Summer Reading

Summer Reading 2014

“So many books, so little time!”

One of my goals has been to get back into reading young adult literature.  I’d been in a slump, or should I say disappointed with what I’d been reading, so haven’t been reading like a good YA librarian should.  To that end here are the ones I picked up to give a go and have read so far this summer:

1. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (4 out of 5 stars); [contemporary; realistic fiction; PTSD]

Uhm, read it a LONG while ago, so don’t remember any pertinent details, just that it was good, not as good as some of her other books (ie: Speak), but still definitely worth purchasing.

2. Forgive Me Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (3 out of 5 stars); [contemporary; realistic fiction]

This was a VERY well written book and I have my own reasons, not to do with the plot/issue of the story, of why I didn’t give it a higher rating.  If anyone is interested in why I didn’t give it a higher rating, ask me in the comments and I’ll email you.  My answer has the potential to spoil the ending for those who may want to read the book and I hate spoilers so I wont do that to anyone else!!

3. Love in the Time of Global Warming by Franchesca Block (DNF); [science fiction; survival fiction; magic realistic fiction]

Okay, this one I just couldn’t get into – mostly due to the back and fourth “fantasy/reality” passages and as you really need to know/understand some mythology (I guess) to “get it” and I just didn’t feel like I wanted to put in that much effort in my summer reading!  Sorry!  This wasn’t my “cup of tea”!  Maybe others will enjoy it as I know she’s a popular YA author.

4. How to Love by Katie Cotugno (3 out of 5 stars); [contemporary; realistic fiction; teen pregnancy]

Good, but not great.  I like that the main character accepts responsibility for her actions; however, I don’t believe that it accurately depicts the hardships single parents face – she had it too easy!  This also borders on a New Adult(ish) title since half the book is while the main character is out of high school flashing back to high school and how she became pregnant so I don’t know that it is a true YA title in my opinion.

5. Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young (4 out of 5 stars); [contemporary; realistic/science fiction; romance]

Reminded me of a YA version of the movie “Sliding Doors” – what happens if you make one decision/choice over another?  Does it lead to the same conclusion/fate?  I didn’t always like the choices Caroline made, in either “reality”, but overall I liked the book.

6. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales (4 out of 5 stars); [contemporary; realistic fiction; bullying; romance]

Really liked the positive aspect of the adults in the main character’s life – didn’t stay in the background/absentee as in most YA, but took active roll!  Adults aren’t the enemy!

7. The Gaged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni (4 out of 5 stars); [historical fiction; mystery; romance]

Very interesting that the story is based on true account of caged graves!  Who ever heard of such a thing?  Weird.

8. Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel (4 out of 5 stars); [historical fiction; mystery; espionage; romance]

I would have given it even higher marks; however, this isn’t a YA book in my opinion.  This reads like a regular romance novel that happens to have a teenage protagonist.  It has very sexual undertones: an attempted rape; mentions of the kings mistress; witnessing a lovers tryst; etc.  While nothing overt/explicit, it is more adult in content and in writing style/language than most of my teens would be willing to invest.  That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and WILL be recommending it to my teen girls who like romance and mysteries.

9. The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason (3 out of 5 stars); [steampunk; historical fiction; science fiction; romance; mystery; fantasy]

This book tired to be too many things and just didn’t work for me.  Overall, it is an okay story/mystery, but it just tried too hard to do too much at once.

Okay, that’s it for now, but I have a whole bunch more on my TBR pile.  I’ll post those as I get to them!  What have you been reading?

Photo credit: “So many books, so little time!” photograph by Heather Loy, 7/11/2014.

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President by Josh Lieb

Cover image for I am a geniusTwelve-year-old Oliver Watson is a closet genius.  Everyone, including his parents, thinks he’s mentally deficient.   What they don’t realize is that he’s a certifiable genius, secretly running a fortune 500 company, and wealthy beyond belief.   An ingenious inventor, he has his home and school tricked out to make his life more bearable – for example, he’s rigged the water fountains at school to dispense root beer for him and he has a secret lair accessible from his bedroom where he runs his corporation.

Oliver tolerates his mother, but despises his father.  Oliver decides to run for class president in order to destroy his father’s faith in the elections system.  You see his dad was class president and sees it as the ultimate achievement.  Oliver’s goal is to prove his father’s accomplishment means nothing if he, Oliver the dim-wit, can win the election.  Oliver uses his considerable resources and underhanded tactics in his election campaign.

A cross between Artemis Fowl (also an evil boy genius) and The Gospel According to Larry (use of footnotes and sarcasm), I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President is a laugh our loud read.  You don’t know wether to root for Oliver to win or to be defeated.  I couldn’t put this book down and finished it in one sitting, a rarity these days for me.  Oh, and I’ve heard that the movie rights were purchased and the project is in development.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Category: Contemporary/Science-Fiction

Tags: fiction, science fiction, comedy, action, bullying, contemporary, politics

Additional Resources:

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Genius Website – website for the book

USAToday.com: “Josh Lieb of ‘Daily Show’ puts his wit to ‘Unspeakable Evil’” – article and video of the author reading from the book.

YouTube Video: “I AM A GENIUS OF UNSPEAKABLE EVIL AND I WANT TO BE YOUR CLASS PRESIDENT, by Josh Lieb” – Book Trailer Created by June Henson

Wintergirls, LibraryThing, and book reviews

I recently created an account on LibraryThing to “catalog” what I am reading and/or what is on my TBR (too be read) shelf.  There are other virtual bookshelf programs out there, such as Shelfari, but I chose to use LibraryThing (probably because it has library in it’s name) for my blog.  I loved that I could add a widget from my LibraryThing catalog onto my blog (it’s over there on the left column!)

I’m planning on making book reviews a regular segment on the blog – depending upon if I actually can get any reading done, so don’t be surprised if the book reviews are few and far between – amazingly, over the last two months, I’ve actually been able to read a few YA novels so here goes the first one:

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Eighteen year old Lia’s ex-best friend Cassie was found dead in a motel room of an apparent suicide.  The night she died, Cassie left 33 messages on Lia’s cell phone – calls Lia refused to take.  You see, Lia and Cassie haven’t been friends since Lia passed out behind the wheel and crashed into a guardrail.  The two girls had made a pact to be the skinniest girls in school – Cassie turned to binging and purging, while Lia starves herself, causing the blackout. Cassie was ordered to stay away from Lia and Cassie also doesn’t want her own eating problem to be discovered so she severs all ties to Lia. At least she did until Cassie’s death and the 33 voicemails.  Now Lia is back under the microscope, making it harder to hide that her two stints in rehab at New Season’s didn’t take.  Wintergirls is a powerful look into the mind of a teenager struggling with body/self-image and the damage anorexia takes not only on the body but on the spirit and on ones family and friends.  This is definitely a must read that I’ll be highly recommending.

Rating: 5 Stars

Category: contemporary fiction

Tags: anorexia, contemporary, fiction, self-image, rehab, YAlit, suicide, eating-disorders

Additional Resources:

Wintergirls website – read an exerpt, download the teacher’s guide, additional resources on eating disorders

Laurie Halse Anderson – the official web site for Laurie Halse Anderson

Penguin.com – watch a booktrailer and an interview with Laurie Halse Anderson

Amazon.com – read reviews and watch an interview with Laurie Halse Anderson

National Eating Disorders Association – a place to find information and support about eating disorders