Nightstand Reads: Royce Buckingham

Seattle writer Royce Buckingham is the author of Demonkeeper (“scary and laugh-out-loud funny” said a School Library Journal Review) and Goblins (“a riotously good adventure” said Kirkus Reviews) . We asked this imaginative writer of teen books what he’s been reading, but forgot to ask him where he got the t-shirt he’s sporting in the photo below. Here’s what he told us:

Okay, here’s what is, or was recently, on my nightstand and some of my thoughts.

  • A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
    Funny. Irreverent. I love Moore stuff. It’s adult, but goofy and fast moving. Who cares if he crams in too much for a tight read. It’s a sprawling, erratic experience that winds up satisfying the adult urge for craziness, swear words and monsters all in the same tale.
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
    This sequel to The Hunger Games is good, but can’t compare with the original. Both are SO different from her Gregor series. If you loved The Hunger Games, you will enjoy this follow-up and hate the cliffhanger. My best advice while you wait for the third installment is to rush out and find Stephen King’s novella The Long Walk.
  • The Graveyard Book  and Coraline by Neil Gaiman
    Read each in a couple of sittings (or layings in bed). Quick and smooth stuff done by a pro. Spooky and vivid. These are the models my own book The Dead Boys, due out next Halloween, aspires to.
  • Dragon’s Keep by Janet Lee Carey
    A beautifully written dragon tale. My nine-year-old son and I are half through. Slower and more deliberate than my usual monster fare, but worth the time.
  • Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan
    Fast read. All story, no fluff. Simply written. Poisonous spiders, vampires and lots of exclamation points! Great literature? Nope. Did I like it? Yep.
  • Blackbringer by Laini Taylor
    Again a beautifully written story. Again taking more time to soak up the prose. Hmm, sensing a pattern? I’m half through and love the main character.
  • Cabal by Clive Barker
    Next on the nightstand. Adult book. Yay! Should be a fun diversion.

royce buckingham

Just my Luxe

As a librarian who helps people find good books to read for a living, there is one thing that I know for sure: a reader’s mood or what’s going on in their lives does affect what they want and choose to read. Let me share a case in point: myself.

I generally read “literary” fiction—old and new. For me, literary means anything that is well-written (a totally subjective thing) with engaging characters (at least one of which I can relate to). I don’t generally read for plot; I don’t mind if nothing much happens in a book if the language or the characters move me.

At the end of my pregnancy and soon after my second son was born this fall, I noticed that I really wanted to read for plot and character—writing, especially if it’s too complex or clever, is out the window. So what have I been reading? Answer: Teen fiction!

Last pregnancy I felt the same way. All I wanted to read was fun, juicy, plot-driven teen novels. No bleak contemporary adult novels about the sorrows of life or the stultifying suburbs for me!  I inhaled the Twilight series shortly after my son was born. This time I tried another vampire series — the first in local author Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. Loved it and will read more in the series soon.

But I quickly moved on to Anna Godbersen’s Luxe series. I have read Luxe and Rumors have eagerly started the third, Envy, and can’t wait for the forthcoming Splendor (available soon at the library).

The Luxe books are set in 1899 Manhattan among the beautiful, rich and envied. They have been called “deliciously soapy” and been lauded a historical series for the Gossip Girl setWharton they are not, but I must say that I have found them fairly well-written and thoroughly engaging (if not entirely historically accurate). Lies, intrigue and love triangles abound and anticipation is drawn out with some fancy plot twists.

The first book, Luxe, starts out with the drowning disappearance and death of a beloved society debutante, Elizabeth Holland, who was set to wed the dashing Henry Schoonmaker the next day. The story flashes backwards in time to introduce Elizabeth, her unruly younger sister Diana, Elizabeth’s duplicitous, power-hungry friend Penelope, and Henry, who falls prey to some diabolical twists in the first and subsequent books.

The rise and fall of fortunes, forbidden love and society’s constrictions and whims are on full display in this page-turning series. I would suggest these books to older teens and, of course, adults, too.

Teen books are hot with adults

I’m a teen services librarian and lately I’m delighted to find that I’m serving more and more adult patrons.  Many teen book virgins feel some trepidation, but there is no need, there is something for almost everyone in the Teen section. Teen books are often fast-paced reads, but don’t let that fool you: They are not simplistic. Teen publishing often seems more willing to take risks and is interested in challenging social conventions — just like teens! However, not all teen books are created equal, and just like books for adults there is lots of mass-produced crap.  Here are a few suggestions of some outstanding books in several genres. 

There is a trend of great speculative fiction happening in teen publishing. Most of whhunger-gamesich is not your space type Sci-Fi but more dystopias, scary government, anti-consumerism type stuff. One of my all time favorites in this (and any genre) is House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. Set in a not-too distant future,  we meet El Patron, drug business king pin and one of the most powerful men in the world. He is well over 100 years old and his body is giving out, and that is where his teenage clone Matt comes in. But Matt has his own personality and consciousness even if his destiny is predetermined. Bleak, scary, all too realistic and great for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale or Brave New World

Think reality TV goes a little far? Try The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. One male and one female teen from the 12 districts must be tithed yearly to a fight until death on a televised game show.  Think this has been done before? Think again. Collins creates a story full of surprises, action, and contemplative moments. Fair warning you will not be able to put this down! 

Fun for hipsters, geeks and nerds,  try these two smart and funny novels:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. Thought provoking, hilarious and feminist. You’ll wish you knew Frankie. Hell, you’ll wish you were Frankie.
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green 
Sweet, dorky, road trip romance for those who love 16 Candles, High Fidelity or Say Anything

Some of the most beautifully written books in the teen section are from Europe and Australia. Many of them are marketed as “adult” books there, but “teen” books in the U.S.  

How I live now by Meg Rosoff is a short intense book that you will never forget. Setamar-by-mal-peet-book-covert in England during an attack by unnamed terrorists,15-year-old Daisy and her teen cousins try to survive on their own. It is as confusing, disturbing and heartbreaking as one might imagine it would be after a sudden breakdown in society. This war story focuses on desolation, hunger, longing, pain and an intense love story between two of the cousins.
Two very different novels about WWII are The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak and Tamar by Mal Peet. The Book Thief, a book club favorite, is a heartbreaking tale of friendship set during the holocaust. Tamar is a road trip/mystery that follows Tamar as she searches for the secret of her name and tries to solve the mystery her grandfather’s past as a Dutch resistance fighter.  

Touching Snow by Sindy M. Felin, a National Book Award finalist, is the story of a first generation Haitian immigrant dealing with culture clashes, child abuse and her own sexual orientation in 1980s NYC. Not for the faint hearted but still a hopeful story that would be great for a book group.

If you’d like other suggestions for teen books (for teens or adults!), please email teencenter@spl.org.
    ~ Jennifer, Teen Center

Life after Twilight

image from twilight courtesy of lyk3on3tym3 via flickrTeens all over the nation—not to mention quite a few adults—are suffering from symptoms of withdrawal.  Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series is over, the fifth book is apparently not going to be published, and they have no idea what to read next. 

If you or someone you know is suffering this terrible fate, the library wants to help.  We hope the books below can help to fill the Twilight-shaped hole in your life, or the life of someone you know.  If these don’t look quite right, you can always reach a Teen Services Librarian at teencenter@spl.org.  We’re happy to create a list of reading suggestions for your teen based on his or her reading tastes—or for you, if you want to delve more deeply into all the wonderful books that are currently being writtten for teens. 

PARANORMAL ROMANCES

For fans of brooding, mysterious Edward Cullen and his relationship with Bella, here are some similar paranormal romances to try.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Seventeen-year-old Aislinn, who has the rare ability to see faeries, is drawn against her will into a centuries-old battle between the Summer King and Winter Queen. The survival of her life, her love, and summer all hang in the balance. Continue reading “Life after Twilight”

Spring Break Fun for Teens at the Seattle Public Library

Hey Seattle area parents:wii-mii-beatle-by-megnut

Stuck at home this spring break with a teenager (or two) who’s got nothing to do? Well, you’ll be glad to learn that the Seattle Public Library is offering a number of cool programs for teens—and they’re all free! For example, the Northgate Library will be showing anime videos on Tuesday, March 31, and hosting an afternoon of open videogame playing (featuring Dance Dance Revolution and the Nintendo Wii) on Thursday, April 2 at the Northgate Community Center. Find more details about these programs at Push To Talk, Seattle Public Library’s blog for teens, where you’ll also find lots of great content created for and by teenagers including book reviews, information about free programs and events for teens around town, and other fun stuff.  

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg—to find out what’s happening at other libraries, visit the Seattle Public Library’s calendar of events for teens.  There will be open gaming at 3 different locations, a hands-on workshop in which teens will make wearable, recycled robots, and more! All library events are free and open to the public.

None of these programs appeal to your teen? Well, don’t forget that the library also has thousands of great teen books — check out our recommended reads for teens in all genres and the latest teen fiction and nonfiction books to be added to the collection. 

Here’s hoping you and your teens have a relaxing and fun spring break next week—at your local library!