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Young Adult Books Without Romance

Do you love young adult books but have found yourself bored with the love triangles and angst that comes with the almost constant presence of a complicated love interest? Well, I have gone in search of young adult books that entertain and are romance free! Here are some of the best young adult books that steer clear of the expected traps of young love. Some of these might have some flirting, or some hints of possible romance in the future, but I aimed for the books with no romance at all. This turned out to be a harder list than I nolovechildrenexpected to curate; so if you have additional titles to suggest please share them in the comments. I know I cannot be the only one to notice the lack in this area.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
After a family tragedy, Jacob feels compelled to explore an abandoned orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales, discovering disturbing facts about the children who were kept there.

Sabriel by Garth Nix
nolovesabrielSabriel, daughter of the necromancer Abhorsen, must journey into the mysterious and magical Old Kingdom to rescue her father from the Land of the Dead.

Here, There be Dragons by James A. Owen
Set in 1917, an undergraduate is given a special book that he is told was the reason for his professor’s murder and so must now protect it with his life as he goes on a journey like no other to places that are only supposed to exist in history and dreams.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Weinnoloveverity
In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage and great courage as she relates what she must do to survive while keeping secret all that she can.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Leaving the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school, Junior struggles to find his place in his new surroundings in order to escape his destiny back on the reservation.

Going Bovine by Libba Braynolovebovine
Dealing with an illness that will soon result in his death, 16-year-old Cam is intrigued by the stories told by an eccentric girl named Dulcie and so is encouraged to go on a wild road trip across America where their search for a special cure will lead them to the strangest places on the map.

For more romance free, or very light, here are some more suggestions; Deadline by Chris Crutcher, Katya’s World by Jonathan L. Howard, The Eye of Minds by James Dashner, The Alchemyst: the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott, The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett, Orleans by Sherri L. Smith, The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Hobbit: or, There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Maze Runner by James Dashner,The Sky Inside by Clare B. Dunkle, Watership Down by Richard Adams, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac, or Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

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Memoirs of an Underdog – 3 Dog Tales

Hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since “doggy memoir” Marley & Me came out. The runaway popularity of this dog tale spawned several spinoff books (Marley: A Dog Like No Other, Bad Dog, Marley!A Very Marley Christmas, to name a few), and a very successful movie (Marley & Me starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Anniston). I cried like a baby, you know you did, too!

Suddenly, book deals for dogs became a regular thing. Stories of how animals make a difference in so many lives can make for some pretty compelling reading, especially if you’re an animal lover to begin with. Here are a few more dog tales that will tug at your heartstrings:

1A Dog Named Boo by Lisa J. Edwards. Boo was found by Lisa in a cardboard box outside a pet store. Lisa, a professional dog trainer, felt drawn to the runt of the litter, and decided to take him home and train him to be a companion animal for her terminally ill brother, who was becoming more physically restricted by the day. Unfortunately, Boo turned out to be the class dunce. Boo’s apparent failure to live up to Lisa’s expectations was followed shortly by the loss of the family member she loved most. It was when things were at their worst, however, that Boo’s exceptional talent for giving love and comfort showed.


2Wallace by Jim Gorant. Today, Wallace is a champion; but in the summer of 2005, he was living in a shelter, a refugee from a suspicious pit-bull breeding operation. Then Andrew “Roo” Yori entered the picture. A scientist and shelter volunteer, Roo could immediately see that Wallace was something special. When Roo learned that Wallace was about to be put down, he and his wife frantically fought to keep Wallace alive until they could adopt him. Overcoming everything from injuries to prejudice against the breed, the unlikely pair persevered to become world champions.
3Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalván. Captain Luis Montalvan never backed down from a challenge during his two tours of duty in Iraq. After returning home from combat, however, the pressures of his physical wounds, traumatic brain injury, and crippling post-traumatic stress disorder began to take their toll. Then Luis met Tuesday, a beautiful and sensitive golden retriever trained to assist the disabled. A unique story about the love between a man and a dog, and how they healed each other’s souls.





Some other wonderful stories about the bonds between humans and dogs include:
A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home : Lessons in the Good Life From an Unlikely Teacher by Sue Halpern
You Had Me at Woof : How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness by Julie Klam
Oogy : The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin
Dogs Never Lie About Love : Reflections on the Emotional World of Dogs by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
Good Dog. Stay. by Anna Quindlen
Pure Joy : The Dogs We Love by Danielle Steel

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Son Risen – Books about Children With Autism

Barry Neil Kaufman’s son Raun was born in 1973, only to be diagnosed with severe autism by the age of one and a half. Refusing to believe the prognosis, the Kaufmans spent hours observing their son, and created their own special program for him long before anyone beyond Lovaas and Bettleheim were making any attempt to teach autistics. Three years later, their son showed no symptoms of autism, not even Aspergers. They named their program the Son-Rise Program, now taught at their foundation, the Autism Treatment Center of America in Sheffield, Mass. You can read their incredible story in Kaufman’s book Son-Rise, or the newer version, Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues, which includes the development of their foundation and follows Raun when he’s older. I warn you, however, the newer version gets a little heavy in the New-Agey/Hippie feel.

To prove that you didn’t need to start with an infant to get results, Kaufman also wrote up his work with a five-year old boy named Robertito, in the book A Miracle to Believe In. Again, Kaufman’s methods produced a child who came back from the depths of Autism to be a happy, intelligent, socially-adjusted verbal child.51ip9t-N0wL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Now Raun Kaufman himself, the director of Global Outreach for the ATCA, has written Autism Breakthrough, a book that details the process the Son-Rise program uses, so you can try it yourself. The basis for the program goes against modern practices – and Kaufman’s explanations make very good sense. In short, autism is a disorder of social-relational behavior; if you can’t fix that, then all the educational training in the world isn’t going to help. The program focuses intensively on connecting with the child by entering their world, and then drawing them out into yours. Once you have social interaction and communication, then education can fall into place easily and logically.

While I am a Kaufman guru – I’ve used many of their methods with a number of “throwaway” kids and made connections like no one else – there are places we’ll have to agree to disagree. Diet is one of them. If your child’s autism is cured by diet, then chances are it wasn’t autism to start with. While organic diets are wholesome and ideal for everyone, I do not recommend “assuming” your child has a difficulty with a food just because someone said so. I do not recommend filling your child with probiotics or supplements unless a doctor has proven there is a serious deficiency. Too much of the wrong thing can be just as bad as a lack of something, and certain vitamins can be toxic in large doses. He doesn’t mention honest-to-goodness physical issues, such as brain disorders, genetic issues (such as Rett’s or Fragile X, often lumped with autism), or seizure disorders. While he does mention that you should not allow your child to do anything unsafe, he makes no attempt to give guidance to parents whose children are severely hyperactive, sleepless, or self-injurious. It’s wonderful, it works, but he glosses over the amount of time it takes to make the program work and have even the most minimal semblance of a life. His own “cure” took a team of people working almost around the clock for more than three years. Most people can’t do that.

On the opposite side of the spectrum (no pun intended), hunt down A Child Called Noah, by Josh Greenfeld. Greenfeld’s son Noah was born in 1966, just a few years before Raun Kaufman. Noah was also born severely autistic, and his story is much more typical. His father, a screenwriter, documented their family struggles through three volumes, and the other year his brother, Karl Greenfeld, wrote Boy Alone: A Brother’s Memoir, on what it’s like to live in the shadow of an autistic sibling. What he chronicles is much more typical of a family with extreme autism. If your child is not or will not be a miracle, the Greenfelds will let you know you are not alone.

Soak yourself in the Kaufman’s program (he does have a chapter just for dealing with Aspergers). Of all the programs out there, this is one I can stand behind, but like everything else, take it with a grain of salt. Critics complain it is not possible to scientifically measure the program, therefore no aspect of it can be considered valid, others complain it is still a gentle teaching/ABA program under a different name; other parents have not seen such miracle results. Nothing is perfect, nothing works all of the time. But in the land of Autism, even a thirty-percent increase in functional ability is a landmark indeed.


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Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Sequel Coming in September

girlFor those of you who have been impatiently waiting for the new sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, The Girl In the Spider’s Web  by David Lagercrantz will be released in September 2015. The publisher’s summary: Late one night, journalist Mikael Blomkvist receives a phone call from a trusted source claiming to have information vital to the United States. The source has been in contact with a young female super hacker–a hacker resembling someone Blomkvist knows all too well. Blomkvist, in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium magazine, turns to Lisbeth Salander for help. She, as usual, has her own agenda.

If you haven’t read the series, below is a summary of the original three books.  And those who have already read them, you might want to refresh your memory and reread them before the new book is released.

dragonThe Girl With The Dragon Tattoo –  A murder mystery, family saga, love story, and a tale of financial intrigue wrapped into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.Harriet Vanger, scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable inequity and astonishing corruption.

fireThe Girl Who Played With Fire – Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government. But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander – the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire.  As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.

hornetThe Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest – Lisbeth Salander—the heart of Larsson’s two previous novels—lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She’s fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she’ll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot revenge—against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.

Also available at the library on DVD.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The Girl Who Played With Fire

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest

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Books for the Clone Club – What to Read After Orphan Black

I recently discovered the BBC America series Orphan Black, somewhat by accident. In my job as Social Media Coordinator at Cheshire Library, I spend a lot of time on various social media networks, where I’d see Orphan Black referenced regularly. The show has a very vocal online fandom, particularly on Twitter and Tumblr, and I guess this is a good example of social media effectively surpassing traditional advertising in getting the word out about something. After the fandom’s outpouring of joy when the show’s lead, Tatiana Maslany, was nominated (finally! they exclaimed) for an Emmy, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

Luckily we own Seasons One, Two, and Three here at CPL, which allowed me to binge-watch my heart out, and guess what? They got me! It’s a really riveting show that, not being a huge sci-fi fan, I normally wouldn’t have thought to watch. I have joined the masses in my awe of Tatiana Maslany’s “heavy lifting” as an actress, playing multiple clones in each episode and making them all identifiable and unique.

Season Four won’t premiere until sometime in 2016;  where to get our clone fix in the meantime? Fear not, Clone Club, I’ve found a few books to fill the genetically-engineered void until then. Surprisingly, to me anyway, most of these are considered YA (young adult) books, but they stand up to adult reading.  So if you like fiction with a clone-y twist, might I suggest:


1False Sight by Dan Krokos. Resolving to move past the disturbing truths of her clone origins to enjoy time with Peter and her other friends, Miranda is compelled to follow her genetically programmed instincts when a member of her team turns rogue and triggers a humanity-threatening war.


2Project Cain by Geoffrey Girard. Jeff Jacobson learns that not only was he cloned from infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s blood as part of a top-secret government experiment, but there are other clones like him and he is the only one who can track them down before it is too late.


3Partials by Dan Wells. In a post-apocalyptic eastern seaboard ravaged by disease and war with a man made race of people called Partials, the chance at a future rests in the hands of Kira Walker, a sixteen-year-old medic in training


4Falls the Shadow by Stefanie Gaither. When her sister Violet dies, Cate’s wealthy family brings home Violet’s clone who fits in perfectly until Cate uncovers something sinister about the cloning movement.  Murder, morality, and a slow-burning romance fill the pages of this futuristic thriller.


5The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. This modern classic takes on an iron-fisted drug lord, clones bred for their organs, and what it means to be human. Winner of the National Book Award as well as Newbery and Printz Honors.


7Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Kathy grows up at a peculiar English boarding school called Hailsham, knowing that she and her classmates are “donors,” clones raised for organ harvesting. Kathy has deferred her fate by becoming a caregiver for dying clones, including her close childhood friends Ruth and Tommy. This award-winning novel straddles the YA and Adult Fiction genres, and takes the reader on a real emotional journey.


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