aka YA Literature

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ana's Story

A few months ago, I wrote about how I was interested in reading Jenna Bush's book, Ana's Story. There was something about the description of the book that seemed incongruous with my perception of Jenna Bush, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it, other than that she had always been portrayed in the media as a big party girl. I think this blog post by Elizabeth Devereaux of Publisher's Weekly does a very good job of pointing out the political incongruities and why it matters. I mean, if your daughter is going to write a book about why your policies are flawed, that should really show you (and everyone else, for that matter) something. Thanks for the great post, Elizabeth.

Like I said in my first post about this book, I would love to see her go on "The Daily Show" and have Jon Stewart ask her about some of these political ramifications.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Overly Critical Blogmates!

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis may remember the rather negative posting my blogmates posted about Stephenie Meyer's newest book, Eclipse. Therefore, when my library FINALLY got me a copy last week, I was completely prepared to be disappointed.

***Note, the following contains plot spoilers.****

Now, I'll admit that it may have been due to my lowered expectations, but I was completely surprised by Eclipse! As with the first two books, Eclipse proved to be a quick, addictive read, which left me only wanting more. I felt that Ms Meyer did a wonderful job of creating humorous situations, which helped give her characters much more depth; I was particularly impressed with how well-rounded Bella's father, Charlie, became in this book. I absolutely LOVED the part where Charlie had his sex talk with Bella...priceless!!! And as always, Ms Meyer's dramatic conclusion was as exciting as her previous two works.

My only complaint was Bella's neediness....which I had actually expected to be much worse after reading the previous blog postings. What caused bigger problem for me was Bella's refusal to get married. I mean, if Bella was soooo crazy for Edward that she couldn't part his side, would marriage really have been that opposed (even if it is kinda' white trash to do the marriage after high school like she mentioned.)

I can't wait to see what the fourth book will bring next year. After the dramatic conclusion, one must wonder what will happen in the next book! I was a little disappointed that Bella still isn't a vampire....I mean, how much longer is that going to drag out! However, with the villain dead, what's left? My guess is that there's going to be a lot of drama between the Collen family and the Volturi. I'll tell you one thing, I will be standing in line next August waiting for the fourth book!!! I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Field Guide to High School

Title: A Field Guide to High School
Author: Marissa Walsh
Rating: B

Although I was drawn to this book by it's clever title and attractive packaging, it was the short length that really convinced me to pick this up. Yes, like a high-schooler who's waited until the day before his/her report is due, I chose the shortest, quickest read so that I could pop out a blog entry! (Although in my defense, I'm busy reading Eclipse....which I finally got this week!!!)

Anyway, The Field Guide to High School is one sister's attempt to advise her younger sister on the social environment of their small private school. Although the work does a good job of describing the environment of high school life - and is mildly humorous - overall, I was a little disappointed in this work. Perhaps all that can be said for The Field Guide is 1) it is short (which would appeal to reluctant reader) and 2)it used a variety of popular culture (everything from The Heathers to High School Musical.) In fact, Ms. Walsh includes a recommended reading list, which included many of the books we've reviewed here!

My advice is to skip the novel itself and just use the book, movie, and music list at the end of the book!

Monday, September 17, 2007


I had been waiting and waiting for Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler. I listened to Vegan, Virgin, Valentine on audio, but unfortunatley, it doesn't look like Guyaholic will make it to an audiobook. I enjoyed the book and it was fun to read. But . . . I didn't love it. For one thing, I think you will get a lot more out of it if you've read VVV first. A lot of V's characterization, backstory, and the reason I even cared about her came from that book. Honestly, if I hadn't read that first, I'm not sure I would have cared about V at all. I also would have liked there to be more development of her relationship with Sam. I know we get it in flashbacks/memories throughout, but it comes off (to me, at least) more as V obsessing than making me understand and really feel invested in their relationship. In the end, I like how things "worked out" with her relationship with her mom, but (SPOILER ALERT!) I wish things had been somewhat different with Sam. Yes, I love a good romance and think true loves should always end up together (at least at the end of the book's time frame), but it seemed like V still needed a guy. I realize that she realized that it was okay to be with just one guy and she didn't have to sleep around or whatever, but she still seemed to need a guy when maybe it's okay if she is just by herself and happy without a guy at all. Wouldn't Amy have followed a guy to California?

But I did enjoy the book, and it's nice to "know" what happened to V after VVV.

Friday, September 14, 2007


One of the vocab words in my Reading class this week is "aspire." I asked these kids who hate school (especially reading) what they aspired to be when they grew up. Know what they said? Doctors and engineers. I wonder if they realize how much schooling (and reading) that requires. But, of course, I just smiled and said encouraging things.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

I know it's been out for a little while now, but I just got Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin from the library (thanks for taking so long, Public Library!). I've been dying to read this ever since I read a synopsis last spring. I read it straight-through in one sitting, pausing only to make a quick frozen dinner. Yeah, I liked it that much.

Naomi had a really hard fall and can't remember the last four years of her life. She has a hard time dealing with the things she learns about how her parents' relationship has changed since she was 12, and she doesn't understand things about herself, like why she is so dedicated to yearbook and what she sees in her boyfriend, Ace. And even though I really expected to hate Ace based on his name alone (and I did really dislike him at first), he became just as likeable and flawed as all the other characters. Oh yeah, and it's a love story! This very much reminded me of a great Sarah Dessen novel, and I will definitely recommend it to people who like her. Excellent reading!

Oh, question: What happened to the audiobook??????? One reason I'm just now reading this is because I was holding out for the audio version but it was canceled.

*Interesting fact about Gabrielle: she has a totally fantastic name for her dog: Mrs. DeWinter (kind of long name to say, though).

Monday, September 10, 2007

Banned Books Quiz

This is from last year, so maybe you've already seen this, but I just came across it today when I was doing some work to get ready for Banned Books Week. A fun quiz about several banned books. Whose ideas was mixing band members' blood in the ink used for the book? Yuck.

Banned Books in the U.S.A.: A Bookish Quiz on Mental Floss

Smells like . . . Neil Gaiman?

Remember "In the Library: The Scent?" Well . . . now Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is supporting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund by offering perfume oil blends that are a tribute to Neil Gaiman with "interpretations of the characters, locations, and concepts within the worlds that he has created." Truly a worthy cause, but like In the Library, I have to wonder if these are really scents of which I myself desire to smell.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

James St. James

A little interview with James St. James about Freak Show, which I loved.

What do y'all think: Is it any easier to be a gay or transgender teen now than it was in the 80s?

Another thing this brought up for me is about reading GLBT teen lit. We have lots of it in my library, but I haven't seen any of it checked out yet. Are teens comfortable with doing that, do you think?

Freak Show

Several people on the YALSA book list-serv this week raved about Freak Show by James St. James, so since we had it at the library, I checked it out and read it. Let me tell you, it completely lived up to the "hype."

Freak Show is about a high school senior named Billy Bloom who starts his senior year at a new private prep school in Florida. On his first day of school, Billy decides to make a good impression by wearing a FABULOUS "retro-new wave/Vivienne Westwood/pirate look" with a ruffled lace shirt unbuttoned, tight blue pants, a thrift store military jacket, a crimson sash, and rags tied in his hair. "Don't worry. It's totally masculine. Swarthy, even. Nobody will suspect a thing [about him being gay]." On his way to school, he begins to anticipate all the wonderful things he'll be able to do there, like make new friends, join the Gay-Straight Alliance, write a trendspotting column for the newspaper, redecorate the school, start a Jackie O club, and set up a What Not to Wear booth in the lunchroom. Unfortunately, the very homogenous and WASP-y student body doesn't take too well to Billy's flamboyancy and he is immediately outcast, teased, and even beaten. Eventually, he makes a few friends and decides to run against Lynnette Franz for Homecoming Queen.

James St. James does an incredible job at creating Billy's "voice," and I just love Billy's plays-on-words. Just like everyone on the YALSA list said, the book is hilarious and I laughed out loud many, many times in reading it. But it's also meaningful, and Billy is vulnerable. It's not just silliness and laughs because Billy really does struggle with serious, big issues. Even though Billy relates his "freakishness" to what all teens experience, I think he has to confront issues even larger than the average teen. I mean, most people don't get beat into a coma for their issues, right?

The actually-gay-star-quarterback was a bit obvious, but I can live with it because of the homecoming queen story (don't want to give any more away!). I also overlook it because the book's cover is fantastic. I can't think of the last cover I've liked as much as this one. And I liked all the curly Qs in the chapters too.

You MUST read this book.

Friday, September 7, 2007


In trying to find out how Rachel Cohn and David Levithan worked on Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List, I read this on RC's website.

Q: Will you and David write more books together?
No plans for another book at this time - too busy!

This is unacceptable.

Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List

Can Rachel Cohn and David Levithan write all their future books together, please? Or even if they don't want to write all their future books together, if they could at least write more.

Now I don't know if I can say I loved NAENKL quite as much as I loved Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, but it's pretty close. Their characterization and dialogue are amazing! And I love how unlike other YA lit and YA characters they are. Also I love how they capture so many aspects of personalities and relationships that I can totally recognize from my own life. Like I did in my post about NANIP, let me post a string of unrelated observations and comments:

  • I thought this book was just going to alternate between the perspectives of Ely and Naomi like Nick and Norah, so I was pleasantly surprised that it also includes perspectives of many other characters, which works out really well. And I love how good RC and DL are at the characterization and voice of each. I need to do some research to find out how they divided up (if at all?) the writing for this book.

  • I loved the parts about Gabriel creating the mix CD for Naomi and how he wanted her to dissect, understand, and appreciate the subtle meanings of each song he chose. And then she didn't get any of it and made him a "bad" response CD, which he took lots of meaning from. I am totally the Naomi-type. I mean, I like music well enough and can try to determine someone's intent if they tell me they had one in making a playlist just for me. But I am not a music connoisseur, I like lots of "popular" music, and I don't know a lot of bands or anything like that. But it seems like almost every guy I know is totally into music and very snobby about it and I can totally imagine them all having this same horrified reaction to whatever music I own and over-analyzing (in my opinion) my character based on the music I like.

  • Naomi and Ely's banter, much like that of Nick and Norah, is so quick and witty, it reminds me of Gilmore Girls. I love it, but I was never that quick-tongued as a teen. I don't know anyone who is. I guess Naomi and Ely are actually 19, but even so, they seem a lot older and more independent than I ever was at that age. But I also don't live in NYC.

  • I love how both books are about average things that happen to teens that are made to be extraordinary, the way they feel when they happen to you. And also they have strong satisfying endings.

  • Naomi's little picture symbols were a little distracting because they slowed me down, although I suppose they did contribute to her characterization.

  • Such a great line. It seems like it fits so many times in your life: "I know this is the wrong choice. But it feels like the only choice. So I make it."

    Rachel and David, I am ready for the next List!

    PS- Holly, I still haven't tried that thing from N&NIP.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

So Typical

So it turns out that we're pretty typical "bibliobloggers," according to this survey by Meredith Farkas about the demographics of librarian-type bloggers. Cody, being male, isn't in the majority, I have another master's degree, and none of us are in the typical librarian positions (reference for a large academic library). Otherwise, we tend to fit the majority profile. Thank God. You know how we don't like to be different. ;)