Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mock Printz Results!

After a great afternoon of book-chatting and minor debates, our Mock Printz participants selected their winners.

We chose Nothing by Janne Teller as our winner. Our two honor books were Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick and Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. Now all we have to do is wait for January 10th to see if we got close to selecting the winning titles.

As for me, I definitely had some personal favorites this year. It's always so hard to guess which direction the award selection committee will go. If I had to pick, I would choose Nothing, Revolver, and one that didn't make our Mock Printz list: Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett (still need to blog that one!). Another librarian recommended that book to me, and I wish it had been published before we created our list.

What are your picks for the Printz?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wicked Girls-- Stephanie Hemphill

Sometimes, in a society that stifles the voices of youth and of women, you need to be loud and unique to be noticed. And in my opinion, that's what this book, Wicked Girls, is really about. It's set in the Salem area during the Salem Witch Trials. The novel is narrated in turn by young women, and it's in verse.

Wicked Girls takes you beyond just the facts or the information you might have learned in school. Through the verse format, Hemphill manages to make you really feel like you understand the emotional process the girls must have gone through to get to a place where they could accuse other women (and men) of being witches. These girls would convulse, seize, shriek, foam at the mouth, become feverish, and gave all outward appearances of being thoroughly tortured by witches. But Hemphill subtly asserts that they were not really seers, but lonely girls overlooked by parents and lovers; girls who needed something to break the bleak oppression a highly conservative society might bring.

Hemphill weaves fact into this work of fiction, which seems to be her speciality. While the dialog is imagined, and some names have been slightly changed, she tries to stick to the facts enough to give the reader a true impression of what happened in the past. It could be a tough sell for some teens, but this is a popular topic and maybe the verse-novel format will make it an easier sell.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Flash-- Michael Cadnum

Everything about Flash is set up to be a page-turner.

Bruce and Milton have a hard life. The brothers hail from a working-class family, and their dad died in a factory explosion. To find some relief, both from poverty and the tedium of it, they decide to rob a bank.

Nina has a lot on her plate too. Her father's import business is going under. Her brother Carraway is AWOL from Iraq, and her boyfriend Terrence is almost completely blind. On top of it all, she needs money to finance her art gallery showing... an event that could be her ticket to a new life all together.

Now add to the equation: desperation, guns, and everyone's favorite: a twist.

So like I said, a page-turner right? Well for me it wasn't. Honestly I felt the writing was lacking and the characters were dull. For some teens, I bet the plot will be enough to keep them going. I would feel comfortable giving this to a reluctant reader or someone who likes crime fiction, but do not offer it to teens who want a better quality of writing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Very Red Blogpost

Coincidentally, I read two red books in a row. And the dork in my can't resist blogging about them together.

Rose Sees Red-- Cecil Castellucci

It's the early 80s and Rose is your typical teen age girl trying to carve out her own identity and place in the world. When she decided to sacrifice popularity in order to attend an arts-based high school, she didn't realize how lonely it would be. Even her love for dance can't mask the depression she feels. One evening, her next door neighbor (with whom she's never had a conversation) climbs through her bedroom window. Yrena is Russian born, and lives an extremely protected life. Yrena decided to ditch her body guards for just one night, and she and Rose take on New York City with a vigor that can only come when you free yourself from your personal prisons. It's a nice story, and engaging, but not really groundbreaking in any way. I do wonder how much teens will be able to relate to the story. The U.S.S.R/USA tension that was rampant in the 80s isn't really felt now, and that is a key component to the story.

Sisters Red-- Jackson Pearce

What if Little Red Riding Hood wasn't a squeeky little girl who obliviously traipsed through the woods only to be saved by the big brave woodcutter? What if she was a hatchet-wielding, one eyed, scarred up badass? Wouldn't that story be so much better?

Scarlet and Rosie March are Fenris (werewolf) hunters. When their grandmother was brutally murdered by a Fenris, and Scarlet was brutally mutilated defending her sister, the sisters red were born into a new destiny. Killing Fenris is Scarlet's entire reason for living, and she wants to make sure her sister Rosie will never be hurt... and Rosie herself is quite skilled with a knife. Scarlet shelters Rosie to the point of smothering, and Rosie decides that she and her knives need some action of their own. But when Rosie falls for the woodcutter's son, and gangs of Fenris descend upon the city, the life Scarlet has designed for them falls apart. Plenty of love and plenty of gore... I think this book will please fans of Twilight and other romance/horror novels.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty-- G. Neri and Randy DuBurke, Illustrator

Robert Sandifer is 11 years old. Everyone calls him Yummy because he has a sweet tooth that just won't quit. He lives with his grandma in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. He's just a little guy, a shortie, only 4 feet tall and maybe 60 pounds. Yummy still sleeps with a teddy bear. And Yummy shot a 14 year old girl. He shot her with a gun that was given to him by his mentors, members of the gang Black Disciples.

Yummy has an extraordinarily hard life. His father is in prison. His abusive mother has been in and out of jail for drugs and prostitution over 40 times. Yummy learned that the only way to be safe was to have a gang watching out for you. But being a part of the Black Disciples has it's price and Yummy paid it in the fullest.

This powerful graphic novel is short, but compelling; you really feel for Yummy. He was a criminal by the age of 11, but still completely a child. He was used and abused by almost everyone who entered his life, and his loyalty to his chosen family, his gang, only led to betrayal. In a situation as horrific as Yummy's, it's hard to blame him for his actions... yet an innocent girl was dead and he shot her. So how is that not his fault?

Oh, and did I mention that this is a true story? Robert "Yummy" Sandifer really did live in Chicago and this incident happened in 1994. While the topic of this story is mature and could be hard to handle for some youth, the pictures and description of events are appropriate even for younger teens. I would recommend this to teens who want true stories, reluctant readers who aren't afraid of the topics covered within, and teens who like gritty street stories.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Revolver-- Marcus Sedgwick

A really good writer leaves something for the imagination. S/he describes a scene in detail but leaves the truly horrific part for you to create in your mind. I can read gory horror books and feel fine, but the creepy-left-to-our-imagination scenes... that's what keeps me up at night!

Marcus Sedgwick accomplishes the balance between detail and not over-writing perfectly. Revolver takes place in the arctic circle during the gold rush. When Sig discovers his father frozen to death on the ice, he knows his whole life will change. But when Wolff shows up and torments Sig, his emotions go from sadness to utter terror. Wolff believes that Sig's father is hiding gold and will do anything to retrieve it. Sig and his sister Anna do everything they can to appease Wolff, but he still brutalizes them believing they are lying. Sedgwick weaves threads of this tale together, allowing the reader to figure out some things on their own and leaving enough mystery to keep the pages turning.

For whatever reason, Wolff's character scared the crap outta me. It was like he had no moral compass and couldn't see beyond his own personal desires. Wolff was adept at both physical and emotional torment. He was animalistic but just human enough to make me get up and make sure my doors were locked at night.

I would recommend this book to youth who like thrillers, pager turners, short chapters, and stories about harsh landscapes. This book would be especially good for boys. While there isn't anything graphically described in detail, it's still not for the faint of heart.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mock Printz Nominations!

After many agonizing meetings, my librarian cohort Paige and I have settled on an official Mock Printz list for this year. It's always so hard to choose, because inevitably something amazing will be published after we've already made our list...

And the nominees are (in no particular order):

Nothing-- Janne Teller
A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend-- Emily Horner
The Water Seeker-- Kimberly Willis Holt
Black Hole Sun-- David Macinnis Gill
Revolver-- Marcus Sedgwick
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty-- G. Neri and Randy Duburke, Ill
They Called Themselves the KKK-- Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Wicked Girls-- Stephanie Hemphill
Finnikin of the Rock-- Melina Marchetta
Last Summer of the Death Warriors-- Francisco X. Stork

OK, you have your list! Now start reading and let me know what you think about our Mock Printz selections. And, if you want more information about the Mock Printz event, email teens@fvrl.org.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Water Seeker-- Kimberly Willis Holt

Taking place from 1833 through 1859, The Water Seeker is a fictional tale of what life was like on the prairie and along the Oregon Trail. Mostly historical fiction, but with a light touch of magical realism, this novel is a meandering but compelling story of a boy and the adults who find their way into his life.

Amos is the son of Jake, who is a trapper by chosen trade but a dowser by god given gift. While Jake is away trapping, he leaves Amos to be raised by his brother and his wife, then later the neighbor and her five sons. It isn't until Amos is almost 14 that his father comes back to claim him... and take him on the journey of a lifetime, out west on the Oregon trail. Amos learns about himself through those who care for him. After watching Jake work as a dowser, Amos realizes that skill is living within him, too. And after years of sketching eerily accurate portraits, he learns his mother (who died giving birth to him) was a talented artist. But it isn't until he meets Gwendolyn that Amos learns what it means to be a man and see beyond the surface and first impressions.

This novel is appropriate for all ages of teens, and would be especially appealing to those who loved the Little House on the Prairie books but have outgrown them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

This Gorgeous Game--Donna Freitas

When 17 year old Olivia wins a prestigious writing contest sponsored by award winning author Father Mark Brennan, she can't believe her good luck. Being a writer is her life's dream, and winning this contest will set her on her career path. When Father Mark offers to mentor her in the ways of writing, Olivia couldn't be happier. As a devoted Catholic and completely dedicated to her writing career, Olivia believed being mentored by Father Mark would take her places she would never reach on her own.

But when Father Mark begins to call and text her multiple times an hour, follow her, and completely dominate her time, Oliviae starts to realize their relationship isn't typical. Although Father Mark hasn't touched her in any way, Olivia can still tell that something is inappropriate about their interactions. But soon the situation spirals out of her control and she has to dig deep inside herself to try and find her way out... and to still find the love for writing that started it all.

Donna Freitas has written a tale of an inappropriate relationship between a priest and a young girl, but she has done it in a respectful, not sensationalized way. She does not dismiss all priests or Catholicism as wrong; in fact I would think readers who are Catholic might be pleased with the way she portrays the religion. I would easily recommend this book to youth who like clean, religious fiction even though the subject matter seems so appalling. Personally, I didn't enjoy it much but only because it's not quite my literary cup of tea... but in general, I found it to be well written and there is a subset of teens out there who will be looking for a book like this.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend-- Emily Horner

Things that are happening during the summer before Cass's senior year in high school:

Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad.
A badass solo bike ride from Illinois to California (kinda).
A musical which should have stared Julia, but instead stars Heather, the girl who mercilessly called Cass a dyke in front of the whole school.
Self discovery.
Two first kisses.

Something that happened in the spring:

Julia, Cass's best friend and secret (even to herself) girlcrush is killed in a car accident... and Cass's world implodes. Her hippy-liberal-Quaker parents encourage Cass to find her way out of the blackness, and Cass decides to do so by making a cross country bike trip, alone, to scatter Julia's ashes in the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, Cass and Julia's friends decide to produce Julia's legacy, the musical she'd been slaving over "Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad."

This book is told in Then and Now passages, isn't linear, and is totally compelling. I literally couldn't put it down. Sometimes YA coming of age stories are unrealistically good (ahem, John Green), but this one really communicates how boundaries in the mind can be blurry, and how easy it can be to trick yourself into believing a lie... basically just like real life. I also found this book to be quite well written and will be keeping it in mind when it's time to select titles for Mock Printz!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blast of Books III: Journey into Distopia

For some reason, I found myself in a black hole of dystopia last week... and this is what I read:

The Gardener-- S.A. Bodeen (May 2010)

Mason is your average teenage boy growing up in a small town. His father is out of the picture, his mother struggles with alcoholism and works nights at the local nursing home, which is owned by TroDyn. Determined to make something of his life, Mason decides to apply to TroDyn, a local scientific corporation that will pay for his schooling if he agrees to work there afterward. But when Mason visits his mother at work one day, and sees that she is not watching over senior citizens but catatonic teenagers, Mason learns there is more to TroDyn than he originally thought. All at once, he is caught up in a whirlwind of science he never thought possible, and falls hard for a beautiful girl who needs someone to project her.

The Gardener is almost more sci-fi than dystopia, and as you can tell by the cover, the Gardener isn't growing flowers in the greenhouse. And though there are massive plot holes and the character development is poor, Bodeen does a good job of showing how an altruistic idea can have sinister results when science is more highly valued than human life. I didn't enjoy this book as much as some of the others in this post, but I think teens will like it if they are looking for a fast paced sci-fi/dystopia.

Matched-- Ally Condie (November 2010)

It's the not-so-distant future and Society rules. Literally. All personal choice has been removed, and because of that, there is no war, conflict, or confusion. There are 100 approved poems, 100 approved paintings, and no one knows how to write (only type). Your career is chosen for you by your aptitude and social standing. And most importantly, your spouse is chosen for you. It's like an arranged marriage, but instead of loving families deciding what's best for their children, Society uses logarithms to scientifically make matches. And somehow no one questions this.

Cassia cannot wait for her matching day. She is thrilled when she is matched with Xander, the boy who lives next door and is her best friend. This is extremely rare and she is grateful to already know her match. But when she pops in the data disc that has more information about her match, it's not Xander's face that she sees. Instead she sees Ky, the mysterious boy who is always on the fringes. Society acknowledged the glitch in the system and tried to smooth things over. Yet other bits and pieces of Society's rigorous hold are crumbling and Cassia finds that she can't just live a quiet subdued life anymore.

Nomansland-- Lesley Hauge (June 2010)

I'm a sucker for retold mythology and from the cover and synopsis of this book, I thought this would be a retelling of the story of the amazon women... you know, the women who cut off a breast so they could use their bows and arrows better, and spend their lives on the back of a horse. However, it's vaguely inspired by that myth and really focuses more on the post apocalyptic plot.

Something has happened and the world we currently know is gone. A group of women survive the apocalypse on an island and recreate society to survive this new reality. When we meet Keller, the world we live in now is a distant memory. She lives with other women in a strict, almost archaic feeling society and is training to be a tracker. When her friend Laing finds an old dwelling (most likely from the around our current time, so maybe 2020 or so?) buried under the earth, she and the other girls are introduced to a society they never knew. They try on lipstick, look at beauty magazines, and marvel over barbie dolls. But when the women governing their society discovers their secret hideaway, the results are nothing less than tragic.

This World We Live In--Susan Beth Pfeffer (April 2010)

This is book three in The Last Survivors series (the first being Life as We Knew It) and because of this, I won't spend too much time on it. Basically This World We Live In takes the characters we met in the first two books and places them in a situation where their worlds unite. I would think fans of the first two books will be happy to read this, to me it felt uninspired and kind of like an afterthought.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Scott Pilgrim: A side note

So here's some randomness for y'all.

Just over a week ago I was rambling on about how much I loved Mercury by Hope Larson. Then, over the weekend, I decided to read the first 5 volumes of Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O'Malley since the movie is coming out soon. Then I noticed one of the volumes was dedicated to Hope Larson. And then in another volume, I see that she is his wife. Ooooohhhh, synchronicity.

And, speaking of the Scott Pilgrim GNs; they're awesome! Although my library has the series cataloged as YA, I really think it's more for people in their 20s. The characters are in their mid 20s and there are lots of references back to 90s area videogames and bands. The series is perfectly appropriate for teens; I'm just not sure of the appeal. I wonder if teens will be drawn in by the forthcoming movie...

...And speaking of this movie, is it just me, or does Michael Cera have a monopoly on the ya book to movie roles? He's been in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Youth in Revolt, and now Scott Pilgrim. I can't say that I am happy about this choice, but I'll hold me judgment until I actually see the movie.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mercury-- Hope Larson

This beautifully illustrated graphic novel details two young women's coming of age in Nova Scotia, but in vastly different time periods.

1859: Josey lives on a farm with her parents, and one day a traveling salesman type gold prospector, Asa, stops by. He lures in her father, and before she knows it, Asa has integrated himself inextricably from their lives... and Josey's heart. Asa has in his possession a unique necklace that has a bead of quicksilver in it, which ends up in Josey's hands at a key moment in time.

Present Day: Tara loves nothing more than the rickety old farm house her family has owned for generations. But when a tragic fire decimates their home, Tara's mother is forced to sell the land in order to make ends meet. But when Tara hears a rumor that gold is buried on their property, she feels like this is her only chance to save her childhood homestead.

Josey and Tara's stories are told in alternating sections, and Larson does a beautiful job of making each story distinct, but overlap in a way to make the story cohesive. Along with the storyline, details about the girls' lives are included to flesh out the details and make the reader feel involved with coming of age.

I would recommend this book to fans of graphic novels, particularly the stand-alone type, or fans of historical fiction who are looking to expand their reading selections. Fans of Stitches by David Small, Blankets by Craig Thompson, or American Born Chinese by Gene Lee Yang might like this for its coming of age/memoir-esque format.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

White Cat-- Holly Black

This book surprised me. I didn't expect to like it, but it kept getting high marks from review sources I value... so I gave it a chance.

And what do you know? I really enjoyed it!

In this tale of an alternate reality that highly resembles real life, there are curse workers. Curse workers are basically people who can use magic but only to do one thing. For example, Cassel's mother can control people's emotions, his brothers can control memories and even bring about death. Somehow, though his whole family was blessed with the skills to use this magic, Cassel is the one dud. He can't do anything magical, so his mobster family shipped him off to a boarding school where he won't get in their way-- so he thinks.

But there's this white cat who stalks his dreams. And one night this cat causes him to sleepwalk onto the roof of his dorm and come within seconds of plummeting to his death. And somehow he feels a little more awake now, like fuzz has been removed from his head, and he is learning things about himself, and his family, that he never thought possible.

This book is realistic fantasy with action and a little bit of romance. I think a variety of teens will like it, and it's the first in a promising series. I would give this book to fans of the author, Holly Black, or teens who enjoy authors like Melissa Marr, Charles de Lint or any other urban fantasy author.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Every Little Thing in the World-- Nina de Gramont

Sydney's 16 and a goody two-shoes... and pregnant. Her BFF Natalia just found out her parents are really her grandparents and that her older sister is really her mother. The only person who knows about Sydney's pregnancy is Natalia, and all of a sudden her views on abortion just got really complicated.

When Sydney and Natalia get busted attending a kegger, Sydney's parents send her on a long canoeing camping trip in Canada. They don't know she's pregnant and think the nature excursion might help her find what really matters in life. At the last minute Natalia finagles a spot in the group, and over the course of the summer both girls learn more about themselves and each other.

In typical summer camp fashion, other friendships and close bonds are developed, adventures are had, and tough decisions need to be made. But when the summer comes to a close, will Sydney listen to Natalia's pleas to keep her baby, or will she get the abortion that seems like the most logical choice.

Honestly, I was surprised by this book. I was so worried that it would be schmaltzy and unrealistic. I think de Gramont captures what it feels like to be a teen, invincible yet extremely fragile all at once. I would give this book to people who read Sarah Dessen, and fans of Jumping Off Swings.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

After Ever After-- Jordan Sonnenblick

Jeffery Alper is a leukemia survivor. He beat the disease into remission when he was five years old, but the chemo, radiation, and strong medications have left their mark. He has trouble concentrating, walks with a limp, and feels abandoned by his older brother who took off for Africa for a year.

On the first day of 8th grade, a beautiful accident happens. He notices a girl struggling to pick up her spilled backpack and they hit it off instantly. The next thing he knows, Lindsay from L.A. is his girlfriend and his only real friend besides BFF Tad, another cancer survivor.

Throughout the book we learn about Jeff's coming of age as a cancer survivor, how he is treated by others, and which boundaries he tries to break on his own. After Ever After is a sequel to Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, but it's totally stand-alone (I never read the first book and didn't feel I was lacking for anything plot-wise). Sonnenblick writes an authentic 8th grade voice, and this is a good book to have in your pocket for that younger teen or tween who doesn't want baby-ish books but isn't ready for bawdy teen lit.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Secret Year-- Jennifer Hubbard

Colt and Julia had a torrid, clandestine romance, and somehow nobody knew about it. She was a rich countryclub girl from Black Mountain and he is a poor boy with an alcoholic father who lives in the flats. Although they would see each other in the halls at school, their two worlds were so separate, they never communicated beyond anonymous notes in lockers dictating meeting times and locations.

On Memorial Day weekend,Julia got ragingly, disastrously drunk. This shocked her friends immensely as her boyfriend Austen was a binge drinker and Julia hated it. She got a ride home from her friend Pam, who accidentally ran into a pole... Pam totaled her car, broke her arm, and killed her best friend Julia. Julia wasn't wearing her seat belt because she kept leaning her head out of the car window to vomit. Nobody can figure out why Julia would be drinking, why her car was in the shot causing her to rely on Pam, and why she was fighting with Austin.

But Colt knew. Colt knew that she was thinking about breaking up with Austin, and maybe she needed the alcohol for courage. Colt's entire world was rocked off it's axis with Julia's death. Not only has he lost the girl he's been with for over a year, his entire mourning process has to happen in private. No one would ever believe a girl like Julia would ever be with him... or would they? Maybe their secret wasn't as protected as they thought...

Overall, I would say this was a pretty good book. It was not exceptionally well-written, but it had a nice flow. It was fast paced in a way that really appeals to teens, and though the character development wasn't exceptional, it was good enough to make the reader feel attached to Colt's plight. I think teens who liked 13 Reasons Why, The Sky Always Hears Me, and Hold Still will like this book.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Line-- Teri Hall

In the future, the government controls everything you do. War is commonplace, and to protect citizens from death and destruction, the government has created an invisible barrier that surrounds the entire country.

Rachel and her mother live on The Property, which is far removed from the over-packed cities that are run by a tyrannical and oppressive government. Though Rachel has no idea why they must live so separately, she does know that her mother is extraordinarily protective of her. When Rachel accidentally breaks a window in a green house on The Property, her mother panics and fears they will be sent back to the city to live. Luckily Rachel is able to work off her fees by helping The Property owner, Ms. Moore.

Meanwhile, communication comes from over The Line... The Line separates them from The Others, people who were trapped on the other side when the government turned on the barriers. All Rachel knows is that someone needs her help. But when Ms. Moore finds out what Rachel is up to, her reaction is beyond shocking.

I think this post apocalyptic book will appeal to some, but it wasn't up my alley. I didn't feel particularly attached to any of the characters, and the writing felt pretty amateur. Also, I felt the author sprung a few too many coincidences on the reader to be truly authentic. My biggest beef with this book, though, is that it's the first in a series AGAIN. It feels like every book published now is the first in a series, and nothing has a strong ending. My plea to series writers: PLEASE reward your readers with a good, solid, satisfying ending even if you have a few more to write on the subject.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors-- Francisco X. Stork

The last thing Pancho's father said to him was to take care of his sister Rosa... and Pancho, 17 and now an orphan, feels like he's failed him. When his mentally handicapped sister Rosa is found dead in a hotel room and the police dismiss the case as an accident, Pancho is out of his head with guilt and anger. Finding her killer is the only thing that matters to Pancho, until the state officials remove him from his trailer and take him to a priest run home for boys.

The priest in charge introduces Pancho to D.Q, who is dying from a rare form of cancer. Although Pancho tenaciously clings to his revenge plot, being a companion for D.Q. subtly alters his perspective on life and living. D.Q. strives become a Death Warrior, someone who lives intentionally and sucks the marrow out of life. He is writing a manifesto, and teaching key points to Pancho. But when the time comes, will Pancho focus on the beauty of life and living, or will revenge and death guide his hand?

This is a subtly written book, and the friendship between Pancho and D.Q. is endearing. Stork doesn't hurry to make a point, but neither does the prose meander. Class and racial issues are examined in a way that lets the reader maker her/his own decision about right and wrong. One of Stork's strengths in general is that he shows rather than tells. I would recommend this to boys and girls who want a book about friendship, books with Mexican-American characters, and to teens who like serious books with bits of humor here and there.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Half World-- Hiromi Goto and Jillian Tamaki

In our universe, there are three realms: there is the realm of flesh, the realm of spirit, and half world. Over the course of time, the three realms have functioned as a piece of the whole, until a rift is formed and half world becomes a grotesque purgatory where twisted creatures lose their humanity and are stuck repeating torturous acts again and again... think Sisyphus from Greek mythology rolling the rock up the hill for all of eternity. One day there is a prophecy: a child of flesh will be impossibly conceived in half world, and will escape, only to return and reestablish balance and order to the realms, thus freeing the trapped souls in half world.

Melanie is an unlikely hero. She's dimwitted, overweight, and woe-begotten. When her mother disappears, she turns to the only friend she's ever had: the old shopkeeper Ms. Wei. With the help of Ms. Wei, a rat, and a murder of crows, Melanie finds her way into half world. Her intention is to save her mother, but in the process she develops more fully into an individual and learns selfless compassion.

Overall, I really enjoyed this creepy/strange book. I am not well-versed in Japanese mythology, so I am curious to know if half world is a creation of Goto or if it's a traditional tale retold. Either way, I am sure this book will be a hit with teens. Although the protagonist is female, there are many elements to this story that will be enticing to boys, and manga and mythology fans will probably like this book. I found it to be well-written, maybe a bit overdramatic in some places but the plot allows for the drama. Jillian Tamaki (illustrator of the awesome graphic novel Skim) adds to the story with her uniquely styles illustrations.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Incarceron-- Catherine Fisher

There's been a tremendous buzz about this book on all the YA lit message boards. Heck, the publisher sent my library district a total of FIVE advanced reader's copies, and they were handing them out like candy at a recent library conference. Did it live up to the hype? Honestly, not for me, but I would be very interested in hearing what you thought of it, and I really think teens will like it.

Incarceron is a mysterious world full of dark thoughts, half mechanical animals and people, and criminals who rule. It's a prison, and an experiment that went terribly wrong. Finn can remember nothing but Incarceron, but has a tiny tattoo that leads him to believe he was once a part of a world on the outside. At this point life outside of Incarceron is just a myth that most people don't believe in, and even though prophets have told tales of escaping, actually leaving seems impossible... until one day an artifact appears that allows Finn to connect with a woman, Claudia, who seems to be on the outside.

Claudia is trapped in a political intrigue and is set to marry a jerk of a prince at any moment. Her father is the warden of Incarceron, which no one has actually seen, or knows of it's location. When her tutor finds a way for Claudia to communicate with someone on the inside, she finally finds a way to escape her fate.

This book will appeal to teens who enjoy books like Hunger Games or The Maze Runner... but in my opinion, both of those books are superior to this one. It just didn't grab me the way Hunger Games did, and it felt a bit heavy-handed to me. Also, it's going to be a series, and to me it seemed like a story that should have been told all in one book.

The Sky is Everywhere-- Jandy Nelson

So one million years ago when I was a teenager, my mom used to tease me because I loved to read "dying books". There was nothing I liked more than grabbing a fresh box of kleenex and crying my eyes out to an incredibly sad book where inevitably, someone important dies.

The Sky is Everywhere is not your generic ya weepie tome. In fact, our protagonist is pretty darn tough. What I loved the most about this book was how honest it was, even when sugar-coating the grieving process is less than savory.

Lennie's older sister Bailey was her best friend... they became understandably close when their mother abandoned them and left them to be raised by their grandmother. When Bailey died suddenly from an arrhythmia, Lennie found herself in the sunlight all alone... a place she (the shy band geek type) has never wanted to be. Lennie's grieving process leads her to a closeness with Bailey's fiance, and although Lennie has a strong, positive relationship with another guy, she can't avoid the electric connection she feels to Bailey's fiance. Throughout the book, snippets of Bailey's poems are scattered, and music is also a strong theme. And though it will strongly appeal to girls who like sad but compelling books with romance, I do feel this book will have a broader appeal. I just wish the cover was better...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Nothing-- Janne Teller

This book broke my brain.

Seriously, it was amazing. And I almost *never* say that about a book on this blog.

One day, 7th grader Pierre Anthon stood up in the middle of class and announced "Nothing Matters." He then leaves behind his normal existence, climbs a plumb tree and doesn't come down. Ever. He lives there and spews existential philosophy about nothingness, life, and death to his bewildered classmates.

His classmates, including Agnes who narrates this story, decide to prove to him that some things in life DO matter. They neglect their every day life and indulge themselves in this pursuit with the single-minded fervor of youth. At first it starts simply; the 7th graders decide to create a pile of meaningful items (later dubbed the Heap of Meaning) and then fetch Pierre Anthon out of the tree and prove to him that life does have meaning by showing him the pile. Each teen demands a meaningful donation from another... Agnes must toss in her favorite pair of shoes, another teen her crutches. But quickly the Heap of Meaning demands more sinister and macabre donations, and in the end the teens simultaneously refute and prove without a doubt Pierre Anthon's assertions about life.

Other reviewers are calling this a modern Lord of the Flies. I can see that correlation, and it also called to mind Cormier's The Chocolate War. I loved the stark way this book was written, the unabashed bluntness, the pace, and way it made me think philosophical thoughts not revisited since college. I think this book will appeal to the teen reader who likes stark, thought-provoking novels. While the characters are 7th graders, I do see the older teen appreciating this book more than the younger teen. Adults are going to either eat this up or blast it for being inappropriate for youth.

Nothing was originally written in Dutch and published in 2008, and was translated into English and published in America in February 2010. I wonder if it's eligible for the Printz, because if it is, I will be nominating it for Mock Printz for sure!

Top 100 YA Books of All Time?

Another YA book review blogger wants to know what your top 100 YA titles are...

Read her post to find out how to participate, and vote for your favorites!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Blast of Books II

So every now and then I get so behind on my blogging, I have to blast you with a bunch of books at once... and heeeeeeeere we go!

Flash Burnout-- L.K. Madigan

Blake is a photographer who captures the gritty and hideous in a beautiful way. His photography pal, Marissa, is just the opposite... she takes beautiful things and makes them quirky and interesting. One day Blake captures the image of a drugged out streetperson... who ends up being Marissa's missing meth-addicted mother. This book is an emotional journey about friendship, family, growing up before your time, and the power of art. Bonus: it takes place in Portland, OR.

Stitches-- David Small

For whatever reason, I really love GN memoirs... and David Small's is just another to add to my list! Poignant, honest (brutally at times), and deeply revealing, this book is just as well-written as it's well-drawn. Small tells of his struggle with cancer, his abusive parents, and how he overcame both and finally found his voice.

How Beautiful the Ordinary-- Edited by Michael Cart

In this collection of short stories, we get to read works by YA author superstars including Francesca Lia Block, David Levithan, Julie Anne Peters, William Sleater, Emma Donoghue and more. It's a collection of coming of age stories, mostly coming out stories to be precise, and for the most part it's quite a good read. Is it memorable? Not really. Still, there are lots of teens out there that hunger for honest tales of growing up and I think this book will have a fairly wide audience.

Tangled-- Carolyn Mackler

Told from the perspective of four different teens, all in alternating chapters, we learn that life isn't perfect for anyone, despite outward appearances. Contrived and unoriginal at it's worst, touching and relatable to teens at it's best, I think Mackler's fans won't be toooooo disappointed in her latest effort. At least it has a good message that isn't nauseatingly heavy-handed.

Lips Touch: three times-- Lani Taylor

I have to admit that this was my favorite out of the bunch. It's a collection of three stories, all based on a traditional tale or poem, and illustrated by her husband. I will confess that I am biased about this because the first story was based on Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market" which is my favorite Victorian poem. But still, the writing was amazing, and the stories were strange, creepy, and just plain good. This would be a great book to recommend to the teen who thinks they only like adult books because YA books aren't well-written enough. Oh and it was nominated for a National Book Award in 2009.

Monday, March 22, 2010

By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead-- Julie Anne Peters

Parents are definitely not going to like this one!

Daelyn is done with this life... so done with it that she's attempted suicide (and failed) multiple times, just adding to her sense of worthlessness. Luckily, she finds a website called Through the Light, which guides you step by step through your suicide process. After years of being bullied, harassed, abused, and overlooked Daelyn is ready to die. Since her first two wrist-slitting attempts were failures, and drinking bleach and ammonia didn't work either, she really wants to find a successful means to her end. Through the Light details all the different ways to end your life, how hard they are to execute, and how painful they are... this is the part I expect parents will hate.

But as her day of death draws nearer, Daelyn finds herself drawn into the lives of two other people. A homeschooled boy, Santana, won't give up on her, even though she is in a neck brace and can't speak. He sees a spark of life in her that she doesn't see herself, and wants to unravel the mystery that is Daelyn. And Emily, a chubby teased girl at school tries to befriend Daelyn too, and refutes all of Daelyn attempts to snub her.

But in the end, will the efforts of others break through Daelyns dark cloud of a lifetime of depression? And if she does end up going "through the light" which light will it be, life or the afterlife?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

For Keeps-- Natasha Friend

Josie and her mother Katie are extremely close. Maybe it has something to do with their small age gap... Katie had Josie when she was a teenager. Maybe it's because Katie can't seem to keep it together and Josie is the mature influence in her own mother's life. Or maybe it's because (gasp) sometimes mothers and daughters really DO have a good relationship.

Josie's father has never been a part of her life. He moved away with his family when Katie was just barely pregnant with Josie, which is just fine with her. Josie and her mother make a perfect team, and her best friend Liv and her two dads round out their group. But when Josie saves the life of a man who was a regular at her place of employment, a local coffeeshop, everything begins to shift. The man she saves turns out to be her grandfather, and a whole new family is revealed to Josie, whether she likes it or not. Add in her romance with soccer star Briggs, her own strong role on the soccer team, and some life-changing decisions, and you've got an understanding of Josie's complicated existence.

I've read just about everything Natasha Friend has written. Something about her writing really sucks the reader in, the same way Sarah Dessen's characters do. But the difference between Friend and Dessen is that after I've finished a Natasha Friend novel, I tend to forget all about it. But don't get me wrong... I will still totally read anything she writes. Funny how that works.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Goldsmith's Daughter-- Tanya Landman

Maybe it's leftover from my childhood, but I am still drawn to stories of ancient times... you know ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Mayans...

The Goldsmith's Daughter is a tale of the Aztecs, during the time when the Spanish begin their conquering. Itacate was born to a wealthy craftman father and a peasant mother. Her mother died giving birth to Itacate and her twin brother, and it was believed that Itacate was born cursed because she appeared to be dead when born, then miraculously started to breathe. Over the years, no sign of the prophesied curse emerged, and Itacate began to secretly assist her goldsmith father with his work. Her talent was noticed by the great emperor Montezuma, which frightened Itacate because goldsmithing was forbidden to women. Montezuma commissioned two statues of the gods, and Itacate deeply connected with the art and spirituality of her task. Her work was prominently displayed at the temples, but credited to her father.

But just as Itacate felt her life started to have meaning, the Spaniards invade her city and all that she had worked for was lost. Montezuma allowed the Spanish to move right into the palace, and to influence his decisions. And when a Spanish goldsmith wins her love, Itacate must learn how to survive in a completely different world than she has ever known.

This books was written in simple, straightforward language. The author admits in a note at the end, that she twists some aspects of history to make her story work. I found this book to be an easy read, not super compelling, but the plot moved well enough to hold my interest. I also think there aren't many similar books to this one (meaning based on the Aztecs), and it's nice to have a book like this to offer to teens who want historical fiction about ancient civilizations.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Very LeFreak-- Rachel Cohn

For those of you who luuuurve to read books with quirky and interesting characters, and you aren't annoyed by their alarming ignorance of their own flaws, then you are in luck.

Meet Very LeFreak. Born to a free spirited pyromaniac mother and an unknown father, Very has traveled the world and lived the gloriously unstable life every kid dreams of having... until they actually do. Very's mother dies at the end of her high school years, and she goes to live with her one remaining relative, an elderly aunt who pulls some strings to get Very a scholarship to Columbia. We meet Very during her college years. She is 100% and totally a technology nerd, a total hottie in that Botticelli woman way, and is the center (and usually creator) of every social event. She sleeps with her iphone, ipod, and laptop. She has a supersecret online romance with someone names El Virus. She and her friends create The Grid, which is an underground social networking site the students use to plan parties, flashmobs, and other not-exactly-legal but extremely fun activities. But when Very stops living IRL and can only communicate through her various means of technology, her stability at Columbia begins to crumble... she is losing her scholarships, her friends, and the only hint of a normal life she has ever had. So finally, her friends plan an intervention... and Very gets sent to technology rehab.

Even though this book is about college students, I do see it's place in the YA collection. Cohn has written several other YA books and her readers would look for her latest in the YA section. Plus, the subject matter is more relatable to teens and young adults than it would be to other readers. Very is a quirky character (how could you not be with a name like Very LeFreak). I predict that some teens will *love* her and others will be totally annoyed by her. As much as I tried not to, I fell into the love category. I would recommend this book to readers of Cohn's other books, fans of Anne Brashares or Sarah Dessen, and to teens who like books that feel very "now" and up-to-date with technology.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sister Wife-- Shelley Hrdlitschka

Imagine that it's your 15th birthday. Will you celebrate with your friends? Your sisters? Your mothers?

For most girls, turning 15 is a celebration, but not for Celeste. Celeste was born into Unity, a conservative, reclusive, polygamist society. At 15, she is old enough to marry. Recently, Celeste has been questioning everything she's been taught, and has been sneaking kisses with Jon by the river. This is strictly forbidden by the Prophet, and to make sure she is securely put in her place, she is married to a man old enough to be her father... the man who happens to be the father of her lover.

Sister Wife is a tale of religious fundamentalism, polygamy, and hard choices. I wish the author would have written more about what it was like living in that society, what it's like to have multiple mothers and sister wives, etc. Mostly we just get Celeste's mental conflicts and some other side stories told by two of her sisters. It was interesting, but anyone who wants a realistic portrayal of what it might be like to live in such a society should look to a different book. Fans of The Patron Saint of Butterflies, and The Chosen One will like this book.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pretty Dead-- Francesca Lia Block

First two confessions:

1. I passionately loved the Weetzie Bat books, therefore I will always be biased when it comes to Francesca Lia Block.

2. I also love sparkly glittery things, rainbows, fantastical creatures, phenomenal love, and blurred reality.

So, it's hard for me to be totally neutral when reviewing a book by said author. Still, I've read millions (hyperbole? You decide.) of vampire books over the past few years and this one stand out from the crowd. First and foremost it's the love story of Charlotte and William, Jared and Emily... and in typical Block fashion the lines of love are all smeared about. Charlotte the vampire befriends fragile-human, beautiful Emily. Their friendship is deeper than any love Charlotte has ever know, even more how much she originally loved William, her maker. But as often happens, tragedy strikes, and Charlotte finds out that she can feel again for the first time since she was changed. The more pain she feels, the more human she becomes. And just when she learns to love again, trickery and deception threaten to take away all she has gained.

Basically, Block weaves a unique twist to the typical vampire romance, and I think teen girls will really like it. She writes poetically, but her style is still accessible. Also, her books tend to be very short, which can also be a perk depending on the teen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Almost Perfect-- Brian Katcher

Logan is an average guy living in a tiny town in middle America. He is trudging through his senior year of high school, trying to get over his ex-girlfriend, and thinking about the day he can move out of the trailer he shares with his mother.

When Sage shows up, everyone in Logan's high school notices. Sage loves colorful, homemade clothing, is taller than the average girl, and is distinctly feminine in a way Logan isn't used to. Although he is still wrestling with his feelings about his ex, Logan is totally sucked in by Sage's charisma, and develops true feelings for her. Although Sage is super flirty with him, when Logan tries to kiss her or hold her hand in public, she pulls away. Finally, after the hot-and-cold games start to drive both of them insane, Sage confesses a secret that changes the way Logan looks at the world forever: Although Sage identifies as, and is a totally convincing girl, she was born with boy parts and is still biologically male.

As a person who grew up in the Midwest, I know how deeply conservative thought can run. When generations of families have a singular perspective and then someone rocks the boat, that person is usually persecuted in some way. In Almost Perfect, I feel that Brian Katcher successfully captures what it would feel like to be Logan... a small town kid who doesn't even know a single gay person (so he thinks...) all of a sudden hooked up with a transgendered person... this is a big deal. Logan's voice and character are not extremely compelling, but his character almost works as a canvas onto which Sage's story is painted. There is nothing gratuitous in this book, and it could be recommended to younger teens in addition to older teens. Fans of Julie Anne Peter's Luna will enjoy this book.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Swoon-- Nina Malkin

Oh, my poor neglected blog. I've been trapped in this terrible blackhole-timewarp called overworked and too much on my plate. But I did finally find time to read something!

Swoon is a Connecticut town where Dice and her cousin Pen live. Always the daredevil, Pen climbs to the top of a tree and falls... and in the moment when she should have died, a spirit came into her body. Because Dice is clairvoyant, she is able to communicate with that spirit and knows it's Sinclair Youngblood, a man who died in the late 1700s and has revenge on the mind. Sin creates chaos wherever he goes and is bent on destroying the family line responsible for the horrific deeds from his time period. And, even though he is no good AND inhabiting a body that's not really his own, Dice can't help but to fall in love with him...

It's easy to lump this book into the paranormal romance category, and I would easily recommend it to girls who are fans of Twilight, Blue Bloods, and Beautiful Creatures. However, I appreciated Dice's confidence and sass, and even though she makes decisions that make me cringe, she at least has a mind of her own. Personally, I couldn't stand Sin's character, but I think his Edward-esque qualities will appeal to teen girls who heart the paranormal romance genre.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


So in December I posted about the book Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. I compared it to Twilight because of the highly unsettling stalker-dude twisted love storyishness about it...

Well, I was browsing through perezhilton.com earlier (don't judge me) and saw this ad on the sidebar:
Guess the marketing team thought it was just like twilight too.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shelter Me-- Alex McAulay

So I wish there were more books about boarding schools that weren't so off-base. But that is neither here nor there. I've had this book, Shelter Me, sitting on my desk waiting for me to review it for over a week now... but it was just so bad, I don't think I can even produce a well-written review about it! But still, I must try...

Shelter Me takes place in England during WWII. Maggie and her fanatically religious mother were already struggling to make ends meet when a bomb hits too close to home. Maggie's mom sends her to a strict boarding school in Wales, where girls with money have privileges and poor girls are treated inhumanely. And then, well, it's hard to describe. Four girls run away and end up in terrible situations.

Now typically, I shy away from giving away any major plot points... but this book was so terribly bad that I hope you don't read it anyway. This book is being marketed as historical fiction, but really it's a very poorly written novel that doesn't have a path or purpose. In this story there is an evil nun with a melted face who thinks she is god on earth. There is a German soldier with an infant, an odd Mae West-type character who drugs and steals children, a weird dude who smuggles vegetables in caskets, and a whore house... how can we forget the whore house. The worst part is there was no attempt to make the language or thoughts of the characters fitting with the historical time or setting. There were so many uses of modern slang that I literally found myself laughing out loud.

So I honestly wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. But if you had to, I guess you could give it to girls who like historical fiction but don't care if it's inaccurate, or maybe fan of School for Dangerous Girls.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Everything Is Fine-- Ann Dee Ellis

Mazzy's mother is clinically depressed and won't get out of bed.
Mazzy's father has abandoned the family in pursuit of a career in sports journalism.
Mazzy's neighbor Norma won't stop hugging her.
Mazzy's friend Colby won't be her boyfriend.
Mazzy doesn't have any food to eat.

But everything is fine.

This book is a hybrid verse-novel and regular novel. Each page looks similar to the format I have written in above... each line is independent and each chapter is very short, more like a poem. After a tragic accident tears her family apart, Mazzy has to become the parent and caregiver for herself and her bedridden mother. Although we are never told what age Mazzy is, she seems like a child of maybe 10-12. However, people treat her as if she were older and the cover photo shows a girl who is maybe 14-15. While this story sounds quite tragic, Mazzy's voice and perspective are so compelling, you can't put it down. Because if its short length and structure, I am sure this book will be popular with teens, especially girls. I would recommend this book to readers who liked So B. It by Sarah Weeks.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Beautiful-- Amy Reed

Sometimes beauty is multicolored like a sunset. Sometimes it resembles Peaches and Cream Barbie. And sometimes beauty looks like a badass punkrock chick with pounds of eyeliner, screamin' red lipstick, and ripped up fishnets tucked into combat boots. Cassie wants to be one of those hard-beauty girls, because nobody messes with them.

When 13 year old Cassie's family moves from a tiny town to a suburb of Seattle, she has a rare opportunity to reinvent herself. No longer will she be the even-nerdier-than-the-smart-kids geek. When the most popular, but feared girl in school Alex decides to befriend Cassie, her whole world shifts. She is dosed with acid, and begins spiraling into a drug and sex filled existence. While she is still in all the advanced classes in school-- and acing them, by the way-- her private life is in shambles. Only neurotic Sarah, who was locked in a closet and raped by her father for the first ten years of her life, gets through to Cassie on a personal level... and it isn't until disaster strikes that Cassie's eyes are opened to the life she has been living (if you can even call it living). Oh, and don't forget this: Cassie is only 13.

So, obviously not light reading, right? Honestly, it reminded me a lot of that movie Thirteen. There are a lot of girls who love harsh, realistic books like Living Dead Girl, and the tomes of Ellen Hopkins. So, Beautiful isn't for everyone, and although the protagonist is a 13 year old, I would still only recommend this to older teens.

P.S. I freaking love the cover. It fits the book *perfectly*.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Love You Two-- Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli

Pina's mom has always been kindof embarrassing. She's an overly affectionate hippyish mom who dresses too young and (ew) makes out with her dad in public. But Pina and her brother Leo always know they are loved, and share an inside joke with their mom: whenever she leaves Pina and Leo a note, she always signs it "love you t(w)oo".

So when Pina stumbles upon an email from her mom addressed to her father and some other guy with the subject line "love you t(w)oo", she can help but to read it... and then wish that she hadn't. Pina discovers that her mom is polyamorous... and she has a boyfriend in addition to her husband. At first Pina is enraged and defensive of her father, until she realizes not only does he know about her mother's boyfriend, but he supports her!

Although the plot of the book centers around Pina's mother's polyamory, it's really Pina's story. We get all of our information from Pina's perspective, and details about Pina's life that are quite separate from her mother's story. Pina goes on a quest to figure out life and love, and what family really means.

I have to say, I really liked this book. It was a good story, and I am always pleased when a book can take me by surprise. It felt a little heavy-handed at times, but I guess if you didn't already know what polyamory was you would need the information. I struggled a bit with the Aussie slang and all the Italian colloquialisms (the characters are Italian-Australian), but there was a glossary in the back that helped a bit. But overall, I thought it was well-written and unique. It definitely fills a hole in the collection.

One things though... on the back of the book there is a parental guidance label. Although there are definitely some older teen topics in this book (date rape, drinking), there is nothing explicit or gratuitous in this book. Personally, I don't think reading about rainbow families requires parental guidance.

The Real Printz

The official Printz winners have been announced! As you will see, we weren't too off the mark with our Mock Printz nominations...

The 2010 Michael L. Printz Winner:
Going Bovine by Libba Bray

The Honor books:
Charles and Emma: the Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Punkzilla by Adam Rapp
Tales of a Madman Underground: a Historical Romance, 1973 by John Barnes

Oh, and you can read about the award and the books on YALSA's website.

I have to say, I am quite surprised that Going Bovine won the top honor. It was a fun, entertaining read but I honestly thought it could have been better edited. Still, I am pleased to have a Printz winner that I can easily give to teens.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Everafter-- Amy Huntley

So, I can't help it... I love all those afterlife type books. Maybe it's because we can never actually know what it will be like until it's too late to write a book about it... Anyway, Amy Huntley's The Everafter should have been right up my alley. Yet somehow I just couldn't go there with her.

Maddy doesn't know where she is or how she got there. All she knows is that she is floating in an outerspace-nothingness kind of place and there are random objects, like a baby rattle, a penny, a pinecone, etc floating near her. She starts calling the place IS because that's what it feels like, and is pretty sure that she's dead... but she doesn't know how she died. When Maddy touches the object nearest to her, her boyfriend's sweatshirt, she is immediately transported into a memory related to that object. She can relive the moment, even alter it a bit, and then eventually comes back to IS. Over time, Maddy figures out how to better maneuver in her new location of IS and even meets up with a few kindred souls... but basically, the whole plot of the novel is moved and detailed by these objects and Maddy's memories.

So in concept, I can see how this works... but in practice I think Huntley kindof fails. I do think it would have been fun to write a book based on memories and objects, but I think it's less fun to read it. I realize that I can be a pretty harsh book critic, and it takes a lot to wow me these days, but still, The Everafter felt flat to me. I would give this book to teen girls who liked A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, or Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, but all of those books are superior in plot and writing to this one (IMHO).

P.S. So here's a bit of randomness for ya: My ARC copy of this book has the title listed as just The After... but upon publishing, it seems this book is now called The Everafter. Which do you prefer?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mock Printz Results!

I have to say, our Mock Printz event that occurred on January 9, 2010 was quite a success. We had a fairly diverse group that was half library and school employees and half teens. While we are patiently waiting until January 18th to hear who won the real Michael L. Printz award, I can at least share with you our Mock Printz winners.

The winning title: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Honored titles: Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Honestly, I am quite surprised by the outpouring of support for The Monstrumologist... it was one of those titles I thought many of our adult readers just wouldn't like. However, the blending of the historical fiction and horror genres, combined with good character development and fine tuned language won it a place in many peoples' hearts. Personally, I had to make Wintergirls my top choice, as I thought it was an extraordinary piece of fiction, but The Monstrumologist was my second choice... and it's time for a horror book to win the Printz, don't you think?