June 29, 2015

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is how the old saying goes but let’s be honest; we all do it. A good cover can pull us in and entice us, but a bad cover can make us lose interest without even knowing what the book is about. Here is a list of recommended summer reads from the Pembina Trail YAC, and the members also took a look at the covers of their picks to see what works for them and what doesn’t!

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned VizziniIt's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Craig Gilner is an ambitious teenager who is determined to get into the school of his dreams; however, the pressure to succeed gets to him and one night, he nearly kills himself. After checking himself into a mental hospital, he meets patients that change his life and help him face his inner demons. The cover of this book represents Craig's "anchors" (what helps him get through life and keeps him grounded), which can inspire everyone who reads this book to think of what they love to do, or who in their life keeps them grounded and able to face themselves every day. This book is heartwarming and uplifting, supporting its sad moments with self-deprecating humour and its dull moments with- well, there aren't really any dull moments! A must-read.

Cold Burn of Magic  by Jennifer EstepCold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Cold Burn of Magic includes all three of my personal favourite elements of a good story: intrigue, magic, and mystery. Its a modern fantasy story, based in a small town known as "the most magical place in America." And the town is magical, provided you don't run afoul of the ruling Families. I like the cover well enough, especially the black silhouettes against the blue and purple sky.

Paper Towns by John GreenPaper Towns by John Green

Margo Roth Spiegelman was tired of living in Orlando, where she believed was a paper town. Before departing on her long journey, she spent her last night with her neighbour Quentin Jacobsen completing a list of 11 things. Margo then disappears and leaves tiny clues for Quentin on where to find her, allowing him to embrace his inner wildness and go on his own adventure. This is a great cover because a pin in a map represents a journey, as this book is filled with adventure and fun stuff happening all the time.

Cinder by Marissa MeyerCinder by Marissa Meyer

Yet another twist on the always classic fairy tale, Cinder has your evil stepsisters, your handsome prince, your poor cyborg mechanic… Wait… Did you say a Cyborg Mechanic? Yes! It’s a sci-fi twist on Cinderella! There are all the aspects of the original beloved story with sci-fi flair such as a plague that’s spreading across the earth, a corrupt lunar government, and, as I may have already mentioned, cyborgs. I think the cover of this book suits it well, because it shows the famous glass slipper, but as well the differences in the storyline by showing the metal skeleton in her foot.

Royal Wedding: Princess Diaries 11 by Meg CabotRoyal Wedding: Princess Diaries 11 by Meg Cabot

For fans of Meg Cabot, rejoice as she has continued the Princess Diaries series with the eleventh book, Royal Wedding. It is just as hilarious as the others. Just one look at the cover will tell you all you need to know about this book as it clearly shows us what Princess Mia has on her mind.

The Help by Kathryn StockettThe Help by Kathryn Stockett

Considering most of you will have time, I suggest that you looking into reading one of my favorite books called The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Although it is lengthy, it is definitely worthwhile as it explores a topic that many aren’t quite familiar with. On a side note, I chose this book because I love the cover. There are two version of it, the most common being the one with birds on a branch and another with the 4 main characters played in the movie adaptation. Both covers are amazing and very simplistic therefore telling a lot about the type of book that it will be and grabbing readers’ attention.

Chime by Franny BillingsleyChime by Franny Billingsley

The book I suggest is Chime by Franny Billingsley. I enjoyed the book because of how it centers around the searching for truth and love. The author was very descriptive and the book had a lot of suspense, making me unable to put the book down. The new cover displays the spirits and main character of the book, but i like the old cover better where it displays and emphasizes more on the nature and setting the book is written in.

The Candymakers by Wendy MassThe Candymakers by Wendy Mass

My book recommendation is a book called “The Candymakers”. I like this book because it brings you into a brilliant world of confectionary dreams and it brings your imagination to life. This book has an element of mystery but not in the Sherlock Holmes way. The cover is magnificently designed because it shows you how busy the book will be. It consists of the 4 main characters and the candy factory at which the book takes place. I hope you enjoy this book.


Paranormalcy Trilogy by Kiersten WhiteParanormalcy Trilogy by Kiersten White

The series of books I recommend is called "Paranormalcy Trilogy". They are fiction novels by Kiersten White. The whole series is about the paranormals, such like vampires, werewolves, faerie and even shapeshifter. The descriptions of the scenes and people's personalities are fabulous and detailed, also the plot is attractive, it makes you want to read more. The main character is called "Evie", she is a generous, brave and amazing girl. I believe the readers will enjoy the books and improve the writing skills through them. "The clock is sticking on the entire paranormal world. And it's fate rests solely in Evie's hands."---A quote from the book.


Artemis Fowl by Eoin ColferArtemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

 Artemis fowl is the book I chose: the cover of the book is cool because it has writing on it that is not human! I found it intriguing because of that. The book itself is intriguing and I would read it again. The book is about a boy who lives in a world where there are fairies and I don't want to get into detail so I’ll stop there.



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June 25, 2015

by Laura,


Dear Booked Blog readers,

When was the last time you received a letter in the mail? How about a postcard? An e-mail that wasn’t just a business slinging wares or advertising the best deals? Maybe you keep a journal, personal blog, or a diary. Surely, you’ve sent text messages and commented on social media. And, definitely, you’ve had to write papers of varying lengths for school assignments. Before all the fast and easy connectivity provided by modern technology, letters and postcards were the most common method of communication and, truly, they were an art form. The art of personal letter writing seems to have become a thing of the past now that it's so easy to text and comment your heart out. If any of you entertain romantic notions of the simpler times, take heart. Even if you never receive a letter in your life, the art will live on in the shape of epistolary novels.

Epistolary novels are those written in the form of, you guessed it, letters (or e-mails, or diary entries, or text messages, or really any other kind of written/typed document). It's a pretty popular form for novels for all ages (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, anyone?). What's especially neat about it is all the action & description is done via the character(s)'s own writing. It’s almost as though you’ve uncovered someone’s long-lost personal notes or correspondence, like a literary form of reality TV. And actually, in some situations, that truly is the case. Take, for example, The Diary of a Young Girl which is a genuine diary kept by Dutch teenager Anne Frank during World War II.

You may have already read an epistolary novel and not even realized it! Take a look at this, by no means exhaustive, list of novels which includes some of my favourites:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

PerksThis contemporary classic young adult novel is viewed through the letters of precocious but sometimes head-shakingly naïve Charlie as he enters his freshman year of high-school. Written entirely in letters to an unidentified person, you get an intimate view of Charlie, his friends, and his family as they explore issues of love, sex, suicide, drugs, abuse, and live-enactments of Rocky Horror Picture Show. The mixtape playlist at the end is timeless and afterward you can watch the movie to compare.


Ella Minnow Pea: A Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable by Mark

Ella Minnow PeaAn epistolary novel at its most ridiculous. Set on the fictional island of Nollop, the Nollopians live in an anachronistic world where they shun most modern technologies and still use letter writing as their main method of communication. Their island community worships Nevin Nollop the creator of the pangram “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” (a pangram is a phrase, sentence or verse which contains every letter in the alphabet). As the town council begins outlawing the use of certain letters of the alphabet the story becomes more and more absurd. Check it out for a ridiculous romp that has, at its core, a story about censorship, extremists, madness, and wordplay.

 Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

Angus If you’re looking for a book that will have your fellow bus-riders staring at you sideways because you’re doubled over with laughter, look no further. Rennison’s series about fictional British teen Georgia Nicholson’s day-to-day life is told in hilariously candid diary entries.

CastleI Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

This diary novel is from the point of view of seventeen-year-old Cassandra who lives with her family in a crumbling English castle in the 1930s. With very little food and no amenities, the family’s future begins to brighten when two young American men move in next door and provide much needed hope for Cassandra and her older sister Rose. And, honestly, "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink" may be the most charming opening line of a novel that I have ever read.

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Written as diary entries by an unnamed fifteen-year old narrator, the story follows her journey from a secure middle class family to a world of drugs and addiction and her struggle to escape. Fact or fiction? This one has been ripe with controversy and is one of those most repeatedly challenged and banned books for teens.

True DiaryThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The Murder of Bindy by Jaclyn Moriarty

 TTYL by Lauren Myracle

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Roomies by Sara Zarr (okay, so this one isn’t completely an epistolary novel but still a great read that incorporates e-mail writing into the narrative)


How many on this list have you read?



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June 18, 2015

by Bailey, 

Divergent by Veronica RothBooks mean different things to different people, and I don’t just mean how the books are interpreted. For instance, someone might read a book and later find themselves going through the exact same situation as the characters in that book. They might then turn to the book for a sense of security, knowing that if the characters can get through these difficulties, they will too. This is an example of a direct connection, where what you read about what the character is feeling is actually what you're feeling. An example of an indirect connection would be when what you read reminds you of someone in your life, and you feel as though you're reading their thoughts.

Steelheart by Brandon SandersonMany people believe that it is impossible for a person to relate to a fictional character so strongly, but when reading a good book, it is impossible not to feel something for the characters. Knowing that there is someone you can always turn to if you feel alone is an indescribable feeling that sadly few people have. Many people will turn to a friend or family member, but sometimes it's much easier to just pick up a book and take yourself away from your problems and into another dimension.

The Girl in the Steel CorsetBooks aren't a permanent escape, but they work for awhile, giving you time until you're able to figure out what to do and how to solve your own problem. I think books that are either dystopian, like Divergent by Veronica Roth or Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, or set in the past, like A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray or The Girl in The Steel Corset by Kady Cross, work best for escaping.


 Books can be many different things to many different people: security, an escape from reality, or just something fun.


 What do books mean to you?

What are your favourite books to read for fun or to escape from real life for awhile?

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June 11, 2015

by Alan C.,

There is a lot of stuff on the web.  A LOT.  But did you know, the results you get from Google only scratch the surface of what the internet has to offer? 

Search engines (think Google, Yahoo, or Bing) use bots to crawl through the internet and create an index of its contents.  Basically, this means that specialized computer programs (bots) click on every single link on every single web page (crawling) and make a giant list of every website (an index).  The part of the web that search engines index is often called the surface web. 

Web sharksBeneath the surface is what is known as the deep web.  This is the part of the web that bots don’t have access to and thus this part of the web cannot be indexed.  At first this might sound ominous; a lot of news reports erroneously describe the deep web as a nefarious place full of illegal activity.  But it is more accurate think of the deep web as an ocean.  Sharks can certainly be found swimming in some parts of the ocean, but so can many, many, many other creatures.   Internet scholars call the parts of the web with sharks the dark web.  The dark web only makes up a small portion of the deep web.

So besides the sharks, what else can be found in the deep web?  First off, anything that requires a username/email and a password.  The deep web contains information (often YOUR information) that you generally wouldn’t want to be made available to everyone who uses Google.  The structure of the deep web helps to protect this information and is what allows you to share your photos on Facebook among only your friends; to set up an online account to play video games; or to keep your personal online banking information personal.

Another large chunk of the deep web is locked behind what are called paywalls.  A paywall simply means that you have to pay to access the information that a website contains.  Some well-known sites that operate under the paywall model are Netflix, the iTunes Store, and The New York Times.

One of the benefits of having a Winnipeg Public Library card is that you have free access to several great web resources that are usually behind a paywall.  Some of my favourites are:

Freading Freading

Freading provides access to eBooks for, you guessed it, free.  Often hidden in the shadow of the other big eBook provider, Overdrive, Freading is truly a hidden gem if you’re into graphic novels.  Some of the great graphic novel titles include:  Mass Effect, Emily the Strange, Hellboy, and Axe Cop.


Zinio provides free access to several great magazines.  For aspiring photographers there is Popular Photography and Digital Photo Pro.  If staying active is your thing try Runner’s World, Outside, Bicycling, or the Yoga Journal.  And if you’re a nerd like me you’ll love Wired, PC Magazine, and Discover.  The best part about Zino is that the magazines you download are yours to keep forever!  

Chilton’s Auto Repair

For all you gearheads and aspiring gearheads out there, the Chilton’s Auto Repair database gives you access to the resources you need to tinker with and repair your cars, including repair procedures and wiring diagrams.

I saved the best for last.  New to Winnipeg Public Library, provides access to hundreds of thousands of professional quality video tutorials.  If you’ve ever wanted to learn about 3D and Animation software, try  If you wanted to learn about Audio + Music software, try  Photography?  Website Design? Get the picture?


Hopefully, you now have a basic understanding of how the deep web works and how it compares to the surface web.  If you have any thoughts on the subject, please let me know in the comments below.


Alan is a branch head for WPL.  He is also a nerdy nerd. 


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June 4, 2015

by Ashlin,

Greetings, loyal Booked readers!

Don't let the pigeon drive the busWho doesn’t love combing their basement to find aged relics about which we may reminisce? I myself was doing so the other day, in my family’s bookshelves.  Remembrance, to an extent, is one of the most enjoyable feelings. I found my mind creating connections between books I am currently reading and ones I used to read, and was surprised. When I came across “Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” I thought of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, because they are both centered around birds, the Mockingjay being the significant bird of the Hunger Games trilogy. But I didn’t stop at that one connection. A popular read by David Shannon would be No, David! It’s about a very young, trouble-making boy whose inappropriate ways result in him being told “no” a lot. Currently, I am reading The Beggar King by Michelle Barker. The Beggar King is about another trouble-making boy, Jordan, whose ways are not appreciated by his authority figures. No, David was just innocent humour, but in the Beggar King, Jordan Elliot is harshly punished for his trouble-making, and must decide whether to rebel against the Brinns overthrowing his country, and risk his life or not.


Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the last decade or two has heard of Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, the mesmerizing tale of a melancholy orphan boyThe glass sentence living with his mother’s family, learns he is a wizard, and battles dark magic. Even such a unique, magical tale shares interesting aspects with other books.  A Young Adult book one might compare it to would be The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove. It too is a fantasy book, but the type of magic it contains is very different from that in Harry Potter. In orphan Sophia Tim’s universe, different areas of the world are set into different ages (time periods). Most of the magic, however, is hidden in the art of cartography, which has become important to this new world. She now lives with her uncle (just like Harry Potter). The only difference in that is that her uncle Shadrack is a caring, benevolent character who you too will love, rather than hate with all you can muster, as you would Harry’s uncle.


Not my girlMore recently written is Not My Girl, a picture book based off of a Stranger At Home, by Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. The sequel to Fatty Legs, this true story of Margaret coming home from the “outsider’s school” follows her struggle as she tries to fit back into her Inuit culture after losing all of it in school. If the aspect of aboriginal culture intrigues you, I would recommend Juliana and the Medicine Fish. In 2001, Juliana and the Medicine Fish was written about a young Ojibwa girl whose parents divorce, and she goes on a trip to her father’s fishing lodge.  Through her Ojibwa culture, she learns more and more about fishing to win a contest in hopes of helping her father financially. Both books are centered around aboriginal culture, so if you’ve read any in the series of Not my Girl, or have read Juliana and the Medicine Fish, maybe you should read the other one!


So far, I’ve been drawing a line between Juvenile Fiction and Young Adult Fiction. Contrary to what I’ve been suggesting, there are some tales which have escaped the box reserved for children’s stories, and stuck with adults and teens alike for years to decades, or even centuries. What about The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer? When I picked it up, it seemed very complex and old because of the language Mark Twain uses, but that was normal for people of his time. This, and the wonderful but dark storyline of witnessing murders, attending one’s own funeral, and nearly starving to death in a cave, makes it a compelling read for all generations.  A little later came along Anne of Green Gables, which was vaguely similar to Tom Sawyer in language. One may think adults would be turned away from this children’s novel because of it’s theme of adults who cannot handle the imagination of a poor orphan girl (another orphan! What’s with all the orphans?) But Anne of Green Gables is consistent to all generations, though a little easier for younger children’s vocabulary. So go ahead, break the barriers between ages and read those books!


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