Valentine's Reading 

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us! You are either looking forward to this day filled with candy, flowers, and cards from your loved one(s); or, it will be just another regular weekday for you. Either way, Valentine’s Day is a great excuse for checking out a fun, older teen novel from one of the two lists below! You can read about fictional characters whose love will inspire you, or you can rejoice in the fact that your love life is not as complicated as the one you are reading about! Happy Valentine’s Day, and if you don’t have a special Valentine this year, don’t despair! We think you are pretty special and we would love for you to be our Valentine!

Teen novels for when you are in love and excited for Valentine’s Day

Teen novels to read when you think love stinks

-Aimee Swift, Youth Services, Southwest Branch

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Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014! 

A friend recently asked me what my favorite books from 2013 were. After drawing a blank and staring at her stupidly, I blurted out a couple of titles so I wouldn’t seem like a total idiot. Since then, I have had time to better reflect upon my answer to that question, so here are my 3 favorite teen novels from 2013:

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson is about a boy named Joel who wants to be a Rithmatist so he can help defend humanity against the threat of the Wild Chalklings (trust me, they turn out to be much more ominous than they sound). Joel lives at the Rithmatist academy because his mother works there, and his father used to be the chalkmaker for the academy. Even though Joel has studied all the circles and marks that the Rithmatists make, he has been told that he himself cannot join the students to learn the craft. But then students start disappearing, and Joel, along with a girl named Melody, must help the professor who is assigned to investigate the disappearances to figure out what happened to them.

In the Shadows of Blackbirds by Cat Winters takes place during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Mary Shelley Black is sixteen and staying with her aunt in San Diego. Many people have died from the flu, which leads many of their loved ones to attend séances and seek out “spirit photographers” to try to make contact with their dead one last time. Mary herself doesn’t believe in ghosts, until the death and return of the boy she loves makes her reconsider that position.

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner takes place in a very bleak alternate reality, and it is about Standish Treadwell, who sees things a little differently from most people. One day, his friend Hector sees something that the Motherland has been keeping secret and then disappears soon afterwards, leading Hector on a quest to save his only friend.

I am also very excited about some books that are coming out in 2014: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor, which is the 3rd in the Daughter of Smoke and Bones series, due out in April; The Unbound by Victoria Schwab, the second in The Archived series (the first of which made me realize something I had never thought about before: I would not want to be a librarian of dead people - not FOR dead people, OF dead people), due out the end of January; and Raging Star by Moira Young, the third in the Dust Lands Trilogy, due out in May.

Happy 2014 reading!

-Emily Mauldin, Youth Services, Main Branch

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Dragons and Unicorns, Oh My! 

The Last Dragon

A long, long, time ago humans thought they had driven all the dragons from the Isles of May but unbeknownst to anyone a single dragon egg had survived, held safe within the root structure of an ancient tree. When the tree falls and the egg is released, a very hungry dragon hatches into the world. Soon the town healer’s life is taken by the dragon, and it is up to his daughter and an unlikely hero to save the other villagers from the dragon’s wrath. The illustrations in The Last Dragon are vibrant and gorgeous and Jane Yolen’s writing flows beautifully alongside them. Highly recommended for those who like mythical creatures and magic, which means that you might also like The Last Unicorn.

Being a child of the '80s, I have watched the film based on the book by Peter S. Beagle many, many times. I was excited to find that the library carries the graphic novel adaptation of the book. The text is whimsical and poetic and well suited for the stunning artwork by Renae De Liz. An excerpt from the beginning:

“The Unicorn lived in a lilac wood and she lived all alone. She was very old though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam, but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night.”

The unicorn embarks on a quest to find others of her kind, and along the way she encounters other magical creatures and befriends a young magician who will help lead her to the castle of an evil king who keeps a terrible secret. The Last Unicorn is a great story for any age, if you’ve read the book or the graphic novel or seen the movie feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.  Look for it and The Last Dragon at your local library branch.

-Claire, Youth Services, Jeffersontown Branch

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Fall for New Spins on Classic Fairytales  

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis is a wonderful mash-up of every fairy tale you’ve probably ever heard. Sunday Woodcutter is the seventh daughter of a seventh son, and magic seems to follow her around wherever she goes in the land of Arilland. One day she meets an enchanted frog named Grumble who is fascinated by Sunday’s stories of her family. Their friendship blossoms into a love complicated by the rivalry between their families. Two meddling fairy godmothers further thwart the lives of the young couple as they strive to figure out who they are and how they can be together. Kontis weaves together classic fairy tales such as The Frog Prince, Cinderella, and Jack and the Bean Stalk to create a world rich with magic and adventure. This delightfully spun modern fairy tale will keep you turning pages until the end. To find out if Sunday and her frog live happily ever after, you’ll have to check out Enchanted.

The Louisville Free Public Library has many other modern teen fairy tales to “enchant” you. Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross will take you into the world of Grimm’s fairy tales as sixteen year old Mira tries to uncover her fate. Ash by Malinda Lo is a retelling of Cinderella where fairies are real and often dangerous. In Mette Harrison’s The Princess and the Bear, a hound who was once a princess and a bear who was once a king must travel through time to regain their human selves. Curl up with one of these great reads to discover a whole new world of fairy tale adventures.

-Lynn Johnson, Childrens and Youth Services, Westport Branch

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Stunning Manga: Saturn Apartments 

I was drawn to this slice-of-life science fiction manga as soon as I saw the beautiful cover art by author/illustrator Hisae Iwaoka. The series is a glimpse into the daily life of Mitsu and the other inhabitants of the Ring System, a man made structure that floats above the long abandoned Earth. The ring itself is divided into three levels, which indicate social status. Mitsu resides in the overcrowded lower level, inhabited mainly by laborers. At the beginning of the series, Mitsu has finished his schooling and begins work as a window washer donning a space suit to clean the outside of the Ring. It is a dangerous job and claimed the life of Mitsu’s well-loved father, Aki, five years prior (though Iwaoka drops clues that lead readers to question the details surrounding Aki’s death).

The first few chapters in the series introduce us to the people Mitsu encounters in his work. Window washing is expensive so Mitsu often finds himself working in the upper levels, interacting with the quirky inhabitants. Most in the ring don’t get to wander beyond their own level, so Mitsu has a unique look at life throughout the ring. Often his viewpoint is from outside the ring as he cleans windows, looking into apartments as if they’re dioramas.

Most science fiction series lean toward action, so I enjoy that Iwaoka allows us to explore the Saturn Apartments and meet its characters, without a sense of impending doom. I adore Iwaoka’s exterior landscapes outside the ring as well as the wide views of the interior levels. The contrast between the crowded lower level and the sparseness of the exterior ring make me feel both claustrophobic and weightless; a sensation I imagine one would encounter living in space. As the series progresses, Iwaoka hints at some exciting narrative possibilities and questions about what is left of planet Earth. Perhaps we’ll soon get to visit our old home world and see what the future holds for humanity. In the meantime, I have enjoyed learning about day to day life in the Ring.

This series is not just for hardcore manga fans. If anything, it may be more appealing to those who enjoy indie comics and offers an easy introduction into reading Japanese style comics.

To find a copy near you: Click here

-Ruth Houston, Teen Services, Teen Underground, Main Library

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