July 27, 2015

Have you ever been so absorbed in a book that when it ended, you didn’t know which world was real? With a series, you don't have to stop there! Once you finish all the books in a series, try to figure out what the main characters want you to read next.

Summer is the perfect time to jump into a new world so here are two series that we at the St. James-Assiniboia YAC have enjoyed losing ourselves in, along with some books we know the characters would want you to read.

ViralsVirals by Kathy and Brendan Reichs

I have read this whole series so many times and the final book just came out. It's about a group of teens who have one very special thing in common. I love the series because all of the characters are realistic. The teenagers act like... well, teenagers!

Shiver Victoria "Tory" Brennan is the youngest 'viral,' and the only girl. Her favorite things in life besides her friends and her dad are science and canines. Tory definitely wants you to read Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.

Benjamin Blue is the eldest viral and loves being outdoors- especially on his boat. Ben would likely tell you to read Kit's Wilderness by David Almond.

The Book ThiefShelton Devers is the techno wiz. He's crazy, smart and scared of everything and that's why I'm sure he loves reading The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton and anything by David Levithan.

Finally, there's Hiram "Hi" Stolowitski. Hi is a total history buff and believes himself to be quite the ladies’ man. Hi would definitely want you to join him in reading historical fiction like The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.



InfernalThe Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

Tessa Gray is a normal woman living in the 1800s, searching for her missing brother, Nathaniel. Her search leads her into a world of magic, monsters, and Shadowhunters. She meets a young man named Will Herondale, who has a strange sense of humour and a fear of ducks, and another young man named James Carstairs, a sickly but energetic Shadowhunter. Will, James, and the other Shadowhunters agree to help Tessa find her brother. Tessa has to learn about the Shadow world to save her brother, but there is much more to learn than she thinks.


The characters in Infernal Devices would definitely read the works of the famous authors of the Victorian-era, such as Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities) and the three Bronte sisters Charlotte (Jane Eyre), Emily (Wuthering Heights) and Anne (Agnes Grey).

                               Jane EyreWuthering Heights

We’re sure you’ll agree, a great series will not only lead you from one book to another, but from one world to another, too! What series or characters have inspired you to pick up a book?


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July 23, 2015

by Madeleine,

By now you are all in the midst of summer, hopefully enjoying a well-deserved vacation from school.  These summer months have made me want to read books about vacation as well.  I was happy to discover that a number of titles take place in…theme parks!  I recently saw the movie Tomorrowland, which features an awesome girl character who is interested in science, outer space, and fixing things that need fixing.  She ends up in possession of a mysterious pin which takes her on a great adventure to the futuristic world of Tomorrowland.  There is an interesting part that takes place at the New York World Fair in 1964, where the Disney Park's ride “It’s a Small World” was first premiered.  (Admittedly this is not my favourite ride that I have ever been on, and that song can get stuck in your head.)  Tomorrowland

I myself have always been a fan of theme parks, from the big, shiny, efficient ones like Disney World to the small, slightly seedy ones like Coney Island in Brooklyn, NY.

Here are some library titles I found that take place in theme parks:

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow 

DDown and Out in the Magic Kingdomown and Out in the Magic Kingdom takes place at a Disney World far into the future, where death has been cured and no one ever gets diseases.  You can simply download your mind into a fresh clone of your body whenever you die.  If you get tired of living, you can “deadhead” for a while—aka shut down your body and mind until a computer tells you that the world has created something that might interest you again.  Jules is living his third life with his girlfriend and working at Disney World.  His favourite attraction is the Haunted Mansion and he specialises in crowd control (an important factor to consider at a busy amusement park).  When a couple other workers change the Hall of Presidents drastically from the classic attraction it has been in the past (they blast images directly into people’s brains!) Jules gets upset but before he can do anything about it, he is mysteriously murdered.  When his mind gets put into a fresh clone once again, Jules is determined to get to the bottom of who killed him and to fight with his friends to protect his beloved Haunted Mansion from the same fate as the Hall of Presidents.  It was refreshing to read about a future where, though it has its downsides, the world isn’t a completely miserable dystopia (as much as I love dystopian fiction).

Dream Factory by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler

Dream FactoryAll the characters have gone on strike at Disney World to protest for better working conditions.  In the meantime, Disney World has hired teenagers for the summer to take their places.  Ella is Cinderella.  She wears a fancy dress and gets “married” every day to Prince Charming (Mark, her boyfriend) at three o’clock.  Luke plays Dale the chipmunk and his girlfriend Cassie plays Chip.  However, it becomes apparent that Ella and Luke have a lot more in common than they do with Mark and Cassie.  These feelings they have for each other are further complicated by the fact that Ella is still dealing with the grief of a tragic event in her family and Luke is feeling more and more trapped by the way his family seems to have decided the course of his whole life.  The cover makes the book seem like it’ll be a bit of light entertainment, and while there is plenty of that there is a lot more beneath the surface.

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come TrueZoe and her cousin Jess have been hired at Fairyland, a theme park in their home state of New Jersey.  Jess wants to be one of the princesses, and Zoe just wants a job to take her mind off of her grief over the death of her mother, while at the same time reconnecting with her mother’s spirit (Zoe’s mother used to take her to the former incarnation of Fairyland, called Storytown, when she was a little girl).  Jess also wants to win the $25000 Dream and Do Grant which is awarded by Fairyland at the end of the summer to the employee who shows the “Wow!” spirit.  Jess’ family is in financial trouble so she needs money to help her attend Tisch School of the Arts in New York, and Zoe wants to help her cousin win.  When they get to Fairyland, Jess ends up as a secondary character and Zoe ends up as the “lady-in-waiting” to the boss of Fairyland, aka “The Queen”, who could give Miranda Priestley from The Devil Wears Prada a run for her money.  For example, she makes Zoe block out any mention of “The Mouse” from “that other theme park in Florida” in her morning newspaper.  On top of that, Zoe gets rescued one night when she runs into the “Forbidden Zone” after the Queen’s dog, Tinkerbell, by one of the Park’s Princes.  She finds herself in something of a predicament—should she keep her rescuer (who was also in the Forbidden Zone) a secret?  Or tell the Queen and keep her chances of winning the Dream and Do Grant for her cousin?  There are a lot of laughs and great twists—it definitely did not turn out as predictable as I thought it would be when I started  reading it.

Steam Park by Filippo Neri and Piero Ruggeri

Steam ParkThis graphic novel has no dialogue but still manages to tell a compelling story.  Five kids get kidnapped by the scary park owner and forced to work as slaves running the merry-go-round.  When a short circuit causes a jack-o-lantern and some toys to come alike, they enlist the help of an alcoholic old clown to help them save the children and stop the evil park owner once and for all.  There was one page in the book where it was a little unclear to me what exactly was happening, but it wasn’t too vital to the plot.  The art goes back and forth from funny to creepy in an effective way.


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July 20, 2015


We are the Charleswood YAC and today we will be setting up a battle between our favourite red and green covered books. We have six amazing books below, team red and team green will now make their first move in convincing you that they have best books.

Matched Cydonian Pyramid

Our first match is between Matched by Ally Condie and The Cydonian Pyramid by Pete Hautman.

Matched is a one of a kind book based in a dystopian world where the Society tells you how to live your life, who to marry, how many kids you will have, and what your career will be. But Cassia gets stuck on a glitch, during her matching ceremony she sees her lifelong friend's face flash up on the screen just as she predicted but then just for a moment another face comes up and is gone just as fast as it came, Ky Markham. Throughout the days after the ceremony Cassia can't seem to get him out of her head and that sparks a flaw in the Society's plan so as Cassia tries to figure out what the whole situation means the Society just keeps reassuring her that it was just a glitch because Ky isn't even supposed to be in the matching pool, Cassia isn't so sure that's the case.

The Cydonian Pyramid is the second book in the series “The Klaatu Diskos” written by Peter Hautman and centres around the journey of Lah Lia as opposed to the first book which centres around Tucker Feye. Lah Lia is a pampered girl who was born thousands of years in our future whose only purpose in life was to be sacrificed over the top of a pyramid. Yet she is saved from that fate thanks to the intervention of Tucker Feye. Then she is thrown into the past, our present, and has to attempt to survive. Later she goes back to her time only to find out that it has changed greatly, there had been a rebellion over the Lah Sept a religious group in charge of everything, and that many priests, were killed. She then participates in a fight against the priests, with the priests having the advantage as they have armas, batons that are used to kill.

Splintered  The Red Pyramid 

Our next match is between Splintered by A.G. Howard and The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan.

Splintered is a spin off from Alice in Wonderland and it follows Alyssa Gardner through her journey through Wonderland (which is much different than Lewis Carroll`s version). Much to her mother's dismay. Along the way, she and her best friend Jeb, meet a mysterious character called Morpheus. Wonderland is a dangerous place for everybody and that's no different for Alyssa. Alyssa needs to help keep Wonderland from crumbling to ashes beneath her feet, with the help of Jeb and Morpheus can she do it?

The Red Pyramid is the first book in the series “The Kane Chronicles” written by Rick Riordan and centres around the journey of Sadie and Carter Kane, two siblings that had been separated after the death of their mother and each live the life the other wants, Carter spends time with his father, and Sadie doesn’t live out of a suitcase. When Carter and Julius go to London to celebrate Christmas, Julius takes them to the British Museum promising that he will make it alright, as Carter and Sadie look on, Julius summons an Mysterious figure who banishes their father and causes a fiery explosion. Soon after Carter and Sadie discover that the gods of Ancient Egypt are rising once again and that the worst of them all, Set, has a plan to destroy the North American continent and make him invincible. As Carter and Sadie try to find their father, they become tangled in Sets plans and must make a final decision.

The Sweet Far Thing  Devil's Intern  


Our final match to prove that their books are the best is between The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray and The Devil’s Intern by Donna Hosie.

The Sweet Far Thing is an incredible ending to the Gemma Doyle trilogy, beginning with A Great and Terrible Beauty. A novel filled with magic, romance and gypsies. Gemma has lived in India her whole life she is forced to move all the way to her dream home, England, but she's not as happy as she should be. Once she starts at Spence (a finishing school for young ladies) Gemma is surrounded by strangeness, from a group of mean girls to a gypsy camp in the forest next to the school. Can Gemma figure out where all these oddities are coming from and why?

The Devils Intern is a book written by Donna Hosie about a 17 year old devil called Mitchell Johnson was hit by a bus and sent to Hell. He is lucky enough to be able to get the most desired job in all of Hell, to be The Devils intern. He finds out about a device called a Viciseometer that has the ability to turn back time and let a devil change their fate, Mitchell starts to hatch a plan to change his death. Together with his friends, Medusa whose real name is Melissa Pallister but got the nickname Medusa due to her hair, Alfarin son of Hlif a Viking prince, Elinor Powell a peasant from 1666, they sneak out of Hell after stealing the Viciseometer they criss cross time to the dates of their death. The group finds out hat heinous creatures from the pits of Hell are following them and after one of their own.

Now that you’ve read what these books are about, vote in the comments below which colour you think has the best books.

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July 16, 2015

by Monique,
This is definitely a post you want to save for later. 

We may still be in the lazy days of summer but for the political animals out there the countdown is on – to the federal election on October 19th, that is.  It still is summer, though, so read great books (need some suggestions? Check out these Teen SRC reading lists!), do fun stuff and know that when the temperature starts dropping (and the political ads really start getting air time), you have the spot to come back to get all election-smart.


So who runs elections anyway?

Ballot boxFor federal elections like the one coming up in October, it’s Elections Canada.  They’re an independent agency, not connected to any political party and their site is the place to go for absolutely accurate information about the election.  People who are old enough to vote can find out how to get registered and where they’ll be voting, but there’s good information on the site even if you’re not voting age.


Political parties and their platforms

My fave?  Can you say Pirate Party of Canada?  Not kidding.  This page gives you links to the websites for all the parties.  You’ll want to visit the parties’ websites to find out about the ideas they’re putting forward.


Who won last time?

You can also get information about past elections under the “Elections” tab.  For results from more recent elections go to “Past Elections (1996 to present)”. The most recent election was on May 2, 2011.  Check out this really detailed map of the results.  Pro tip:  blue is where the Conservatives won, orange for the NDP, red for the Liberals.  It’s a good reminder of where things stand right now.

checked boxesThe “Elections” tab also takes you to info on voter turnout from past elections. You can see what overall voter turnout has been since the very first federal election in 1867 on this page (under the “Elections” tab) and that turnout has definitely dropped over the years.


Focusing on YOUth

 Inspire Democracy is Elections Canada’s site for information on “how to encourage youth civic engagement in Canada.”  Have a look. There’s a clock counting down – to the second – to the election.  The “Quick Facts” tab has just that – some basic stats on young people and voting.  Voter turnout among young people has been really low for a long time but you’ll see that the recent stats are pretty extreme.
Tvotehe pages under the “Research” tab have all kinds of data and studies about voter registration and turn-out rates.  For example, this graph shows the (super) low voter registration rate of 18 year olds, but also shows how that number tends to go up as people get even a little bit older. 

They also post short articles like this one: “Young adults are slacktivists, and that's a good thing” based on data about young peoples’ preferences for taking part in democracy (for example:  voting, joining social media campaigns, being part of a protest, etc.)  Do the results from this survey reflect how you and your friends get involved in social or political issues?


Polls – the crystal balls of elections

So much drama and unpredictable stuff can happen during a campaign - so much so that there’s a saying that the only poll that really matters is on election day.  Still there’s definitely not a shortage of polls out there predicting results and as E-Day gets closer you’ll start seeing more poll results reported in the media.  If you’re curious right now to see (one take) on where things stand the ThreeHundredEight blog posts polling information that people in the media and even politicians themselves pay attention to.

But back to summer!  And the beach, and concerts, summer jobs and hopefully lots of great books and fun projects.  Make sure to connect with our Teen Summer Reading Club for a chance to win some great prizes.  All the election drama will be waiting for when those long summer nights run out.


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July 13, 2015

Howdy Teen Book Readers!

Welcome to an exciting week of Teen Summer Reading Club: Week 3. This week's YAC blog is brought to you by Jenna, Emma, and Alex: Transcona’s radical YAC members! If you scramble our initials you can spell ‘age’ incorrectly as in ‘teenaje.’ This week we’re going to recommend to you a little taste of our favourite books. And a 1 and a 2 and a here we go…

Alex, the ‘A’ in aje recommends the following:

Uglies Pretties  Specials  Extras

Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld

Once I started reading I could not put them down, read the original three books in the span of a few days. The story takes you and keeps you wanting to know what happens next, super addicting. It really made me reflect on today's society and the one depicted in this series. My favourite series hands down.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Leviathan

Pretty rad, definitely a great teen book. I couldn't put it down. Includes a few queer characters, so representation! John Green and David Leviathan truly know their target audience!

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Not only are you pleasing your English teacher but you're enjoying yourself! This book is my all-time favourite, it takes a look at the 'American Dream' and does it wonderfully! It really causes you think about our society as well as that of the 1930's and compare the two. This book is so beautifully written, so quotable! A true literary classic that must be read by everyone at least once!

Courtesy of Jenna, the ‘J’ in aje:

At first I read Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, it’s an incredible book in my opinion. So, if you like the book as well, I find these next couple of books are a little similar in genre but incredibly unique in their own way. They are also really well written and are amazing books to read.

Born at MidnightBorn at Midnightby C. C. Hunter

Born at Midnight by C. C. Hunter is a book about a teenage girl, Kylie Galen with pretty normal family issues who was sent to a summer camp meant for troubled kid. She finds out that she has a really weird gift that she doesn’t want one bit. On top of that she has two super-hot guys fight over her all summer, who wouldn’t want that? But she’s a little too busy with trying to control her gift and finding out who she is to really notice how much they like her.

StarlingStarling by Lesley Livingston

Starling is a teenage girl who is a champion fencer on her high schools fencing team. She soon finds that things in her life are about to get a little rough: her family is trying to raise Norse gods, which would be the end of a lot of things in her life. But with the help from a weird stranger that saved her and her friends, she is able to stop her family and save a lot of people’s lives in the process.

Tiger's CurseTiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck

Kelsey Hayes thought she was just getting hired for a simple summer job, but what she didn’t know is that the white tiger she is taking care of is actually a 300 year-old human Indian prince who hasn’t aged a day since the curse was cast on him. Kelsey is the only person that can help him break it, though some have tried and failed, she is brave enough to do whatever it takes to help him break the curse.

Emma, the ‘E’ in aje, thinks that if you love The Fault In Our Stars you’ll also love:

ConfessConfess by Colleen Hoover

This is a beautiful story about an unemployed young woman, Auburn Reed, who finds a job at an extremely influential artist's gallery. Auburn and a young artist who works at the gallery have extremely broken pasts and find that they are able to come together in a way that they did not imagine. This is a newly written novel and I was so excited to read it when it came out. Colleen Hoover is an exceptional contemporary genre writer and I recommend her other books too such as Never Never.

The Sea of TranquilityThe Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

A tragic romance about a girl who used to be able to play piano amazingly until she was attacked. A boy her age named Joshua becomes her salvation. Throughout the days, she learns to love him despite his tough past and hard times. This is a classic novel from a few years back and its intensity is amazing. The characters grow and the archetypes in the names are fascinating. This is one of my all-time favourites!

Ten Tiny BreathsTen Tiny Breaths by K. A Tucker

An influential story about a girl who survived in a drunk driving accident while her parents, best friend and boyfriend died. She is trying to move past this with her sister, Lizzy, but keeps getting deeper and deeper into the past and what happened. This book made me cry, it honestly dug deep into how drunk driving affects everyone and what it leads to.


Eleanor and Park Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

An amazing story with two young people named Eleanor and Park.  They both have different and quirky personalities but the two of them are still able to relate incredibly, nothing stops them. At the beginning, they are tense but throughout the novel, their relationship grows incredibly and they learn to view life together.  I was absolutely addicted when I read this, such a page-turner!  It is written from both of their point of views, so it is amazing to get to see the two sides of the story.

This week’s blog was brought to you by the letters Y, A, and C and the quadrant of Transcona.  We hope you decide to read at least one of these exciting books.  The Charleswood YAC is up next week and we challenge them to see if they can top our recommendations!

Until next time!

-A J E


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