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Slam Poetry Competition 2015

Slam Poetry Competition; March 6th, 2015 at 7 PM

slam poetry


On March 6th, 300 people will fill the Library’s Main Reading Room, ready to be entertained and inspired by the slam poetry performances of 12 talented high school students*.

slam poetry


Writer, performer, and emcee extraordinaire, Chinaka Hodge, is returning to host the Competition. Three judges will score poets from high schools throughout Marin County as they perform their original uplifting, moving, and inspiring work. The three poets with the highest scores will compete in the championship round, dazzling the judges and the audience.

Registration is strongly recommended. Click here to register. 


Reception at 6:30pm for pre-registered guests. For adults and high school students only. 


Watch the video of the 2014 Slam Poetry Competition here.

See pictures from the 2014 Slam Poetry Competition here.

*Information for poets performing in the Competition can be found here.

How the Slam Works:

13 high school students will be performing their original works. Each poet will perform in the first round. After each poet performs, the judges will give him/her a score.

Poems can be up to three minutes long using: no props, no costumes, no musical accompaniment. At 3:10:01 poets start losing .5 of a point for every 10 seconds they go over after 3:10.

The three poets with the highest scores will move on to the championship round. The poet who receives the highest score in the championship round will be crowned the winner.

Poems can be on any subject. Note cards WILL NOT be allowed so poets must memorize their work.


First Prize: iPad Mini

Second Prize (First Runner-up): Sol Food Gift Certificate

Third Prize (Second Runner-up): Equator Coffee Gift Certificate

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Throw Back Thursday: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grace Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Published April, 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

549 pages

Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf? This is what Ismae asks herself when she signs on to be an assassin nun at the tender age of fourteen. Yes, assassin nun. After escaping what was surely in ill-fated arranged marriage, Ismae finds her place in a convent that worships the gods of old, specifically Mortain–the patron saint of death. She is trained in the arts of seduction and violence before being dispatched on a highly important mission into the heart of the palace. Once she arrives, she must discover for herself where she will follow Mortain’s will and where her own heart will lead her.index-1

Enter a cast of characters and scenery that vividly paints fifteenth century Brittany in brilliant color. As Ismae finds her place at court, she is assigned to the mysterious Gavriel Duval and taken into the lives of the royal family: the treacherous mistress of the late duke, the sickly youngest princess, and the fiery duchess, who is fighting for her own rule at the tender age of twelve.

Information morphs and spreads quickly in a court of politicians and spies, and Ismae must hit the ground running and determine who is her friend and who is her enemy. While this is certainly not the best book ever written, Ismae’s character holds true to itself as she navigates a fairly complicated story line, and the writing doesn’t distract from the plot. The romance develops slowly–so much so as to make it a subplot at best. While I expected this to be frustrated, it actually proved to be a satisfying departure from the traditional YA novel. Yes, part of this book is a love story, but it is mostly about death, loyatly, lies, and subterfuge.

I would recommend this book to fans of the Graceling trilogy or anyone who desires a strong female character that can hold her own among a bunch of men.

Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Keywords: assassins, duchesses, courtship, poison, intrigue

Best Quote: “There is no shame in scars.”


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New Books: February

Law of Loving Others by Kate Axelrod

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

“Kate Axelrod’s atmospheric, intense book captures perfectly the heady feeling of being on the edge of adulthood, when the abstract concept of ‘love’ starts to have real and sometimes terrifying meaning and consequences.” – Emily Gould, author of “Friendship”


Hours after Emma returns home from boarding school, she realizes that her mom is suffering from a schizophrenic break. Suddenly, Emma’s entire childhood and identity is called into question.


Desperate for answers, Emma turns to her boyfriend, Daniel. Will he love her even if she goes crazy too? But it’s the lonely, brooding boy Emma meets while visiting her mother at the hospital who really understands Emma. Phil encourages Emma’s reckless need for hurt and pain in the face of all this change and she is soon caught in a complicated spiral of loss and mistrust.


In the span of just one winter break, Emma’s relationships alter forever and she is forced to see the wisdom in a line from “Anna Karenina” “The law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable.”


Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School by Benjamin Franklin

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

There was a bawdy, scurrilous dimension to Benjamin Franklin’s character that was all too eager to ignite the flames of controversy and keep them burning. Fart Proudly is a testament to the satirical rogue that lived peaceably inside the philosopher and statesman. Included in the book are such classics as The Letter to a Royal Academy (which inspired the title), The Speech of Miss Polly Baker, On Choosing a Mistress, Rules on Making Oneself Disagreeable, and many other witty and humorous pieces.


X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Cowritten by Malcolm X’s daughter, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world.

Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s a pack of lies–after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion–and that he can’t run forever.

“X “follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.


How to Be Alone by Sara Maitland

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:


Our fast-paced society does not approve of solitude; being alone is antisocial and some even find it sinister. Why is this so when autonomy, personal freedom, and individualism are more highly prized than ever before? In “How to Be Alone,” Sara Maitland answers this question by exploring changing attitudes throughout history. Offering experiments and strategies for overturning our fear of solitude, she helps us practice it without anxiety and encourages us to see the benefits of spending time by ourselves. By indulging in the experience of being alone, we can be inspired to find our own rewards and ultimately lead more enriched, fuller lives.


Love, Lucy by April Lindner

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food…and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her “vacation flirtation.” But just because summer is over doesn’t mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.


We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story by Josh Sundquist

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

“When I was twenty-five years old, it came to my attention that I had never had a girlfriend. At the time, I was actually under the impression that I was in a relationship, so this bit of news came as something of a shock.”

Why was Josh still single? To find out, he tracked down each of the girls he had tried to date since middle school and asked them straight up: What went wrong?

The results of Josh’s semiscientific investigation are in your hands. From a disastrous Putt-Putt date involving a backward prosthetic foot, to his introduction to CFD (Close Fast Dancing), and a misguided “grand gesture” at a Miss America pageant, this story is about looking for love-or at least a girlfriend-in all the wrong places.

Poignant, relatable, and totally hilarious, this memoir is for anyone who has ever wondered, “Is there something wrong with me?”

(Spoiler Alert: the answer is no.)


Heads Up Psychology by Marcus Weeks

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Making a difficult topic easier to comprehend, “Heads Up Psychology” offers big ideas, simply explained, for teen readers.

Psychology is all around us — in the advertising we see, the politics we debate, and in the development of products we use every day. Using engaging graphics, “Heads Up Psychology” explores the big ideas from all areas of psychology including psychoanalysis, intelligence, and mental disorders.

With easy-to-understand coverage of all the approaches to psychology, and the ideas of more than 60 psychologists, from Asch to Milgram and Ramachandran to Zimbardo, this introduction to an often complicated subject is written with young-adult readers in mind, and is structured around the questions they often ask, like “How do I fit in?,” “Who needs parents, anyway?,” and “Why do I feel so angry all the time?”

In “Heads Up Psychology,” psychological theories are explained with the help of cleverly conceived graphic illustrations and diagrams to show how they relate to everyday life. Biography spreads give interesting insights into the lives and work of Freud, Pavlov, and more, while other psychologists and their big ideas are profiled in a comprehensive directory, and case study panels describe groundbreaking experiments in the field.


Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more–and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down–in this wry, gritty novel from the author of “When I Was the Greatest.”

Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died–although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness–and who can maybe even help take it away.


Saturday Night Dirt by Will Weaver

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

It’s a sizzling summer Saturday, and Headwaters Speedway is suddenly the place to be. Thanks to rainouts across the state, this small-town dirt track is drawing big-time stock cars and local drivers. First up: Trace Bonham in his Street Stock Chevy that’s sure to be a winner, if only he can figure out why it’s acting up. Next is Beau Kim: his Modified is patched together from whatever parts he could scrape up. And on the outside, moving in fast: Amber Jenkins, a strawberry blonde who has what it takes to run rings around them all. Keeping everyone on track is Melody Walters: she knows that the impending rain might be exactly what they need to keep her father’s speedway afloat–or sink it for good. “Saturday Night Dirt” is a 2009 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.


Selection Stories: The Prince & the Guard by Kiera Cass

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Two novellas set in the world of Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series are now available in print for the first time. The Prince and The Guard both offer captivating views into the hearts and minds of the two men fighting to win America Singer’s love. This collection also features exclusive bonus content, including a sneak peek at The One, the eagerly anticipated third novel in the Selection series.

Before America arrived at the palace to compete in the Selection, there was another girl in Prince Maxon’s life. The Prince opens the week before the Selection begins and follows Maxon through the first day of the competition.

Raised as a Six, Aspen Leger never dreamed that he would find himself living in the palace as a member of the royal guard. In The Guard, readers get an inside look at Aspen’s life within the palace walls–and the truth about a guard’s world that America will never know.

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Exclusive Interview with Mallory Ortberg

We are incredibly lucky to have Mallory Ortberg, co-founder of  The Toast, and author of Texts From Jane Eyre speaking at our First Thursday event. You can check out her very serious, scholarly articles like Gleeful Mobs Of Women Murdering Men In Western Art History, How To Tell If You Are In A High Fantasy Novel, and Literary Quotes That Double As Excellent Mantras During A Final Set (Or: Things I Have Whispered Quietly To Myself At The Gym) at the Toast. She was kind enough to sit down with us for an interview.

1. What was your favorite book as a teenager? Are there any books you think all young adults should read?

“The Inimitable Jeeves,” P.G. Wodehouse. I’m so glad I read Wodehouse as a teenager because there was always plenty of fiction encouraging me to Take My Feelings Seriously, but not nearly enough encouraging me to take the world lightly, and I’m grateful for that.

2. What were you like in high school?MalloryOrtberg

AVERAGE. I put forth effort toward things I was naturally good at and avoided things that didn’t come easily to me. I wore a lot of chunky Mary Jane platforms and did a lot of theater. I kissed roughly six people, but I hadn’t kissed anyone at all until the last month of my junior year, so I felt like I had some catching up to do. I played competent tennis. I ran a very slow mile. I took a C in swimming because I was unable to dive. I went to the California State Summer School for the Arts in northern LA county and had the best summer of my life.

3. What is the best thing about (co) running your own website?

Working with Nicole Cliffe, who is my sun, moon and stars.

4. Any advice for aspiring young writers?

Write a great deal, and try to get paid for it. Write more about things that genuinely interest you rather than try to sound like an interesting person.

5. What are you most looking forward to in 2015 (other than coming to the Mill Valley Library, duh)?

The Turner Classic Film festival in LA! I go every year.

6. What do you want to talk about at the MVPL First Thursday event?

I am up for talking about all kinds of things! Being an English major and living a mildly successful life! The Western canon! How to get a book published! Starting your own business! The Brontes!

**For high school students only. Registration required. Register here.

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Loneliness FAQ by Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes

Loneliness FAQ*

By Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes


Q: What is loneliness?

A: A state of being, commonly one of the symptoms of mild depression, involving a failure to close the distance between the people around you. This can be expressed as both physical and emotional: your gut often tells you to hold someone’s hand, whereas your mind scolds you for giving it the least of a try.

Q: Who gets lonely?

A: More people than you think: maybe the prep school girl who keeps twisting her hair at church. When everyone’s still in prayer, she glances in your direction, wondering if she should glance a little while longer. It could be the dude in the basketball shorts who comes to English class for lunch. You’re there too, striking up a conversation until he says he has to go to the library. You stay. Even your science teacher: never a word about his family, not a baby picture, not a Christmas card. He’s at his desk from 6:00 to 6:00, closer to his papers than say, an actual breathing set of eyes.

Q: Am I at risk for loneliness?

A: Yes. An abundance of time spent lacking the company of others is true to loneliness: logging in a journal, star-gazing, shuffling through the four contacts on your phone, going down lists of to do’s three months after you said you’d do them, resorting to text marathons with your mother, refusing to answer the phone.

Q: Can loneliness be controlled?

A: Primarily, no. It’s not the people that forget about you, so much as the people you (frequently more than sometimes) force yourself to forget. Environmental factors: the means you were raised, the school you go to, were never meant to beat you into the android that you’ve become. However, as self-esteem directly affects your willingness to become the Charlie Chaplain like bum everyone avoids, it’s up to you to say you want in on the one-man club.

Q: Is there an absolute cure for loneliness?

A: Subjecting yourself to prolonged sessions with strangers. Say, placing yourself into an unnatural conversation: having a go at discovering common interests. And above all, making people like you.

Q: Was that last answer truthful?

A: Of course not. It’s essentially known that adolescents like you have difficulty accepting their disease, disorder, disability…whatever. Everyone you care about (the few people there are left) lie to you. Rejecting their intuition says that they hope you won’t die an old maid. Ninety-five years, you’re still attached to the tennis balls on your walker, in a cabin by the sea. The others you used to love probably would be too dead cold to visit you, while in their will, they give you a minor mention. Some inheritance, some money, some land, but that really doesn’t compare to the last words they let loose on their deathbed. They whisper, your elbow crunching the hospital mattress. They say: You’re not lonely. You’re not depressed. You’re just a writer.

 *Editor’s note: inspired by Aubrey Hirsch’s piece, “Multiple Sclerosis FAQ

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Creative Writing Workshops; Wednesday nights from 7-8:30 PM

creativewritinginstagramForget essays and homework; discover what it means to let creativity run wild and write for pleasure at these weekly creative writing workshops. We will read and discuss poetry, fiction, non-fiction, slam poetry, and any other type of writing that strikes our fancy. These workshops offer the opportunity to explore your writing skills in a relaxed, informal environment. Creative Writing Workshops aren’t about getting a good grade or writing a critical analysis, they are about trying new things and creating something exciting to put on a blank page.

313393_283129255049078_100000560186552_1070834_1377457794_nIf you don’t feel like writing, that’s fine too, you are always welcome to just hang out, eat candy, and listen to what others have to say. 

Student writing can be found here.

Like our Facebook page here.

Creative Writing links of interest can be found here.

Contact Katie (workshop facilitator and Young Adult Librarian) here. 

Workshops are open to high school students only

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Personalized Reading Lists (PeRLs)

Not sure what to read next?

Why waste your time reading book description after book description when you could have a librarian (me!) create a personalized reading list for you, based on your preferences? Just contact me and we will set up an interview, either in person or through email. Open to high school students. 

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Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Published September, 2014 by Simon Pulse

599 pages

Darcy Patel wants nothing more than to be a real-life novelist, so she couldn’t be happier when Paradox Publishers picks up her two-book series. She convinces her parents to let her defer college and moves to New York to pursue her career. Lizzie lives inside Darcy’s first novel Afterworlds. After surviving a terrorist attack and escaping certain death, she finds she has a newfound power to travel into the realm of the dead, where she meets ghosts and gods alike. These two story lines parallel each other throughout the novel as we learn more and more about writing, editing, and life indexas young people find their way. There is also a serious creep factor when Darcy writes about how some of her ghost characters died.

I had mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it had a strong plot and many funny lines in both halves of the story–Lizzie’s and Darcy’s. On the other hand, I often run into problems with Westerfeld’s female characters. Just as in his other series, Uglies, I found both Lizzie and Darcy could be rather annoying at times. They are both insecure and spend a decent amount of time ignoring their loved ones and making rash decisions that are clearly bad for them. Darcy grows up a lot in the first few hundred pages, but Lizzie remains frustrating for most of the story.

For readers who are interested in the publishing world, interesting ideas about ghosts and the afterlife, and two love stories, and a long ride, this book is the way to go. For readers who don’t want to spend 600 pages on a story with characters you won’t always love, I would recommend something shorter.

Genre: Realistic/Supernatural Fiction

Keywords: Ghost, Publishing, Love, Writing, Stories, Afterlife

Best Quote: “Hiding from the truth was worse than being lied to.”


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New Books for January!

Night Sky by Suzanne Brockmann

Published 2014 by Sourcebooks Fire

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann and her daughter Melanie Brockmann have written a pulse-pounding novel of paranormal suspense set in a near future both fantastic and frightening. “Original and exciting, NIGHT SKY propels readers into a dangerous future. Loved it.” –Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of Made For You and the Wicked Lovely series

Skylar Reid is shaken when Sasha, the little girl she babysits, is kidnapped. Scared that the weird dreams she’s been having about Sasha are real-and even more afraid that Sasha is already dead. When a mysterious girl with extreme butt-kicking abilities roars into town on a motorcycle and, well, stalks Skylar things get even weirder. Supergirl Dana tells Sky that she also has abilities that a hormone in their blood makes them stronger, faster, smarter. A hormone that the makers of a new drug called Destiny will murder to get their hands on.

Dana and Milo, her dangerously hot yet oh-so-forbidden partner in crime, want Sky to join them in their mission to mold Sky into the ultimate weapon. She can sense there’s something about her abilities they’re not telling her. But the only way to save Sasha and stop other girls from being taken is to embrace the weird…and fight Destiny.
Learn to Program with Scratch: A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math
by Majed Marji
Published 2014 by No Starch Press Paperback, English.

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Scratch is a fun, free, beginner-friendly programming environment where you connect blocks of code to build programs. While most famously used to introduce kids to programming, Scratch can make computer science approachable for people of any age. Rather than type countless lines of code in a cryptic programming language, why not use colorful command blocks and cartoon sprites to create powerful scripts? In “Learn to Program with Scratch,” author Majed Marji uses Scratch to explain the concepts essential to solving real-world programming problems. The labeled, color-coded blocks plainly show each logical step in a given script, and with a single click, you can even test any part of your script to check your logic. You’ll learn how to: Harness the power of repeat loops and recursion. Use if/else statements and logical operators to make decisions Store data in variables and lists to use later in your program. Read, store, and manipulate user input Implement key computer science algorithms like a linear search and bubble sort. Hands-on projects will challenge you to create an Ohm’s law simulator, draw intricate patterns, program sprites to mimic line-following robots, create arcade-style games, and more! Each chapter is packed with detailed explanations, annotated illustrations, guided examples, lots of color, and plenty of exercises to help the lessons stick. “Learn to Program with Scratch” is the perfect place to start your computer science journey, painlessly.
King Dork Approximately
by Frank Portman
Published 2014 by Delacorte Press Hardcover, English.

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

From Frank Portman comes the long-awaited sequel to the beloved cult classic “King Dork,” of which John Green, author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” said, “Basically, if you are a human being with even a vague grasp of the English language, “King Dork” will rock your world.”

Aside from the stitches and the head wound, Tom Henderson is the same old King Dork. He’s still trying to work out who to blame for the new scar on his forehead, the memory loss, and his father’s mysterious death. But illicit female hospital visitations, “The Catcher in the Rye,” and the Hillmont High sex-pocalypse have made him a new man.

What doesn’t make you stronger can kill you, though, and tenth grade, act two, promises to be a killer. Tom’s down one bloodstained army coat, one Little Big Tom, and two secret semi-imaginary girlfriends. Now his most deeply held beliefs about alphabetical-order friendship, recycling, school spirit, girls, rock and roll, the stitching on jeans, the Catcher Code, and the structure of the universe are about to explode in his face. If only a female robot’s notes could solve the world’s problems, he’d have a chance. But how likely is that?

“King Dork Approximately”–it feels like the first time. Like the very first time.

Beau, Lee, the Bomb, & Me
by Mary McKinley
Published 2014 by Kensington Publishing Corporation Paperback, English.

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:When Beau transferred to our school. I thought: “Good; fresh meat.” Because I knew he would be tormented the entire time he was at Baboon High. Like I am. All day. . .every day.

Growing up is a trip. . .

In high school, there are few worse crimes than being smart or fat. Lucky me, I’m both. But when Beau Gales blows in to town, it takes about two minutes for the jackasses at our Seattle school to figure out he’s gay, and that makes him an even bigger target. Have you ever heard the saying: ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’? There’s something to that.

When the bullying gets violent and Beau decides to run away to San Francisco to ask his Uncle Frankie for advice, we all go. Beau, me, Leonie (designated class slut), and a scruffy rescue dog called The Bomb–a tribe of misfits crammed into my mom’s minivan. Throw in a detour to the Twilight town of Forks, armed robbery, cool record shops, confessions, breakups and makeups, and you have the kind of journey that can change the way you look at the whole world–and yourself.
Richmond Independent Press: A History of the Underground Zine Scene
by Dale M Brumfield
Published 2013 by History Press (SC) Paperback, English.

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

During the political and cultural upheaval of the 1960s, even the sleepy southern town of Richmond was not immune to the emergence of radical counterculturalism. A change in the traditional ideas of objective journalism spurred an underground movement in the press. “The” “Sunflower,” Richmond’s first underground newspaper, appeared in 1967 and set the stage for a host of alternative Richmond media lasting into the 1990s and beyond. Publications such as the” Richmond Chronicle,” the “Richmond Mercury” and the “Commonwealth Times,” as well as those covering the African American community, such as “Afro,” have served the citizens of Richmond searching for a change in the status quo. Join author and former “ThroTTle” editor Dale Brumfield as he explores a forgotten history of a cultural revolution in the River City.
Pig Park
by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez
Published 2014 by Cinco Puntos Press Hardcover, English.

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

It’s crazy! Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga’s neighborhood is becoming more and more of a ghost town since the lard company moved away. Her school closed down. Her family’s bakery and the other surviving businesses may soon follow. As a last resort, the neighborhood grown-ups enlist all the remaining able-bodied boys and girls to haul bricks to help build a giant pyramid in the park in hopes of luring visitors. Maybe their neighbors will come back too. But something’s not right about the entrepreneur behind it all. Then there’s the new boy who came to help, the one with the softest of lips.
Diamond Boy
by Michael Williams
Published 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Hardcover, English.

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

“My father says that a journey should always change your life in some way. Well, when you have nothing, I suppose a journey promises everything.”

“Diamonds for everyone.” That’s what fifteen-year-old Patson Moyo hears when his family arrives in the Marange diamond fields. Soon Patson is working in the mines along with four friends, pooling their profits for a chance at a better life. Each of them hopes to find a girazi, a priceless stone that could change their circumstances forever. But when the government’s soldiers come to Marange, Patson’s world is shattered.

Set against the backdrop of Zimbabwe’s brutal recent history, Diamond Boy is the story of a young man who succumbs to greed but finds his way out through a transformative journey to South Africa in search of his missing sister, in search of freedom, and in search of himself.

A high-stakes, harrowing adventure in the blood-diamond fields of southern Africa, from the critically acclaimed author of “Now Is the Time for Running.”
by Jen Alexander
Published 2014 by Harlequin Teen Hardcover, English.

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Sometimes, I dream that I’m someone else.

A girl with dark hair who doesn’t worry about hunger or thirst or running from flesh-eaters.

In her world, those sorts of things don’t exist….

Since the spring of 2036, when the world changed forever, Claudia and a small clan of survivors have roamed the streets of a very altered Nashville–polluted and desolate, except for the ever-present threat of cannibals. Together they must undergo punishing tests of endurance and psychological challenge–sometimes with devastating consequences–all just to live another day.

With food and water in dwindling supply, and with danger lurking around every corner, no one can be trusted. And as her world starts to make less and less sense, Claudia begins to realize something terrifying: she is just a pawn in some sort of game, and all of her actions are being controlled from afar by a mysterious gamer. So when she meets a maddening and fascinating outsider named Declan, who claims to be a game moderator, she must decide whether to join him in exchange for protection and access to the border.

If they play the game right, they are each other’s best hope for survival–and a life beyond the only world Claudia’s ever known: the terrifying live-action game known as The Aftermath.
Blackfin Sky
by Kat Ellis
Published 2014 by Running Press Kids Paperback, English.

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

YALSA 2015 Popular Paperbacks Nominee for “Mysteries: Murder, Mayhem, and Other Adventures.”

Just like any other morning, Skylar Rousseau is late for school, but when she is greeted by a blanket of silent stares upon entering Blackfin High, she discovers that the whole town thought she fell from the pier and drowned on her sixteenth birthday three months earlier. However, Sky remembers the last three months living her life as normal, and since she is a full, living breathing human being, she has no idea whose body is buried underneath her tombstone. Everyone seems reluctant to help except her steadfast friend and crush, Sean . . . and a secretive man who draws her to a mysterious circus in the woods.

Sky must wade through impossibilities and lies to discover the truth about what happened to her, which proves to be a bit difficult when someone is following her every move with the intent to harm her. And Sky’s only hope of finding the answers she seeks may have already been turned to ashes.

No Name
by Tim Tingle
Published 2014 by 7th Generation Paperback, English.

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Inspired by the traditional Choctaw story “No Name,” this modern adaptation features a present-day Choctaw teenager surviving tough family times–his mother left home and he is living with a mean-spirited, abusive father. The one place the teen can find peace is on the neighborhood basketball court. But after a violent confrontation with his father, the teen runs away, only to return home to find an unexpected hiding spot in his own backyard. His hiding spot becomes his home for weeks until the help and encouragement from a basketball coach, a Cherokee buddy and a quiet new next-door girlfriend help him face his father.


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The Good Sister by Jamie Kain

Published October, 2014 by St. Martin’s Griffin

304 pages

In hippie Marin County, three sisters are living with secrets. Or not living, as the case may be. When the oldest sister Sarah dies unexpectedly, the rest of the family is left to pick up the pieces. Asha is the youngest one, the wild child, who is left reeling after Sarah’s death. She becomes increasingly close to her best friend, Sin, and has an eye on his brother. She sleeps in the park because she keeps fighting with her mother. She wants to know what really happened on the day of Sarah’s death but doesn’t know who to ask. Rachel was with Sarah when she died, and she doesn’tindex-2 want to talk about it. She has never liked either of her sisters, or her divorced parents. Sarah, meanwhile, has awoken in another place and has to come to terms with what has happened to her and what she has done.

This book was pleasantly surprising in many ways. I expected each of the sisters to be two dimensional and formulaic, but instead they were all written as complex individuals. As each third of the story is woven together, and more information comes to light, the puzzle pieces start to fit together. The reader discovers what happened on the day Sarah died, and who was responsible for which parts of the events that transpired.

That being said, I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likable. Rachel spends too much time complaining and too much energy being spiteful. Asha runs from her problems and ignores evidence that is right in front of her nose. While both girls are true to their complex character identities, they are also kind of awful people and they are downright vicious towards each other.

This book is short–very sad–and with a lot of deep thoughts about family, responsibility, and love. While I had some problems with the characters’ actions, I also enjoyed parts of it. For a better version, I would go for the Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, but if you’ve read that already, this isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Keywords: sisters, hippies, death, choices, guilt, family

Best Quote: “Funny how it works out though that when you expect nothing from a person, they might just give you everything you didn’t know you wanted.”

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