Book Spotlight: Radiant Darkness

Radiant Darkness
Radiant Darkness, by Emily Whitman.

Book review by Kathy, Librarian and Children's Services Coordinator for Sonoma County Library.

In Greek mythology, Persephone was the daughter of harvest goddess Demeter, and becomes Queen of the Underworld when she is kidnapped by Hades.  Her mother's grief over Persephone's abduction causes the world to fall into winter; when she comes back to the world above, spring and summer return. 

Radiant Darkness, by Emily Whitman, is a retelling of that traditional story.  In this version, Persephone is not a damsel in distress– she is a rebellious teen with an overprotective mother, who falls in love with a tall dark stranger and willingly goes with him to be his bride.  If you love classic mythology, and want it with a side order of romance, then you don't want to miss this new twist on an old story.

Celebrate Audio Book Appreciation Month!

August is Audio Book Appreciation Month!  Many librarians around the county enjoy listening to young adult audio books so we compiled a list of our favorites:

Ginny at Northwest recommends:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Read by Carolyn McCormick

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, Read by Carolyn McCormick

Tiffany at Rincon Valley & Sebastopol recommends:

The Declaration by Gemma Malley
Read by Charlotte Parry

If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Read by Kirsten Potter

Anne Marie at Rincon Valley recommends:

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli Read by John Ritter

Rachel at Healdsburg & Central recommends:

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, Read by Stephen Briggs

The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix, First book is the Series Sabriel, Read by Tim Curry

Cindy at Cloverdale recommends:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Read by Allan Corduner

Vote now for 2010 Teens’ Top Ten


      Catching Fire

Ballots are open for the 2010 Teens Top Ten. Voting is now open through Sept. 17, 2010. Click on the link and cast your vote for your favorite Young Adult Books today.!

Nominees were chosen by teens from fifteen teen book groups from across the U.S.  Winners will be announced at during Teen Read Week, Oct. 17-23.

These are just a few of this year's 23 nominees. Check out the full list at


ANIMOTO – A digital resource not to be missed!

Do you take loads of digital pictures or videos that just sit on your computer? Would you like to add some pizazz to your photo slideshows?  Do you want to create a presentation that will wow your teacher?  Now, you can upload your photos and videos to create unique and attention grabbing videos with No experience required! Animoto does all of the hard work for you.  Upload your media, add text, choose your background music, and submit.  In a matter of minutes, you will be amazed with the result.  The site is free for a short 30-second video or you can pay per video or for a yearly subscription, allowing for more creative options and longer videos.  Head over to and check it out!

Great Reads for High Schoolers-

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
When lovable and geeky Arnold "Junior" Spirit transfers from his troubled Spokane Indian Reservation school to Reardon High, he finds that he is the only Native American in an all-white school.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Isabel and her 5-year-old sister were wrongfully sold as slaves to an abusive Loyalist couple during the Revolutionary War. Isabel quickly learns to trust no one, as she spies for the rebels and plots her own escape.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
Raised as an experiment and considered property, young Octavian undergoes even greater changes with the arrival of America's own revolutionary war.

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
13 teens are each sent a box of audiotapes recorded by their classmate Hannah and mailed on the day she committed suicide. On the cassettes, Hannah says, "I'm about to tell you… why my life ended. And if you're listening to these tapes, you're one of the reasons why."

Shift by Jennifer Bradbury
Best friends Chris and Win have been planning their post-graduation cross country bicycle trek for years. But Win disappears somewhere in Montana, Chris is forced to return home alone. And Win's overprotective father– and the FBI!– are convinced that Chris knows something.

Graceling by Kristen Cashore
In a land of seven kingdoms, people with special talents are called Gracelings. Katsa's Grace, a talent for killing, forces her into the service of her corrupt uncle, who uses her to punish and torture his enemies. When Katsa meets a strange prince whose Grace matches her own, she realizes that her gift may not only be a curse. Book 1 of the Seven Kingdoms trilogy.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Clary Fray thought she was just another normal, if slightly geeky, kid. But normal kids don't witness invisible people committing murders with no trace, and normal kids' mothers aren't captured by horrible monsters. Now Clary has to embrace the bizarre world of the Shadowhunters in order to rescue her mother and understand her own family's secrets. Book 1 of the Mortal Instruments series.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
When rocker Nick O'Leary asks Norah, in a New York punk club, to be his girlfriend for five minutes, bedlam and romance begins.

Mexican Whiteboy by Matt De La Pena
Sixteen-year-old Danny feels like an outsider- both in school where he is seen as Mexican, and with his family where he is seen as white. Danny finds answers for himself while spending a summer with his cousin on the baseball fields and back alleys of San Diego.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Auden always did exactly what her parents expected. However, at the beginning of the summer before college, she makes the split-second decision to live with her father, now stepmother, and newborn sister– to the shocked dismay of her mother. She quickly falls into old habits of shutting others out and driving alone all night– but when she meets Eli, things start to change.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
In 1906, 16-year-old Mattie, determined to attend college and be a writer against the wishes of her father and fiance, takes a job at a summer inn and discovers the truth about the death of a guest.

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
It is a dangerous time in Norther Ireland when Fergus, while digging peat in the mountains, makes a shocking discovery: the body of a child.

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
In a future where humans despise clones, Matt enjoys special status as the young clone of El Patron, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire nestled between Mexico and the United States.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
In a coma after her family is killed in a car accident, Mia observes her friends' reactions, reflects on her past, and considers her possible future, as she struggles to decide whether to live or die.

Paper Towns by John Green
When Margo Roth Spiegelman, the unattainable girl of Quentin's dreams, clibs through his bedroom window dressed as a ninja, he agrees to help her with a campaign of revenge. The enigmatic Margo leads Quentin through a series of nighttime adventures… until she disappears.

Godless by Pete Hautman
Jason questions everything about his family's Catholicism, which leads him to invent his own God and, with the help of several friends, a religion too.

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks
Teen vampire Nina, along with the other members of her support group, are not the romantic superheroes of typical vampire stories. But when one of them is killed, Nina must lead her dysfunctional crew of bloodsuckers on a mission to halt vampire persecution!

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Paul's simple high school life is confused by his desire for another boy, who seems unattainable until Paul's friends help him find the courage to pursue him.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
When Matthew shuts his girlfriend Frankie out of the secret society that he and his friends belong to– because she is a girl– Frankie takes action. Little do the members of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hound know that Frankie is the mastermind behind their ingenious pranks!

Sold by Patricia McCormick
Tricked by her stepfather and sold into prostitution in India, 13-year-old Lakshmi lives in a nightmare. Her only comfort is the friendship she forms with the other girls, which helps her to survive– and eventually escape.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
In a dystopian society of men who hear each others' every thought, young Todd is surprised to hear "a hole in the Noise". This unfamiliar pocket of silence turns out to be a girl– Viola– whose existence proves that the whole society Todd knows is built on lies. Can Todd and Viola escape to freedom, and find the truth of his history? Book 1 in the Chaos Walking series.

Gentlemen by Michael Northrop
Mike, Tommy, Mixer, and Bones are known as troublemakers at their smalltown high school. When one of them goes missing, hes friends become suspicious of their teacher Mr. Haberman, who acts very suspiciously while teaching Crime and Punishment.

Numbers by Rachel Ward
Jem has a terrible gift– when she looks into someone's eyes, she sees the date of his or her death. She knows how much (or little) time they have left… her mother, her new friend Spider, and all the tourists standing in line for the London Eye Ferris wheel…

Impossible by Nancy Werlin
Magic, romance, and a family curse are combined in a contemporary fairy-tale based on the song "Scarborough Fair." When Lucy reads her crazy mother's diary, she learns that she, too, is destined for madness unless she performs the three impossible tasks in the song.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Death itself narrates the unforgettable story of Liesel, a foster child in Nazi Germany, whose book stealing and storytelling support the spirits of neighbors and the Jewish man hiding in her basement.

Kampung Boy by Lat
Though written as fiction, this graphic novel shares the author's experiences growing up on a rubber plantation in Malaysia in the '70s.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Combining three different stories, one drawn from Chinese mythology, this graphic novel explores racism and self hatred as a young boy struggles to come to terms with his heritage.

Med Head: My Knock-Down, Drag-Out, Drugged-Up Battle with my Brain by James Batterson and Hal Friedman
An account of Cory Friedman's thirteen-year nightmare with Tourette's syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Cory's life changed forever sometime before his fifth birthday. Now seventeen, he looks back and shares all the struggles he managed to survive.

The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper
A harrowing and personal memoir of growing up in Liberia during a bloody political coup. Helene's family escapes Liberia and moves to America, leaving Helene's sister behind. This coming-of-age story– with a near-death experience– brings Helene back to Africa in search of the family member she lost.

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos
A popular author chronicles his young adult life as a drug user, smuggler, and convicted feon, who eventually completes college and becomes a writer.

New Nonfiction!

Sew Teen by Sheila Zent

Eat Fresh Food by Rozanne Gold

The Teen Vogue Handbook:  An insider's Guide to Careers in Fashion by Amy Astley

Quick Cash for Teens By Peter Bielagus

Show Off by Sarah Hines-Stephens

Escape- Teens on the Run by Linda Jacobs Altman

  Think Again by JonArno Lawson

Good Behavior by Nathan L. Henry

  Short:  Walking Tall when You're Not Tall at All by John Schwartz

Top Reasons to Celebrate August!

There are many reasons to celebrate the dog days of August (the start of school?!?) but if you don't have a good reason, check out what others are celebrating this month!

Audio Book Appreciation Month
If you never tried listening to an audio book this is the month to start!  There are some excellent teen audio books out there.  Stay tuned for a list of our favorites!  You can even check out Sonoma County Library's downloaded audio books!

Happiness Happens Month
This is the 11th annual celebration of Happiness Happens Month.  This celebration is sponsored by the Secret Society of Happy People.  The point of this celebration?  To encourage people to express happiness. 

MTV Premiere Anniversary
In 1981 MTV went on the air.  In 1985 VH1 started. 

National Inventors' Month
To educate the public about the importance of inventions.