Monday, July 4, 2016

This Adventure Ends




This Adventure Ends
written by Emma Mills
expected publication date October 4, 2016
Henry Holt and Company


Sloane Finch's parents move the family from New York to a Florida beach town where the tourists outnumber the residents. Sloane's father is a semi-famous author who is going through writer's block/depression/mid-life crisis and the move to the beach is supposed to help him sort things out. The first thing that you learn about Sloane is that the move hasn't left her homesick and pining for her old school and friends. In fact she doesn't seem to have any friends in New York.

When Sloane is dragged by a classmate to a party, she meets the Fuller twins, Gabe and Vera and quickly becomes a part of their tight-knit group. As Sloane navigates her way around her new relationships, she learns what it means to be a friend. 

There is so much packed into this story: an epic quest, fanfic, family dynamics, and friendship that I'm not sure that I can explain it here. Mark the publication date on your calendar and read it for yourself.

I received an ebook ARC from Netgalley in return for an honest review.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

ENTER TITLE HERE

Enter Title Here
written by Rahul Kanakia
expected publication date August 2, 2016
Disney-Hyperion

I enjoyed this book so much that I read it in just two sittings. I work with highly competitive teens in a public library setting. I listen to them fret about their class rankings, tally their volunteer hours, and try to find ways to make themselves stand out among their peers. When I read the description of Enter Title Here, I knew I had to read it. Plus I read that the author pitched the book as Gossip Girl meets House of Cards. What's not to like there?

Reshma Kapoor isn't your typical hyper-competitive high school senior. She'll do anything to be the best, and I do mean anything- cheat, manipulate, belittle, sue. For Reshma the finish line is early acceptance to Stanford. She's searching for her hook, which she describes as "the one accomplishment that sums up everything about you." According to Reshma, "An interesting hook is what makes that one special application rise up our of a stack of thousands of near-identical ones." Reshma's chance to shine comes when she is offered a book deal by a literary agent who read Reshma's op-ed in the Huffington Post. 

Reshma decides that the novel will trace the journey of a studious Indian girl (guess who) as she tries to become popular. She decides that to get material for her novel she will need to make a friend, go on a date, and go to parties. The problem is all of her classmates hate her and she ends up resorting to blackmail to get a friend. 

This is not a book where the main character gradually changes as she matures and learns about herself. No, Reshma is a horrible, horrible person that the reader shouldn't care about. But somehow Kanakia has created an anti-hero that you may not like but you keep turning the pages to see what she will do next to attain her goal.

I received this book as an eARC from NetGalley in return for an honest review.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

YALSA's The Hub 2016 Reading Challenge- Graphic Novels

Since I really enjoyed pushing myself to read all five books for the Morris Challenge, I decided to follow it up with YALSA's The Hub 2016 Reading Challenge. It involves reading YA books from various award lists. The goal is to read at least 25 books from these lists or read all of the titles if you're really ambitious. Any books that were read for the Morris/Nonfiction Challenge can be counted toward your total.



I decided to tackle some of the titles listed on the Top Ten Great Graphic Novels list first because two of  them were already sitting on my night stand TBR pile.







I'm an adult and I'm not ashamed to admit I read graphic novels. I started with the Walking Dead series and then graduated to Gene Yuen Yang's American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints. To all of the haters who complain that graphic novels aren't "real" books and that teens shouldn't waste their limited time reading comics, here are a couple of websites that explain how graphic novels can actually improve reading comprehension and create stronger readers:
Comics in Education and Scholastic's Guide to Using Graphic Novels With Children and Teens.

Now back to the Challenge. I read the first graphic novel in the Ms. Marvel series last year. Even though I've seen most of the Marvel superhero movies, this was my first superhero read. Muslim-American teen, Kamala Khan's superpowers were revealed to her after she is enveloped in the Terrigen Mists that settled over Jersey City. She takes on the Ms. Marvel persona as needed to fight the evils that descend on her city. Kamala struggles to live up to her parents' high expectations while still being true to herself. Kamala is a gamer, fanfic writer, and superhero fan. She will appeal to many readers.

Roller Girl
Victoria Jamieson

Roller Girl tells the story of twelve-year-old Astrid, who falls in love with roller derby after her mother takes Astrid and her friend Nicole to watch the Rose City Rollers. Astrid is enthralled but Nicole doesn't feel the same way. As Astrid follows her passion, she and Nicole drift apart. This book will resonate with middle readers who are starting to develop interests that may not be in line with those of their childhood friends. I think that this is a good graphic novel to recommend to readers who enjoyed The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin. Both books explore preteen friendship.

What I'm Reading and Listening to Now

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (Pura Belpré and Coretta Scott King YA titles)
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks)


Friday, January 22, 2016

Outrun the Moon

Outrun the Moon

Stacey Lee

Publication date May 24, 2016

I have often wondered if we should remove the historical fiction section in our teen department and instead shelve these books with fiction. I love YA historical fiction but I find that many of our teen patrons pass by this genre on their way to the fantasy or sci-fi shelves. One exception is Stacey Lee's book, Under a Painted Sky. It's shelved in historical fiction and it has circulated really well. 

I recently emailed the author and she was gracious enough to send me an advance reader's copy of her next book, Outrun the Moon.

Here is a description of the book from the Penguin Random House:
San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, an historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the Army to bring help. Fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, yet Mercy still has the ‘bossy’ cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenaged girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?


I enjoyed this book. Once again Stacey Lee has created a strong (you could even say headstrong) female character. Mercy Wong is smart, funny, business-savvy, and compassionate. Outrun the Moon made me laugh, cry, and cheer. I can't wait to share this book with my teen patrons, especially the younger teen girls who tell me that they are looking for exciting books with a little romance and a female protagonist.

Outrun the Moon would be a good selection for a book discussion. Topics that can be discussed include the treatment of and attitude toward immigrants, then and now.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

I completed the YALSA Morris Finalist Challenge! The final book I read was

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
written by Stephanie Oakes

The polygamous Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too. Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something -- but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of -- if she's willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past. Description provided by publisher

Like Conviction, the last Morris Award finalist I read, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly also explores the main character's beliefs. But unlike the main character in Conviction, Minnow doesn't seem to be struggling with her faith. It seems pretty clear that Minnow doesn't buy into the Kevinian cult's beliefs and her struggles are how to live within a secluded community where women are kept illiterate and only valued for childbearing and rearing. Her only contact outside the cult is Jude, a boy who lives in the woods with his father and is almost as ignorant of the real world as Minnow is. After a horrific encounter with the Prophet, Minnow runs off and eventually ends up in a juvenile detention center. There she learns how to have faith in herself. 

This book is based on the Brothers Grimm's fariy tale,The Handless Maiden.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Conviction- Book Four of the YALSA Morris Challenge

I'm on track to finish the five books in the YALSA Morris Challenge by the January 11 deadline. This week I read

Conviction 
written by Kelly Loy Gilbert
A small-town boy questions everything he holds to be true when his father is accused of murder. Description provided by the publisher

Braden is a sixteen-year-old whose life has been marked by abandonment. Braden's mom dumped him off at his dad's when he was just a baby, his older brother Trey bailed when Braden was seven, and now his dad Mart has been arrested for the murder of a policeman and is in jail awaiting trial. Braden always believed if he did the right things God would take care of him but now he wonders if God is testing him. Even baseball, the game he's played all his life is letting him down.

In Conviction, Gilbert explores these relationships. Braden had always been able to rationalize his overbearing dad's actions and emotions. Mart has been the only constant in Braden's life and the son both loved and feared his father. Braden also holds out hope that someday Trey and Mart will reconcile. Recent events also cause him to question his relationship with God. Braden grapples with who or what to put his faith in. As he struggles with issues of family, faith, and redemption, Braden learns that life isn't black and white. 



Sunday, December 27, 2015

YALSA Morris Challenge Update

I'm finally home after spending a week visiting relatives in the Northeast. I brought two of the books for the Morris Challenge,  Because You'll Never Meet Me and The Weight of Feathers, with me on my trip. These books will not be discussed in detail here because I'm still trying to catch up at home and work after being away for a week but I wanted to at least post the publishers' descriptions.

Because You'll Never Meet Me

written by Leah Thomas

Ollie, who has seizures when near electricity, lives in a backwoods cabin with his mother and rarely sees other people, and Moritz, born with no eyes and a heart defect that requires a pacemaker, is bullied at his high school, but when a physician who knows both suggests they begin corresponding, they form a strong bond that may get them through dark times. Description provided by the publisher


   



The Weight Of Feathers
written by Anna-Marie McLemore

For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows-the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find. 

Lace Palpma may be new to her family's show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean eath, and she's been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it's a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace's life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees. Description provided by the publisher

Both stories involve secrets from the past that now affect the lives of the main characters.  While they are very different books- Because You'll Never Meet Me is an epistolary novel that is sometimes borders on science fiction and The Weight of Feathers is a novel steeped in magical realism, I thought they paired well together.