Posted by emather on 08.21.14
This book review is by Max B. All summer, we had teens submit book, music, and movie reviews for a Left Brain challenge. Max's was chosen as the best submission all summer, and in addition to winning a tablet, we're posting his awesome review here. He's got a great book to recommend!
Ashfall, an apocalypse novel by Mike Mullin, surpassed all of my expectations, yet fell short of being a truly great read.
Alex Halprin is an introvert living in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Alex’s family goes to visit his uncle in Warren, Illinois, leaving Alex behind. Everything is going fine until a super volcano underneath Yellowstone National Park erupts.
Alex leaves Cedar Falls to find his family, and along the way he meets Target, an ex-convict that is taking advantage of a lawless land. He also meets the Edmunds family, most notably Darla, who soon bonds greatly with Alex. Alex and Darla set off together to find Alex's family and chaos ensues.
There are two broad ways to describe the book: Ashfall the apocalypse novel and Ashfall the stand-alone novel. Mullin did an amazing job writing Ashfall as an apocalypse novel. The words are well thought out, the tone is consistent, and though the overall plot is good (if a tad cliché,) it’s the plot arcs themselves that are unique and well done.
On the other hand, Mullin didn't do nearly as good of a job writing Ashfall as a stand-alone novel. It is poorly written, and most of the dialogue follows the same pattern with excessive amounts of arguing and thanking. The relationship between Alex and Darla turned from a promising friendship with hints of a relationship in the future into a sappy, poorly written and unnecessary romantic subplot.
Although Mullin didn't spend too much time on the romance, the time he did spend on it simply wasn't well done. It wasn’t so much the romance that bothered me, but rather the deviation and lack of consistency. The novel was presented as an apocalypse story, but with how often it deviates from that format it stops being so.
Most parts of Ashfall are unique, interesting and most of all genuine. When apocalypse stories are made, there is a factor of irrationality that turns it into a joke. However the threat within Ashfall is realistic and could be viewed as a valid concern.
As far as apocalypse novels go, Ashfall is one of the best; as far as novels in general go, it falls as hard as the ash within the novel.
Posted by alice on 08.20.14
Dementia: Resurrection by Robert Kraybill
Math is Fun by Nick Szubart
World Premiere by Molly Mensch
CLASH by Daniel Carpenter
Dumming it Down by Garrett Strother
Best Music Video
You Make Me by Stephanie Spalding
Congrats to all our winners and a big thanks to everyone who submitted a film! You can watch many of the 43 films submitted for the 8th Annual Teen Film Fest here!
Remember to keep those cameras rolling. Next year's Teen Film Fest will be here before you know it, and we'd love to see what you can create!
Posted by red_sonya on 08.18.14
The summer reading program is over! Thank you to all the teens who helped light up our brain! We have completed our drawing of the Barnes and Noble, Etsy, and Dick’s Sporting Goods gift card winners.
The following teens can come pick up their $50 gift card.
Once again thank you to all the teens who participated!
Posted by Trixie on 08.14.14
It's been awhile since we've shared local teen writing on here so I'm passing along a story submitted by Bridget K. to complete a RIGHT BRAIN challenge for the teen summer reading program! It's part of a book she's working on - hope we'll hear more from her soon!
The Elevator Adventures
It had seemed as if this pudgy lady has been following Martin for days. He saw her on the street and the hall to the apartment complex. Plus every time on the elevator she was there. He even broke his leg trying to get away, so now he was trapped, forced to ride the elevator to the third floor with his crutches and all. His father didn’t believe him, but he knew he was right.
On his way home it happened again. She was right there, in the elevator with this peculiar smile on her face. Then, once they were between floors she pressed the “STOP” button. Martin face went as white as a ghost. She gave a slight snort-ish chuckle as she did it, which made him even more anxious. He went into pure panic inside, but on the outside, frozen. Martin wanted to scream and bang the walls, but couldn't move. He was a statue.
A little while later the wall to the elevator, the one directly across from the door opened. He thought that was a wallpaper line beforehand. Actually it was the Person Protection Program's Headquarters.
"Sorry that I kind of laughed, I knew you would panic. That was mean of me. You may be wondering why you’re here. Oh, I'm agent M., your mother."
"My mother?" Martin asked shocked, almost queasy. His dad would only say that his mother died and needed to.
"Yes, I know it's a shock but you need to come into the room. I will explain everything once we're inside and you’re safe." The room was, dizzying to Martin, since the quick announcement. In the room computers, technology, and other gadgets filled it. It was a computer geek heaven.
He hobbled into the hidden office. His leg ached, his head ached as well. "I need to sit down," Martin exclaimed.
"Go ahead. Martin, you need to listen now, you are in great danger. I was in the elevator to protect you."
"Elevators are not safe. You could get trapped with a member of SCT, Special Children torturers. You are on their list of victims."
"Oh my, why would they want me?" Martin wondered, "Why am I so special?"
"Because you’re smart. You have a lot of things they want. They know your powers, but you don't,"
"Powers?" Martin said truly confused.
"You can do stuff. You’re special. We just don't know what yet."
Martin thought the room was spinning. He breathed heavily. Then, blank! He passed out.
"Martin, Martin" agent M. said as he woke up in a white doctor like room.
"The other girl on the list, Amy, heeled your leg. She found her powers, after we found her, luckily. Try walking."
He cautiously went off the bed, shocked on how well his leg was.
"H, h, how, how," Martin asked speechless.
"She's special, like you."
"Then, what about me? What can I do?"
"We'll know soon Martin, soon" as she patted him on the head and walked away. Then Martin started to slowly drift away into a deep sleep. Martin’s dreams are always strange; he sometimes tries to forget them and never succeeds.
Then Martin was suddenly waked up, being shaken. "We're under attack!" A woman whispered in a panicky kind of way, "I'm Amy, nice to meet you, wish it didn't have to be in this way. We have to get out. Once we get to the streets try to blend in," Amy was a beautiful straight blondie with sapphire blue eyes. Skinny, yet tough.
"Ummmm, How do we? We're in the middle of the building, no windows, elevator blocked!" Martin started to panic, again.
"Don't panic, we have to stay calm. Hmmmm... we’ll go through the vent." She said staring at the ceiling.
"How do we get up? The ceiling is super high."
"Think 'high' and jump"
He did what she said as he followed her lead. The ground was like being on a super bouncy trampoline. They yanked it off in one, and went through on two.
They crawled through carefully, trying not to make a loud bang. Then, saws came through the vent floor circling around them. They must have been a tiny bit too loud. It was the SCT...
Bang! They hit the ground hard and immediately bags went over their heads creating total darkness. As they kicked and squirmed, the SCT dragged them along. They did until Amy kicked one in the face, knocking one of them out. She crawled out of the bag, tripped one by sweeping her leg then popped up and started to really fight.
There was a hole in Martins sack, so he watched her elegantly knock them out and beat them up. Then the one carrying Martin let go of his bag, trying to fight Amy. Amy knocked him out just by punching him once. 'Wow!' Martin thought.
"Come on, quickly," she said egging him on.
"Okay," he said impressed.
They walked to the door and went out into the street. Amy started talking about homework.
"What?" Martin said
"What do you have for homework?" Amy said as Martin caught on.
"It's the weekend, silly" he exclaimed as he played along.
"Oh, right, silly me... So, if you could pick what would you want your name to be?" Amy asked Martin knew that she was talking in code.
"Max. How about you?"
"Cool!" Martin said in awe, what a beautiful name for such a beautiful girl.
"So, Max," Amy said as she winked, "What do you want to do while we're out of the house?"
"I'm not sure... What do you want to do?"
"Let's go to the ice cream parlor"
"I want my 15 cents back" Amy said suddenly irritated.
"What did you order, mam"
"Two super peanut butter clusters."
"Come with me to the manager’s office and he will settle it for you," the ice cream man said calm and cool. He led them through a series of doorways. One was a locked wooden door with pitch black windows that lead to a safe door with a keyboard.
"Passcode Amy," she typed it in, Martin totally not understanding any of this.
"We are safe, for now." Amy said.
"What about finding my powers? How are we going to do that?"
"We'll know when the world wants us to know."
"I hope that's soon. I need to defend myself somehow."
"I hope so to Martin," they waited for what to do next, but no one came. Where are they...
Amy and Martin searched the perimeters and where shocked at what they found.
As they ventured back behind the waiting room, they found it ripped up, literally.
First thing, there's a big gaping hole in the wall, looking out into the city, people looking in disbelief.
"How in the world did they know?" Martin said appalled
"I, I have no clue," Amy said stunned. All the sudden, she notice agent M. Lying on the floor underneath the rubble, "Agent M!" she exclaimed.
"Amy, Martin," she replied sounding weak. Amy rushed over and Martin did as well.
"I've never healed someone this injured! What, what do I do?" she stuttered.
"You try," Martin said trying to have full confidence in her.
"I just can't have the 'norms' watching. I, I just can't" she said sounding manic.
Martin started to try to pick up a slab of cement ruble to use as a barrier, also trying to find his power. It didn't work. He got angry "Why. why can't I do anything! I, I have to do this!" He growled and kicked the stone. Even with his skinned body and rubbery muscles, it flew into pieces. "What? What!" now he was determined and picked another large cement slab. "There. Go!" He said picking it up with ease. Amy stared as he knew she would.
"Martin," she said all giddy, like she was going to hug him.
"Go! She needs to be happy, given hugs, and have health, not me,"
Amy started right there and then, with a huge, sweet smile on her face, almost blushing. Martin didn't notice that blushing part though, to preoccupied on picking up a heavy cement slab. As she did her thing, Martin felt his strength deteriorating as he got more and more like 'I'm the best' and 'You’re the guy' kind of self centered thoughts. He panicked, 'what' he thought and got the 'have to, trying to save a life and the world here' thoughts. Then it was all good again. 'Hmm' he thought, trying not to make a big deal out of it, but still a little confused.
When Amy was done, Martin could no longer see any gashes, even scars on agent M. She no longer looked in pain. For some reason he could not call her 'Mom,' apparently it was dangerous. Martin did not understand that, but still did as he was told.
"Agent M. How do you feel?" Amy asked
"As good as new," She replied, as Amy helped her to her feet.
"Good," Amy and Martin said in unison.
"Where do we go now? Definitely not the safe house, nor the headquarters, and now we're exposed!" Martin said running out of options.
"Martin, now it is the time for you and Amy to save yourselves and the world from the SCT" agent M. said trying to calm him, a little, but let him see the volume of this situation as well.
"But, but we're just kids, well Amy does have some moves, but I have no experience whatsoever. I, I have to emit, my strength did go up and down, I don't know why, I just don't want to mess it up. And,"
"Whoa, Martin, did you say your strength went up and down, what do you mean by that?" Amy said quite concerned.
"I mean I was weak than strong, then somewhat weak, then strong again, Why do you ask?"
"Martin, try... try turning invisible," Amy said trying to see what this is.
"I can't!" he exclaimed
"Martin, that's a member of SCT! Turn invisible now, you have to!"
"What!" Martin panicked, turning invisible on the spot.
"I knew it!" Amy said figuring it out.
"What?" Martin said not catching on, as he turned visible again.
"Martin, you have something very, very, very special, very rare," Amy explained, getting excited.
"So, you, Martin, can do any type of power, for good, important, reasons. The downside is, you cannot do use them whenever you want, only when it's for the greater good."
"Wait, what? So, you’re saying I can do anything?" Martin said getting excited.
"Yes, but only when it's truly needed, and when you don't think highly of yourself," Amy exclaimed making sure he understood.
"They only really bad part is," agent M. said worryingly, "is that the SCT will want to execute you even more."
"Lovely," Martin said being sarcastic.
"Martin!" Amy gasped hugging him. She was worried, she needed him, in a friend that saves your life kind of way, "I can't let them take you, I love you," The ‘I love you’ part kind of slipped out.
He was staring blankly when it registered, "What?"
"Sorry, I, I, didn't..."
"Sort of," she said shyly.
He kissed her on the forehead saying, "Me to, Amy, me to," embracing the hug. They stood there for a while in the rubble, forgetting about agent M.
Posted by red_sonya on 08.11.14
Plague Inc. is a game I recently have come into contact with. The infection of this new addiction must be spread, get the game from the app store, or google play, or the PC version, soon to be on the xbox one. The goal of the game is simple enough. You create a plague (which you get to name, my first plague was stubbedtoe) you have to pick a country to start in, and from there, infect the world. Once you have the world infected you start increasing the symptoms, while strengthening your plague to fight off their work for a cure.
The game is an interesting look at how plagues are spread, certain countries are better to start in for instance. Figuring out how you want your plague to be transmitted, what the symptoms are and how to build the strength of it is quite challenging. It's an addicting game as you can change the type of plague type; you start with a bacteria form, and how it’s transmitted. Right now there is a special Dawn of The Planet of The Apes download that was free on google play. It's a great game for those who have also watched Contagion one too many times, and those who frequent the 614.5 section of non-fiction.
Who else plays Plague Inc. and what are your strategies?
Posted by emather on 07.12.14
Teen filmmakers put their skills to the test on Friday at Let's Make a Movie. This past Tuesday, members of the Inklings creative writing summer volunteer squad wrote some short film scripts. (You can read their awesome work here.) Teens split into groups, and each one got one of those screenplays and had only three hours to plan, film, and edit the whole thing. On top of that, each group had a different FILMMAKER CHALLENGE, like every shot had to be from a character's point of view, or the whole movie had to be in black and white and silent. Everyone got down to work, using the whole library as their movie studio. We ended up with a bunch of potential submissions to the 8th Annual Teen Film Fest (I'm certain we'll be seeing a few of them there)! Below, you can see behind-the-scenes photos from filmming and editing, as well as some tantalizing stills from some of the movies.
Posted by tspicer on 07.10.14
What if the people who raised you had been lying to you for your entire life? What if everything you believed, everything you were, was nothing more than someone trying to manipulate you for their own ends? In Bloodwitch by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, that’s the question that Vance Ehecatl has to face.
Vance is a quetzal, a shapeshifter who can take the form of a bird. Abandoned by his own people, Vance has been raised by the vampire rulers of the powerful Midnight Empire. His sheltered life is interrupted by Malachi Obsidian, who tells Vance he’s a bloodwitch, a powerful magic user, and that the vampires have been lying to him all his life to make him their tool.
Vance struggles to discover his identity and figure out who he can trust in this compelling fantasy tale. It’s the first of a new trilogy, but if you enjoy it you can follow the ongoing “Lilith’s Explorations of Midnight” tale that the author posts on her Facebook page.
Posted by Trixie on 06.27.14
Yesterday, we learned some basic movie-making principles and explored the equipment and resources the library has to offer. Then, each team was given a filming assignment with specific instructions to hone their visual thinking skills. Here's one of the videos that resulted: the challenge was to film a subject ascending and descending stairs. Heather H., Lynette H., and Emma K., great job!
Want to learn more about film-making? Come into the Hub for help with your film, to use video editing software, or to check out cameras, tripods, and more!
Posted by alice on 06.24.14
If you've been on the internet within the last 24 hours, you probably know what a gif is. If you don't
and even if you do take a look at this awesome video below to educate yourself!
At our teen program called "Cinemagraphtastical!" (I know, it's a seriously long name for a program) we created gifs that only had one element of the image moving. The outcome is sometimes creepy, always cool.
Here are a few made during the program...
The program also counted toward the AMYGDALA and RIGHT BRAIN challenges for our Teen Summer Reading Program: Summer Reading, Summer Doing! Want to join? Sign up here!
Do you have a photographer's eye? You may be interested in coming to the Thinking Visually program this Thursday, 6/26. Register here!
Posted by tspicer on 06.19.14
Cinder and Scarlet and their ragtag band of fugitives take their stolen spaceship to rescue Cress (think Rapunzel if she was locked up in an orbital satellite instead of a tower). Cress has the secrets they need to stop the Lunar Queen Levana, who plans to marry the young Emperor Kai (who Cinder might just still have a crush on, although she’d probably never admit it), then kill him and invade the rest of the Earth.
With a fast pace, plenty of action and a bit of romance, Cress will appeal to a lot more than just sci fi fans, although there’s plenty here for them as well: cyborgs, spaceships, and moon people with psychic powers, for example. There’s only one downside – once you finish you’ll have to wait until next year to find out what happens in the next book.