such experimental works are rare in YA, but recent years have provided a number of worthy heirs.
~Daniel Kraus, "Readalikes: The New Vonneguts" [Booklist]

Books told entirely with images, involving magical science and travel to parallel worlds, starring a girl born with the wings of a bird and a boy who believes he is a character in a novel, part darkly comic philosophical discussion, with an experiment gone terribly wrong, a curiously powerful plant and a black mirror...  Which book's plot are we describing?  All the books on this list!  If you like the strange, the fantastical, the slightly awry, the inscrutable future, this young adult fiction booklist is here to test your grip on reality and introduce you to other realities!

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony, Rodrigo Corral

Fade to Blue by Sean Beaudoin [eBook] 

Grasshopper Jungle: A History by Andrew Smith

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick   

My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert T. Jeschonek

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher

Flux by Beth Goobie [eBook] 

47 by Walter Mosley    

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to School

The new school year is in full swing, and here at abcreads, we like to celebrate by highlighting some of the many print and online resources available to help our students succeed. In addition to homework help, test prep, and research databases, we have a wealth of materials to help with the challenges of going back to school.

Sometimes students aren’t the only ones who could use a little guidance. Our parents and teachers work just as hard, and we have resources for them, too!

Check out some of our lesser known gems:

For Students

Beyond Googling: In today's digital world, it's becoming increasingly important that we can find accurate, credible materials online. Our article databases provide access to high-quality periodicals and peer-reviewed journals that are great for older students. Check out our printable user guide with information and search strategies. UC Berkeley also has a good tutorial on how to evaluate a website.

Got a current events project? Opposing Viewpoints and Points of View are great places to start your research. They have a variety of primary sources and essays that shows both sides of the issue.

If you need biographies in a pinch, we have databases of those, too.

For Parents

Is your child struggling with stress and time management? Or dealing with a bully? We have a books in our catalog geared towards both parents and students to help handle these important issues.

If you're looking for a free afterschool activity, we host a ton of events for children and teens. Do you have a struggling young reader? Read to the Dogs can help them improve their skills and boost their confidence.

Need resources on life lessons or tricky situations? Check our online catalog for children's books on topics such as manners, respecting others, and handling friendships.

For Teachers

Our libraries regularly host classroom visits that introduce your students to the library with stories and crafts. 

Do you work at a Title I school or work with special needs students? Thanks to the Thomason Transportation Program, you can get free transportation
to and from the library.

Novelist K-8 Plus is an excellent website to turn to when you're looking for books for your classroom. Check out their professional toolbox for help finding Common Core content.

You can find all of these and more on our teacher and educator resources webpage.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

YA Series Books Worth Reading

It seems like these days, when a young adult book is published, chances are that it will be the first book in a series. Even books that seem like they won't be part of a series end up as a series or as having companion novels (Nantucket Blue, for example). With all the series that come out, it can be hard to decide what to read. Should I read a trilogy, like The Hunger Games, since I'm only committing to three books, or do I want to take the plunge and read a longer series, like Pretty Little Liars, and commit to sixteen books?

To help, I've narrowed the field down to my favorite YA series books--the must-read books out of all the YA series. Since there are plenty of YA series that I haven't read but that are popular, I'm also including a list of the series books I most want to read but haven't gotten to yet. In both categories, I'm skipping Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Divergent, and focusing instead on series that are popular, but maybe not as popular.

Must-Read YA Series

The Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano
The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa
Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart
Jasper Dent by Barry Lyga
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Series to Add to Your To-Read List

Graceling Realm by Kristin Cashore
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Defy by Sara B. Larson

  • Defy
  • Ignite (expected publication: 2015)

Legend by Marie Lu

Newsoul by Jodi Meadows

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Is there anything you would add to these lists? Anything you would take off the lists? Let us know if the comments!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fantasy Classics

This year's World Fantasy Convention (when the World Fantasy Awards will be presented) has the theme of "1914 - Three Centennials - 2014" - honoring British author Robert Aickman and sci-fi/horror illustrator Virgil Findlay, and commemorating the beginning of WWI. "1914 was a time of transition...We welcome you to join us in exploring the many facets, both light and dark, of these forces that shaped the future," their website explains. (You can read more about the theme there.)  Though the convention is not until November, their timeline of the centennial of the Great War begins August 5th, with Montenegro declaring war on Austria-Hungary. It also reminds us that "[w]hile J. R. R. Tolkien and Robert Graves survived, William Hope Hodgson and Saki were lost in the war.  In addition, Ambrose Bierce vanished into the Mexican Revolution that year."

With this theme in mind, we present to you a list of fantasy classics for your perusal, many recommended by staff!  We hope you will enjoy this list, and that it reminds you of fantasy fiction's long and varied history.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury  
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson
A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony [eBook]
The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle
Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard
The Dreamthief's Daughter: A Tale of the Albino by Michael Moorcock
The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

There are also many fantasy classics that fall under the classification of children's fiction, but are enjoyable for all ages:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin
Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame 

The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting [eBook]

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper 

Are there classics we've missed?  What would you add (or subtract) from this list? 


"Core Collection: Fantasy Classics" [Booklist]

"Carte Blanche: Appreciating Oz" [Booklist]


Monday, August 11, 2014

YA Horror

I keep thinking of something attributed to Alan Moore: most people think horror is a man cutting a tomato at the kitchen counter and then continuing on to slice off his fingers. But horror actually is a man cutting a tomato at the kitchen counter and then the tomato runs up his arm and bites off his ear.  
~Barry Lyga

Do all children who read Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark grow up to read Stephen King? Well, if you're not ready for your teen to advance to adult horror fiction just yet, but they love scary stories, here are some young adults titles to entertain them in the meantime. Or, if you're an adult who loves horror stories, consider trying out young adult versions to see if they're comparable! Several of these titles are recommendations from young adult horror authors Robin Wasserman, Brenna Yovanoff, Barry Lyga, and Daniel Kraus.*

Henry Franks by Peter Adam Salomon

Scowler by Daniel Kraus

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Stone Child by Dan Poblocki (J)

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Clay by David Almond

The Monstrumologist edited by Rick Yancey

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong


"Monsters, Murder, and Morality: A Graveside Chat about YA Horror Fiction"  (Booklist)*

"Horror in YA Lit Is a Staple, Not a Trend" (School Library Journal)

"12 Creepy YA Books That Should Be Made Into Horror Movies" (Epic Reads)