I read this book because the Upper Hudson Library System has a yearly “tough reads” book discussion during our June Youth Services Advisory Council meeting. We talk about why the book was a tough read, why it’s so important not to censor our collections, and how to get these books into the hands of the tweens and teens who would benefit from reading them. Whenever we have these discussions, it makes me particularly grateful that I ended up in a public library instead of a school library, since it would be so much harder to stand up for the students’ freedom to read if I was up against a school board that was eager to placate an upset parent. I think it would be very tough to “practice what I preach” if I was worried that my job was on the line. Sadly, I was unable to attend the book discussion this year, so I don’t know what everyone else thought about this book… but I figured I could at least share my thoughts on this blog.
This story is a sports rivalry like no other; the rivals aren’t even from different schools. The members of the football team and the gymnastics team keep pranking one another, and the stakes just seem to get higher and higher every time. It’s pretty clear to the guys on the gymnastics team that the guys on the football team are getting out of control, but they just can’t seem to help themselves. When something completely terrible happens to Ronnie, no one wants to talk about it. Even his own teammates try to get him to pretend it never happened. But life doesn’t work like that. And, sooner or later, someone is going to have to put a stop to this prank war before it claims another victim.
So, I know that I said I wasn’t going to post reviews about sequels/series books anymore… but it’s been ALMOST THREE YEARS since Seraphina came out. And I seriously love this story, so I want to be sure fantasy readers realize this awesome book is out there. So… Yeah. I’m reviewing it anyway! :-P
Growing up, Seraphina never realized there were other ityasaari (half-dragon/half-human beings) like her. Her father had always done his best to keep her true identity a secret, out of fear for her safety, so she lived a very sheltered life. After people found out her secret, though, and because there was a major conflict brewing between humans and dragons, Seraphina and Queen Glisselda have decided that tracking down the rest of the ityasaari might be their best chance to put a stop to the war in Goredd. Richly imagined and full of action, this book should be well received by fans of other dragon tales like Eragon and The Last Dragonslayer.
Although I enjoyed the Burn for Burn series, it wasn’t what I would typically expect from Jenny Han. I first fell in love with her writing when I read Shug. [Sidebar: I cannot believe that was NINE YEARS ago!] I went on to adore the Summer I Turned Pretty series and frequently recommend it to readers who are looking for an author similar to Sarah Dessen. Even though Jenny Han’s stories fall on the lighter side of YA, I can’t help but use words like “honest” and “raw” when I describe her characters. I love the fact that Han’s characters face problems that a majority of tweens and teens can relate to — and the mom/librarian in me especially appreciates her multidimensional female characters. When this book showed up on the library hold shelf on the same day that I finished Ashes to Ashes (Burn for Burn, book 3), I took it as a sign and bumped it to the top of my book pile!
Lara Jean has fallen in love many times, but that doesn’t exactly mean she has had much dating experience. Instead of dating those boys, though, she skipped straight from falling in love to letting them go. And, in order to let them go, she wrote a love letter of sorts. Whenever she wrote to one of the boys she loved, Lara Jean always wrote honestly and held nothing back [because she knew that the boys would never really read the letters]. She’d planned to simply keep all of the letters in the hat box her mom gave her to hold her special and/or secret items. The fact that she chose to include the name and address of each boy on the front of the envelope, nevertheless, proved to be rather unfortunate. After the hat box mysteriously disappeared from her closet and the letters were all “accidentally” mailed out, Lara Jean ended up agreeing to be in a fake relationship to avoid her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh — to whom she had written one of the most recent letters. But how is a girl supposed to know whether her fake boyfriend is actually flirting or just putting on a good show? And what should she do if she starts to think she might have feelings for him? The book ended a little too abruptly for my liking, so it’s a good thing there is a sequel — P.S. I Still Love You — that came out at the end of May. ;-)
Let me just start off my review by stating that I refuse to read any further books if this trilogy suddenly becomes a series with four or more books, like The Selection. As far as I am concerned, this trilogy is complete, there is no more story, and Jenny Hand and Siobhan Vivian should leave it alone! ;-) (Who am I kidding? I’m sure I would eat it up if they published anything else because I tore through these books!) Oh… And there is one other thing I would like to clarify before starting my actual review. Some people might start reading the first book and think the “sci-fi/fantasy” classification is unjustified. Even at the end of the first book, I was a little unsure if the supernatural element was quite enough to justify being in the “sci-fi/fantasy” section of the Teen Area. But, trust me when I say that it will make sense if you keep reading. Continue reading
Despite the fact that the American Psychiatric Association put forth a resolution in 2009 stating that “there is insufficient evidence that sexual orientation change efforts work,” there are still numerous facilities and therapists that claim they can “cure” homosexuality. It breaks my heart and makes me angry, in equal measure, when I hear about teens being sent off to so-called conversion therapy camps. To put it plainly, I find the notion that GLBTQ people can/need to be “fixed” is simply horrifying. I recognize that some people’s religious views are the reason they don’t condone homosexuality, but I reject the implication that one’s religious beliefs can or should be forced upon anyone else. Though some some places [California, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington D.C.] have passed laws banning conversion therapy for minors, I am appalled that so many states haven’t stepped up. Hopefully, books like The Summer I Wasn’t Me and The Miseducation of Cameron Post can help to open people’s eyes and to bring about further change. Continue reading
Some people are confused by the fact that I can’t handle “scary movies” but am so intrigued by novels and biographies about serial killers. During my freshman year of college, I actually scared the student assistant at my college library. He asked which class required me to watch so many A&E Biography specials about serial killers and I answered, “It’s not for a class. I just think they’re interesting.” He shoved the movie across the counter and practically ran into the back office. When I returned the next week, he was nowhere to be found. Fortunately, we met through a mutual friend a few months later and figured out that we recognized each other because he was the AV guy at the library and I was the “creepy serial killer girl.” I was able to elaborate about how my interest was piqued during a high school psychology class and that viewing habits were based purely on curiosity. (Up until that point, apparently, he had been worried that I was a serial killer in training or something like that… Oops!)