When Tamsin was born, her grandmother predicted that she would be one of the most Talented witches in their family. Now that she is 17 years old, it seems pretty clear that Tamsin has no Talent and her grandmother must have been mistaken. She is really embarrassed by her lack of Talent and frequently wishes to be more like her older, more beautiful, and extremely Talented sister, Rowena. While working for her family’s bookstore/magic shop, Tamsin is approached by a handsome young professor who would like help locating a family heirloom cuckoo clock. Unfortunately, Tamsin has no idea that locating this clock could upset the balance of good and evil. So, when he mistakenly calls her Rowena [who is fairly well known for her ability to locate lost items], she chooses not to correct him and, instead, tries to use this as an opportunity to prove herself.
I GOT TO MEET LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON, Y’ALL!
Because I’m the [2013-2014] President of the Youth Services Section of the New York Library Association, I got to sit at the head table during the 2013 YSS Empire State Award Luncheon. Since Laurie Halse Anderson was the 2013 ESA winner, I had the honor of meeting/lunching with her! It was amazing to have the opportunity to get to know [even briefly] an author whose work has so affected me and the teens I work with. In addition to discussing her research for her next book, our mutual love for the Sterling Renaissance Fair, my work at my library and with YSS, and her views on “reluctant readers” — she thinks we should switch to the phrase “readers with very high standards” — we also took the super-hilarious profile picture my Facebook link now sports. Yeah… That happened! The icing on the cake, though, was when I received a signed copy of this ARC.
Hayley Kincain’s father is a military veteran who is haunted by his past. Though he obviously suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, he refuses to get professional help. Unfortunately, Hayley plays into the illusion that they can manage on their own and lies to everyone, including herself, about how well her father is doing. After returning from the Middle East, her dad has spent much of his time running from his past while self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. He has decided to try moving back to his hometown, though, so he can provide Hayley with more stability — like being enrolled in a traditional high school instead of being unschooled as they travel around the country in his big rig. Sometimes, it’ll seem like he’s getting his act together… But then something will trigger his PTSD and he’ll spiral out of control all over again. Fortunately, Haley manages to reconnect with a childhood friend, Gracie, and make a connection with a guy named Finn whose friendship [and love?] might just give her the strength she needs to face her harsh reality.
The only problem I have with this book is that it’s the beginning of yet another series! Don’t get me wrong… I love many of the trilogies and series I have read and/or am in the process of reading. But, it makes it so hard to keep up with everything I need to read and the waiting can be torturous at times. Since I really enjoyed The Scorpio Races, though, I thought it was worth getting sucked in to another trilogy!
Even though the rest of her family has psychic abilities, Blue was born without the ability to do more than to amplify the powers of others. Because of this amplification, Blue is always expected to be present for the parade of souls on St. Mark’s Eve. At this parade, her mother records the names of the people who are marching — because they will die sometime in the next year. And, though Blue has never been able to see anyone before, she both sees and hears a Raven Boy named Gansey. Blue has always had a policy of avoiding Raven Boys [a.k.a. students of nearby Aglionby Prep] because they usually mean trouble. But, she is both inexplicably drawn to Gansey and curious whether she saw him because she is his true love or the reason for his death.
Sarah Dessen is a fantastic writer. And, if you like one of her books, chances are good that you will like them all. I was especially pleased with the fact that this book features cameos of both people and places from other Dessen novels, like some of the characters (and even the beach town of Colby) from Along for the Ride and the website UMe.com [very much like Facebook] from Lock and Key. But, just in case simply knowing that Sarah Dessen wrote this novel is not enough for you, I supposed I can spend some time explaining what it’s about!
Luke and Emaline are high school sweethearts. Even though she doesn’t quite understand what Luke sees in her, she loves just about everything about him — he’s nice, fun to hang out with, and also quite good looking. Even though her life isn’t perfect, she is perfectly content. Then, Theo shows up. Other than the fact that he is also good looking, he is practically Luke’s polar opposite – he’s serious more often than not, prefers fine dining to hanging out with friend at a burger joint, and he’s extremely driven rather than laid back. Nearly everything Theo does is in an effort to be the BEST EVER. It doesn’t make sense, but Emaline finds herself drawn to Theo and soon begins questioning everything about her life. I recommend this book to people who enjoy their romance with a side order of deep thoughts.
Karou is not your typical teenager. Having blue hair, living in her own apartment, speaking many languages, and being an art student in Prague set her apart from many other 17-year-olds… but there’s much more to it than that. She also travels around the world to collect teeth for a chimaerae named Brimstone who is, basically, her foster father. She has no idea why he needs those teeth, but she is sure that his dwindling supply is a problem. People credit Karou’s imagination with creating all of the fantastic creatures in her sketchbooks, and she is more than happy to let them believe what they want, but the creatures are very real to her. In fact, these chimaerae are the only family she has ever known. When angels mysterious appear all around Earth, using their scorched handprints to seal off the doors that act as portals between Earth and the land in which those monsters exist, Karou ends up locked out. She has always been taught that the chimaerae were good and that the angels were actually horrible monsters, and now she has to fend off these killer angels without any help from Brimstone. Karou can’t help being attracted to one of the angels, though, and wonders if there’s a reason why she has a strange feeling that she’s somehow connected to him already…
After finishing the entire trilogy [Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem] PLUS the novella collection [Delirium Stories: Hana, Annabel, & Raven], I suddenly realized that I have never reviewed a single one of these stories. I didn’t even have any of them started/saved in my drafts. What?!? I don’t know where my brain has been, but this is a problem I need to fix!
Imagine a world in which people were promised a “cure” that could take away all heartache. Peace and happiness for all as long as everyone has a simple procedure? If it sounds too good to be true, that’s probably because it is. Lena has been raised to believe that love is a disease [Amor Deliria Nervosa] and that life without love is the safest and most stable way to live. People don’t fall in love and get married anymore — they get paired based on government-imposed ratings and compatibility of interests. It’s safer and easier to just fall in line, but Lena has a hard time forgetting the mother who could not be cured and whose last words to her, before committing suicide, were “I love you.” Only a few months before her own procedure, Lena has a chance encounter with a young man named Alex. Despite government assurances that all “invalids” [non-cured people living outside of society] have been taken care of, she’s pretty sure Alex *is* an invalid. And when she starts experiencing symptoms of the Deliria, she also starts to question everything she’s ever taken for granted. Is love really a disorder? Does the government really have everyone’s best interests at heart? And, most importantly, should Lena go ahead with her own procedure or follow her heart?
I usually love David Levithan’s books. And I definitely started off loving this book, too. It was great to see an author who would help teens empathize with the people around them by creating a character who lived inside a different body every day and got to experience life from so many different angles. That is, until I got to the day where “A.” woke up as a fat person. I was horrified that Levithan showed so much more compassion for a heroin addict than for someone who weighed “at least 300 pounds.” I mean, I just don’t understand Levithan could insinuate that readers should be more accepting of all the complications that arose from A. living in bodies of people from different ethnicities, socioeconomic classes, and sexual orientations and then be so downright cruel in his descriptions when A. woke up in a fat body. If a person is addicted to food, which this kid Finn very well could have been, just imagine how much harder it could be for him to exist anywhere in society. A heroin addict can always go to rehab and then move away from the area where s/he is likely to run in to his/her old drug dealer and druggie friends… But a fat person can never get away from food — it’s necessary to eat if you want to live! Don’t understand how I can be so livid? Take this paragraph for instance:
When I finally take a look around and take a look inside, I’m not very excited about what I see. Finn Taylor has retreated from most of the world; his size comes from negligence and laziness, a carelessness that would be pathological if it had any meticulousness to it. While I am sure if I access deep enough I will find some well of humanity, all I can see on the surface is the emotional equivalent of a burp.
Sure, Finn could be lazy. But it’s also likely that there is *something* that caused him to “[retreat] from most of the world” and let himself go. I’m sure some people probably love this story and aren’t very upset by this chapter, but I am completely pissed at David Levithan right now.
P.S. I decided to do a quick search to see if anyone else out there had similar feelings about this book, and I was happy to find this review — http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2012/08/body-image-and-every-day-by-david.html — in which Christie Gibrich reacted with just as much indignation as me. So, yay that someone agrees with me, but boo that this is even an issue! /sigh
First of all, I just have to say that I read this book a few years ago and only now realized that I never reviewed it… Shame on me! Second, I feel compelled to tell you all how much I love the complete/crazy-long title of this book — Princess Ben: Being a Wholly Truthful Account of Her Various Discoveries and Misadventures, Recounted to the Best of Her Recollection, in Four Parts — which is a lot! It has such a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Seriously, though, I think it helps to set the tone for the book. Because this is not your typical princess story!
It is true that Princess Ben (short for Benevolence) has been hidden away in a tower by her overbearing aunt, Queen Sophia, since her parents and her uncle (the king) were assassinated. Queen Sophia has plans to marry Ben off to the first mildly suitable man to present himself, but Ben is not the kind of princess who would be content to wait for a prince to come to her rescue. Thanks to her inquisitive/mischievous nature, she manages to find an enchanted room in the tower and begins to teach herself some magic with the books therein. Not only does this magic give her something to do with all of her “free” time, but it also buys her some freedom and increases the odds that she will be able to save both herself and the kingdom from Queen Sophia.
P.S. If you like this story, I also recommend the sequel — Wisdom’s Kiss: A Thrilling and Romantic Adventure Incorporating Magic, Villainy, and a Cat.
Although I don’t generally “do” the whole Twitter thing, I technically have an account through which I [supposedly] follow a few people. One of those people is the amazing John Green and, because I actually read one of my Twitter digests last month, I read this Tweet. Though I hadn’t previously heard about this book, I trusted John Green to know what he was talking about and requested a copy from another library in my system. I absolutely loved it, so I made sure to order a copy for my library AND bumped this book to the top of my “to review” list. FYI, in case you were not aware, I am way better at reading books than following through with reviews, so my “to review” list contains no fewer than 5 books at any given time and often has books that I finished months ago!
You may be wondering, “What was so great about Poison?” How about the fact that it had action, adventure, humor, magic, romance, AND strong female characters all rolled up into a unique fantasy story? Kyra, a potions master, used to be best friends with the princess. Until, that is, she tried to kill her. Since no one seemed to understand that trying to kill the princess was a good thing, she had to run away to avoid being jailed/hanged for the attempted assassination. And, while being the infamous “Princess Killer” made it rather difficult for Kyra to travel through the kingdom unnoticed, her bag of potions and the help of a cute little enchanted pig was enough to give her hope that she could find the princess and finish the job before it was too late…
The only thing I didn’t like about this story, to be honest, was learning that there won’t be a prequel or a sequel [since the author passed away before this book was even published]. I wish I could learn more about Kyra, but I guess it’s better to have loved and lost [a character] than never to have loved at all.
Between the underage drinking and premarital sex, not to mention the foul language, I am pretty sure some people out there will have beef with this book. But, as someone who works with teens and who still vividly recalls her own teen years, I was impressed by Tom Leveen’s unflinching honesty. While I recognize that not all teens are angsty/artistic types who enjoy the punk music scene, I think all teens can gain a little perspective by reading about Amanda (a.k.a. Zero) and her experiences in the summer after high school graduation. After all, most (if not all) teens will have a major fight with a friend, have a crush/fall in love, and argue with their parents. So what if they learn a bad word or two! So what if they read about someone getting drunk or having sex! Most of these things will come up in the “real world” anyway — and, as both a parent and a Tween & Teen Librarian, I would much rather “my” teens have their negative experiences vicariously through a book. This way, at least, they can learn the lessons and then put the heartache back on the shelf.
Happy Banned Books Week!