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August 2014

Something that everyone should read -- UNINVITED by Sophie Jordan

August 30, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover uninvited by sophie JordanUninvited by Sophie Jordan

reviewed by Michelle

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to identify every killer, every monster? Even before they come out of the darkness? Even before they hurt and kill? Wouldn't it be nice?

It's not possible in our world. But it is for the world in Sophie's Jordan's amazing book, Uninvited. An amazing book in which there is a gene, the killer's gene. Everyone gets tested for it, at some point in their lives. As was Davy Hamilton, popular, beautiful, smart talented, musical prodigy, with a loving boyfriend.

Someone who couldn't possibly be a carrier of the gene.
Someone who couldn't possibly ever be a killer.
But her results came back positive.

And that changes everything. But you'll need to read the book to find out what happens next. The writing is amazing, as is the voice. The story is told from Davy's perspective, however there are a few things in the story that are not. Such as radio broadcasts, conversations between other carriers, conversations between the people who used to be a part of a her life. But they don't distract or disrupt the story.

They add to it, they provide us with other perspectives, other facts. Not many authors can handle that well but Sophie Jordan does. Not only that, but the characters are real and fleshed out. The world is real and it could be possible. In our future, there may very well be something that could clearly identify killers.

And yes, on the surface, it'd be nice.
For the ones who aren't killers, it'd be nice.

But this book doesn't just talk about the surface, it goes deeper. It is not only well written, well paced, but it makes the reader think. It made me think.

It is something that everyone should read.

Five Frames From . . . final word out 2014 edition

August 29, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (13) Facebook Twitter More...

What movie based on a book are these images from?

1-You have to live in Toronto to win the contest

2-You have to provide a valid email address so we can contact you if you win a prize (see privacy statement for more info)

3-Your entry must be submitted by Thursday September 4th at 11:59 PM if you want to be considered to win.





Boring legal stuff:

Your name, your e-mail address, the books you read and your thoughts about them are your personal information. Why do we need your personal information here?  Well, we want to publish your reviews, and we need your name and e-mail address to help administer the contest.  The Public Libraries Act is the law that lets us do this.  We'll be protecting your privacy every step of the way, but if you have any questions about how we're going to do that, you can contact TPL's Privacy & Records Management Officer, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M4W 2G8, 416-395-5658 or by e-mail at [email protected] 

Remember That Time When...

August 29, 2014 | Alice | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

There are those times, those rare occasions that seem to bubble with a sense of limitless possibility, like you could do just about anything. Maybe it's a special night, a trip, doing something you've always wanted to. Or maybe you didn't even see it coming until you were in it and found yourself suddenly riding a wave of excitement, ready for something - anything - to happen. It seems... like magic. Like it's changed you. Like things will never be quite the same again.

Breakfast-Club-movie-posterThere are movies that capture this perfectly - 80s teen movie master John Hughes was a master of this lightning-in-a-bottle feeling. It's exactly what made Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off into instant favourites of countless people. Sometimes the movies are goofier, heavier on comedy, but still create that bonding moment - think Hot Tub Time Machine, for example, or pretty much any road trip movie ever made.

I had the same feeling from a couple of books I was reading for this summer - like the one that landed on the list to exemplify this, The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life. It's one night, and it's supposed to be amazing. Mary has a vision of how it should go in her head, and a fantasy of how triumphing over a school rival is going to feel soooooo good, it will change everything. Things of course don't quite go according to this plan of hers because, life. Still, even as things fall apart, other things come together, and by the end of the night, Mary has had a night to remember, it just wasn't the one that she expected. And most of all, she's been forced to examine some of her hopes for that night, and whether they really meant what she thought they did in the first place.

Tag alongTag Along is kind of like this, too - and also happens at the end of the school year, when everyone is celebrating and summer feels ripe with possibility. In this case, though, three kids whose prom plans fell through and one who is just out on her own meet up and spend time in various different combinations over the course of the night, forging unlikely friendships, pushing boundaries, learning about each other and themselves, and in the end, turning a total disappointing disaster of a night into something they'll remember for years.

Nick + noraI think my very favourite example of this, though, has to be the fantastic Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. A night that started out not that exciting, not that important, turned into a series of adventures, up and downs, and steps toward falling in love in a way that is bound to change both Nick and Norah. Romantic, music-filled, and beating with the rhythm of New York's Village, it's a great read. They even managed to make a movie of it that does a surprisingly good job of keeping the same spirit, despite my real worries about them ruining it!

I think it's no accident that these are often set in and around summer, as summer can feel like just the sort of little golden bubble of time that incubates otherwise impossible things. I hope you enjoyed your summer here with us, and that maybe it's transformed you a little, made you think a bit, or given you a little something special to consider as you go back to real life, back to the rhythms of school. I know I've had a fun time writing and sharing conversation in comments, so I hope you all have, too. Thanks for coming around and being part of Word Out this summer, everyone, and I hope your school year is a great one!

"Unlike anything else I've ever read" -- ALMOST PERFECT reviewed

August 28, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover almost perfect by brian katcherAlmost Perfect by Brian Katcher

Reviewed by Michelle

This book was unlike anything else I've ever read.

In fact, even though I already read it, I would like a copy of my own. Just so I could hug it and look at its gorgeous cover and read it multiple times. It was a flawless book with realistic characters like:

Logan, a boy who was still wounded after discovering his girlfriend -- now, ex -- had cheated on him. And Sage, a new student and a new friend who seemed perfect. Husky voice. Beautiful curls. Beautiful face. Tall. Interesting. But she had secrets. Like why she had been homeschooled for several years and why her parents wouldn't let her date anyone. Why her parents treated her differently from her sister. Why she wouldn't tell Logan all of these whys. 

But that didn't stop Logan from being in love with her and...kissing her one day. And she finally tells him her biggest secret of all. She's a boy. 

Hooked yet? I was. I was captivated from beginning to end. There were times when I didn't like Logan, when I wished he acted differently, acted better and was a better person. But his reactions made sense. He acted like an actual human being, dealing with something he didn't know how to. And it made me wonder how I would have acted in his situation. Or in Sage's. This book, this story, wasn't just a brilliant one but an eye opener. Something that made me think and long after I read the book. 

The characters weren't just characters. They were real. They were people. And not only were Logan and Sage fleshed out but also their relationships with their families and others: Logan's mother and sister, Sage's sister and parents. It was a story set in a small town but it was anything but small. 

There are books that you just have to read. That will make you think. That will make you better after reading. And I believe that Almost Perfect is one of them. 

Dueling reviews: Ketchup Cloud by Annabel Pitcher

August 28, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...


Librarian review:

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher is a bit of a conundrum for me. I really wanted to like this book, I really, really did. But . . . I did not like it really at all. The problem I have with this novel is that too much was going on and none of it was satisfying for me. I did appreciate the family dynamics that Pitcher created in this novel, I found them real and refreshing and fun to read. I did not like Zoe writing letters to a condemned man on death row. Artistically I think that the author was going for a sort of "Dexter" meets "My Mad Fat Diary" but it does not really work out.

I kept waiting for the action to start interesting me and drawing me in and I waited till the very end of the novel. The prose is lovely and succinct and the characters have some depth and are not cardboard, but I just felt that too many loose ends did not tie up and there was too many side plots and other issues that really had nothing to do with the main core of the story.

This is not a terrible book my any means and as youth novels go it had some lovely moments. Perhaps being an older person I am jaded or there is something that I am not getting from this book. I suggest you read it to find out, I don't think you will feel like you have wasted time - in fact maybe you will get something out of it that I did not.

 Kirkus review:

Of course Zoe isn’t anything like Texas death row inmate Stuart Harris. She got away with her murder.

Plagued by guilt and using the alias “Zoe,” the British teen writes a series of confessional letters to Harris. These episodic letters reveal a string of fateful decisions, including her role in a young man’s death. Seizing on her parents’ marital problems, Zoe escapes to a party and finds instant attraction with “The Boy with the Brown Eyes.” But when he disappears, she takes solace—with clothing removed—with popular Max Morgan. While periodically running into the mysterious guy, who she learns is named Aaron, Zoe continues her mostly physical relationship with Max. When she also discovers that Aaron and Max are brothers, readers clearly understand that one of them will die because of her. It’s not just suspense that drives this epistolary page-turner, but Zoe’s authentic emotional responses and unyielding wit (“who knew that vomit could be flirtatious?”). Zoe’s not a monster here but a typical adolescent who does like Max but is in love with Aaron. An engaging subplot involving Zoe’s younger, deaf sister and her mother’s culpability in her disability mirror Zoe’s mounting tension.

After many red herrings, a bittersweet ending brings compassion and answers to Zoe’s dilemma and shows just how easy it is to make mistakes and how hard love can be.

Contest: AudioSplice v.9

August 28, 2014 | Alice | Comments (5) Facebook Twitter More...

Ben_Turntable from openclipart dot org
Turntable image from

The Last AudioSplice!!!

What's an AudioSplice?

The Basics:

I've taken little snippets of a handful of songs and smashed them together into a sort of sonic puzzle for you to figure out. There is also a theme that links the songs somehow for you to work out, to help you along and make it a little more fun.

So what do you need to do? Listen carefully! Try to identify as many songs as you can, look for that link between them, and leave your guesses in comments. If no one is getting close after a couple of days, I may come back and leave a hint below...

Winners of book prizes will be the commenters who a) get the link and the most songs, and b) enter the most amusing guess at the link (even if they are wrong). And by amusing, I mean it amuses me. ;)

This Week's Puzzle:

Five Songs. One theme to link them. A few rules:

  • In order to qualify to win this contest, you have to live in the city of Toronto.
  • You have to provide a valid email address - otherwise we can't contact you to let you know you've won the contest! We promise to keep your email confidential - for more information about this, see the privacy statement below.
  • You have to have submitted your entry by Sunday, August 31st at 11:59 PM.


AudioSplice Aug 28


The boring legal stuff:

Your name, your e-mail address, the books you read and your thoughts about them are your Ipad-minipersonal information. Why do we need your personal information here?  Well, we want to publish your reviews, and we need your name and e-mail address to help administer the contest.  The Public Libraries Act is the law that lets us do this.  We'll be protecting your privacy every step of the way, but if you have any questions about how we're going to do that, you can contact TPL's Privacy & Records Management Officer, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M4W 2G8, 416-395-5658 or by e-mail at [email protected] 

True Crime

August 28, 2014 | Monica | Comments (7) Facebook Twitter More...

In-cold-blood-truman-capote-paperback-cover-artWell, it’s been a great summer. Thank you all for your amazing participation and excellent submissions. You guys are incredibly talented, and really represent how multi-faceted, and multi-talented the youth of our great city are. I hope you enjoyed participating in Word Out 2014, and look forward to participating in 2015.

Before I go, I just want briefly mention a topic that I had wanted to blog about, but didn’t get the chance; True Crime. This genre of books is all about real crime stories. One that I read years ago and thought was really well written, was In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. This book is about the murder of four members of a family, and carries the reader through every stage of the event, from the murders, to the investigation, and finally to the sentecing of the murderers.

From the cover:
On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

Now, this genre deals with real life stories, and real murders.  Doctors who killThere is no comfort of knowing that what  you are reading is a work of Fiction, therefore made up by one extremely imaginative individual. With this being said, it is easy to conclude that this genre is not for the faint of heart. The reason I mention it here, is for all you crime/suspense/murder mystery fans out there, who have read books in this genre, and on my booklist. Another author in true crime is Max Haines. He is one that I have read a lot of, all thanks to my best friend who introduced him to me with her copy of Doctor’s Who Kill way back in high school (yes, the morbid fascination dates that far back!). It was scary, weird, and strangely captivating to read about professionals, in such a highly regarded profession, committing such crimes. Suffice to say, it definitely had me hooked! I think it also had something to do with the almost comical cover, which I thought was funny and kind of lame at the same time.

So for those of you interested in some True Crime, check out these authors and their works, and for those that are already into the genre, let me know which authors/titles you would recommend.

I hope everyone has a great long weekend, before getting back into the routine of things, and wish you all great new school year.

Goodbye till next summer!

Read it for the awesome life quotes -- THE SECRETS OF LILY GRAVES reviewed

August 27, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover the secrets of lily graves by sarah strohmeyerThe Secrets Of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer


Reviewed by Anupya, age 15


“More often than not, it was the little things that brought you down.” – Lily Graves


The Secrets of Lily Graves is a crime novel by Sarah Strohmeyer about the death of seemingly perfect Erin Donohue, frenemy of Lily Graves. After an exciting catfight between Lily and Erin, leaving Lily wounded and bruised, Erin is found dead the next morning. Fingers are pointed at an alarming rate as main suspects are rounded up and interrogated. Like in every good crime novel, everyone’s got a secret, the theme of betrayal stands triumphant and the killer is hidden in plain sight. The book is like the high school version of Broadchurch. It portrays death in a realistic way with the repercussions in the community. Lily and Sara are adamant to not be normal (they refer to Erin’s gang as “Tragically Normals” while they are “Happily Twisted”). The reader can’t blame Lily and Sara because the TNs unfairly judge Lily for her family business. The first half of the book is perfect and a juicily entertaining read.

That’s where the excellence of The Secrets of Lily Graves stops.

The female supporting characters serve no purpose in the story except to bully Lily. The men in the book however, are a huge part of the plot. Each one is important. Someone close to Lily is accused of being a psychopath and a murderer yet she pays no heed and can’t wait to see him. It is stupid. At one point, she decides to meet up with the same person in a remote area, loudly voicing, “I don’t care about safe.” Although it does turn out to be harmless, it stands as a terrible response to general creepiness. The romance in the story ruins the suspense and action since it changes the focus of the story. The last line of the book does not reflect on the death of Erin but more on Lily’s love life. It feels anticlimactic. It’s not the best crime-fiction I’ve read, but read it for plot and awesome life quotes.

Mini-Writing Contest # 9 -- August 27 to September 1

August 27, 2014 | Christine | Comments (9) Facebook Twitter More...

Hey everyone! Welcome back for Mini-Writing Contest Number 9. :)

Since this is the last mini-writing contest of the summer, I'd like to end with something very fun. 
Have you ever heard of a “spoonerism”? A spoonerism is a pun that happens when you accidentally switch the letters or sounds of two words in a sentence, creating something very funny. Here’s a great example of what can happen:

Runny Babbit kneared to lit,
And made a swat and heater,
And now he sadly will admit
He bight have done it metter.
(from pg. 24 of Runny Babbit: a Billy Sook by Shel Silverstein)

Try experimenting with some of your own spoonerisms and try writing a funny short story or a poem using them.

Please keep in mind the following contest rules:
1. You have to live in Toronto to win this contest.
2. You have to provide a valid e-mail address so we can contact you if you win a prize (see privacy statement for more info)
3. Your entry must be submitted by Monday at 11:59pm to be considered to win.
4. Winners will be announced the following Tuesday.

Have fun!

Your name, your e-mail address, the books you read and your thoughts about them are your personal information. Why do we need your personal information here? Well, we want to publish your reviews, and we need your name and e-mail address to help administer the contest. The Public Libraries Act is the law that lets us do this. We'll be protecting your privacy every step of the way, but if you have any questions about how we're going to do that, you can contact TPL's Privacy & Records Management Officer, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M4W 2G8, 416-395-5658 or by e-mail at [email protected]

Extended drought: What do you think will happen? How would we be affected?

August 27, 2014 | Ray | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Former Fish of Folsom Lake [image from Associated Press]

If you've been following the news, perhaps you've heard something about the extreme drought that riddles nearly the entire state of California.  The snowcaps from the mountains haven't been replentished over last winter and the mountain rivers the supply the water reservoirs are running dry.  Even the reservoirs are down to mere puddles.  Since we're surrounded by freshwater lakes and even living on a great lake, why would we care? 

For starters, tons of food is imported from California. Strawberries, almonds, most out-of-season fruits and veggies.  Ultimately the high cost of water (due to scarcity) may impact agriculture - determining what plants and animals can be grown with little water - and supply could affect the prices at the supermarket.  Conventional breeds of beef cattle are known to consume more resources than chickens, many places with little water raise goats and sheep rather than cows.  Is it possible that longer-term drought could affect the food supply chain? Perhaps plants that are better for dryer conditions - drought-tolerant plants like sweet potatoes, millet, and sorghum - could have increased production.  How do you think we might be impacted?

So what does this drought look like? Dramatic photos taken around Califoria reveal what used to be hidden at the bottom of water reservoirs - cars, furniture, and garbage is now roasting under the sun. 

The largest reservoir for California, Lake Mead, is dangerously low.  Using a sliding comparison bar, check out these past and present photos of the lake


Meanwhile, people across California are asked to reduce water consumption and in some cases are asked to replace green lawns with native, drought-tolerant species like succulents and cacti.  What do you think? What would a lawn of native Ontario plants look like? 

Will reduced water consumption and replacing lawns have an impact? Is this a way to begin rethinking water use?