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

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.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Becky Albertalli

 This is the first book that I read for the Morris Challenge and I fell in love with Simon, the book’s main character. Simon is a gay teen who isn’t struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, it’s just a part of who he is. Up until now it’s been a very secret part, not because he is afraid that his parents and friends will disapprove but instead because he doesn’t want them to make a big deal about it.

Unfortunately Simon forgot to log out of his email account on one of the school computers.  Simon’s classmate, Martin reads the email, discovers his secret, and now is blackmailing him. Martin wants Simon to fix him up with a certain girl or else.  Not only Simon will be outed but so will the guy with whom Simon’s been carrying on an email relationship. Simon is pushed out of his comfort zone in so many ways and begins to realize that change isn’t always a bad thing.

Albertalli writes about friendship, family relationships, and burgeoning teen romance in a voice that is believable and one that all teens- straight or gay- can relate to.

I’m off to a good start for the challenge. I’m about to begin my second book- Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The YALSA 2016 Morris Challenge

I have so many books in my TBR pile and I've been having trouble deciding on the next book to pick up and read during this busy holiday season. Last night I was online catching up on my blog reading and came across the 2016 Morris Challenge on YALSA's The Hub. According to YALSA, "The William C. Morris YA Debut Award, first awarded in 2009, honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature. The award's namesake is William C. Morris, an influential innovator in the publishing world and an innovator in the publishing world and an advocate for marketing books for children and young adults."

All of the challenge guidelines can be found here. To complete the challenge I must read all five 2016 Morris finalists before Monday, January 11, 2016. The books are:

Because You'll Never Meet Me written by Leah Thomas

Conviction written by Kelly Loy Gilbert

 The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly written by Stephanie Oakes
The Weight of Feathers written by Anna-Marie McLemore

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda written Becky Albertalli
I started the book this morning and I'm enjoying it so far. I like the protagonist's voice. Simon is a sixteen-year-old guy who happens to be gay. He hasn't come out yet to his family and friends but he doesn't think that it will be a big deal to them when he does. Simon explains that he isn't ready yet because there have been a lot of changes in his life over the last few years and he's tired of redefining himself and having others redefine him. Simon states, "All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again." This sounds like something most teens, gay or straight, can relate to.