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YAC Review: The Boyfriend App

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

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The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise - Review by Vince

Audrey McCarthy is the troubled heroine of The Boyfriend App, she is a teenage girl faced with typical problems: boy trouble, ex-best friend issues and worrying about getting into an affordable college. Luckily for her she has a chance of fixing the latter problem by entering an app designing contest. “Hello, World. Hello, Contest. Hello, College Scholarship. Hello, Boys. Here comes Audrey McCarthy. Trog. Hacker. Sex object. Inventor of the Boyfriend App.”

From a synopsis like that one would expect this novel to be a teen romance filled with drama and light comedy, and that is exactly what the novel delivers… in Part One anyway. Part One of the novel is decent, the characters seem rather static but they are characterized well. Audrey is a tragic but interesting protagonist because of her thoughts and feelings; she gets the support needed from her friends and family despite her personal shortcomings. Her antagonists are pretty boring since they behave so stereotypically, especially Blake, the rich and popular ex-BFF who treats Audrey as a stranger yet ceaselessly torments her whenever the opportunity arises. Audrey’s friends are likeable, but it feels like they are just crutches for Audrey and lack their own purpose.

As for the plot it played out well for the first part of the novel. Audrey struggled but eventually reached the threshold for success with her app. Her app became popular and it seemed like she had a really good chance of winning the contest, until a very expected “glitch in the system” strikes and her popularity topples like a house of cards. Part One was well written, especially her process of programming the app. The coding and the explanations were simple enough for readers to understand without being condescending to anyone who would not know about coding. The way Part One ended invites curiosity for what would happen in Part Two, but that’s where the story began to fall apart. While Part One had a realistic story and struggles, Part Two escalated to corporate conspiracies and neurological manipulation! I was awestruck at how quickly Part Two leaped away from the events of Part One and laughed at how absurd the later chapters had become!

With respect to style, the writing appeals to a youthful demographic since it is loaded with pop culture references. The narration is fast paced and has a few time skips, but dialogue between the characters is what carries the novel forward. One of my pet peeves with the writing is constant references to Google and Twitter, but tacky renaming of several real life products (e.g. iPhone/buyPhone, iTunes/buyJams, Facebook/PUBLIC PARTY). It’s a very annoying inconsistency.

Overall, The Boyfriend App is a nice little teen romance that starts off nice and realistic, but loses its original scope when the story escalates to imaginative and bizarre levels. Rating: 3.5/5.

Word! It's Never too late for a Poetry Contest!

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

You may be asking what exactly is a Wordle? Well.. it's a collection of words arranged in a visual way to make a concrete poem. Okay, okay what is a concrete poem? It's a visual poem = words arranged in a visual way to have an effect = a unique hybrid of both art and poetry. As you can see on the left I was inspired by our recent deluge of rain. Local poet derek beaulieu is a master at it! (& in case you hadn't noticed I've also included some Wordle examples) So... we are inviting you to get busy with a graphix program and design your own Wordle and submit it to our Teens Create page to win! The prize you may ask? A fabulous journal - what every poet and artist is always wanting more of... deadline is June 5th (aka get this in before Youth Read starts! - we know you'll be busy with all the other amazing challenges then - P.S. did you know you can Pre-Register for Youth Read?) Chop! Chop! Don't forget to also submit your name and contact ph#/email in the comments as well as submitting your Wordle on the Teens Create page (and don't worry we will NOT publish your contact info). And if you are at a loss as to how to use Photoshop or Illustrator to do this you may want to take advantage of our Free Ed2Go online instructor-led courses! May the best WORD-le win!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Across Canada — Saskatchewan

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

We've now made it to our next stop on our country wide road trip. We've made it into Saskatchewan, where rumour has it, you can see your dog running away from home for days. Saskatchewan, like Alberta has many great authors to celebrate, so, we've narrowed it down to 3.

Far from her farm roots near Regina, Melanie Schnell takes us to civil war-torn Sudan with her multiple award winning first novel, While the Sun is Above Us. Melanie lived and researched for this book in South Sudan for 7 months, and her dedication to her writing shows. Through powerful and emotional prose, Melanie gives us two intertwined characters, Adut and Sandra. These women, of vastly different circumstance, experience a violent local conflict that changes their lives forever. While Melanie has written for television and has had fiction, poetry and non-fiction published, While the Sun is Above Us is her first novel. It has been shortlisted for four Saskatchewan book awards, Book of the Year, Regina Book Award, Fiction Award and the First Book award. She is currently working on her second novel.

Alice Kuipers, currently living in Saskatoon, has written several YA novels, including her first award winner, Life on the Refrigerator Door . It has been published in 28 countries and was named as a New York Times best book for teens. Her second novel, The Worst Thing She Ever Did, has won an Arthur Ellise Award. Her most recent and third young adult novel, 40 Things I Want to Tell You was a 2013 CLA Young Adult Book Award Honour Book. She will also have a picture book, The Best-ever Bookworm Book by Violet and Victor Small, will be published in 2014. All of her works have been published in 29 countries.

In 40 Things I Want to Tell You, Alice’s main character Amy, a.k.a. Bird, writes an advice column for teens called Top Tips that I imagine she really wishes she had followed. Self-searching and filled with inner turmoil, Alice Kuipers’ latest book shares with readers much more than just 40 Things.

Arthur Slade was born in Moose Jaw, but currently lives in Saskatoon. He has written severl YA novels, including the novel Dust, which won the 2001 Govenor General's Award as well as the 2001 Saskatchewan Book Award. His most recent work is Island of Doom, which is the fourth and final book in The Hunchback Assignments. The other titles in this series include The Hunchback Assignments, The Dark Deeps, and Empire of Ruins.

In, Island of Doom, Modo, a shape shifting, masked spy is on a personal quest....to find his biological parents. Along with some characters from the previous novels, some good and some not so good, Modo and a fellow spy, Octavia, make a thrilling dash towards the conclusion of this series.

Points of Departure

by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

Although stories often veer off into wildly imaginative terrains, they often set off from real life spaces. Whether peculiar, mundane or unexpected, these places are nonetheless imbued with potential and serve as important gateways into the constructed literary worlds. These places are created in collaboration between the imaginations of the writer and reader, but comparing this vision with the reality can also offer added insight. With this in mind, I thought I would try to track down some of these points of departure.

Cassiar ConnectorVancouver’s Cassiar Connector, which serves as the entrance way to the realm of the Half World, was pretty easy to locate, thanks to some rather specific instructions the antagonist, Mr. Glueskin, gives our heroine.

…”Where was I? Ahhh, yes. If you ever want to see your mummy again, and so on and so forth, leave the house immediately and proceed to the Cassiar Connector. Enter the tunnel that is farthest west. I really don’t know where you’ll end up if you go through the wrong Gate. So PAY ATTENTION!” he roared.

“West side,” Melanie sobbed.

“Good girl,” the vile voice soothed. “You’ll find there are numerous doors lining the inside wall. Go through Door Number Four! Get it? Door Four! Your prize-winning entry into Half-World!”

graveyard East Grinstead

Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is inspired by an experience of a cemetery near his childhood home. As he recounts in the foreword to the book:

“The idea had been so simple, to tell the story of a boy raised in a graveyard, inspired by one image: my infant son, Michael – who was two, and is now twenty-five, the age I was then, and is now taller than I am – on his tricycle, pedaling through the graveyard across the road in the sunshine, past the grave I once thought had belonged to a witch.”


Kings Cross Station

London's Kings Cross Station became one of the most famous rail terminals in the world after Harry Potter used it as the starting point of his journey to Hogwarts. It is now a tourist destination for countless Potter fans who continue to flock there in search of platform 9 ¾. In honour of the literary homage, a luggage cart was installed halfway through the wall. However, as intrepid fans have noted, the platform isn’t quite in the same place as mentioned in the books. Rowling admits her memory was a bit foggy on this detail, and had based it on another nearby station.

Forest Park

The Impassable Wilderness, otherwise known as Forest Park in Portland Oregon, is the world that Prue has to enter in order to rescue her baby brother, along with many other quests and adventures in Wildwood.

As long as Prue could remember, every map she had ever seen of Portland and the surrounding countryside had been blotted with a large, green patch in the centre, stretching like a growth of moss from the northwest corner to the southwest, and labeled with the mysterious initials "I.W."

Even in real life, the forest lives up to its literary moniker, leaving so much to the imagination.

Half WorldGraveyard BookHarry Potter and the Deathly HallowsWildwood

Read Across Canada: Alberta

by Patricia - 1 Comment(s)

Time to continue on our cross-country road trip!!! Get out the chips and pop, and keep the donuts coming.

We've made it over the Rockies to the prairies: beautiful skies as far as the eye can see, wheat fields stretching on and on and on... What DO Albertans do on those long winter nights? Apparently write, because there are lots of great authors in this province. But I've had to narrow it down to just three:

Monica Hughes wasn't born in Canada, but we're proud to have lured her in. After doing things like, oh, CRACKING CODES during WW II, she ended up living in good ol' Alberta. Although she was almost fifty when her first book was published, she ended up writing over 35 books and became known as one of Canada's best writers of science fiction for children and young adults.

Invitation to the Game is a dystopian novel set on Earth in the year 2154. Lisse and her friends struggle to survive until they are chosen to partipate in 'the Game', a virtual reality surival experience which leaves them unsure of the line between real life and fantasy. The Story Box is set on the island of Ariban, where imagination is forbidden. Then Colin discovers a young woman from a different land, who holds a beautiful chest in her hands she calls 'the story box'. And in her last book, The Maze, Andrea and two of her 'girl gang' tormentors are magically placed in a maze, where they all depend on Andrea for rescue.

But The Isis Trilogy is maybe her most well known work. In The Keeper of the Isis Light, Olwen Pendennis lives on the planet Isis, with Guardian as her only companion after her settler parents die. When colonists from an overpopulated and polluted Earth come to live in the valleys, Olwen fears her world will be changed forever. The Guardian of Isis takes place decades later, after the settlers have replaced their technological knowledge with myth. When a natural disaster threatens the colony, the overly-curious Jody N'Kumo goes searching for the truth. And finally, in The Isis Pedlar, Moira's father Michael Joseph Flynn brings great new stuff to Isis, like his magic firestone, delicious ambrosia, and mysterious Forever Machine. Only Moira knows what a charlatan he really is, and it's up to her to expose him before it's too late!

David A. Poulsen has been a broadcaster, teacher, football coach, actor, and of course, writer. But his coolest and most Albertan activity is - rodeo announcer! Last year, when he wasn't at rodeos, he was busy being Writer in Residence at the Chinook Arch Library System in southern Alberta.

David Poulsen's first work was the award winning short story The Welcomin’. He's written twenty books since. You could check out Last Sam's Cage, in which Eddie runs away from his abusive stepfather to live at the Calgary zoo. He's also written lots of 'jock' stories, like Wild Thing, Blind Date, and Cowboy Cool, set (mostly) in Lawrence 'Jock Joint' High . And in Numbers, misfit Andy Crocket finds out his cool Social teacher Mr. Retzlaff is giving his class a skewed look at history, especially WW II.

His latest, Old Man, is about a road trip (ha! see how that ties in?) involving 16- year-old Casey and his 'old man' - NEVER 'dad', since he left when Casey was five. Casey has plans for the summer: get fit, get some money, and get the girl. But when the 'old man' calls unexpectedly, he's forced into giving up all his plans, to go who knows where, for who knows what reason, with this dude that he doesn't know at all. Not to give anything away, but they end up in Vietnam, hoofing it through the jungle. Casey has an ironic sense of humour which makes his first-person account really enjoyable.

Martine Leavitt was born in Alberta, went to the University of Calgary, and raised her seven children (whew!) here. She still lives here when she's not working a the University of Vermont. She writes contemporary and fantasy novels.

You'll find her first three novels, Dragon's Tapestry, Prism Moon, and The Taker's Key - aka the Marmawell Trilogy - under the name of her 'alter ego', Martine Bates. Many of her books are award winners, like Keturah and Lord Death, Tom Finder - which is set in Calgary - and Heck Superhero.

My book of life by Angel is her latest book. There are a few reasons why it's of special interest. First, it's a 'novel in verse'. If that worries you, don't let it. It's a quick read, but the story and writing are still amazing. And you think 'poems' are all about daffodils and kittens? Think again! This one is about a 16-year-old drug-addicted prostitute living with her pimp, 'Call', in downtown Vancouver (yes, we've gone back over the Rockies, but it's all still Canada, right?) When Call brings home a 13-year-old girl, Angel knows she has to do something to get her out of there, especially since there are rumours of a serial killer preying on the 'girls.' This story tells it like it is, without any preachy 'after school special' moments. The Canadian Library Association just named this their winner for the Young Adult Book Award for 2013!

Well, that should give you lots of stuff to read, when you're not checking out the Badlands or hitting the Stampede. Next stop - Saskatchewan!

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