Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Going Too Far

Going Too Far
by Jennifer Echols
245 pages

Summary: Meg is into pushing limits and right before she is supposed to go away on spring break she pushes them a little too far and ends up arrested. Her and her friends were found trespassing on a bridge and almost lost their lives. Young and handsome cop John Alder wants to teach her a lesson, so in order to serve out her sentence Meg is forced to ride around with him in order to see the after effects of going too far. While sometimes gruesome and dangerous, Meg actually likes spending time with John, pushing his buttons and finding out more about him. She even begins to fall for him despite the fact that he represents everything she’s running from – rules, her town, her parent’s life, but mostly being tied to anything or anyone.

Review: I really enjoyed Going too Far. It was a quick, fun and entertaining read. It reminded me a little bit of Elizabeth Scott’s Stealing Heaven. I thought the characters were charming and likable; their witty banter was especially appealing. Echols did a great job of teasing the reader with a slowly developing romance and lots of “almosts”. Meg was at times a little too sharp around the edges to the point it felt a little forced, but I liked the dynamic of the bad girl and good guy scenario. Overall, it was an enjoyable read and I think those who like chick-lit romances will really enjoy this book.

You might enjoy Going too Far if you like books with: romance as the main plot point, fun and flirty characters, witty dialogue, light heartedness, fast pacing

Also by Jennifer Echols: The Ex Games, The Boys Next Door, Major Crush, Forget You

If you liked Going too Far you might also enjoy: The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler, Bloom by Elizabeth Scott, The Naughty List by Suzanne Young

Additional Info: is a 2010 Rita Finalist

Author website: http://www.jennifer-echols.com/

Rating: W3.5/4 C3/4 P3/4 O2/4 PP2.5/4 CR4/4
Grade: S

Monday, June 28, 2010

Getting the Girl

Getting the Girl: A Guide
by Susan Juby

Summary: Sherman Mack, well he’s kind of a nobody, but he knows what he likes: cooking classes, detective stories and girls, well one girl in particular…Dini Trioli. When Dini starts dating a popular lacrosse player Sherman’s afraid she is in danger of being defiled. No one knows who starts it or why, but once a girl’s picture appears on the bathroom mirrors in the school with a big D written on it, she’s as good as invisible, a social lepper, and Sherman thinks Dini’s next. In order to save her reputation, win the girl and be the inevitable hero, Sherman goes undercover.

Review: Getting the Girl is a wryly observant look at high school and the social and physical awkwardness of grade 9 boys. The narrative is sincere and unapologetic in its frankness and it makes for quite an enjoyable read. Sherman is one of the best male main characters I’ve read in a while. I thoroughly enjoyed all his embarrassing moments and naive reflections, he was very lovable. The supporting characters were quirky and equally as fun to read about. Judy also did a wonderful job at addressing social hierarchy and bullying in a way that was humorous and unobtrusive. The thing I enjoyed most about this novel was the flow and Juby’s writing style – I can’t wait to read more of her books. YA boys might also really enjoy this novel.

You might enjoy Getting the Girl if you like books with: male main characters, quirky and hilarious storylines, high school settings, a good mixture of likable characters and fast moving plots

If you liked Getting the Girl, you might also enjoy: Boy’s Girls and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman, The Dark Days of Hamburger Haplin by Josh Berk, Will Grayson; Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Rating: W4/4 C4/4 P3.5/4 O3/4 PP3/4 CR3.5/4
Grade Level Interest: JS

Audrey, Wait!

Audrey, Wait!
by Robin Benway
320 pages

“The day I broke up with my boyfriend Evan was the day he wrote the song. You know, the song.”

Summary: Audrey thought she was just breaking up with her boyfriend; she didn’t know she was inspiring a billboard top song. Everything changes when Evan’s, her boyfriend, song “Audrey, Wait!” starts getting played on the radio. Everyone recognizes Audrey from the song and she becomes an instant celebrity, adored and hated. Musicians try to date her to get inspiration and teen girls sneak into her school to get her autograph. Things are getting complicated and a little scary as Audrey tries to shed the limelight, especially because it’s interfering with her ability to date this really cute guy at her work.

Will Audrey ever be able to have a normal life again? Get ready to find out, because it’s time for Audrey to tell her side of the story. (from jacket cover)

Review: I thought Audrey, Wait! was a complete breath of fresh air. Robin Benway knows how to write for teens and I thoroughly enjoyed Audrey’s whit, dry humour and brilliant sarcasm. She is a very well written character, both loveable and enviable. She is also very relatable, especially to those for whom music plays a heavy role in their lives. I thought the idea was very original and I enjoyed watching the story un-fold. I also loved all the musical elements that were interwoven, including the quotes at the top of each chapter, it added considerable depth to the story. Overall, it was an awesome book and I think it has wide appeal.

You might enjoy Audrey, Wait! If you like books with: laugh out loud moments, sarcasm and whit, focus on main character rather than fast paced plot, quirky side characters and books about music

If you liked Audrey, Wait! You might also enjoy: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, How to be Popular by Meg Cabot, Boys, Girls and other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman

Additional Info: Check out the Audrey, Wait website to read an excerpt, see the official soundtrack for the book(which you can download from itunes) and upload your photo to see yourself in the tabloids.

Rating: W4/4 CP3.5/4 P4/4 O4/4 PP3/4 CR3/4
Grade Level Interest: JS


by Alyson Noel
320 pages

Summary: After a horrible accident that kills her parents and her little sister, Ever Bloom is left alive and able to see people’s auras, hear their thoughts and know someone’s entire life story simply by touching them. Needless to say, she’s altered. She’s learnt to deal with it by using music to drown out the voices and avoiding touching people at all cost; that is until she meets Damen and everything changes. He is gorgeous and mysterious, but he doesn’t have an aura and he can shut out all the voices simply by touching Ever. She’s drawn to him, even though she feels she might be in danger. As everything around her starts to fall apart Ever will have to decide whether or not she wants to be different and how important Damen is in her life.

Review: Evermore fits very well into the genre of paranormal romance. I really enjoyed the novelty of some of Ever’s power, especially her ability to see auras and speak to her dead sister. So much of this genre is similar, so I was thankful that Noel had this unique aspect. The story is fast-paced and there is a lot of action and suspense that kept me very engaged. However, there were a few problems that left me slightly disappointed. I felt at times there was too much going on, Ever’s powers and the Immortals storyline compete for space. I almost wish it had of been one or the other. I also stumbled over the relationship between Damen and Ever, feeling that it was a tad too much Edward/Bella for my liking. I can definitely see the appeal that this book would have to readers and I would still recommend it to a specific audience. However, I don’t think I will be finishing the series.

You might enjoy Evermore if you like books with: romance, otherworldly men, main characters with their own powers, suspense

Also by Alyson Noel: Cruel Summer

Evermore is part of the Immortal Series, also in the series are: Blue Moon, Shadowland and Dark Flame.

Alyson Noel also has a book called Radiance coming out in August 2010 about Ever’s sister Riley after she leaves Ever.

If you liked Evermore, you might also enjoy: Fallen by Lauren Kate, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Evernight series by Claudia Gray and Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Additional Info: dramatic rights have been sold, so something similar might appear as a TV show in the future

Rating: W2.5/4 C2.5/4 P2.5/4 O1.5/4 PP3/4 CR3/4
Grade Level: JS

Author Spotlight

This feature highlights and introduce the works of Canadian YA authors. I’m doing this mostly for self-education because unfortunately I’m not all that aware of the amazing talent that exists in my own country. (I might shake it up from time to time and include an American author)

This month’s author: Susan Juby
Author Blurb: Susan Juby lives in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island with her husband, their dog Frank and their horse Tango. She has a degree in English Literature, but she initially thought she wanted to be in fashion design. She was surprised to find her first novel Alice I Think was for teens, as she had initially written it to give her 30 year old best friend and 50 year old godfather a laugh. She is inspired by writers like Sue Townsend, J.D Salinger, Gerald Durrell, Stella Gibbons and David Sedaris. She also loves horse books and is obsessed with equestrian dressage. She has also written a compelling memoir called Nice Recovery about her problems with alcohol when she was a teenager and what it’s like to be a sober and recovering teen.

By the Time You Read This, I'll be Dead

By the Time You Read This, I'll be Dead
by Julie Anne Peters
244 pages

Summary: Daelyn doesn’t want to live. After a string of botched suicide attempts she is determined to get it right and starts looking at a website for “completers.” She’s tired of the bullying and the loneliness and she is determined to end it all. Then some boy named Santana begins to sit with her after school and he just won’t leave her alone. She doesn’t want to make any connections because she doesn’t plan on staying around but Santana won’t let up and she starts to have doubts.

Review: Julie Anne Peters is one of my favourite authors but for me this wasn’t one of her greatest books. I really struggled connecting to Daelyn as a character and I had a difficult time feeling anything for her. It might have just been that I have a problem with the topic, but I just couldn’t get past it. There were a few things I did really enjoy that I thought made this book stand out that I think will appeal to many readers. First, the main character is silent. Daelyn cannot talk and that made for a very unique reading experience that I really enjoyed. Also, Peters leaves the ending very vague, so the reader can decide what happens, which is rather creative. Also, I think those who like to read issue fiction will find a lot of the elements they are generally pulled to in this book. So while I didn’t necessarily love this book, I still encourage you to read it and make your own decision.

You might enjoy By the Time You Read This, if you like books with: real life serious issues, not a lot of focus on romance, sensitive and emotionally evocative storylines, quick and fast paced plots

If you liked By the Time You Read This, you might also enjoy: Willow by Julia Hoban, Crash into me by Albert Borris, Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Additional Info:
Ontario Association for Suicide Prevention. This is a list of Crisis and Contact numbers throughout Ontario
gURL – great website just for teens, has information and resources on suicide, bullying and other difficult issues teen face.

Rating: W4/4 C2/4 P2.5/4 O3/4 PP2/4 CR3.5/4
Grade Level: JS

Coming Soon to a Library Near You

Coming Soon to a Library Near You is a weekly feature inspired by Jill at Breaking the Spine that looks at upcoming books.
This week’s Book: Infinite Days
Author: Rebecca Maizel
Release Date: August 3 2010
She longs to be like everybody else. But her history is written in blood…
Lenah Beaudonte is in many ways your average sixteen-year-old: the “new girl,” she struggles to fit in enough to survive at school, and stand out enough to catch the eye of the golden-boy captain of the lacrosse team. But her challenges are beyond what anyone could have expected. Lenah just happens to be a recovering five-hundred-year-old vampire turned human…

She’s just awakened from a century-long hibernation and each passing hour hears another tick of the time-bomb, counting down to the moment when her abandoned vampire coven will open the crypt where she should be sleeping, and find her gone. As her borrowed days slip by, Lenah resolves to live her newfound life as fully as the passing moments allow. But, to do so, she must first answer the ominous questions at hand: Can an ex-vampire survive in a time and place so alien to her? What can Lenah do to protect her new friends from the bloodthirsty menace about to descend upon them? And how is she ever going to pass her biology midterm?


by Malinda Lo
272 pages

Summary: In this Cinderella-like story, Ash loses both her mother and father and is forced to move away from her native land to the city with her horrid step mother. Ash misses her parents and she misses the place she came from. Rich with fairy tales and tradition, Ash longs for her home. Through trips into the forest in order to find her home, Ash meets a beautiful fairy named Sidhean. He is enchanting and because he is in love with her he offers a tempting escape to the fairy world. However, Ash also meets the King’s Huntress Kaisa who reminds Ash what it feels like to be alive and to love. She must choose between these two people she cares about and the two lives they offer.

Review: While I hardly ever enjoy fairytales and fantasy stories, I thought that Ash was a captivating story. For someone who doesn’t usually read this type of fiction, I found the writing very accessible; a perfect mixture of lyrical writing and every day language. There is a lot to this book, fairytales, magic, lush descriptions, danger, family and love. I think readers will enjoy the mixture of the original Cinderella with Malinda Lo’s much more diverse and complex story; especially the love story between Ash and Kaisa. I think Lo did an amazing job of creating a main character that was identifiable and sympathetic and a world that was beautiful and broken at the same time. I think this book has a wide appeal and I highly recommend it to be included in any library collection.

You might enjoy Ash if you like books with: fantasy, recognizable fairytales, characters that are rich and vibrant, a little bit of romance, beautiful descriptions and language.

This is Malinda Lo’s debut novel

If you liked Ash, you might also enjoy: Ice by Sarah Durst, If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s my Prince? By Melissa Kantor, Magic under the Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Additional Info: Malinda is currently working on another novel set in the same world as Ash. This one focuses on the first huntress of the kingdom (not one from the fairy tales) and is set to be published spring 2011

Rating: W4/4 C4/4 P4/4 O4/4 PP2.5/4 CR3/4
Grade Level: a high J or S


by Julia Hoban
336 pages

“except the only times that she’s laughed in the past seven months have been in his company. When he’s with her she’s able to forget the lure of the razor for more than five minutes at a time.”

Summary: Willow is a cutter – that’s how she deals with the grief caused by her parents’ death. She was driving them home and there was an accident. Now she lives with her brother and cuts to take away the emotional nightmare of her life. She’s fine with self-punishment, and she’s not looking for anything else. However, when a fellow student, Guy, comes to learn her secret and yet still cares for her, Willow realizes that cutting doesn’t just stop the hurt but it blocks out everything else. If she wants to feel anything for Guy and be what he deserves her to be, then she’ll have to decide – him or the cutting.

Review: I unfortunately did not like this book, despite all the positive feedback I heard from it. I didn’t connect with the characters, the relationship or the storyline. It was really lacking for me, and I found the writing at times a little superficial. However, that isn’t to say that there weren’t good elements to it and that other people wouldn’t like it. I do enjoy issue novels and I’m glad that this type of literature exists, so those in Willow’s circumstance can find some reflection and perhaps some solace from her story. I think readers will like the honesty of the story, and the fact that cutting is dealt with in a frank manner. I think readers will also enjoy the romance, and Guy as a character; he was well created. For those who like issue novels, this fits in the genre well. I just recommend you read other, perhaps more positive reviews before reading.

You might enjoy Willow if you like books with: difficult issues, emotionally driven storylines, romance, a central character who has to overcome a difficult situation

If you liked Willow you might also enjoy: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Self-injury.net – a great neutral website for people who are self-injurers to talk, get support, be creative (poems, art, etc)

Rating: W2.5/4 C2.5/4 P2/4 O3/4 PP2/4 CR3.5/4
Grade Level: JS ( I put it a little lower because I think this issue affects those younger than in grade 10)

Coming Soon to a Library Near You

Coming Soon to a Library Near You is a weekly feature inspired by Jill at Breaking the Spine that looks at upcoming books.

This week’s Book: Hunger
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Release Date: October 18th 2010
“Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”
Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?

The Nature of Jade

The Nature of Jade
by Deb Caletti
304 pages

“That day, I learned that an elephant feels tough and soft at the same time. Wrinkled, warm. And I learned that you can be brave, if you must.”

Summary: Jade DeLuna suffers from panic attacks because she’s afraid of dying. One of the things that helps calm her is watching the elephants in the zoo near her house. She even keeps an elephant webcam on in her bedroom so she can watch them from home. It’s through the webcam that she first sees the boy in the red jacket, a boy who also seems to love the elephants, a boy who is carrying a baby. She learns his name is Sebastian and he is raising his baby alone. While completely complicated and terrifying, Jade finds herself falling for Sebastian. By being in his world with his adorable baby and his crazy activist grandmother, Jade learns valuable lessons about strength and courage and the importance of living life and being free.

Review: The Nature of Jade is rich and compelling. While some may be turned off by the slower paced plot, the value of Caletti’s books is found in the richness of the characters and writing. I’m not sure how to describe it, but to me, reading Caletti’s books feels like those late summer afternoons sitting on a dock – a mixture of the refreshing air combined with the rich warm sun of a late afternoon. The story is beautifully written, and is unflinching in its examination of the complication of life and relationships. The side story of the elephants and the fasincating excerpts about animal behaviour provide a unique and entrancing element to the narrative. I am so in love with this story, and the character of Jade in her brokenness and the frankness at which she looks at life. Captivating. Definitely recommended.

“I am not my illness. “Girl with Anxiety.” “Trauma of the Week” – no. I hate stuff like that. Everyone, everyone has their issue. But the one thing my illness did make me realize is how necessary it is to ignore the dangers of living in order to live. And how much trouble you can get into if you can’t.”

You might enjoy The Nature of Jade if you like books with: real life issues, slower moving plots with more of a focus on character development, introspective characters, rich and sophisticated writing

If you liked The Nature of Jade, you might also enjoy: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott, This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

Additional Info: Watch the Elephants via the San Diego Zoo webcam here.
If you read a lot of Deb Caletti’s books you might find this part of her website interesting – shows how all the places and people are connected throughout her book

Author website: http://debcaletti.com/
Rating: W4/4 C4/4 P4/4 O4/4 P3/4 CR2/4
Grade: S

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska
by John Green
160 pages
Summary: Miles ‘Pudge’ Halter is tired of his life at home; it’s uneventful and lonely. As someone who memorizes people’s last words, he’s looking for something more from life; the Great Perhaps. So he decides to enrol in Culver Creek Boarding School to shake up his life. There he finds friends, love and more adventure than he can handle – by the name of Alaska, the beautiful yet crazy girl who lives down the hall.

From the back of the book: (about Alaska) She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. After, nothing is ever the same.

Review: I so deeply loved this book. Green did an amazing job of creating radiant and magnetic characters. Readers will enjoy the duality of Pudge’s dry whit with Alaska’s desperate brokenness. Where he is awkward and innocent she is wild and crazy. The story itself was incredibly well written, with the climax being at the middle of the book. I was so grateful for this as it gave a sense of fullness to Pudge’s story. Green’s incredibly poignant use of language solidifies the excellence of this novel; creating a story that is both sweet and heartbreaking. You will laugh and you will most definitely cry. Of all the YA novels I’ve read up to this point, this one is the most highly recommended. It was simply wonderful.

My favourite quote from the book…bare with me it’s long.

“Just like that. From a hundred miles an hour to asleep in a nanosecond. I
wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her
and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep
together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked courage and she
had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring
and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on
the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a
You might enjoy Looking for Alaska if you like books with: a male voice, poignant observations on life, strong characters, a slower paced plot, realistic storylines rather than fantasy or science fiction, awkward and candid humour

If you liked Looking for Alaska you might also enjoy: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, The Perks of Bing a Walflower by Stephen Chbosky, Nick and Norah’s Infinate Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga,

Additional Info: won the Michael L Printz Award. Also, Paramount has the rights to the movie and Josh Schwartz (think O.C) will write the screenplay and direct. It has been renamed ‘famous last words’ and is expected to be released 2013.

Rating: W4/4 C4/4 P4/4 O3/4 PP3/4 CR3/4
Grade: S (sex, language, drinking, smoking)

Story of a Girl

Story of a Girl
by Sarah Zarr
208 pages

“…and in my head I wrote the story of a girl who surfed the cold green ocean, when one day she started paddling in the wrong direction and didn’t know it until she looked back and couldn’t see the shore.”

Summary: Since she was 13, Deanna Lambert has been known as that girl; the girl that got caught having sex in a car with a senior by her dad. No matter what version of the story is told, she’s always the slut in the car, and when you hear something enough you start to believe it yourself. Years later she still can’t shake the reputation, even her dad hasn’t forgiven her. She’s lonely and sad and she can’t stop from making stupid mistakes, but she knows she wants better and she’s starting to believe she deserves it.

Review: Story of a Girl is a very tender look at a flawed individual as she learns about forgiveness and redemption. I didn’t find Deanna that compelling of a character, but I enjoyed her story and her process of moving on from the person her community had made her out to be. The pacing is very well done and any reader would find it difficult to put down. There was a lot of supporting characters which in some ways distracted from the story, but there were a few like Darren, Michael and even Tommy that were wonderfully created. It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever read, and I feel like the storyline is actually pretty common, but I definitely enjoyed reading it and I think that it would have a lot of appeal to those who typically read real life fiction.

You might enjoy Story of a Girl if you like books with: real life issues, a character that experiences growth and more of a focus on character development than storyline

Also by Sarah Zarr: Sweethearts and Once Was Lost

If you liked Story of a Girl you might also enjoy: Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.

Additional Info: was a 2007 National Book Award finalist.

Author website found here.

Rating: W2.5/4 C2.5/4 P2.5/4 O1.5/4 PP3/4 CR3/4 (I also LOVE the title)
Grade Level: JS

Sunday, June 27, 2010

If I Stay

If I Stay
by Gale Forman
208 pages

“Am I dead? I actually have to ask myself this. Am I dead?”

Summary: After a horrific accident that kills her parents and her baby brother, Mia, now in a coma, is faced with two decisions: join her family, or wake up from her coma and face everything she has lost. Through memories of pivotal moments in her life, Mia reflects on everything she has lost, and everything she stands to lose if she goes. This is a story of friendship, first love, family, choices and unbelievable loss.

Review: If I Stay is a heartbreaking novel told from the point of view of someone who has lost everything. The story bounces between the present day where Mia is in the hospital but aware of her surroundings, and flashbacks to parts of her life that servs to fill out her story. The flashbacks were the hardest to read, because they painted such a beautiful picture of family, love and growing up, which just highlights all that Mia has lost. I thought it was beautifully written: a combination of the well-fitted flashbacks, rich and heart-warming characters and a story that haunts you well after you put it down. I strongly recommend this for those who want a quick but powerful read.

You might enjoy If I Stay if you like books that: have characters that resonate, are not plot driven, deal with real life issues, are emotionally provocative.

If you liked If I Stay, you might also enjoy: Wild Roses by Deb Caletti, The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard, North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley, Before I Die by Jenny Downham.

Additional Info: YALSA Best Books for Young Adults 2010
- The author invites you to leave feedback about the book here.
- There is going to be another book called Where She Went told from Adam’s point of view
- Looks like there is going to be a movie made, directed by Catherine Hardwick (think first Twilight movie)

Non-fiction connection: Yo-Yo Ma: Internationally Acclaimed Cellist by Compass Point Books, 101 Cello Tips: Stuff all the Pros Know and Use by Angela Schmidt, Please Kill me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain

Author website found here.

Rating: W4/4 C4/4 P4/4 O3/4 PP3.5/4 CR3/4 (I do like the new paperback cover better)
Grade Level: JS

Coming Soon to a Library Near You

Coming Soon to a Library Near You is a weekly feature inspired by Jill at Breaking the Spine that looks at upcoming books.

This week’s Book: Freefall
Author: Mindi Scott
Release Date: October 5th 2010

How do you come back from the point of no return?

Seth McCoy was the last person to see his best friend Isaac alive, and the first to find him dead. It was just another night, just another party, just another time where Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn. Only this time, Isaac didn’t wake up.

Convinced that his own actions led to his friend’s death, Seth is torn between turning his life around . . . or losing himself completely.

Then he meets Rosetta: so beautiful and so different from everything and everyone he’s ever known. But Rosetta has secrets of her own, and Seth will soon realize he isn’t the only one who needs saving . .

Adult Fiction for Teens

While I primarily read YA fiction these days I do enjoy some adult fiction every once in a while. This feature looks at some of the adult fiction I am reading and examine its appeal for those who prefer Young Adult literature.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

14-year-old Lily Owen, neglected by her father and isolated on their Georgia peach farm, spends hours imagining a blissful infancy when she was loved and nurtured by her mother, Deborah, whom she barely remembers. These consoling fantasies are her heart’s answer to the family story that as a child, in unclear circumstances, Lily accidentally shot and killed her mother. All Lily has left of Deborah is a strange image of a Black Madonna, with the words “Tiburon, South Carolina” scrawled on the back. When Lily’s beloved nanny, Rosaleen, manages to insult a group of angry white men on her way to register to vote and has to skip town, Lily takes the opportunity to go with her, fleeing to the only place she can think of–Tiburon, South Carolina–determined to find out more about her dead mother

This is a good fit for those who like to read YA realistic fiction that has a focus on character and storytelling. The Secret Life of Bees has a very rich and sometimes lyrical narrative, making this a good fit for people who prefer books by Deb Caletti. The main characters are fun and dynamic, and a lot of the novel is spent on Lily’s reflection of herself and the other characters. There are also elements of historical fiction and a romance that might appeal to young readers. Overall, those who want to be taking away by a descriptive setting and read about a feisty 14 year old girl will enjoy this novel.

YA Connection: Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Coming Soon to a Library Near You

Coming Soon to a Library Near You is a weekly feature inspired by Jill at Breaking the Spine that looks at upcoming books.

This week’s book: Grace
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Release Date: September 16 2010

Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom. In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate.
I just love Scott, sometimes she writes these beautiful regular real life fiction books and then every so often she’ll throw a curve ball like this at you. Love it!

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson Series)

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (book 1)
by Rick Riordan
384 pages

“Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood. If you’re reading this because you think you might be one, my advice is: close this book right now. Believe whatever lie your mom or dad told you about your birth, and try to lead a normal life.”

Summary: Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of yet another boarding school. No matter what he does, trouble seems to find him. After a relaxing trip with his mom, Percy is convinced things will be better, but that is until he finds himself fighting a Minotaur and escaping to some weird hero summer camp. Turns out that not only are all those Greek myths about gods and monsters true, but many of them want him dead. As the son of a god, Percy soon finds himself in the middle a celestial battle, and he’ll have to come to terms with his new world if he’s to stop the gods from starting a war and make it through the summer alive

Review: There was a lot of things I really liked about this book, and there were a few things that I felt were lacking. I LOVED the concept of using popular mythology to create a modern day quest/adventure story. The Greek gods are fascinating to read about; however, at times I felt Riordan expected too much previous knowledge of the myths. For the most part he did a great job of explaining and describing the gods and their stories, but there were a few times I was confused and had to Wikipedia who did what, etc. An appendix would have been helpful. I thought Percy was a great character, and the writing was very accessible to a wide audience. Some of it was a little predictable, but overall I thought it was a great story. It also provided a great basis for a much larger story that will be continued in the series.

You might enjoy The Lighting Thief if you like books with: a lot of adventure and feature a quest, multiple prominent main characters supporting a protagonist, witty writing, mythology and other worlds, Greek history, books in a series.

Other works by Rick Riordan: The Kane Chronicles: Red Pyramid, The 39 Clues Book One: The Maze of Bones, Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (see below for list of books in the series)

If you liked The Lighting Thief you might also enjoy: The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, and Walking with the Dead by L.M Falcone

Additional Info: there is a Lightning Thief movie

Author website found here.

Rating: W3/4 C3/4 P3/4 O3/4 PP4/4 CR4/4
Grade Level: MJ

Friday, June 25, 2010

Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood

Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood
by Eileen Cook
261 pages

“She might have forgotten all about me, but I certainly never forgot about here. Not for one single day.”

Summary: In the final weeks of 8th grade Lauren did something to her best friend that was unforgivable, something so publicly humiliating that Helen, her best friend, had to move. Helen has never forgiven nor forgotten what Lauren did and has plotted revenge ever since. When Helen gets the opportunity to move back to her old town in senior year she takes it and sets in process a revenge plan that will topple Lauren: take her boyfriend, take her cheerleading and take her popularity.

I love this from the summary on the book: “Watch out Lauren Wood. Things are about to get bitchy.”

Review: I’m not sure what it says about me that I loved his book. I thought it was light, refreshing and completely hilarious. I couldn’t get enough of Cook’s witty writing, every day characters and ultimate revenge plan. Despite all the horrible things that Helen ends up doing, I can’t think of a character I’ve rooted for more. I just kept holding my breath waiting for the shoe to fall, for her to go too far; I was hooked. It’s a quick read, there isn’t a lot of depth, and frankly it is a book about revenge, but it’s fun and easy, adorable and funny. I highly recommend it.

You might like Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood if you like books with: fast pacing, whitty and sarcastic and somewhat dark humour, a high school cheerleader gets what’s coming plot.

Also by Eileen Cook: What Would Emma Do?

If you liked Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood you might also like: The Summer I turned Pretty by Jenny Han, Peace, Love and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle, The Naughty List by Suzanne Young and Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

Author’s website found here.

Rating: W4/4 C4/4 P3.5/4 O2/4 PP3/4 CR3.4
Grade Level: MJS

Author Spotlight

This feature that will highlight and introduce the works of Canadian YA authors. I’m doing this mostly for self-education because unfortunately I’m not all that aware of the amazing talent that exists in my own country. (I might shake it up from time to time and include an American author.)

Lesley Livingston

Author blurb: Lesley is a YA author and actor living in Toronto, Canada. She enjoys mythology, folk lore and otherworldly stories such as those that feature faeries. She has a Master’s degree in English from the University of Toronto with a specialization in Shakespeare and Arthurian literature. She is also a founding member and principal performer with the Tempest Theatre Group. She is currently writing the last novel in her very successful Wondrous Strange trilogy.
“Wondrous Strange is an urban fantasy that weaves elements of A Midsummer Night’s Dream together with teen romance and chilling adventure that erupts when dangerous faeries invade the human world through a gate in Central Park” – great summary from her blog

The third book is set to be released at the end of the year.

Cracked up to Be

Cracked up to Be
by Courtney Summers
224 pages

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?

Summary: Before, Parker was perfect. Before, Parker was head cheerleader and girlfriend to the most popular guy in school. Before, Parker was a teacher’s pet and was getting good grades.
Now she shows up at school drunk, skips class and the school has her on suicide watch. The only thing she wants to do is disappear, she definitely doesn’t want to talk about it. Blaming herself for something horrible that’s happened, Parker tries her best to prove that she’s not feeling anything at all, and just wants to stay out of everyone’s way until she graduates. But the past has a habit of catching up with you.

Review: Cracked up to be is a haunting story of a girl’s self-destruction. Courtney Summers gives the reader a character that is broken and heartbreaking, yet completely loveable. While some may find her bad attitude frustrating, I found Parker’s dark humour and frailness compelling. I also especially enjoyed Summers’ commentary on some of the pressure of being popular. “I didn’t want to be popular because it was easier; I wanted to be popular because in high school that’s the best thing you can be: Perfect. Everything else is shit.” There is a lot of dialogue which makes the story move quickly. Summers also does a brilliant job of using repeating flashbacks to give the reader a bit more of the ‘incident’ each time. Overall, I thought this was a really great story with some surprises, poignant observations and beautiful characters.

You might enjoy Cracked up to be if you like books with: a lot of dialogue, fast moving plots, a very central main character, real life elements, serious issues, suspense

Other books by Courtney Summers: Some Girls Are

If you liked Cracked up to be you might also enjoy: Crash into me by Albert Borris, Beautiful by Amy Reed, Looking for Alaska by John Green, Black Tuesday by Susan Colebank

Author’s website found here.

Rathing: W4/4 C4/4 P4/4 O3.5/4 PP3/4 CR2.5/4
Grade: S

Almost Perfect

Almost Perfect
by Brian Katcher
368 pages

“I never dreamed Sage’s secret was about to become my secret, or how desperate we’d both be to keep it.”

Summary: It’s senior year for Logan and he’s having a difficult time getting over his ex-girlfriend Brenda. When a new girl named Sage shows up in his small high school he is instantly intrigued. She’s tall and dresses sort of strange, but she’s funny and cute and totally wacky, but in a good way. They become friends, but despite Sage’s warnings, Logan tries for more. When she finally gives in and kisses him, she also tells him the secret she’s been hiding, that she was born a boy. Logan struggles with what this means for him as he attempts to make sense of his feelings for Sage. Things aren’t easy for the pair, there are times of excruciating pain and frustration, but there are also times of excitement and unexpected happiness as they discover first love and deep friendship.

Review: Almost Perfect is a candid look at first love, identity and growing up. Logan’s voice is incredibly endearing as he navigates his feelings for Sage both before and after her revelation. I don’t often read books from a male perspective, but I enjoyed the sincere and sometimes blunt narrative. I really wish this book was a split narrative because I wanted so much more of Sage and her story. Katcher does a great job of combining humour and heartbreak and mixing the sweetness and hopefulness of love with the painful reality of the difficulties faced by transgender youth. It was at times slow and repetitious, but it was such an enveloping story that I appreciated the length to allow the characters to grow.

You might enjoy Almost Perfect if you like books with: a lot of character development rather than a fast paced plot, male perspective on love and relationships, beautiful and colourful characters.

Also by Brian Katcher: Playing with Matches

If you liked Almost Perfect you might also enjoy: Luna by Juile Anne Peters, Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger, Carter Finally Get’s It by Brent Crawford and Hello Groin by Beth Goobie

Additional Info:
PFLAG Canada – a website for family and friends of GLBTQ youth.

Link to Brian Katcher’s website.

Rating: W4/4 C3/4 P3/4 O3/4 PP3/4 CR3.5/4
Grade Level: S

Adult Fiction

While I primarily read YA fiction these days I do enjoy some adult fiction every once in a while. This feature will look at some of the adult fiction I am reading and examine its appeal for those who prefer Young Adult literature.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what’s it’s like to literally lose your mind…

This is a good fit for those who like Real Life YA fiction that has a focus on character. Those who enjoy reading stories with a strong and compelling main character but don’t necessarily need to identify with him or her might really enjoy Still Alice. Genova does an amazing job of bringing the shattering reality of Alzheimer’s to the forefront in a way that is tender and compassionate. Readers will enjoy the emotional evocativeness of the story and the journey of a woman who struggles to find herself in the middle of such a devastating disease.

YA Connection: How it Ends by Laura Wiess

Road to Bliss

Road to Bliss
by Joan Clark
288 pages

Summary: After a city wide blackout, fifteen year old Jim decides it’s time to leave home and head west. He catches a ride with a trucker and ends up in a remote area of the prairies called Bliss, living in an abandoned home. While living there he meets Miriam, a young girl who lives on the neighbouring farm called Majestic Farms. In an attempt to get closer to Miriam, Jim takes a job at Majestic Farms and discovers that Miriam is part of an extreme religious cult. When Miriam decides to leave and seeks Jim’s help, Jim will discover the importance of family and his own capabilities in this coming of age tale.

Review: Road to Bliss is a beautifully written story. While extreme religious movements are nothing knew to YA, this one stands apart as the story is told from both the male perspective and the outsider perspective. I thought it was refreshing and fascinating. Jim is a likable and relatable character and any reader will enjoy watching his growth over the course of the book. His thoughts on life, himself and Majestic Farm are especially compelling. One of the things I found really interesting about Road to Bliss was that Joan Clark did not give the names of any of the places in the story. Usually it bugs me when Canadian authors mask their Canadian settings. However, I felt that by relying on descriptions and not giving any location identification it meant that the story was easily transferable to anywhere. I thought it made the story much more accessible. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Road to Bliss and I highly recommend it to both genders.

You might like Road to Bliss if you enjoy books with: a slower paced plot, third person narrative, strong characterization where the main character spends a great deal of time on personal reflection, captivating settings, male voice.

If you enjoyed Road to Bliss, you might also like: Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee, Almost Home by Jessica Blank, What Would Emma Do? By Eileen Cook

Non-fiction Connection; the Prairies: Prairie Builders: Reconstructing America’s Lost Grasslands by Sneed Collard, The Prairies by Kate Riggs,

Rating: W 3.5/4 C 4/4 P 3.5/4 O 3.5/4 PP 2/4 CR 4/4
Grade: JS

Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials

Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials
by Rosalind Wiseman
288 pages

Summary: After escaping the clutches of her middle school drama queen friends, Charlie wants to start high school drama free. Things go well for her; on the first day she makes a few great new friends and joins the newspaper. Things are even better when her old next door neighbour Will shows up looking amazing. Things seem to be going fine for her and her new friends as they navigate the ups and downs of high school, including dating, grades, sports, etc. That is until Will gets caught in a horrible hazing scheme gone wrong and someone ends up in the hospital. Charlie is torn between doing what is right and her feelings for Will, and at the end of the day she might just lose everything…

Review: Readers who enjoy realistic fiction that puts a strong emphasis on the daily grind of being a teenager in high school will love this book. Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials is witty and sweet and Wiseman does an amazing job of creating down to earth and relatable characters. While there isn’t too much in the way of plot development, the book reads rather quickly as you just can’t get enough of the dynamic Charlie. It was definitely honest and fresh and I appreciated the balance between highlighting the importance of friendship and relationships and the realities of bullying and insecurities. I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience, and feel that despite some negative reviews it definitely does add something to the YA sphere.

“..to all the teens and kids I work with. I tried my best to write something that would reflect your experiences of what it is like to be your age today – for the good, the bad and the ugly. I believe what you are dealing with is important and should be respected as such. I hope I did right by you.” – from the book’s acknowledgements.

You might enjoy Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials if you like books with: realistic high school setting, characters that you could encounter in your real life, a focus on friendship rather than relationships, humour.

Also by Rosalind Wiseman: Queen Bees and Wannabes and Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads (Boys, Girls and Other is actually her first YA novel)

If you liked Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials you might also enjoy: Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood by Eileen Cook, Something Maybe by Elizabeth Scott, Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen and The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk

Additional Info: Did you know that one of Wiseman’s other books, Queen Bees and Wannabes was the basis for the movie Mean Girls?

Author website: http://rosalindwiseman.com/ – amazing website/resource

Rating: W4/4 C4/4 P3/4 O2.5/4 PP3/4 CR3.5/4
Grade Level: JS


I know I usually do American or Canadian library programs, but that doesn’t mean other countries are not coming up with fun and innovative programming.

I stumbled across the following program from Mosman Public Library in Australia because of an assignment I had to do and I thought it was so much fun I had to post it. It’s a beautiful marriage of books and art (my two favourite things) and one of the more creative programs I’ve seen in a while.

Caution: for some, this program might be considered sacrilege – and yes, books were destroyed in the process.

On April 13 the Mosman Public Library in Australia held an event called Altered Books, free for ages 12 and up.

“Mosman Library will be running an Altered Books workshop to show you how old books can be creatively recycled into new sculptures, photoframes or anything else the imagination fancies!”

This kind of thing makes me giddy!
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