Perfect Chemistry: Too Perfect or Just Right?

I saw the book cover and shuddered at the perfect couple in the perfect embrace. Puulease! But after I recovered from my initial repulsion to the cover, I did the unthinkable. I picked it up, flipped it over, and read the summary. Yep, I actually gave it a chance. That’s when I realized that it actually sounded like it might be a good read and that I’d have to give it a try. So glad I did ’cause it was a great modern twist on the classic star-crossed lovers’ tale.

What was the recipe for success? Equal parts rich, popular, beautiful girl named Brittany (what else?!) cooked at a low simmer with sexy, bad-boy Alex who knows that most females can not resist his sultry charm.

The spice in this story comes from the fact that both of these two soon-to-be lovebirds both harbor dark secrets behind their masks of perfection. Brittany goes to school each day all the while trying to hide her less than perfect home life that includes  parents who don’t get along and her mentally disabled sister that she lovingly cares for. Then there’s Alex Fuentes who’s from the South side of town, running from rumors of drug abuse, and gang violence, when in reality he’s desperately trying to protect his younger brother from these very real threats. Once this is established, the couple are partnered up in class which results in an immediate clash.

It’s only after Alex takes a bet to get Brittany to fall for him, that he actually does ends up falling for her. Now we have the couple who, moments ago couldn’t stand the sight of one another. The result is a couple who can’t stop staring into each others eyes. Capitalizing on this attraction, the author, Simone Elkeles, takes the reader on an emotional and bumpy ride, breaking stereotypes left and right. Elkeles also alternates chapters between the perspective of Brittany and Alex, giving the reader a glimpse into each character throughout the story, which is a nice technique and kept me caring about these two. So, buckle up and hang on for a ride full of sexual tension and sarcastic banter. You’ll know it’s true love and that this book is perfect!

Check out Elkeles’ website for more about her writing and book trailers by clicking here.Still not enough for you? Check this song out. She’s a big-time talented fan who created this song about Perfect Chemistry packed with teenage angst!

A to the Mazing!

When I came across this “drawing” I thought, ‘no way…that’s a photo!!’ So I did a little more poking around and found that this particular artist, Raja Cenna, actually has a video of the three+ hours that it took her to draw this image of Lady Gaga.

So, next time you can’t find your iTouch, your parents won’t let you play any video games, there’s nothing on TV, your leg is broken, or no one is texting you back…don’t despair. Life is not over! You actually have time to draw. Here are some more drawings created by teens that you can also use as inspiration. Then, if you need a little more help (and your computer is in the repair shop) visit the Burlington Library where we have an entire section of books about drawing. Just know that the library is there to help you find your A to the Mazing self!

Graphic Mess?

Well, it was bound to happen. Capitalism has crept into the market of graphic novels! Do I sound naive or merely idealistic? Can you imagine the horror of picking up the newest graphic novel and seeing a cover sporting Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, or Al Frankin? WTF (wasn’t that funny)!!






Now these marketing “geniuses” are going to rework every quasi celebrity, wanna-be musician, and TV show that’s ever exsisted into a graphic novel. Where have the creators of literature gone? The need to turn a fast buck is possibly overriding common sense on the literary front. Isn’t it ironic that there was a time when those who questioned the literary value of graphic novels may actually end up coming to their defense? 

If you’ve not experienced the pleasure of reading a quality graphic novel, here are a few suggestions…




Music in the Stacks?

What the heck are we talking about when we say “stacks”? Well, once a month at the library we invite various musicians to share their musical talent at the library. I mean, literally in the library! Yes, where everyone walks around on tip-toe, whispering about their new favorite books. Recently we had the pleasure of teen musician, Madison who joined us with her fiddle (don’t let her catch you calling it a violin!). It was so amazing to walk into a beautiful library and hear beautiful, foot tapping music to go along with it!

So, if you’ve never considered the library to be a source of music – think again. Not only do we have actual musicians in the library but we also have music CD’s available for checkout. With music ranging from Guns-N-Roses, George Michael, Justin Bieber to wedding music.

And if those still aren’t quite what you’re looking for, take a minute to listen to Gorillaz.

Easy Money

Calling all teens!  Create a video promoting summer reading at your library and you could win $250!  The best short Public Service Announcement, using the theme “You Are Here,” produced by a Washington student or group of students that encourages use of their local public libraries and promotes reading all summer long will take away the contest prize.

The top video will be featured throughout 2011 as the official commercial for Washington’s Summer Reading Program.  Completed forms are due by March 7, 2011.  For more information, go to 2011 Teen Video Challenge .

If you need a little help uploading a video to youtube, check this out!

Say It 2 My Face

Say It 2 My Face is a campaign started by Taylor Audette, a University of Southern California college student. She began this campaign as a response to the negative effects that result from cyber-bullying and the demoralizing effects caused by some anonymous web sites. Too often people see cyberspace as a world in which anything can be done and said, without long-term harm. Sometimes messages are more easily sent to people that would never have been said to their face. Hurtful language and hateful messages are sent out without any consequences.

With recent permanent life-altering events in the news, it is Audette’s hope that some of these events would not have taken place if people were more conscious of the actions their words have in person and on the internet. Considering that over 42% of kids have been bullied while on line, this is not an isolated problem.

The campaign addresses the issues of cyber-bullying through photography, pledge bracelets, clothing, blogs, video, and music, Say It 2 My Face serves to be a pioneer in the movement to speak out and confront cyber-bullying issues. Also, they encourage others to join them in being a part of the solution to end cyber-bullying by individually taking the pledge, in which people agree to hold themselves accountable for what they say online as well as joining them in their petition against the anonymous websites that foster hate. Don’t be silent on this issue any longer.

Take a stand. Help yourself and help each other.


It Doesn’t Happen Here?

Or does it? You might think that books aren’t banned any longer in this day and age of enlightment but recently a local school board in our county approved the decision by the school superintendent to restrict class use of the book, Feed by M.T. Anderson to 11th and 12th graders. This decision was made only after some parents became upset when 10th graders read the book in class.  Feed is the story of a futuristic world in which people receive information through implants in their brain. The book contains explicit language and deals with sexual situations, which were the reasons for much of the uproar. To read the original article and comments in the local paper click on this link.

Is this censorship? Is it the right of parents to restrict their children’s access to certain materials?  Is it the right of parent’s to restrict all children’s access to certain materials. How could this have been handled differently? Does this type of restriction on certain materials sound an alarm that only brings attention to an item and in turn more people read it than would have otherwise? Do you want to read this book now?

Interested in books similar to Feed? Check these out!

Then, if you want to go oldschool, take a look at A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

Teen Recommendation

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard is about four friends who were brought together by a girl named Alison who went missing a year earlier. Now they are being brought back together when they start getting mysterious messages from a person who claims to be “A”. 

My favorite character was Aria because she reminded me of myself. This would be a fun book for anyone in 7th grade and up.

                                                                                                                                    – Ariel

Don’t Trust Anyone Over 25!

This is the mantra that greeted me as I started reading Cory Doctorow’s commentary in the book, Little Brother. No, there is no subtlety in his perspective and for me that didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the story. The quote, “Funny, for all surveillance, Osama bin Laden is still free—and we’re not. Guess who’s winning the “war on terror?” is just one of many expressing some obvious truths. I enjoyed this thinly veiled commentary on the political landscape of security and how it invades many aspects of our lives in the name of keeping America safe. So much so that the main character, Marcus, after being falsely accused of being involved in a terrorist attack on San Francisco, decides that he is not going to lay down and take it. Our young computer geek decides that he’s going to fight fire with fire. As Doctorow puts it, “Never underestimate the determination of a kid who is time-rich and cash-poor.”

The concept of the little guy fighting against the establishment, especially one that plays dirty, is exciting and has the reader cheering Marcus and his friends on as they mount their attack. Throughout the book the reader is provided with a list of books and ideas that can be explored further on their own time ranging from the effects of microwaving grapes, exploring humanity with, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and then to Schneier’s paper dealing with Applied Cryptography. These are just interesting stops along the way as you journey through this thrilling landscape.

Another recent title in a similar vein is Epic by Conor Kostick. This book tells the story of a government created with good intentions and only one rule; no violence, without exception under penalty of being banished. Sounds like a good idea, however, as in all good stories, corruption has slowly crept into the realm of those who make decisions and affect the lives of everyone. The way they wield this control is through a game called Epic. Everyone must spend (waste) much of their waking time eeking out a meager living by collecting wealth within the virtual world of the game, Epic in order to help them subsist in the real world.

So through the main character, Erik, the discovery is made that the very skills society considers advantageous in the game can actually be limiting in their game play. Erik also discovers that despite his new-found strengths, he can not do it alone. So with the help of his friends and those in his colony, they attempt to make things right and that by reaching for the end it might just be the beginning.

Oh, and I know you’re going to look it up so here it is, but be warned, don’t try this at home!