Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Book Review: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Hey everyone! Katie C. here with one another book review! This week, I'll be talking about Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

When Dean raced out the door to catch the school bus, he didn’t realize it would be the last time he’d ever see his mom. After a freak hailstorm sends the bus crashing into a superstore, Dean and a group of students of all ages are left to fend for themselves. 

They soon realize the hailstorm and the crash are the least of their worries. After seeing a series of environmental and chemical disasters ravage the outside world, they realize they’re trapped inside the store. 
Unable to communicate with the ones they love, the group attempts to cobble together a new existence. As they struggle to survive, Dean and the others must decide which risk is greater: leaving… or staying. 

This book is hands down my favorite apocalypse/dystopian story! Monument 14 takes an interesting idea, great characters, high stakes, a thrilling setting, and mashes it all together into one perfect book!

One thing that this book accomplishes better than a lot of other dystopian books I've read is the realism embedded in the conflict. Monument 14 takes place only a few years in the future, instead of hundreds or thousands, and it starts out while the world is still seemingly normal instead of right in the middle of when everything goes wrong. As a reader, this made the book so much more interesting because I could witness, along with the protagonist, Dean, everything go wrong as the story progressed.

In addition to above, another thing that really made this book stand out was the actions and decisions of all the characters stuck inside the superstore. Despite everyone being in the same situation, everyone's motivations and ideas on what to do next were different and sometimes even clashed. There were kids who wanted to take advantage of the situation and do whatever they desired, and kids who wanted to venture out of the super store to escape the town and get help, and kids who were too young to understand anything that was going on, and kids who were much older trying to unite everyone on the same path. These seemingly random people coming together under one extreme situation turned into a lot of tension and problems beyond whats going on outside that made this book impossible to put down!

Overall, I'd recommend Monument 14 to anyone who loves a good dystopian novel, but also to fans of Michael Grant and Suzanne Collins. I will say that this book has parts that get really dark and really graphic, so if you're not a fan of those types of stories, I'd pick up something else. But other than that, Monument 14 is one of the best books I've been introduced to while attending TBF and I highly, highly recommend you give it a read!

Until next time, happy reading! This is Katie C., signing off!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Book Review: Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Hello everyone, for this book review I read Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson. Many of you might know her widely acclaimed novel Speak, and this memoir/book of poems is its companion, recounting stories of her upbringing and past, as well as important topics such as sexual abuse and rape culture.

Shout explores a difficult and possibly uncomfortable topic, but it’s an important one. Stigma still surrounds rape and sexual abuse victims today, and normalizing the discussion of these topics in a serious and respectful manner is a step toward progress and a more open minded society. And this memoir does just that. I admire the author so much for sharing her story, and I appreciate how different and eye-opening this novel is- there is no glorified, rosy depiction of growing up, but a powerful story of struggle, pain, and resilience. While these experiences are not universal, this memoir really imparts that for some people, these tragedies, struggles, and trauma that we often only read or hear about is their reality. And this book is for those people especially- the author writes “for the kids the world doesn’t want to see," creating a story and a sense of solidarity with those who need it the most.

It was also fascinating reading the events of the author's childhood and teenage years- she didn’t grow up too far from where I live, and the 1970s doesn’t seem like that long ago, but society then seems so different, at least in my perspective. It’s pretty interesting since we recently studied the 1970s in U.S. History, and many of the events- the Watergate scandal, the Three Mile Island accident, etc.- are referenced. Experiences from her adulthood are also described, and it really imparts how many years it has been and how far society, education, and attitudes have progressed, but also how so much still needs to be done.

Shout expresses an important message- of solidarity, surviving, and advocating for oneself- that is especially relevant today, and is an emotionally moving and powerful memoir that everyone would benefit from reading. Anderson's first novel, Speak, has reached and helped countless readers throughout the years and I have no doubt that Shout will do the same.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Book Review: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

Hi everyone! I hope everyone's school year is starting to wind down a bit! For today I want to review for you a series that I have loved ever since I first picked it up off the shelf.

The Unwanteds (Unwanteds, #1)
When Alex finds out he is Unwanted, he expects to die. That is the way of the people of Quill. Each year, all the thirteen-year-olds are labeled as Wanted, Necessary, or Unwanted. Wanteds get more schooling and train to join the Quillitary. Necessaries keep the farms running. Unwanteds are set for elimination. 
It’s hard for Alex to leave behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted, but he makes peace with his fate—until he discovers that instead of a “death farm,” what awaits him is a magical place called Artimé. There, Alex and his fellow Unwanteds are encouraged to cultivate their creative abilities and use them magically. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it’s a wondrous transformation.
But it’s a rare, unique occurrence for twins to be divided between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron's bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artim
é that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate magical battle.

From the very start I really enjoyed everything about these books. There are seven books total in the series but we can just focus on the first for now. In the world of Quill creativity is treated as a crime above all else, and our heroes Alex, Lani, Samheed, and Meghan, are a few of many who are sentenced to death from too many creative infractions. Alex was caught drawing pictures in the mud, Samheed was reported for being dramatic and boastful, and Meghan was singing and dancing at the same time. For these things the leaders of Quill felt it was only right to get rid of them for the strength of their people. When the soon to be friends roll into the "death farm" they are greeted by none other than a flying tortoise and a man who tells them they're saved.

It's so brilliant to enter into the magical world of Artimé along with these creativity starved kids. Lisa McMann does a great job transferring us from the stark grey Quill to the dazzling magical world of Artimé and it's flamoyant cheerful leader Mr. Today. Many of us know the love of creativity and the arts. Lisa McMann takes it a step further and introduces that creativity to new magic and a world and characters that feel real and alive. It's so easy to relate to our heroes, as they find themselves in this new environment and find each other, and learn to fight for what they care about.

I'd suggest The Unwanteds to anyone who's a fan of magic, dystopian societies, and adventure.

That's all for now! Happy Reading!


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Book Review: Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet

Hey everyone! June (and therefore summer), is just around the corner so this week I'm writing about a book I first read last summer and absolutely adored. With the business of school, exams, and extracurriculars I haven't had that much time to read lately so I picked up Meet Cute again, and read all the short stories again here and there, whenever I had time, and they are still just so good! Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet is an anthology by several well-loved young adult authors, including some TBF alumni! Here's a summary:

Readers will experience Nina LaCour's beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard's glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon's imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno's story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick's charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There's futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katherine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants  

This anthology warms my heart and both times I've read it, it just brought the biggest smile to my face. But most of these stories weren't just cliche little snippets, but instead were based on diverse and real main characters who you want to root for throughout their tale. From several characters of color to a surprising amount of LGBTQ+ love stories, (with many of these stories being #ownvoices!) this anthology was refreshing and it just so nice to read about real people.

But the main reason I have gone back and reread so many of these stories is the memorable and sweet stories themselves. This anthology is full of incredible writing and characters, and many of the concepts of the stories themselves are so good I would read a whole book based on them. I think just about anyone could find at least one story in this anthology they'd love, even if one or two aren't your cup of tea.

Here are my favorites:

  • Print Shop by Nina Lacour (so adorable and so so funny, I've loved everything I've ever read by Nina Lacour)
  • Somewhere That's Green by Meredith Russo (while the love story was very sweet, this story was also just so beautiful and so important, I 100% recommend) 
  • Oomph by Emery Lord (this is probably the cutest story I have ever read, Emery Lord nailed the characters and writes incredible dialogue, I probably have reread this one the most)
  • The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love by Jocelyn Davies (I may not be the biggest math person but the main character using STATISTICS was so good and cute, I don't think a smile left my face in this one)
  • The Department of Dead Love by Nicola Yoon (this concept and the worldbuilding in this story was Fantastic and I would've read a whole book in this world, plus I love Nicola Yoon's characters so that's a plus)

All in all, if you're like me and have been up to your ears in studying and work, or if you could want a story to match the sunshine as we come to summer, I would recommend Meet Cute to just about anyone. See you all next month!


Meet Cute features stories by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Dhonielle Clayton, Katie Cotugno, Jocelyn Davies, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Nina Lacour, Emery Lord, Katherine McGee, Kass Morgan, Julie Murphy, Meredith Russo, Sara Shepard, Nicola Yoon, and Ibi Zoboi.
Find it here:

Friday, May 17, 2019

Friday Fun Post: Books I Want to See on Screen

Hello everyone! In recent years, many well-deserving YA and middle-grade novels have been transformed for the screen, and so many more are in the works (e.g. Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone/Six of Crows series!) And while I sometimes do prefer just having a book and my imagination, I can’t deny that I’m curious to see some screen adaptations too. Here are three novels I would love to see on screen:

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart: First of all, I’m surprised this book hasn't been made into a movie yet considering how well-known (and well-loved) it is. This story is so timeless and unique, and while the world and circumstances are full of whimsical and enigmatic elements, the characters themselves are down-to-earth and their experiences and feelings are easy to connect with. I love this book because the plot and the writing are so clever, heartwarming, and full of adventure while still having suspense and menacing plot twists. And looking back now, a lot about the story seems to have a deeper meaning- the Emergency, the Whisperer, etc.- it truly is a novel for all ages. The style of The Mysterious Benedict Society is so different and unusual from other middle-grade novels I’ve read, and it would definitely have a lot of potential as a movie.

Find The Mysterious Benedict Society in the Monroe County Library SystemBarnes & Noble, and Amazon.

The Lunar Chronicles (Book 1: Cinder) by Marissa Meyer: This is another series that I loved when I was younger that I still enjoy now. I love mashups of genres- in this case, fantasy and science fiction- and the fact that it's also a series of fairy tale retellings makes it so much more interesting and unique. I would love to see the portrayal of the characters, the technology, and the futuristic world, and it would be refreshing to see a sci-fi novel that isn’t necessarily dystopian on screen. I think these books could be adapted into either a movie series or a TV show series, but I’m leaning toward a TV show because there is a lot of material to cover, especially with all four books (and a prequel) and the many, many characters.

Find Cinder in the Monroe County Library System, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen: I normally don't gravitate toward realistic fiction, but I really love this book. What strikes me the most about this story are the characters- all of them are so different and well-developed with their quirks and hobbies, and I just love the dynamic of the novel- the combination of the characters, their interactions, the setting, and the events depicts life in such a realistic and relatable way. I’m usually drawn to complex, immersive novels, which for me usually ends up being fantasy or science fiction, but The Truth About Forever truly portrays the complexities and chaos of everyday life. It’s a fun, heartwarming, and moving story with a simple underlying message of knowing when to move on, and it’s definitely a book would translate well on screen. I could definitely see this as a late summer movie.

Find The Truth About Forever in the Monroe County Library SystemBarnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Hopefully these novels will be adapted for the screen one day, but in any case, you should read the book first :) See you next time!  


Friday, May 10, 2019

Friday Fun Post: A Tribute to Stephanie

It's hard to pick a memory of Stephanie to share with you all. There's so many moments, from big events to little things that made an impact on my life. Stephanie was someone who I looked up to. She was a woman driven, inspired by, and in love with what she did and the people she got to work with every day. Stephanie was someone who would still remember me and greet me by name every time we met, even though I wasn't a regular in the Fairport library so we didn't talk that much.

Even though I wasn't the closest to Stephanie I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with her on multiple occasions. Back senior year when working on my capstone project I got to work with her and interview her, as well as that being the year that I first started blogging. Fast forward to last year. I was working on a documentary project for a class and naturally Stephanie was my first choice. So mid week during a blustery fall afternoon I made my way down to the Fairport library, camera gear in hand, and shot myself a documentary. Hearing Stephanie talk about her part in both TBF and just being a teen librarian was so uplifting. She told me, as I set up camera equipment in the most confused and amateur way possible, that she really was surprised and flattered that I thought she was worthy of being the subject of a short film. She never knew what an inspiration she was to all of us. 

TBF has been such a huge influence in my life, ever since back seven years ago when I first signed up to volunteer. When I first met Stephanie it was in that room, surrounded by other volunteers, as she announced that we had met the fundraising goal and had dyed her hair pink as she had promised. Stephanie was the hard working, beating heart of TBF, she was always upping the fundraising stakes on us, always passing on ARCs, and always meaning so much more for me than she will ever know.

Thanks for listening,
See you all next time!


Friday, May 3, 2019

A Tribute to Stephanie

It has been a little over a year since the incredible Stephanie Squicciarini passed away. After we lost her, I lived in a state of disbelief and confusion at how any of us would go on without her. The founder of TBF, the hero who fought for libraries and teens all over Monroe County, and our very own Fairport Teen Librarian. I cried,  I read through every email she'd ever sent me, and remembered every memory she had helped me to make. I hold each memory I have with her so tightly in my heart, and carry them with me everywhere I go, hoping to make her proud each day. Here are some of my favorites:

Growing up in Fairport, I have been involved in library programs since I was a little kid in Library Club, which is where I first met Stephanie. She would pop into my elementary school, and later my middle school every once in a while. Nevertheless, I didn't truly know her yet as the children's librarians ran our club. But as we all grew up she and the incredible Carly Dennis founded the Teen Fairport Advisory Board, or as we all nicknamed it, FAB and then I finally truly met her.

We'd meet once every month and a half or so, usually on days off from school in the early afternoon. Here I made friends and found out about incredible books through the countless ARCs Stephanie would receive and share with us all, encouraging us to take "at least one more!" as she'd rather one of us have and maybe love them, rather than have them piled up in a dark back room. One of those books she pushed my way was Kids of Appetite by David Arnold, which I ended up loving. Inside was an old style library due date card, with a cute funny little summary on it that Stephanie had written. That card hangs above my bookcase to this day.

At the founding of the club, we had two packages of Oreos and every meeting more seem to appear. Stephanie would always call it our buffet. I remember one summer I showed up and saw the new Fourth of July special 'Firework Oreos'. My friend and I laughed and cheersed them and wondered where the pop rocks were until our mouths started to pop (and didn't stop for the whole rest of the meeting). I remember Stephanie trying one and saying, "these ones aren't as good as the others," as she proceeded to eat a second. Maybe just to make us smile, like she always did.

When I was in eighth grade, Stephanie was the one who suggested me to the team as a blogger and made sure I got involved with TBF, as she knew I'd love it. The fall of 2017, I wrote a blog post about wanting to read American Panda by Gloria Chao, and the week after at a FAB meeting Stephanie pulled me aside and excitedly said she'd read my post and loved it. She then pulled an advanced copy of it from behind her back and insisted I take it and write a review of it. Last TBF, our first without Stephanie, I volunteered with Gloria Chao and knew she would have been so happy and excited to see me there.

A week after she passed away, our head blogger and I were talking on the phone and told me Stephanie always said she was so proud of what I had become, and couldn't wait to see me succeed in my future endeavors. And to this day, I think of her and hope I am making her proud, with everything I do, and with every book I read.

Until next month,