Teen Book Review: My Brother Sam Is Dead

My Brother Sam is Dead  by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Reviewed by Fallon D., Northwest Library

Sam Meeker is just 16-years-old when the Revolutionary War breaks out.  He leaves his college life at Yale to become a rebel soldier against his family's wish.  The rest of the Meeker family lives in Redding, a Tory town where they run a tavern.  Tim, at just a few years younger than Sam, tells the story of his and his family's struggles with the effects of the war and his undecided opinions on the war.

This book was really interesting. I have read a couple books on the Revolutionary War, but this one really illustrated that the Revolutionary War, just like any war, is not just two sided; the good guys and the bad guys.  Naturally, because we are Americans, we think that the rebels had a just cause and did good things.  But both sides stole from honest people, and all sorts of horrible things like tarring and feathering people. 

I think everyone should read this book because it shows how war is more than what we think it is. 

VOTE NOW – NPR’s Poll of the Best YA Fiction!

NPR (national public radio) has polled their audience for a list of the top YA fiction — from the suggestions of readers and listeners across the country, they compiled a list of a hundred titles or so — and now it's our turn to vote!!


Each person can vote for up to ten of the books, and then the ranked list of the best YA fiction (as voted by us!) will be released in a few weeks.

I voted — man it was hard to decide between some of these beloved titles!  Some of my favorite-ever books I chose not​ to vote for, because I don't consider them YA books.  And, where the heck was Ender's Game on this list?!?!  Yeah, yeah, I read their explanation of titles they chose not to include, but … Ender's Game!!

Take a look at the list, make your selections, and let us know what you think.

Teens’ Top Ten 2012

Vote for YOUR favorite book!!!

YALSA (young adult library services association) compiles a list of the best books of the previous year.  Thousands of teens across America vote for their favorite book on the list during the months of August and September.  The winners are announced during Teen Read Week in October.  Start reading today so you can have your say in August!

All Good Children by Catherine Austen (Not owned by SCL, keeping check, it will be ordered soon!)
Max, his sister Ally and their mother return home to Middleton to find Ally's classmates acting strange.  It is the future, and the government has created a "vaccine" to make kids easier to teach -they are les rowdy, less likely to question, and willing to obey any direction.  Max's family has a choice:  to be "vaccinated", to flee their home, or stay and fight.

Ashes by IIsa Bick
Alex, Tom, and Ellie join forces after an electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky.  The pulse kills most of the world's population and destroys all computer devices, but it also turns some who remain into zombies or gives them superhuman senses.

Abandon by Meg Cabot
Pierce has experienced death before and barely escaped.  When she moves from her old town to a town called Isla Huesos- Island of Bones – for a new start, she realizes that death wants her back.  Can she escape death once again?

Tempest by Julie Cross
Jackson is a typical college kid until the day his girlfriend, Holly, is shot.  Jackson decides he must use his one incredible gift, the ability to time travel.  He goes back in time two years, trying to discover a way to alter the future so that Holly lives.  The future is full of uncertainty and the past is full of betrayal-is there anyone Jackson can trust?

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Ever since Mclean's parents divorced, she has lived in four towns in two years – each time taking on a new persona.  Mclean expects to leave Lakeview in six months, but soon finds she doesn't want to -she just wants to be herself.

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
In the future, experimental genetics ensures that males only live to 25 and females to 20.  When 16-year-old Rhine is kidnapped and sold into marriage, she is determined not to left her walls down for anyone so she can escape and go home to her brother.  But when she meets her sister wives and Gabriel, a handsome servant, she finds it harder than ever as she tries to plan her escape under the watchful eye of her sinister father-in-law.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman
This sequel to Gayle Forman's If I Stay is narrated by Adam, Mia's ex-boyfriend.  Shortly after the devastating accident that killed Mia's family, the talented cellist moves to new York, where an accidental meeting brings them back together.

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Will Scarlett is one of the Merry Men, Robin Hood's legendary band of thieves, but what few people know is that Will Scarlett is actually…a girl!  Disguised as a boy to escape from her past, Scarlett robs from the rich and gives to the poor.  When an old enemy of Scarlett's appears, she must choose:  Keep her identity hidden?  Or keep the people of Nottingham safe?

Eona:  The Last Dragoneye by Alison Goodman
As the battle for ultimate control of her home draws near, Eona finds herself waging an internal battle that might cause more damage than the war threatening to break out across the kingdom.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Hazel and Augustus meet and forge a relationship at a support group for kids battling cancer.  As Hazel and Augustus struggle with the "side-effects of dying," they come to learn the strength of wishes, the complexities of long human lives, and the wondrous ways of the universe.

Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge
When Paige Turner and her family move to Brooklyn from rural Virginia, she tries to make sense of her new life through her sketchbook, which exposes her true personality and helps her find herself.

Legend by Marie Lu
June, a fifteen-year-old military prodigy, is hunting Day, the outlaw she believes is responsible for her brother's death.  What will happen when the two meet and discover the government is corrupt?

Hourglass by Myra McEntire
Emerson Cole sees dead people – ghosts from the past blending in with her surroundings.  When a new consultant from a secretive organization shows up at her door to try to cure, her, everything changes.  But diving into the world of the mysterious Hourglass Society proves to be dangerous as the past merges with the present.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
A futuristic retelling of the classic Cinderella, Cinder, a cyborg and talented mechanic, lives with her cruel stepmother and two stepsisters in the plague-ridden New Beijing.  Soon after meeting Prince Kai, Cinder must find the truths of her past, which may help to save the future.

Shine by Lauren Myracle
When her best friend falls victim to a horrible hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover the culprits in her backwoods town in North Carolina.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Conor suddenly wakes up just past midnight to find a monster outside his window.  This monster wants something from Conor that he is reluctant to give:  the truth.

This Dark Endeavor:  The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein  by Kenneth Oppel
In this prequel to Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein is on a dark quest to save his twin's life.  With help from his best friend Henry and his lovely cousin Elizabeth, the three go on a quest to concoct the mythical Elixir of Life.  How far is he willing to go to save his twin?

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Cryogenically frozen centuries ago, Amy and her parents are on their way to a new planet aboard the spaceship, Godspeed.  Unplugged from her cryo chamber, Amy discovers she has been awoken 50 years early, in a failed murder attempt.  With Elder, the future leader of the ship, by her side they are on an adventure filled with murder, lies, dreams, and stars.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
When Jacob was little, his grandfather would tell him stories of the fantastical children's home where he grew up and the seemingly magical kids who lived there with him.  When his grandfather is killed, Jacob sets out to find the home where these children lived, unearthing a magical secret and uncovering his true heritage.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Abnegation (selfless), Erudite (intelligence), Candor (honesty), Amity (peace), or Dauntless (brave); where would you fit?  Beatrice lives in a society where she must choose either to remain with her family's faction or set off towards independence and her beliefs.  And what happens when the unity between these factions begins to fall apart?

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
In 1941, Lina, her mother, and younger brother are taken from their home in Lithuania and sent to Siberia.  The only thing that keeps her going is her secretly-created art and the hope that one day she'll be reunited with her father.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Every November, the beaches of Thisby come alive with the Scorpio Races.  The water horses are vicious, the terrain is treacherous, and death is likely, but the reward can be beyond anything you could imagine.  Puck Connolly is racing for her family, Sean Kendrick for his passion – but only one can win The Scorpio Races.

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
A year after Jill's father dies, her mother decides to adopt a baby.  Mandy's been living in different places, but now that she's pregnant, she wants to make sure her baby has the love and support she never did.  A story of two girls dealing with grief, new life, and everything in between when their paths cross.

All these Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
In 2083, water is rationed, paper is rare, and coffee and chocolate are illegal.  Anya Balanchine balances a mobster family, ailing grandmother, and forbidden love – until it all comes crashing down. 
Teen Review of this book can be found here:  http://sonomalibrary.org/blogs/ya/2011/11/29/teen-book-review-all-these-things-ive-done/

Chaos Walking movie announced!

Did you love the Chaos Walking trilogy as much as I did?  It's just been announced that they are making it into a movie, hoping to find "the next Hunger Games!"


Hunger WHAT?  Chaos Walking needs no comparison– just read book one "The Knife of Never Letting Go" and see for yourself!  Click below to find a copy or place a hold–>

The Knife of Never Letting Go


Alex Awards!

Every year YALSA publishes a list of books that were marketed to adults but have teen appeal.  So, if you want to wander into the adult world of reading here are a few titles start with.

Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin
With a singing voice that can shake an auditorium, Judy should be the star of Darcy Academy, the local performing arts high school. So why is a girl this promising hiding out in a seedy motel room on the edge of town? A scathingly funny and moving book about dreams and reality, at once light on its feet and profound.

In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard
Along with her best friend, the fourteen-year-old narrator navigates a 1970s American girlhood, including challenges from popular girls and the first hints of womanhood.

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
A modern love story told through a series of dictionary-style entries is a sequence of intimate windows into the large and small events that shape the course of a romantic relationship.

The New Kids:  Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens by Brooke Hauser
Freelance writer Hauser tracks the staff and students at the International High School at Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, N.Y., providing their personal histories as well as their day-to-day experiences.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Ready Player One takes place in the not-so-distant future–the world has turned into a very bleak place, but luckily there is OASIS, a virtual reality world that is a vast online utopia. People can plug into OASIS to play, go to school, earn money, and even meet other people (or at least they can meet their avatars), and for protagonist Wade Watts it certainly beats passing the time in his grim, poverty-stricken real life. Along with millions of other world-wide citizens, Wade dreams of finding three keys left behind by James Halliday, the now-deceased creator of OASIS and the richest man to have ever lived. The keys are rumored to be hidden inside OASIS, and whoever finds them will inherit Halliday's fortune. But Halliday has not made it easy. And there are real dangers in this virtual world. Stuffed to the gills with action, puzzles, nerdy romance, and 80s nostalgia, this high energy cyber-quest will make geeks everywhere feel like they were separated at birth from author Ernest Cline."–Chris Schluep, Amazon Best Book of the Month

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
Two decades into the future humans are battling for their very survival when a powerful AI computer goes rogue, and all the machines on earth rebel against their human controllers.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Enduring a hardscrabble existence as the children of alcoholic and absent parents, four siblings from a coastal Mississippi town prepare their meager stores for the arrival of Hurricane Katrina while struggling with such challenges as a teen pregnancy and a dying litter of prize pups.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt:  A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston
For her graduation from high school in 1920, Frankie Pratt receives a scrapbook and her father's old Corona typewriter. Despite Frankie's dreams of becoming a writer, she must forgo a college scholarship to help her widowed mother. But when a mysterious Captain James sweeps her off her feet, her mother finds a way to protect Frankie from the less-than-noble intentions of her unsuitable beau. Through a kaleidoscopic array of vintage postcards, letters, magazine ads, ticket stubs, catalog pages, fabric swatches, candy wrappers, fashion spreads, menus, and more, we meet and follow Frankie on her journey in search of success and love.

The Talk-Funny Girl by Roland Merullo
Raised by parents so intentionally isolated that they speak their own hybrid dialect, abused youth Marjorie witnesses her parents' submission to a sadistic cult leader before she is rescued by another abuse survivor who teaches her stoneworking skills.

Book Spotlight: Ship Breaker

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Review by Phil, Librarian, Cloverdale Branch

Bright Sands Beach is a bleak place, and Nailer's ship breaking crew is barely able to eke a living salvaging materials from the long-abandoned hulks of oil tankers.  Faced with a shortage of food, rival crews, and the "city killer" mega hurricanes, survival is a daily task.  The only hope that ship breakers have is to hit a lucky strike – a hidden cache of rare materials – and buy their way out.  When a city killer hits Bright Sands and washes ashore the wreck of a wealthy clipper, Nailer thinks he's finally hit his lucky strike, and found his way out.  Much to his surprise he finds a lone survivor- a beautiful and wealthy girl – and their encounter ushers in a world of danger, adventure, and ultimately, hope.

Why I picked it up:  An adventure tale set in the post-carbon world by a multiple award winning author – I had to check it out!

Why I finished it:  It was hard to put down from the onset.  I really enjoyed the characters, and the world that Bacigalupi created is rich and intriguing.  Plus, there are some real curveballs in there that make you keep reading.

I'd recommend it to:  Anyone wanting a strong adventure tale, and anyone who likes to let their imagination run wild.

Time to Battle it out again!

If you recall, last year we posted about the Battle of the Kids' Books, hosted for the past few years by School Library Journal. This is a bracket-style showdown between some of the best books for kids & teens, with each matchup "judged" by a well-known author. And it's that time of year again!

This year's Battle of the Books began last Tuesday March 13, with an epic showdown every day– judged by a wonderful group of authors of teen and tween books (Sara Zarr! Gayle Forman! Jeff Kinney!).  There are three more matchups left in Round One, and then we move on to the re-matches in Round Two.

One thing that I keep thinking about as I follow this contest – how on earth do you choose between two such excellent books that are so different?  It is interesting to see how each judge considers the choices thoughtfully, in order to make the decision.  Click here to read the thoughtful reviews – and to see which books will be moving on to the next round!