Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Books Read in 2008

Well, it's that time of year again, folks! In the back of my journal, I write down the title and author of every book I read. Once a year, I type it all up and post it where other people can see it and make fun of me for being a giant nerd. The books with *** at the beginning were my favorites. Many of these books I have blogged about, and I will hyperlink them... if you would like me to blog about a title that I haven't gotten to yet, let me know in the comments, and I will get right to it! Some of my favorites I haven't blogged about because they are a part of our Mock Printz event... stay tuned for comments about those books and that event!

Books Read in 2008


The Off Season—Catherine Murdock

*** Naomi and Eli’s No Kiss List—Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Milk Eggs Vodka—Bill Keaggy

Jinx—Meg Cabot

A Lifetime of Secrets—Frank Warren

It Had to Be You—Cecily von Zeigesar

*** Billie Standish was Here— Nancy Crocker

*** Your Own Sylvia—Stephanie Hemphill

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac—Gabrielle Zevin

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive—Alexander McCall Smith

Cupid—Julius Lester

Heaven Looks a lot Like the Mall—Wendy Mass

Plenty—Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon

Carpe Diem—Autumn Cornwell


Girl 2 Girl—Julie Anne Peters

Such a Pretty Face—Ann Angel, ed.

Just in Case—Meg Rosoff

Such a Pretty Girl—Laura Weiss

Dear Author—Jean Kaywell, ed.

Chloe Doe—Suzanne Phillips

Beyond the Billboard—Susan Gates

Kat got Your Tongue—Lee Weatherly

Rhymes with Witches—Lauren Myracle

*** Tantalize—Cynthia Leitich Smith

A Brief Chapter in my Impossible Life-- Dana Reinhardt


*** Sight—Adrienne Maria Vrettos

Elsewhere—Gabrielle Zevin

*** Freak Show—James St. James

The Invisible—Mats Wohl

Fendi, Ferragamo, and Fangs—Julie Kenner, Johanna Edwards, Serena Robar

Ironside—Holly Black

Skin—Adrienne Maria Vrettos

Sisters of Isis: the summoning—Lynne Ewing

*** The Spellbook of Listen Taylor—Jaclyn Moriety

The Almost Moon—Alice Sebold

Mixing It—Rosemary Hayes

The Poison Apples—Lily Archer

Teen Inc—Stefan Petrucha

Boy Toy—Barry Lyga

*** You Know Where to Find Me—Rachel Cohn


Lessons from a Dead Girl—Jo Knowles

*** Looking Glass Wars—Frank Beddor

Bounce—Natasha Friend

Kiss Me, Kill Me—Lauren Henderson

Prey—Lurlene McDaniels

*** Snitch—Allison van Diepen

This is What I Did—Ann Dee Ellis

Every Crooked Pot—Renee Rosen

Crimes of the Sarahs—Kristen Tracy

Feathered—Laura Kasischke


*** Lock and Key—Sarah Dessen

Once Upon a Time in the North—Philip Pullman

Seasons of Ice—Diane les Bequets

The Unspoken—Thomas Fahy

*** The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks—E. Lockhart

Project 17—Laurie Faria Stolarz

Anahita’s Woven Riddle—Meghan Nuttall Sayres

Adoration of Jenna Fox—Mary E. Peterson

Being—Kevin Brooks

*** Generation Dead—Daniel Waters

First Kiss, then Tell—Cylin Busby, ed.

*** Vampire Academy—Richelle Mead

All-in—Pete Hauseman


Little Brother—Cory Doctorow

13 Little Blue Envelopes—Maureen Johnson

Gauken Alice #1—Tachibana Higuchi

What I Was—Meg Rosoff

Give a Boy a Gun—Todd Strasser

*** Paper Towns—John Green

Rosewater and Soda Bread—Marsha Mehran

How to Be Bad—E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle

The Dead and the Gone—Susan Beth Pfeiffer


Dear Julia—Amy Bronwen Zemser

Body Drama-- Nancy Redd

Dream Girl—Lauren Mechling

Every Soul a Star—Wendy Mass

Jars of Glass—Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler

*** The Host—Stephenie Meyer

Road of the Dead—Kevin Brooks

*** Vibes—Amy Kathleen Ryan

Blood Roses—Francesca Lia Block

Seeing Redd—Frank Beddor

*** Chains—Laurie Halse Anderson


Breaking Dawn—Stephenie Meyer

Bliss—Lauren Myracle

Boot Camp—Todd Strasser

Newes from the Dead—Mary Hooper

Deadly Little Secret—Laurie Faria Stolarz

*** Debbie Harry Sings in French—Meagan Brothers

Gone—Michael Grant

Appetite for Detention—Sloane Tanen

*** Wake—Lisa McMann

Frostbite—Richelle Mead


Cheated—Patrick Jones

The Carlyles—Cecily von Zeigesar

The Declaration—Gemma Malley

Ala Carte—Tanita S. Davis

*** Patron Saint of Butterflies—Cecilia Galante

Unraveling—Michelle Baklini and Lynn Biederman

After Tupac and D Foster—Jacqueline Woodson

Ridiculous/Hilarious/Terrible/Cool—Elisha Cooper

*** Living Dead Girl—Elizabeth Scott

Good Enough—Paula Yoo

Big Fat Manifesto-- Sarah Vaught

*** My Most Excellent Year—Steve Kluger

*** Madapple—Christina Meldrum


Cycler—Lauren McLaughlin

*** Skim—Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

*** Hunger Games—Suzanne Collins

The Luxe—Anne Godbersen

Rumors—Anne Godbersen

Seaborn—Craig Moodie

Girlwood—Claire Dean

Absolute Brightness—James Lecesne

Exodus—Julie Bertagna

The Truth about Chuck Norris—Ian Spector

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side—Beth Fantaskey

I Know it’s Over—C.K. Kelly Martin


Black Box—Julie Schumacher

*** As Simple as Snow—Gregory Galloway

Sprouted Baking—Janie Quinn

How They Met and other stories—David Levithan

The Good Neighbors—Holly Black and Ted Naifeh

Jellicoe Road—Melina Marchetta

Wicked Lovely—Melissa Marr

Ink Exchange—Melissa Marr

*** Marked—P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Chosen— P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Betrayed— P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Untamed— P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast


*** Spud—John van de Ruit

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone—Stephanie Kuehnert

Hero—Perry Moore

*** Graceling—Kristen Cashore

Let it Snow—John Green, Lauren Myracle, Maureen Johnson

Audrey, Wait!—Robin Benway

*** Pretty Monsters—Kelly Link

City of Bones—Cassandra Clare (still reading this one, but will update if it deserves ***)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Graceling-- Kristin Cashore

Usually I try not to blog about books that are already gaining lots of notoriety among librarians and other literary types, but in this case, I must spend some time on Graceling.

Truly, this has been a stellar year for those strong, tough, smart female characters that I love reading about. In fact, many of the books I recently have blogged about feature them. Graceling is no exception. Graceling takes place in a fantasy world, no not the kind with dwarfs and dragons, but in a world that feels slightly ancient, smaller, and just-different-enough from ours to be interesting. The protagonist, Katsa, is Graced. To be Graced is to be different, to be inordinarily skilled in some way, to be alltoghether unique in the world. Some people are graced with things like extraordinary swimming or climbing skills. Some can controll moods and read minds. Some can sence the weather. Katsa is an extremely skilled fighter. She never tires, never hungers, does not feel pain or cold, and never ever looses a fight. Ever. She is the neice of the King of the Midlunds and he sends her on assasination and coersion missions frequently. But when Katsa meets another Graceling who uses his skill in an entirely different way, her whole world is opened up and she looks at life with a totally new perspective.

I really appreciated many things about this book. It feels like a traditional fantasy novel, but doesn't repeat the same story over and over. There are scenes in this book that pull at your emotions and make you wonder what you would do if you were in that situation. I loved how fiercely Katsa defended her independance. Although it is expected of all women in Katsa's society to marry and procreate, Katsa ademently defends her rights to her body and life. I really apprecaited that subtext to the story because some fantasy books have slight underpinings of that type of traditionalism. The supporting characters were just as intriquing as Katsa, and I wouldn't mind reading entire books about them too!

I hear this is the start of a series, which makes me happy beacuse like a typical teenager, once I get into a story, I want to read more *just like it*. I would recommend this book to girls and boys who like fantasy, adventure, The Hunger Games, and Tamora Pierce books.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone-- Stephanie Kuehnert

I have met hundreds and hundreds of teenagers in my line of work and they all have one thing in common: they are passionate about music. Really. Ask ten teens what their favorite book is, and there will be a few who won't come up with anything. Ask them who their favorite singer/band is and they will struggle to narrow down their list.

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Huehnert is sure to be a hit with older teens... but make sure to get it into the right teens' hands. It's a brutally honest tale about Emily Black, a who grows up in nowheresville, Wisconsin. She was raised by her musician father and music is literally the driving force behind her life. Emily loses her virginity at 14, drunk, to a "rock-god" who ultimately disappoints her. Swearing to never feel powerless because of a man again, Emily forms her own punk-girl band, rocks harder, parties longer, and is more talented than any other musician on the scene. Although she is emotionally crippled by being abandoned by her mother as an infant, Emily trudges her way top and finds solace in the one thing that has never failed her: music.

I was really surprised by this book. I picked it up looking for a light read this weekend, but found it to be engrossing and ultimately a harder read than I thought. Reading about the abuse Emily puts up with, really does to herself, was challenging. I did feel drawn by the magnetic pull of an underground music scene, and there were times I wished the characters were real people so I could pull them out of the drug and sex induced coma they kept throwing themselves into. I think teen girls who like edgy fiction, music (especially punk), books about drugs, and strong female characters will like this book. I would recommend it to readers of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, punk rock bios, or other musical fiction.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Spud--John van de Ruit

I just can't help myself, I have to blog about another boarding school book. Help, I'm obsessed!

Spud is set in South Africa just as apartheid is coming to an end. John "Spud" Milton attends an all boys boarding school and we learn about his adventures with his dorm-mates, The Crazy Eight, through his witty, enticing, and thoroughly entertaining journal entries. We can live vicariously through his words as The Crazy Eight sneak out for night swims, go ghost-hunting, endure birthday hazings, dream about girls, endure zany professors and parents, and more. While this book was a bit of a slow start for me, I think teens will like it.

Throughout this book, I had this nagging feeling, like it reminded me of something but I couldn't put my finger on it. At the end, I realized: this book totally reminded me of the Dead Poets Society movie! And although thematically different from Looking for Alaska, Jellicoe Road, and What I Was, readers who enjoyed those books will also like this one. What makes Spud stand out to me, however, is the subtle messages about friendship, culture, and society that are told in Spud's journal entries. Still, what I like the best about this book was that it made me laugh out loud. I must have looked like a crazy person when I was reading this in a waiting room the other day.

This book would be good for both boys and girls, though older teens might get more out of it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange-- Melissa Marr

Ahhh, urban fantasy. There is more and more to choose from these days!

Wicked Lovely is a modern version of an old tale. You know, that old tale about a fairy king finding a mortal to be his queen etc etc. Holly Black wrote a version of this story in her novel Tithe a few years ago. Anyway, just like most retold folk and fairy tales, the story isn't new and usually there are many other retellings. The author just needs to make sure their version isn't too similar to everything else... or to the original story. In Wicked Lovely, Aislinn is one of the rare humans gifted with The Sight, aka she can see fairies. When the summer king claims her for his own, she has to make choices and sacrifices to preserve the existence of both the fairy and human races. Although the story was paced well and held my interest throughout, I kept feeling like I was reading a slightly tamed-down version of Tithe. I know there are many, many differences between these two books, but as a reader, I felt that I shouldn't be quite so reminded of Black's novel.

Ink Exchange, in my opinion, was better. I didn't *love* it, but I did hold my interest, and teens who are into urban fantasy and fairy stories will like it. The story felt fresher. Leslie, who was a minor character in Wicked Lovely, comes from a terribly broken home. Her father is an alcoholic, her brother is a drug dealer and abuses her, and she has to work as a waitress to bring in enough money to pay the household bills. Wanting something for herself, Leslie decides to get a tattoo. Little did she know that the tattoo artist is a halfling, and he tattooed her with an ink made of fairy blood, fairy tears, and shadows. Leslie is now intimately connected with the leader of the Dark Court, who is the enemy of her friend Aislinn (main character of Wicked Lovely), and has to fight for her autonomy once again.

Both books have strong female protagonists, and don't treat right and wrong like dichotomies. I like that Marr writes the "evil" characters in a multi-dimensional way. Also, there is a gritty edge to the books that adds to the overall ambiance.

I would recommend these books to teen girls (boys may like them too if they can get past the female protagonist thing) who like urban fantasy and/or books like: Charles de Lint's The Blue Girl, any Holly Black, Herbie Brennan's fairy books, O.R. Melling's The Summer King, any Francesca Lia Block, and Will Shetterly's Elsewhere and Nevernever.

P.S. Don't you just *love* the book covers?

Monday, December 1, 2008

House of Night Series-- P.C. and Kristin Cast

What am I thankful for? I am thankful that I got to spend the weekend following Thanksgiving reading books in the bathtub! Seriously, what could be better?

The series I couldn't get enough of was House of Night by mother-daughter team P.C. and Kristin Cast. There are four books currently published (Marked, Betrayed, Chosen, Untamed), and according to their website, there will be nine total in the series.

House of Night is the name of the series, but also the name of the boarding school Zoey Redbird attends. After being tracked by an adult Vampyre, Zoey has to leave her normal, human life behind and join the other fledgling vampyres at the House of Night, where vampyres get a crash course in what to expect when they officially go through the change (transitioning from human to vampyre). We soon find out that Zoey is more than just a normal fledgling. She is chosen by the Goddess Nyx to be her high priestess, and the Goddess has gifted Zoey with the power to harness the elements to accomplish her goals. This is not your typical vampire story, and I think it will appeal to Twilight fans.

What made this series enjoyable for me was the magic and religion that was present. The vampyres practice Wicca, and although they don't officially call it that, the presence of Wiccan traditions (like casting a circle, calling the elements, etc) are central to the plot. Usually Wicca and witchcraft are terribly misrepresented in teen fiction (Rhymes with Witches by Lauren Myracle anyone? Ug.) Although the main character Zoey got on my nerves a bit with her goody two-shoes attitude, it was great to read a story with a strong female main character who is a Goddess worshiper. This is not a work of fine literature, but teens will love this series. AND it's a perfect bathtub read.

I would recommend the House of Night series to teen girls who liked the Twilight series, Stolarz's Blue is for Nightmares series, stories about romance or friendship, or Wicca and vampires in general.