Monday, September 28, 2015

Zero Day

Zero Day
Jan Gangsei
Disney-Hyperion (January 12, 2016)
368 pages.

Description (provided by publisher)

Eight years ago, Addie Webster was the victim of the most notorious kidnapping of the decade. Addie vanished-and her high-profile parents were forced to move on.

Mark Webster is now president of the United States, fighting to keep the oval office after a tumultuous first term. Then the unthinkable happens: the president's daughter resurfaces. Addie is brought back into her family's fold, but who is this sixteen-year-old girl with a quiet, burning intelligence now living in the White House? There are those in the president's political circle who find her timely return suspicious.

When a national security advisor approaches Darrow Fergusson, Addie's childhood best friend and the son of the president's chief of staff, he doesn't know what to think. How could the girl he's missed for all these years be a threat to national security? Still, at the risk of having his own secrets exposed, Darrow agrees to spy on Addie.

He soon realizes that his old friend is much more than the traumatized victim of a sick political fringe group. Addie has come home with a mission...but will she choose to complete it?

My Thoughts:
I am a big fan of television shows like 24 and Homeland where I suspend all belief, fasten my seat belt and hang on for the ride. I read the description of Zero Day on Net Galley and was intrigued so I requested an e-galley copy. Just before I received the copy I read a Kirkus review of this novel. Kirkus called it a "thriller that didn't thrill and suggested that you "skip it."  Because of this I almost passed on Zero Day but I'm glad I ignored the review. I found Zero Day fast-paced and thrilling enough to recommend to my 14- and 15-year-old teens who are tired of dystopian novels but still want excitement and suspenseful reads. I think this will appeal to those teens who enjoyed Ally Carter's All Fall Down and Maggie Hall's The Conspiracy of Us.

My only complaint was with the development of some of the minor characters, especially Addie's sister Elinor. I don't know if Zero Day is part of a series, but if so maybe we'll learn more about these characters in a later novel. If Addie's adventure continues in another novel, I plan on taking that ride too.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Getting Ready for Middle School Book Talks

Next month the teen services librarian and I will be going to one of the local middle schools to meet their eighth grade students, promote our upcoming programs, and do some book talks. I chose the following books:

The Crossover
Kwame Alexander

Even though The Crossover got great reviews I resisted reading this book because I don't usually enjoy books written in verse. But once I started this book I couldn't put it down. The poetry didn't impede my enjoyment of the story; instead it enhanced it. The quick changes in font size, sentence length, and sentence structure gave the story its energy. Middle schooler Josh, nicknamed Filthy McNasty by his dad, believes that this is the year he and his twin brother JB will lead their basketball team to victory. What he doesn't expect is that JB will start spending more time with his new girlfriend than with Josh and that their dad may be hiding some serious medical issues. Young teens will be able to relate to the range of emotions that Josh expresses in this book.

I think The Crossover will appeal to younger teens who like sports stories but teens that like reading about family and friendships will also enjoy this book. This would be a great book to recommend to reluctant readers.

All Fall Down
Ally Carter

This book is a more traditional choice for a book talk. At our library teens, especially girls, love Carter's Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series. All Fall Down is the first book in her new Embassy Row series. This book offers readers suspense, action, and a hint of romance.

Three years ago sixteen-year-old Grace Blakely's mother was killed in a fire. Everyone believes that Grace's mom's death was accidental- everyone but Grace. She is convinced that her mom was murdered and she's been suffering severe panic attacks ever since. Grace's dad is in the military and being deployed overseas so Grace is sent to Embassy Row in Adria to live with her grandfather, a powerful U.S. ambassador. While in Adria, Grace spots the man she thinks killed her mom. This first book in the series introduces readers to the other teens on Embassy Row. Like many other teen novels there's the mean girl/rival, potential love interests, and other assorted friends. We learn a little bit about them in All Fall Down and we will probably learn more of their backstories in later installments of this series. Grace is a damaged and reckless heroine. As the story unfolds you root for Grace to not only uncover the truth about her mom but also to keep herself safe and sane while doing so.

Noelle Stevenson

I wanted to include a graphic novel and I chose Nimona before I even finished reading it. I still haven't finished it but I love the interplay between the shapeshifting wannebe sidekick Nimona and the evil supervillian Lord Blackheart. A graphic novel may not be a choice that will thrill the eighth grade teachers but last week's announcement that Nimona made the long list for the National Book Awards Young People's Literature category validated my decision to include this title.

Now that I've picked the books, I have to work on my book talks. Choosing the best words to sell the books doesn't come easily to me so I'm sure I'll be revising my talks right up until the day of the presentation.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Here I Go

The view from my front porch

Last month I graduated from library school. Here's a brief recap of how I spent the last few weeks: sorted through piles of stuff on my desk (found my missing passport), cleaned the rest of the house (found a warren of dust bunnies under my bed), and updated my resume (found that I'm not very impressive on paper).

Now I'm ready to catch up on my reading. This blog will serve as my reading journal. I find that if I write a review or an annotation I tend to retain more than if I just read a book and then move on to the next one.

Why is my blog called Reading YA by the River? Well, there are a lot of YA novels I need to read for work. I work in the teen department of a medium-sized public library, not as a librarian (yet) but as a paraprofessional who spends a good portion of work hours doing readers' advisory for teens and tweens. I enjoy this part of my job because I LIKE reading YA novels. Sorry Ruth Graham, no matter what you say I don't feel embarassed to admit it.

Why reading by the river? The front of my house faces the Ohio River. When I sit on my front porch, I can look out and see Kentucky on the other side of the river.

Mysteries are my novels of choice. I also like some literary fiction and the ocassional chick lit novel. I enjoy reading and collecting cookbooks. I have a pretty impressive collection of cookbooks and sometimes I even try out some of the recipes. Other nonfiction that I read include travelogues and gardening books.

I also read books that were chosen for my neighborhood book club. I used to belong to the "Adults Who Read YA Books" book club at the library, but it disbanded last year. Ruth Graham, does this make you happy?

Well enough writing. I need to start reading. Here I go....