aka YA Literature

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy birthday to me!

Today is my birthday! I was looking at the list of books that come out today on YALIT.com. Since I haven't received any of these, here are the two I most can't wait to read (did that make sense?):

Monday, March 24, 2008

L.J. Smith Excitement

I really liked reading the reissue of L.J. Smith's Vampire Diaries, so I am super excited to know that (a) she is writing a fifth book, Vampire Diaries V: Damon, and (b) her Nightworld series is going to be similarly reissued. Yay! Read about it all on her website.

Also, I have really liked Mari Mancussi ever since The Great Sartorial Debate™, and I finally read Boys That Bite. We buy pretty much every YA vampire book published since the teens can't get enough, and I usually end up reading them too. Unless your students/teen patrons are not like this, I suggest getting Boys That Bite. It's light, breezy, "chic lit" vampire stuff with lots of pop culture slang and references, but it's a really easy read and very fun. I haven't liked a lot of vampire books since Twilight, despite my best efforts (ie. reading every one published), but this one was, while not the deepest or certainly scariest book, easy to get into and an enjoyable to read.

Twilight Movie Stuff

Billy Burke is playing Charlie. And Twilight Moms bombarding the film set? I mean, what adults would possibly be interested in following the making of the Twilight movie? What weirdos. ;)

Pics of the filming here.

Friday, March 21, 2008


I need suggestions for an author for our teen literature festival we're hosting next year. We need a male author who would appeal to middle schoolers. If he also appeals to high schoolers, great, but we really need another MS interest author. I am thinking something adventure or science fiction-oriented, but it doesn't have to be. Neal Shusterman is already lined up. Other authors who we have considered but are too expensive or can't come include Rick Riordan, Eoin Colfer, Anthony Horowitz, and Jordan Sonnenblick. Scott Westerfeld came last year. They need to have at least two or three books out.

I would like to get Darren Shan, although he has already visited some of our schools in the past. Has anyone read Ted Dekker's YA books? I am listening to Black right now, but I need an opinion about his YA and/or if anyone has ever heard him speak. Other ideas?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Title: Tunnels
Authors: Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams
Rating: B+

Although this book is intended for a slightly younger audience (grades 6-8) than the books we normally review, I felt the original concept, advanced themes, and general tone of the book make it a great selection for the YA crowd. (Remember the first couple Potter books were way below the YA level!)

Tunnels relates the adventure of Will Burrows, a British teen whose favorite hobby is digging large-scale tunnels with his archaeologist father. However, when Mr. Burrows mysteriously disappears, Will begins a massive search in which all the clues point down. Excavating under his house, Will and his best-friend Chester discover a secret underground colony living below the streets of London. The colonists are apparently a deeply-religious group, which migrated underground during the 17th century and has remained subterranean in a tightly-controlled cult with evil intentions towards "Topsoilers".

Once entering the Colony, Will and Chester are instantly captured. Chester is imprisoned; Will, however, discovers that he is actually a member of the Colony, who has been placed in an adoptive Topsoiler family. Will is now expected to join his "real" family and adapt to life in the Colony. However, Will is determined to free his friend Chester; find his father; and return to life above. The question is, can he escape the Colony in time to save his friend and father???

The Good: Tunnels is one of the most original books I've read in a long time! I loved the concept of a secret underground society existing below one of the largest cities in the world. I, also, enjoyed the historical aspect (in most ways, the colonists were living as though it was still 1700!)

The Bad: Although I as a college-educated adult enjoyed the historical aspects of the novel, I doubt most teens (especially young-teens) would enjoy and/or understand all of it. I also have problem with books that don't have a clear conclusion. I have no problem with sequels, but at least have the decency to give some form of finale to your first work!

Friday, March 14, 2008


I'm leaving for NYC on Sunday, and, surprisingly, I haven't heard from any YA authors who want to get together for coffee. I was hoping that there would be a reading or book signing or something that I could attend while I'm there because it always seems like I'm reading about them, but I haven't been able to find anything. Anyone know of anything going on Mar. 16-20?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

First Daughter: White House Rules

Mitali Perkin's First Daughter: White House Rules is a must read for teenage girls who are fans of Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries series. Like Princess Mia, Sameera is a genuinely nice girl who not only cares about social issues, but also just wants to fall in love with the guy. I like the spin of making Sameera the First Daughter. Since the days of Chelsea Clinton, haven't we all secretly wondered what it would be like living in the White House?

Sameera is the perfect role model. Almost a little too perfect. The one time she deceives her parents and sneaks out, she feels really guilty and ends up confessing to them anyway. Of course, she didn't get in trouble because her family is perfect. But, I have to say, I liked the story. There is even a little romance drama going on with Sameera liking a Hindu guy whose family does not approve of him dating a Muslim by birth. I always like a little romance. But mostly, I liked the character of Sameera. I liked that she decided to be the first First Daughter to attend a public school. I liked that she was respectful to her parents and that she genuinely cared about real issues. I especially liked that I could pass this book along to my 12 year old Mormon niece without having to cringe at the thought of her reading certain parts.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Library....Las Vegas Style!!!

In the past, my blogmates have posted library/teen services pictures from the various libraries they have visited on their vacations. Since it's been years since I had a "real" vacation, I haven't really been able to share pictures from exotic locales; however, this past weekend I spend some time in Las Vegas, and what did I happen to drive by - The Library, a small gentlemen's club just a couple miles off the Strip. Posted outside was a large "G.irls, G.irls, G.irls" sign, followed by the announcement of "Gorgeous Librarians".

Now, I love this for two reasons: first, I LOVE the whole sexy librarian stereotype. With crappy pay, horrible hours, and disgruntle patrons, we've gotta' take the few perks we can get! Secondly, I want you to take a minute and picture that frumpy, old coworker who makes your job a living hell (Jeri)...now picture him/her as an e.xotic dancer! For me, that image is priceless!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ink Exchange

I think Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr is a little darker and for slightly more mature readers than Wicked Lovely (due to more discussions of sex, drugs, and debauchery), but I think I liked it better. It's true that you don't have to have read Wicked Lovely first to understand Ink Exchange, but I'd recommend it.

Aislinn's friend Leslie is not as tough and free-spirited as she appeared in Wicked Lovely. She is dealing with some difficult emotional issues related to her mother's abandonment, her father's inability to provide for her family, and the fact that her brother offered her up sexually to his drug dealer to support his addiction. She decides she wants to get a tattoo to reclaim control of her body. She finally decides on one in Rabbit's (the tattoo artist) special book. What she doesn't realize is that the design she's chosen is that of Irial, king of the Dark Court. She also doesn't realize that the ink Rabbit uses for her tattoo is mixed with the blood and tears of Dark Court faeries. Once she begins the process of getting the tattoo, she gets drawn more and more into the faerie world.

Okay, that's the short plot description. Read on for more (with possible spoilers).

Now that Donia is the Winter Queen and at peace with the Summer Court, the Dark Court fey don't have enough jumbled emotions upon which to draw sustenance. So Irial seeks out a mortal for an ink exchange. This will allow him to feed off the emotions of humans and sustain, temporarily at least, the Dark Court. He begins to feel attracted to and protective of Leslie, and she feels attracted to, scared of, and, of course, connected to him more and more. At odds with this, Leslie has always been attracted to Keenan's advisor, Niall (who used to be part of the Dark Court; he and Irial have a history). Niall has been shadowing Leslie in order to protect her, per Aislinn's request, and he is increasingly attracted to her. However, he knows that he should not act on his feelings because Aislinn doesn't want him to (she doesn't want Leslie brought into the faerie world) and because his skin is addictive to humans, and if he ever leaves them, they will suffer and die from withdrawl. But since Leslie comes on to him, he's concerned for her safety since Irial is showing such an interest in her, and because her tattoo is bonding her ever closer to the Dark Court, Irial finds it more and more impossible to resist pursuing her.

What I liked in Wicked Lovely and what I love love love in Ink Exchange is how all of the characters are not merely good or bad but have elements of both and you can root for all/both of them. Even in this love triangle with Irial and Niall, you can see her with both of them. Also, the covers are so amazing! I am in love with both of her book covers. (Wicked Lovely is my computer background.)

I can't wait to talk about the ending with someone!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record

This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record by Susannah Felts is about a Nashville teen named Vaughn who takes the summer to distance herself from her trio of superficial friends at the arts school she attends. While hanging out at a nearby park (nicknamed "Dragon Park" because of the decaying playground equipment in the shape of a dragon), she befriends her new neighbor Sophie. The friendship is somewhat lopsided and strained at times, as Sophie is a bit "wilder" than Vaughn and tries to get Vaughn to loosen up. Sophie ends up moving in with Vaughn and her formerly-hippie parents after a falling out with her mother. Sophie envies Vaughn's stable family life and school success, while Vaughn envies Sophie's relationship with her parents. Eventually, school starts and something happens at a party one night to split up their friendship. Vaughn tries to deal with her unfamiliar social situation and her sense of loss over Sophie. Since Vaughn had taken up photography over the summer and used Sophie as her primary subject, much of her way of facing and coping with these issues comes through her photography that she develops and shows in her new photography class.

I read the first half of this book over my Christmas vacation, but it was so slow-going for me that I abandoned it. I finally picked it up again yesterday and finished the second half in one quick sitting. I don't know if the second half just had more going on to hold my interest or what. I would most likely recommend this book to some of our voracious readers who have read most of our other books in this genre. One student in particular who doesn't like books where "unusual" things happen (isn't that a plot?) definitely comes to mind. This is certainly driven more by the characters' friendship developments than by plot. I could understand Vaughn's perspective of wanting to be friends with Sophie but not being entirely comfortable with all the things Sophie does. Vaughn's fallibility in not always doing the "right thing" was also something that seems very true-to-life.

One thing that I didn't really get about the book was why it is set in the 80s. I doubt most teens will get the smattering of pop culture references (mostly songs and bands), and there was nothing in this that seemed particularly "80s" to me. It could easily have been set in no particular time period, which makes it either/both transcendent and/or, possibly, unnecessarily limiting.

*Sorry I haven't posted about books in a while. I seem to have been reading mostly adult books lately.