Tuesday, June 26, 2012

As you, I'm sure, have noticed... I am no longer updating this blog.  Reading and writing about YA books has long been a love of mine, but as I've had a shift in focus as a Librarian, I no longer keep up with YA literature as much as I have in the past.

I'm going to leave this blog here, because there are so many archived reviews, but will no longer be adding new content.  Here's to new things, and I'll miss you!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Fault in our Stars-- John Green

Full disclosure: I read this book twice back-to-back, then a third time just reading the parts I liked the best. All in one weekend. I know this is not normal behavior, it's just, I dunno, this book struck a deep chord in me and I wasn't ready to move on once I finished it.

Hazel is a 16 year old girl with cancer. She is so busy Having Cancer that she has dropped out of most normal activities. She has friends, but they still attend school and have mostly moved on with their lives. To appease her mother, she joins a kids with cancer support group... where she meets hottie Augustus. They instantly bond over their shared world view, wit, and love of a book written by a Dutch hermit.

But wait! This isn't a lame "cancer book." Cancer is an important vehicle for the story, but what really makes this book so good is the character development of Hazel and Gus, and the dialog between them. It's a love story, I won't deny it. But it seems these days that love stories have been diluted down to either "You're my personal brand of heroin"and "The lion lays down with the lamb" (anyone know which book those quotes are from?), erotica, or schmaltzy romance. This is a story that chronicles the falling-in-love part. There is one scene where Augustus says something so beautiful to Hazel, I literally cried.

Is the dialog a true representation of how teens speak? Not really. It is a realistic story? Nah. Is it beautifully written with compelling characters, and laugh-out-loud moments that balance out the sad stuff? Totally. Do yourself a favor and give it a chance.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mock Printz Winners!

Fort Vancouver Regional Library has officially chosen their Mock Printz winners. Our workshop was well attended by teachers, library staff, and teens. After great debate, here is what we chose:

Everybody Sees the Ants-- A.S. King

Honor Books
A Monster Calls-- Patrick Ness
Jasper Jones-- Craig Silvey

Check out the complete list of Mock Printz nominees HERE.

Click HERE for the actual winners of the 2012 Michael L. Printz. My personal vote for the top book was Jasper Jones, so I was pleased to see that it was selected as an honor book.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Welcome to Bordertown-- Holly Black and Ellen Kushner, eds

Bordertown is a place that exists between this human world and the Elvin realm. No one knows exactly how to get there, but it seems like if you want to find Bordertown hard enough, you somehow always find it.

Bordertown is the place for freaks, strays, artists, runaways, musicians, vampires, humans, fairies, elves, werewolves, and more. It’s home for the homeless and a place to fit in for those that have never fit in anywhere else. Magic and the rules of normal society are slightly off kilter there and just about anything is possible.

This book is a collection of stories and poems that take place in Bordertown. Each story is independent but they all have a common setting. Teens who enjoy short stories, urban fantasy, or who are looking for nontwilight supernatural creature stories might like this book. Also, this book contains stories of some of the most popular and awarded YA authors, so even if they’re not super into Urban Fantasy, it could still be fun to read new stories by some of their favorite authors.

A Monster Calls-- Patrick Ness

I read this book around Halloween-time, and the absolutely breathtaking drawings (Jim Kay) made me feel extra creepy good. The story behind this book is as enticing as the story itself, and was what drew me to it initially. Siobhan Dowd, YA author of books like A Swift Pure Cry, Bog Child, and more, came up with the idea for this story, the characters, and the concept. However, before she could write it herself, she passed away. Patrick Ness was asked to take her notes and write the story for her. And that is what we have in this slim tome; the efforts of three people all mixed up into one rather emotional story.

A Monster Calls is a story of loss, day/nightmares, and monsters. It's Connor's story, and judging simply by the illustrations and the initial chapter, one might expect this to be a scary story. It's not. Actually, I found myself tearing up (ok I cried) at some points and being moved by Connor's struggles to fit in, and moreover, deal with the terminal illness of his mother. We experience Connor's life and emotions right along with him. We are brought in and out of dreams and don't really know which truth to believe.

For me, this book would be nothing spectacular without the magnificent illustrations. This is one of these books that tells some important bits of story through the pictures. I'll be interested if it garners any attention from the actual Printz committee because of it's unique (to YA) format. I would recommend this book to younger teens who won't be afraid of the pictures, anyone who is looking for a story about dealing with grief, teens who like sad or gloomy tales, or to people who enjoy fairy tales.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mock Printz 2012

For those of you who have been reading this blog for several years, you know that I collaborate with a local teacher-librarian to provide a Mock Printz workshop to local teens, library staff, and teachers. The Mock Printz Workshop is an event where we come together to discuss the ten preselected titles and decide which deserve to win the Michael L. Printz award. The 2012 Mock Printz reading list is ready, and I hope you'll read these books and share what you think about them.

Everybody Sees the Ants-- A.S. King
A Monster Calls-- Patrick Ness
Divergent-- Victoria Roth
Jasper Jones-- Craig Silvey
Anya’s Ghost-- Vera Brosgol
Okay For Now-- Gary D. Schmidt
Chime-- Franny Billingsly
Blink and Caution-- Tim Wynne- Jones
Karma-- Cathy Ostlere
Welcome to Bordertown-- Holly Black and Ellen Kushner, eds

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Anya's Ghost-- Vera Brosgol

So, on the cover of this book there's a quote from Neil Gaiman calling the book "A masterpiece!" Um, who are we to argue with Neil Gaiman, amirirght?

Anya attends a stuffy high school full of annoyingly perfect classmates and a few who are just plain annoying. Her best friend Soibhan kind of sucks, her mom insists that she spends time with Dima, the extra nerdy FOTB (fresh off the boat) guy from Russia, and the love of her life spends his time making out with someone who is distinctly not Anya.

One day, when brooding and traipsing through the woods after school, Anya falls into a dried up well. While down there, she discovers a skeleton (freaky!) and the ghost of Emily, a teenage girl who claims to have been murdered around the time of the first World War. When Anya gets rescued from the bottom of the well, Emily comes with her. At first, Anya and Emily enjoy their ghost-y hi-jinks... but over time Anya learns a little more about her ghost Emily and all of the chaos that comes with her.

I'm happy to include this GN on our Mock Printz reading list this year. It's both well-written and illustrated, and some of the plot subtleties made it feel more fleshed out than some graphic novels have the space to be. I look forward to hearing teens' reactions to this book, and look forward to reading more by this author.