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For the LOVE of Books...

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

Okay so there are some books you AVOID reading with all you might BECAUSE you know you are going to love them and not be able to put them down and not being able to do anything until you've read every single offering the author has ever written. Right? Right, you know what I mean. Harry Potter is like that for me. YES! I confess I know it's sacrilege but I have never actually read Harry Potter precisely BECAUSE I know I would love it and have to read it along with all of Rowling's books and that would be like, 2 months of my life gone, POOF! just like that! I'm not saying that I wouldn't enjoy it... I just happen to have responsibilities, you know, a life, a cat, a job...

So Alex suggested and was surprised that I had never read a Tamora Pierce book.... and thought I would love them. I had the sneaking suspicion she was right. BUT, precisely because of that I've been avoiding them. She has like, what... 30 or MORE books out, right? Can you even do the math on the reading of that (in months)!!!

However, last week I happened upon a collection of SHORT stories by Tamora Pierce "Tortall and other lands: a collection of tales". I thought, "it's SHORT what can it hurt - I can just read one... maybe I'll like it, maybe I won't." Last night before going to sleep I started a paragraph of Student of Ostriches the first short story in the collection just to check it out and... I couldn't put it down! What an exciting, engrossing read! So... uh, I guess I'm in trouble now...

And then this morning* I came to the Library and, low and behold Alex had written a blog about Tamora Pierce! How weird (synchronistic) is that! See Alex's blog here. And check out what Tamora Pierce has in the works for us here. All the way to 2015!

*this blog was originally written on November 15th 2011.

So my New Year's resolution? To read at least one book I've been avoiding reading for a long time :0) - the rest of Tortall was just as good ;0)P


I'll be home for Christmas...

by Alexandra - 1 Comment(s)

Everyone has a list of Christmas Classics that they work their way through every year. I only have three that I haven't yet watched in 2011 (both "Grinches" and "Home Alone")... but it's only Christmas Eve! I like to keep the magic going and watch a bunch of movies well into Boxing Day as well. "Love, Actually" and "The Holiday" are two that I've already seen six times this year, but that's 'cause they're good year-round, and I'm a perennial Christmas-in-July-er.

But when I was looking at my list, I realized that there's a pretty huge gap in the genre, and that movies geared towards teens just aren't factoring into the Hollywood Christmas equation. I find this strange, since Teen Choice is pretty much ruling the scene in every other facet of entertainment. At any rate, it seems like flicks go straight from sickly sweet Kid's movies to R-rated College movies, and there's no mid-range for Jr. High or High School. Maybe I'm wrong though. Maybe you can help me compile a list of the best of the best for Teen Christmas. It's going to be piecemeal, we're going to have to stitch it together bit by bit, but maybe that's what Teen Christmas is all about... holding on to what remains of your childhood, grasping on to what you want out of your future... and add a healthy dose of sarcasm and humour. Merry Christmas... and pardon my gifs.

There is one GLARING exception to that statement, which is, of course, the glaring exception to MOST things. It's Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Part Christmas, part Halloween, part creepy, part adorable, mix some morbid, macabre, grossie bits with equal parts lovely, romantic, heartfelt bits, and you've got yourself an instant teen classic. It's not for kids (I wasn't allowed to watch it 'cause my mom new I'd get... nightmares...) and not for adults, unless they grew up with it (Movie Maniac Moe can't watch ANY Tim Burton movies because the animations freak her out). But teens hold up Jack Skellington as a paradigm of awesome; you can see his face plastered on everything from hoodies to watches... and poor Sally fits into our metaphor of a patched-together Christmas perfectly.

Mean Girls is NOT a Christmas movie, but it does have two of the greatest snapshots of School Christmas ever to be caught on film: 1) Candy Grams, the best-tasting, most bittersweet test of popularity to ever exist, and

2) The annual Talent Show/Christmas Pagaent/Winter Musical showcase of mediocre "dance skillz" by resident school hotties.

This is pretty much exactly what Jr. High was like for me, and if you haven't seen it yet, watch it, and tell me if it holds up to your school experience. I LOVE THIS MOVIE!

Ummmmmmmm Charlie is a kid in the first Santa Clause, and a graffiti-ing teen in the second... that counts, right? Teens love spraypaint, right?

There's a pretty excellent scene in the full-length Grinch where our green buddy tries shaving for the first time. That's a standard teen trope if ever I saw one!

Buddy the Elf's parents were High School sweethearts. And now I know I'm stretching this way too far. Also thanks to hawkeyefan31 for this gif. If you can't tell, I'm just learning how to make them, and they're pretty sad.

And of course, Christmas Classics aren't limited to movies. After all, what is Christmas without music. Here are some of my favourite Christmas tunes... I'm sure I'm missing plenty, so please send along your favourite playlist so I can add it to mine.

Top of the list is Sufujan Stevens Songs for Christmas. If you haven't already heard it, I'm really sorry Christmas is over and you'll have to wait until next year (because we all know Christmas music after the 26th is a taboo - right?). Songs for Christmas is a brilliant album where Stevens remixes a ton of Christmas classics, mostly religious, in his folksy, quirky way. He also throws in some great original compositions.

Next on my list is Hawksley Workman's First Snow of the Year which captures the joy you feel as a kid when you look out the window and shout 'It's snowing!!' and also, his great tune Merry Christmas (I Love You)

I just recently discovered The Bones of Winter by Said The Whale. This is a darker, more sombre tune that captures the desperate feeling we sometimes have around winter solstice when we know there are 3 more months without sun... it is a lovely song.

Similarly, Joni Mitchell's River is sad song capturing the desparation of loneliness... absolutely beautiful.

I love Fall Out Boy's cover of What's This? It's lots of fun.

And what is Christmas without Vince Guaraldi Trio's Christmas Time is Here ! I'm sure I don't need to tell you that this masterpiece is a Christmas staple and among the most popular Christmas tunes.

So there you have it. The best of the best we could come with with for Christmas and Teens. If you know of a teen movie or song that I'm missing out on, weigh in on the comments board. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas, and we'll see you on the other side.

***Stars, dust & magic***= Bleak, Bizarre & Beautiful continued...

by Adrienne - 4 Comment(s)

With holiday magic in the air, I thought I might get away with writing about some great fantastic (and magical books) without having a bunch of people vomit all over me... However, I also happen to know that a lot of you secretly and not-so-secretly love fantasy. And these are books with a twist.

As a teen, a friend introduced me to The Sandman by Neil Gaiman and although I had always shunned comic books, an instant romance was born. Gaiman is a mysterious magician weaving stories that are bizarre and strange, that usually leave you with more questions than answers. He also picks stunning illustrators to work alongside him. One of my favourites is Charles Vess. Vess' style could be best described as Art Nouveau meets 1930's comic book. Instructions, also by Gaiman, is a fairytale poem that might leave you rather quizzical and Stardust: Being a Romance in the Realm of Faerie, is pure indulgence! Go on fairy lovers, love it up! Of course you can always count on Gaiman to never follow the staight and narrow... There's DVD and Blu-Ray versions too. MirrorMask is a lovely, bizarre story that I reviewed earlier as an audiobook. It explores the intricacies and complications of mother/daughter relationships and I had the priviledged coincidence of listening to this in the car this summer while travelling back from Drumheller with my mother. Here's to unplanned synchronicity! MirrorMask is also a beautiful graphic novel illustrated by Dave McKean and a great video.

I discovered that Charles Vess has also illustrated some YA novels by one of my favourite Canadians (Saskachewanite to be precise), Charles DeLint! They're great! And short. In Seven Wild Sisters ginseng, bees and faeries mix! Featuring an Apple Man, an Old Aunt and Wild Hills, here's a short excerpt: "Most of her time was taken up with the basic tasks of eking out a living from her land and the forest... But you could buy your food instead of having to work so hard growing it.' 'Sure I could. But I've had to have me money to do that and to get the money, well, I'd have to work just as hard at something else, except it wouldn't necessarily be as pleasing to my soul.'... 'You find weeding a garden pleasing?', 'You should try it girl. You might be surprised.' " Medicine Road stars the Dillard twins Laurel and Bess (from Seven Wild Sisters) in a wild adventure in the Native Southwest. Check 'em out! Charles DeLint is also an artist, poet, folklorist & critic as well as playing in various bands -- he has just released a CD The Loon's Lament with his wife MaryAnn Harris and John Wood. It features cover art by Calgary's own Lisa Brawn!

The latest superstar to hit the scene earned his stripes working on animation for Toy Story! William Joyce has come up with the brilliant idea of re-working the characters of St. Nicholas, The Man in the Moon the E. Aster Bunnymund and others into "The Guardians of Childhood"; modern day super heroes inhabiting familiar, yet not-so-familiar folktales. These display some stunning SteamPunk style illustrations with a ton of adventure to boot. Maurice Sendak has said that The Man in the Moon is "a fabulous recapturing of an old, real fairy-tale world. Dark Mysterious. Stunning!" and Joyce's latest release Nicholas St. North and the battle of the Nightmare King has hit the shelves... just in time for the holidays.

And what fantasy suite is complete without a title such as The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle? “We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream.” The graphic novel adaped from Beagle's 1968 classic is lushly illustrated by Renea DeLiz and coloured by Ray Dillon. The library has just ordered Beagle's new book First Last Unicorn and other Beginnings. This includes letters, an unpublished novella about The Last Unicorn, interviews, correspondence and other snippets giving delightful insight into the creative process of this beloved master of fantasy. Over the holidays watch the DVD and Blu-Ray versions and then check our stacks in the New Year for the new book. Start the year off right!

Tolkien and Robin Hood Fans will appreciate Mouse Guard by David Petersen. Mouse life is treacherous and towns must be gaurded. Hence the formation of.. "The Mouse Guard"! Immerse yourself in a leaf-ridden, Ork-like medieval mouse's reverie (nightmare or dream?)! Mouse Guard vol. 01 Fall 1152 was critically acclaimed as best Indy Adventure Book of 2006 by Wizard Magazine and I can see why.

Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard vol. 01 also created by David Petersen. This album brings together 17 different comic artists - aka "mice", as they gather together at June Alley Inn to compete to clear their pub tabs by telling the most creative and fantastic stories (a fun nod to the classic "Canterbury Tales" by Chaucer!)

AND... I'm so excited I can barely contain it!!! Alex may geek out about being a Potter fan but I'm a total Lord of the Rings girl and.. Yes! they released an unexpected trailer for Peter Jackson's upcoming The Hobbit! .... Why can't it be next year already?!?!?!?


Review: Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse

- 2 Comment(s)

Book CoverEverything You Need To Survive the Apocalypse is the first novel written by Lucas Klauss. The story is very extreme and out of this world, but I found myself relating to it. It’s a book about the everyday life, issues, and conflicts of a teenage boy--with a unique twist.

It starts off with the protagonist, Phillip, falling in love with a girl at first sight. He gets invited to go to church by this girl, Rebekah. He realizes that Rebekah is a very strong Christian believer and the only way to spend time with her is to go to church. To achieve this, Phillip has to go behind his father’s back who happens to be a strong atheist. Later he begins to question his reasons for getting involved in church.

I recommend this book for anyone who likes to reflect because it makes the readers question what is right and wrong. The novel has a lot of information, rules, and opinions about Christianity, so be sure you’re okay with that. Although there are many parts on Christianity in the book, there is also a relationship conflict with family and friends and the book can relate to many different readers. The protagonist understands that friendships can be broken just as fast as they are made, and that love is complicated and the best anyone can do is try. All in all, the book is great for pleasure reading and for critical thinking.

Reviewed by Harshini

Expected Publication Date: January 3, 2012

YAC (Youth Advisory Council), is a bunch of Calgary youth who volunteer to help shape teen services at CPL through sharing their ideas, time and talents. They have started reviewing ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) of books and we are pleased to publish them here. So...stay tuned for more reviews from YAC.

Name that Chameleon and win!

Name that Chameleon and win!

by Jilliane - 0 Comment(s)

Name that Chameleon and win!As many of you already know, 2012 is going to be a very special year for the Calgary Public Library in more ways than one. First of all it's our centennial, yes it's true we've been serving Calgarians for 100 years and in order to honor this milestone we're throwing all of a Calgary a party. Not only are we opening up a brand new branch in the Northeast (Saddletowne) on January 14th, 2012 but at the grand opening we'll be introducing our brand new mascot! Now you might be thinking, why should I care about any of this, but the really great part is that you have a chance to go down in library history!

That's right Calgary, we're giving you the chance to name our mascot. We have chosen a chameleon to represent us, but we're leaving the name up to you! Need inspiration for your entry? Be sure to visit your nearest library branch and check out some of the great resources we have on chameleons. Something to remember when choosing your name is that the winner will be chosen based not only on the fact that they chose an excellent name, but also on why they think that is the perfect name (yes you need to give us a reason as well as a name). This will not be a random draw. Entries will be carefully judged one by one and the winning entry will ideally be an original and suitable name for a Calgary Public Library mascot. So go ahead and think outside the box on this one. It might be helpful to ask yourselves, what does the library mean to me? We already have lots of great entries so be sure to enter soon. If you need more time, you will have up until 11:59 pm, January 3, 2012. All Calgary Public Library cardholders are encouraged to suggest names. Entry forms are available at all CPL libraries, online using the electronic form, or you can print a form and drop it off at any Calgary Public Library location. Oh and did I mention in addition to choosing the winning name, you'll also win a bag of Calgary Public Library swag. For full contest details please click here. May the best name win!

Coming of Age and Religion

by Jilliane - 2 Comment(s)

One of the reasons I love yalit is the coming of age theme that runs throughout it. Coming of age stories come in all shapes and sizes--naturally, because our lives have many different problems and concerns. At the core, coming of age stories are looking at identity and transitions. Transitions from childhood to adolescence to adulthood...and, well, I believe we are all transitioning all the time so coming of ages stories are relevant to all of us.

Although these stories can come across as melodramatic or angst-y at times, I think they are pretty awesome. Coming of age stories allow us to learn something about the human experience. They give readers the ability to play out different scenarios in their mind, to explore new ideas and to see how other people experience the world--and they are often very beautiful.

One of my favourite coming of age stories is Converting Kate. What I love about this book is the theme of religion--a rarely tackled topic in the coming of age genre. Transitioning to adulthood is a time of exploration when trying out new ideas and ideologies is like exercise for the mind--totally essential for your health. This book beautifuly illustrates this experience.

Book Cover

Converting Kate explores the effects of being raised in a strong religious tradition. 16-year-old Kate's world is rocked when her father passes away and she is torn from her home in Arizona. She and her fundamentalist mother move to Maine to help her Aunt run a bed and breakfast. Thrust into a new community and grieving her father, Kate, who has long been questioning her faith, begins to reveal her true feelings to her mother. Having been raised in the fictitious Church of the Holy Divine, Kate has followed a long list of commandments unwaveringly--only reading church-approved materials, always wearing a skirt, never going to the mall, fasting every Sunday and the list goes on and on and on. For the first time Kate refuses to go to church, igniting a lasting debate with her mother. Kate's inner conflict is illustrated through her narrative of sorting through her thoughts and feelings and pulling her own ideas away from the inner dialogue of her church. Kate emerges as a strong-willed, independent thinker and realizes that there is more to the world than her very censored, sheltered upbrining allowed her to explore.

It's a lovely depiction of the difficult and common experience of the faith crisis by debut author, Becky Weinheimer.

As I said, religion is a rarely tackled topic in the coming of age genre--have any good reads to suggest?