Sunday, July 19, 2009

Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas

I was really impressed by this title. I'm not normally a book in verse fan, but I found this title gripping. Anke's struggles with her desire for attention that she does not receive from her abusive father is presented in a heart-wrenching and compelling narrative. It's not perfect- there were a few plot elements that were dropped without resolution, but it will definitely appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

summer reading

Quick list of my summer reads:
The Book Thief by Mark Zusak. I know I am way late to this party, but in case anyone else is in my position of just-hadn't-gotten-around-to-it-yet, may I say GO! Read it Now!!! It is one of the best books I have read, and the book I am giving to people like my Dad and my high school English teacher as a pinnacle of great YA writing. The charcters are so well drawn, it is just abstract enough in its narration to be sophisticated without daunting teen readers. I loved it.

The Juvie Three by Gordon Korman. Lately there has been an increase in my library of teens asking for books about crime, street life, jail, drug dealing, etc. which is the main reason I read this book. I was hoping it would be a good one to reccommend. I am not sure how I feel about it. The basic premis is that 3 kids living in a halfway house find themselves living as model citizens, even against their will, because their group leader sustained a devestating head injury and they know that if they make any mistakes, their situation will be uncovered and they will all be sent back to lock-up. The author tries really hard to acknowledge and address how improbable it seems that they are able to pull of the deception, but this wasn't enough for me to not find it distractingly far-fetched. But I think if you are a teen reluctant reader that might not bother you and the story would be action-packed enough to pull you along.

Kieron Smith, Boy by James Kellman. So this is actually an adult book, winner of Scottish Book of the Year, and I know I have a more vested interest in it than most because I went to school in Scotland and wrote a thesis about the role of slang in adolescent male novels, and this book fits right in with those two interests as the narrative of a young boy coming of age in industrial Glasgow. The author does a pretty amazing job of seeing the world through a young boy's eyes, leaving unexplained things that he can't make sense of, depicting the casual brutality of older brothers, introducing family tensions that you only half-observe at that age. I find it most interesting for how violence is taken in stride and even celebrated as an unavoidable occurence, and for this reason I think the book is worth mentioning to anyone who works with young men and has never been one herself.

Most of my newest titles are out now, which is part of the reason I am catching up on some past reads and adult books!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shattering Glass

So as Alissa reads all the new ones, I'm digging through the archives of YA lit. :)

I just finished this book and I have to say, it surprised me. It really reminded me of the Chocolate War in its naked brutality. I kept thinking, she won't go there... but she did.


Has anyone else read this one?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

So many books, so little time

So, I spent this lovely 3-day weekend curled up inside reading frantically trying to get all of the BBYA nominations read before dicussions begin at ALA this coming weekend. Lost cause, probably... BUT, I did get a lot read and here are my quick thoughts on them.

Julia Alvarez- Return to Sender

Good story around contemporary issue but really too young for YA

Ellen Jensen Abbott- Watersmeet

Did not expect to like this one as much as I did. Not perfect, but a solid quest fantasy/coming of age.

Kekla Magoon- The Rock and The River

Solid historical fiction featuring the Black Panthers which are not often seen in Children's fiction.

Julia Hoban- Willow

Hauntingly realistic- not quite as elegant as Laurie Halse Anderson but would be a good recommendation for fans of hers or Sarah Dessen.

Jacqueline Davies- Lost

This books biggest problem is its cover. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Donna Jo Napoli- Alligator Bayou

Not what I expected from her but it is a very touching historical fiction story with a horrible horrible ending.

Peter Marino- Magic and Misery

Nothing spectacular about it- but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. I found the characters voices to be authentic and interesting. Light-hearted and upbeat while tacking serious issues.

Michael Northrup- Gentlemen

I am still puzzled by this book- not quite sure how I feel about it yet.

Phillip Hoose- Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

Interesting and readable story of a teenager whose contributions to the Civil Rights Movement are not well known, but meaningful. Is it something teens will pick up on their own, no- but would be great for use in classrooms and for assignments.