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Recommendations

Read this!

by: 
Aurora, Belmar Teen Contributor

Welcome, all you avid readers, all you book-lovers, all you bibliophiles! Okay, so all of these words mean pretty much the same thing, but you get the point. Now, it is suddenly a new year, and if you are like me, you probably have this perpetual problem of not having anything to read. Literally, ANYTHING, even when you are surrounded by shelves upon shelves of books! Okay, so I exaggerate. But, it can still be tough to find new, great books to read. So, out of all of the books that I've read in 2014, here are a few of my favorites, some new, some old.

1. First of all, there is Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Of course, most of you have probably read this already, for I seem to have been late to the bandwagon. It doesn't hurt that a movie adaptation just came out in 2013 (it wasn't a complete, total disaster, anyway), so it is still probably pretty fresh on everyone's radar. It's a great sci-fi book, always worth a re-read. (Also, if you feel like looking at it from a new perspective, go do some research on the Cold War. It is really interesting how the conflict between the Buggers and the humans might actually resemble what was actually happening between the Americans and Soviets at the time the book was being published.) But, as amazing as Ender's Game is, that is not the point of this particular recommendation. Several years after his initial publication in the Enderverse, Orson Scott Card came out with another, parallel series, which starts with Ender's Shadow. This is exactly his first story told from Bean's point of view. You do not need any prior knowledge to read Ender's Shadow and it is just as good, and arguably better than the original series. If you loved Ender's Game, or really just sci-fi, you have to read Ender's Shadow.

2. The next book is probably not very well known. I found Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira by accident. But, the premise sounded interesting: a girl is given an English assignment to write a letter to a dead person. So, the novel is told in these letters to Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin, and all of these other dead famous people while, really, Laurel is trying to cope with her own sister's death, which hadn't happened all that long ago. While this book is unlike anything that I've read before, if you liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky, this should be the next thing you read.

3. On a lighter, and fluffier, note, the trilogy that begins with Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins might have just been the most adorable thing I have read all year. Okay, so yes, it is definitely one of those sappy teen love stories. But the sap is minimal, the writing is good, and the characters are real. If you want a light read, basically comfort food, these are the books for you.

4. Now, on a much darker note, there is The Child Thief by Brom. Just Brom, only the one name. This is a darker retelling of Peter Pan, which essentially sprung from the idea that maybe the boys that Peter takes to Neverland don't want to stay forever. It is dark, and it is creepy and it has a few drawings, done by the author, which shows you what is happening in his own re-imagined Neverland. If you like retellings, especially ones that tend to take the stories to darker, more haunting places, or if you just want to see Peter Pan from a drastically different view, I would definitely try reading The Child Thief.

5. Now, I know that one of the most popular series that has been around in the last few years has been The City of Bones (well, it started out as a trilogy, then there were two trilogies in the same series, and a prequel series, and now there are more spinoffs being made, so...) universe. And one of the only (actually, the only) character to appear in all of the published books so far has been the mysterious High Warlock, Magnus Bane. Now, if you would like to know anything more about Magnus, like, perhaps, why he is not allowed in Peru, or what really happened to Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution, or even how characters like Raphael Santiago came to be, you might want to pick of The Bane Chronicles, an illustrious collection of short stories.

6. Okay, dragons. I can't not make a list of books that people should read without bringing up dragons at least once. Because, first of all, dragons are awesome. And, second, with Game of Thrones picking up speed, dragons are becoming more popular anyways. So, for a more unique take on dragons, try reading Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, where the dragons are cold, logical, mathematical beings who can fold themselves into human form, with a few issues with the humans themselves. Also, the sequel is set to come out in early 2015, so what better way to start off the New Year? DRAGONS.

7. Most of you have probably read The Book Thief. Most of you have probably also read Markus Zusak's other book, I Am the Messenger, which is also several different kinds of amazing. If you haven't read the latter, and are expecting it to be like The Book Thief, don't. Ed Kennedy is just a cab driver, until one day he begins receiving mysterious instructions in the mail. It sounds like a bit of a trope, but I promise, it's worth the read.

8. Another book that I found to be unique and interesting is Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Spoiler alert, the main character dies. Okay, that's not a spoiler; it's actually the premise of the book. The main character dies, and then relives her last die seven separate times. It definitely brings up a great question: if you knew it was your last day, what would you do?

9. Here is another supernatural book, where certain people get unique powers: The Diviners by Libba Bray. Also, the sequel comes out in April, so I am very excited for that. But this isn't really just another one of those supernatural books. This one is set in the 1920s, where Evie O'Neill is sent to live in New York City with her uncle, who happens to run a museum for the occult. So, maybe my summary makes it sound like a bit of a cliché. It's not! Also, it is totally the reason I have started to use the word 'copacetic' wherever possible.

10. This is the last book that I read in 2014, and without a doubt, it is also one of the best. I have read pretty much everything E. Lockhart has written in the past, and while I am not a huge fan of her Ruby Oliver series, I love her other standalones, especially The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (note to self, reread that in 2015) but We Were Liars is its own kind of special. It's about a family that spends their summers on a private island, with a core cast of characters, the Liars. I would love to tell you more about this book, but I don't think I will. To borrow the words from the inside jacket: "Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE." The advice is spot on.

So, while the list might not have ten books that you will like, I guarantee that there should be at least one book on the list that you will absolutely love. Here's to another year of reading!

 

If you are a book lover like Aurora, please send us a countdown of your favorite reads!

by: 
Cheyenne, Lakewood Teen Submission

I Am Malala is the inspiring story of Malala Yousafzai, the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban. Malala's story starts with her father's dream of starting a school, which shows that her passion for education is genetic. Malala also ventures in to talk about her life before the Taliban, which is shockingly challenging, much having to do with her father's school. She talks about the beginnings of the Taliban in Pakistan, and how even before she was shot, she had a powerful voice through her blog and copious speeches. She addresses the mistreatment of women as the Taliban's power grew. In the concluding chapters, she gives third person details of her shooting, mainly from her family's point of view. The book ends with her miraculous recovery and new life in Birmingham, England.

I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5. I highly recommend reading it  for book reports, however, it is a fun read all by itself.

by: 
Mykenna, Columbine Teen Submission

 Mykenna on her inspirtaion for her illustration...

"I wanted her to be a cute and spunky, shojo-styled girl.

If you love Mykenna's illustration you might check out the manga series, Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz. His name is Boris, and despite his human form and piercings and tattoos, he is not your typical punk teenager. For he is the Cheshire Cat, complete with cat ears and a tail, and a penchant for riddles. Boris is madly in love with Alice, and Alice is vulnerable and lonely. But will she fall for the Cheshire Cat? 

 

*story synopsis from goodreads.com