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Summer Read: Collision of Minds

August 31, 2015 | Alice | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Writing mental illness is a strange and difficult task, and even harder when the person telling the story is the one whose mind is interpreting the world differently. Ned Vizzini did a pretty good job of keeping it easy to follow when he fictionalized his own experience of being in a psych ward in It's Kind of a Funny Story. And numerous books have looked at it from the outside. But it is a whole nother thing to get inside the head and look at the world of someone who has a very altered perception of reality. 

Fell of darkHow far do you go? And since so little is really known about mental illness, how much is just stereotypes and semi-fictional tropes? It's a tough line to walk, but if you want your main characters to tell their own stories, you are also going to have to figure out just how unreliable to make these narrators of yours, and how to portray the parts that are creations of their own troubled brains. 

In Fell of Dark, both Erik and Thorn have complicated and painful relationships both with their parents and with their realities. There are parts of each of their tellings that are clearly impossible, but there are also things that strongly suggest true and deeply rooted trauma at their cores. The fascinating part in reading this is the constant struggle to tease apart truth from perception in the tangled lines of text, trying to see the world as we would but having only their eyes as instruments. 

That, and the fact that we are told that the two will come together at some point, and I couldn't help but keep guessing at how that would happen. There are hints of this possibility or that, but in the end, you don't really see it happen until the last handful of pages. 

It makes for a compelling read, but what elevates to a real must-read is the writing. The language is beautiful, and the boys and their stories are made mythic and strangely, heartbreakingly sad and lovely,  even in their struggles. Contradictions are everywhere, and acceptance of them seems to settle over narrator and reader alike over the course of the book, where strange becomes real, even further confusing our world and the one that lives in their heads.

It's a book that makes you think, that makes you feel protective of these two, that makes you full of wonder and curiosity about just what is what, and it makes for a wonderful, dreamlike read that is surprisingly quick, yet sticks with you. I can't think that I've read much like it, and I definitely recommend taking this journey into the unknowable.  

HOME IN TIME FOR DINNER reviewed

August 30, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Review by Anita, age 15
 
Home in time for dinnerHome In Time For Dinner is a book by Kathryn Ellis. In it we meet Chris Ramsey, a 15-year-old boy living a quiet, routine life with his controlling father. One day, Chris's world is shattered when he sees a picture of a little boy sitting on Santa's knee, and the computer-aged image following it makes Chris feel like he's looking in a mirror. It turns out that his mother, who he believed was dead, was looking for him for the past 13 years, ever since he was kidnapped by his father at age 2. Chris takes a leap of faith and leaves his bare home in Texas to try and get to his mother in Kingston, Ontario. He makes choices on the go, trusting strangers and taking risks. Along the way we meet a quirky cast of characters, including nice families, creepy priests, drunken drivers, and a clan of window washing teens. It's not easy to write a good book about travelling from one place to another to reach a certain destination, but this book handles that pretty well, and the plot is generally engaging and exciting, if a little overly detailed at times. 
 
Overall, Home In Time For Dinner is a simple, interesting, and non-obligatory read, good to fill up commute or waiting hours and spare time.
 
Read Anita's review of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series.

THE OUTSIDERS reviewed

August 30, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Review by ACD Youth Advisory Group member Jacky

Outsiders book coverJoin Ponyboy, and his friends and brothers Sodapop, Dallas, Darry, Johnny, Two-bit, and others in a journey of heroism, sadness, romance, and so much more. Ponyboy isn’t your average fourteen-year-old teenager. His parents died in a car crash long ago. Now, he just lives with his two brothers – Sodapop, and Darry. Life isn’t easy with their living conditions.

Suddenly, even more trouble begins to brew when the Socs, the rich kids who live in the other side of town, decide to visit. Bloodied and beaten up, Ponyboy embarks on a long and dangerous journey to escape “the fuzz,” when the tides don’t turn their way. Him and his buddy Johnny, decide to take the run for their lives. Will this story come to a happy ending, or turn into a nightmare of a horror story? All is revealed in S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders.

Check out the movie!

MAD MISS MIMIC reviewed

August 29, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Review by Terese

Mad Miss Mimic Sarah HenstraMad Miss Mimic tells the tale of seventeen-year-old Leonora “Leo” Somerville, who resides in Hastings House, London, in 1872. Although Leo is incredibly beautiful and incredibly wealthy, she continuously fails to find a husband, due to swirling rumors in the high society about her speech impediment: not only does Leo stutter, she has the uncanny ability to mimic the voice of anyone she hears. The latter ability often pops up at inopportune moments, causing distress and shock to those around her; thus, Leo has been nicknamed Mad Miss Mimic. When the handsome and wealthy Francis Thornfax—business partner of Leo’s brother-in-law Dr. Dewhurst—appears in her life, Leo thinks her problems will be solved, until she learns of Mr. Thornfax’s shady business dealings.

What I most enjoyed about the book was the consistency of the characters. Often authors struggle with making their characters believable and relatable, and Ryerson University English professor Sarah Henstra accomplishes both flawlessly. Rather than relying on her characters’ physical looks, Henstra delves into their thoughts, actions, and most importantly, the effect they have on other characters. From the outset of the novel, it’s revealed through speech and action that Leonora suffers from a lack of confidence due to her stutter, and chooses not to speak much at public gatherings; however, for this same reason, her male suitors find her mysterious and alluring. Even though her character did develop throughout the novel—as characters are wont to do—I was satisfied to discover my answers to the question, “What would Leonora do in this situation?” play out reasonably. Leonora didn’t suddenly develop a promiscuous attitude; she didn’t randomly take a fancy to cleaning out horse stables.

Mad Miss Mimic is written in the first person, from Leonora’s perspective, and I was both in awe and jealous of the ease with which Henstra seemed to enter the mind of a nineteenth-century upper-class English girl. I chalk this up to academic research and teaching English courses, but I enjoyed the caliber of language that Henstra used: verbs like emitted and seized and scuttled that one usually doesn’t find in contemporary Western young adult novels. It felt as if I were right beside Leonora while she spoke; the words aptly illustrated her wants and fears, her hopes and insecurities, and, most importantly, her plans.

SarahHenstra
Mad Miss Mimic author Sarah Henstra

While one might immediately shelve this in the romance section—especially upon reading about the existence of a second male suitor, Tom Rampling—I feel this can also be described as a coming-of-age novel. The main theme, in my opinion, in Mad Miss Mimic, is Leonora’s quest to find her voice, not only literally, as a reference to her speech impediment, but also figuratively, as she is often pushed around by her older, more settled sister, and is very shy and unengaged. Discovering Thornfax’s plans encourages her to step out of her comfort zone, to challenge some social norms, to seek out and reveal the truth about the goings-on in London’s underworld. Throughout the novel, many characters seek to silence Leonora: “Who would ever believe talk of conspiracy and murder coming from the lips of Mad Miss Mimic?” Thornfax asks her, while he’s got her tied up in a shipping warehouse. As the novel progresses, Leonora learns to trust herself and her abilities, and to go for what she wants despite pressures from society and family. This theme of standing up for oneself can have a far-reaching and positive impact on youth, and is both endearing and empowering to read about.

With action, romance and an ample serving of nineteenth-century charm, Mad Miss Mimic is an excellent debut novel for teens seeking to find their own voice.

My rating: 10/10.

Play Alongs: Best Plot Twist

August 29, 2015 | Alice | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

We were watching Star Wars with a child who had never seen it. Afterward, we asked if he was surprised by the big revelation that Darth Vader was Luke's father. Nope. He knew. WUT?

Anthony-Davis-shocked

Well, we realized that what had originally been a MAJOR plot twist was so much a part of culture now, he had already heard that without seeing the movie! How disappointing, to not get that momentary shock!

 TayTay shocked

It's exactly why we post spoiler alerts, so we don't wreck that for other people, because a good plot twist can be a lot of fun, and sharing it afterward with others who know is pretty delicious. 

I can think of a few books that really took me by surprise in ways that stuck with me, some of them favourites of mine. Eleanor & Park. All the Bright Places. WingerAnd the book I just finished, the upcoming Six of Crows, which was a great read and was full of twists in a less emotional, more action-y way. 

I asked some teens I knew about their favourite plot twist moments, too. Their answers included The Kite RunnerThe Monkeyface Chronicles, and Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

Shatner shocked
I'm not going to spoil any of those for you because they are all fantastic books, and you should read them without having the endings wrecked. BUT. I am going to ask you to tell about your favourite book or movie plot twists - and remember, if you are going to include a spoiler, ALERT US!! 

THE LOVELY BONES reviewed

August 28, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Review by Danya

The lovely bones book coverI read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold book quite a while ago but I can STILL remember the first line of the book. "My name is Susie Salmon, like the fish." The first few sentences already had me hooked. This book is like NO other I have ever read. Though it does remind me of For One More Day and The Five People You Meet in Heaven both by Mitch Albom, only because all three novels have a main character who has passed away and who are travelling outside Earth. But back to The Lovely Bones... ahh! It was soo well written and descriptive and believable. At times it was very hard to read because of the way the main character died (raped and strangled) and how hard it was for her family. They desperately wanted answers, but Susie couldn't give it to them. Slowly the family starts to crumble, but at the end of the novel they find peace and solace when Susie's murderer, their neighbour, accidentally falls off a cliff and dies. It's so scary how the neighbour acts so heartbroken over Susie's death and even tries to be a friend to the Salmons after the tragedy... but I love each character. And you also get to see them grow up and how Susie's death has affected them all. Another one of my fav reads. STRONGLY recommend to read!

And watch the movie!

Five Frames From . . . August 28th Edition

August 28, 2015 | Cameron | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

What movie are these images from? If you are the first to get the answer right you get a prize!!!!!!

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All rights reserved, all wrongs reversed.

Personal information on this form is collected under the authority of the Public Libraries Act, s.20 (a) and (d) and will be used to administer the Library's TPL Teens contest. Questions about the collection or management of personal information should be directed to library manager Jayne Delbeek-Eksteins- 416-396-8858.

Summer Read: Laughing At My Nightmare

August 28, 2015 | Helena | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Laughing At My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw

LaughingAtMyNightmareShane Burcaw is a typical twenty-something guy.  He has no problem reeling off one disarming joke after another, he likes sports a fair bit, and in his view, a good-natured insult is the mark of a solid friendship. But because Shane has spinal muscular atrophy, a disease that makes his muscles progressively weaker, he experiences the world in a very different way from most people. Not only does Shane use a wheelchair, he also relies on his family and close friends to accomplish everyday tasks that most of us perform without thinking twice, such as getting out of bed, showering, and using the washroom, all of which he details in the book with realism and humour. Shane is equally candid about how precarious his health is, acknowledging how important it is to stave off respiratory infections and describing how he uses a feeding tube at night to keep from wasting away. Shane's honesty, pragmatic mindset, and great sense of humour allow him to handle the immense challenges, physical and emotional, that he deals with everyday. While at college, Shane started a blog detailing his struggles with a levity and grace that touched thousands of people. Their feedback inspired Shane and his friends and family to start a not-for-profit that raises money for muscular dystrophy research. If you like memoirs, especially funny ones, then this level headed account of everyday courage and resilience might just be for you.

TIME WAS SOFT THERE reviewed

August 27, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Review by Christina, age 18

 

Time was soft there book cover

Time Was Soft There, by Jeremy Mercer, explores the way that, over the course of every person’s life, there invariably comes a time when the daily toil of work, school, or of simply keeping up day-to-day obligations becomes enough of a hassle that escape becomes the sole thought in one’s mind. Escape, and therefore travel. However, for Mercer, a Canadian journalist whose efforts to impress with a latest story result in the compromise of a useful underground source, escape becomes more than that. With his former friend and source on his heels, thirsty for revenge, Mercer finds that escape is now a necessity, a reality, and he leaves behind all he knows to move to Paris and start again.

Luckily for Mercer, Paris is a city unlike any other, and so is Shakespeare and Company. The legendary bookstore overlooking the Seine was once the stomping ground of many famous writers and artists, including Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Martin Amis, and many more, and it is within its walls that the bookstore’s mysterious owner, George Whitman, teaches Mercer to find himself even in unfamiliar surroundings. And this is where the memoir gets really interesting, if a little unexpected.

For Shakespeare and Company is more than just a store - it is a home. Inside, numerous beds and cots are scattered between towering shelves of dusty tomes, and artists, nomads, and all lost souls are welcomed by George to spend a night - or more - in this chaotic but warm shelter. Only two rules exist: everybody must help out in the store, and each must read one whole book a day. Here, Mercer meets a host of eccentric friends, all dreamers, who help him to embrace Paris and his new situation, but trouble arrives when they find out that the safe recluse they’d thought they’d found is now in danger of shutting down. 

This book draws every reader in, young or old, and is especially relevant to teens who are more frequently subject to bouts of longing for a richer, more satisfying life away from dreary high school hallways. I know many of my friends, to whom I recommended the book, found it not only soothing to their travel-hungry souls, but also found it educational. A crash course lesson in Paris’s artistic community through the ages, combined with self-discovery and even a little bit of romance, this book has something for absolutely everyone. (I also find a hot cup of tea and a cozy autumn day make the perfect setting for an escape to Paris with Jeremy Mercer, where bohemian life and literature jump off the page and come alive.)

 So, if you’re a dreamer like me, you should pick up a copy of this book, because, as Mercer writes, “Poets and writers, models and designers, painters and sculptors, actors and directors, lovers and escapists, they flock to the City of Lights.”

Mini-Writing Contest #5 -- August 20-26

August 27, 2015 | Monica | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

Hello Again! Since the last caption contest went so well, I decided to end off the mini-writing contests with another. Harry Potter is one of my all time favourite books (and movies!), and Ron Weasley is one of my favourite characters. I especially loved Rupert Grint as Ron in the movies, with all the funny faces he made. So, I decided that I would use a still from the movie, and as with the last contest, the caption that makes us laugh the most will be crowned the winner.

All the best!

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image source

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