Category Archives: LOL

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

hello-goodbyeClare and Aidan are high school sweethearts who are about to head off to college. Though they care for [and maybe even love] each other, they aren’t sure whether they should try to stay together after they move 3000 miles apart — with Clare attending Dartmouth and Aidan attending UCLA. Starting college and learning to live away from their homes and best friends will be difficult enough, but trying to maintain a relationship without sacrificing the authentic college experience seems impossible… At least, to Clare it does. She is bound and determined to spend their last night in town revisiting all the places that had significance in their relationship so that they can say goodbye with enough closure to move on. Aidan still isn’t sure he’s willing to give up on their relationship. But will one last night provide him with enough time to change her mind?

Heartbreaking at times, but with plenty of moments of levity, this book is a roller coaster of emotions. Though I enjoyed Smith’s other books — The Geography of You and Me and This is What Happy Looks Like — I found that they were a little bit of a stretch. This story is a much more realistic scenario and I think it will likely resonate with more readers. If you’re unfamiliar with Smith’s books but enjoyed romances by Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han, you should definitely check out Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between.

Happy Reading!

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

23354047[1]It’s really hard to put a label on this story.  On one hand, this is a quirky story about a girl who is new to town and trying to figure out how she might fit in.  On the other hand, it’s a mystery/crime novel in which a teenager thinks he might be able to prove a link between the kidnapping of a local girl and his own sister’s disappearance almost a decade ago. When the girl [Zoe] first meets the boy [Digby], it seems they might never get along.  After all, Zoe is just kinda bored and trying to take everything in, while Digby’s a bit manic and often acts without thinking things all the way through.  Digby frequently speaks his mind, to the extent that some people might find him rude, but I think Zoe found it rather endearing.  After all, she didn’t *have* to join him in all of his crazy adventures… but she just couldn’t quite find a reason to say no.

Some people might think this book is a little too cliche, but I really enjoyed it.  The fast-paced action and laugh-out-loud dialogue simply worked for me.  Though the plot is nowhere near the same, I thought this book read a lot like Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick.  Maybe it’s because it starts off in the middle of the insanity and then brings you back to the beginning to show how it all started?  Maybe it’s because one character is just so over-the-top and the other is so straight-laced it’s hard to believe they could end up working together?  I can’t say for sure exactly what it was, but I am happy to report that I absolutely LOVED it!  This would be a really fun book to read during the school break next week.  Last minute Christmas gift, anyone?!?

Happy Reading!

The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan

sword-of-summerI can’t even begin to explain how happy my son and I were when we found out that Rick Riordan was going to have a new series based on Norse mythology!  When we read Loki’s Wolves, we actually lamented the fact that Riordan didn’t have a Norse mythology series yet and just prayed that one was coming.  We’ve really grown to love Riordan’s ability to weave snarky and silly humor into books that actually teach readers quite a bit about mythology.  As a mom and librarian, I have loved seeing kids flock to the non-fiction section to find out more about the characters of Greek and Roman mythology they encountered in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series.  As a reader, though, I have simply enjoyed the way that the stories of characters in the different series were so artfully woven together and worked so well with the existing myths.

In this book, we are introduced to a character named Magnus Chase — a homeless kid from Boston who has been on the run ever since his mom died.  Though she was actually killed by supernatural wolves, Magnus was fairly certain no one would believe him and decided that running from the law was easier than trying to convince people he didn’t murder her.  When his cousin, Annabeth — Yes!  *That* Annabeth! — and her dad come to Boston to look for Magnus, he ended up running into another uncle, Randolph.  His mom was always adamant that Magnus should stay away from him, but it was too tempting to find out what Uncle Randolph knew.  Randolph tried to convince Magnus that he was a demigod and that his father was a Norse god, but that didn’t really make sense.  Only after he was killed by a demonic villain and woke up in Valhalla did Magnus begin to believe this could all be true.

Especially with the in-story pronunciation help (via other characters helping Magnus correctly pronounce the names of legendary places and characters), I think this series makes Norse mythology a lot more approachable and is likely to create a huge surge in interest.  (I can only hope they do a better job if and when they turn this series into a movie!)

Happy Reading!

Reality Boy by A.S. King

reality-boyGerald Faust has a touch more than your typical teen angst.  He has to deal with the fact that his one sister, Lisi, has left home [most likely never to return again] because his other sister, Tasha, is a complete sociopath and constantly tries to kill her siblings.  Sadly, their mom coddles Tasha and refuses to acknowledge the situation.  As bad as that is, though, it’s not quite as bad as the fact that Gerald is also infamous for being “The Crapper” on a Supernanny-like reality show when he was a child.  His mom originally called the show for help because Gerald’s rages would lead to holes in the walls, but he soon escalated to crapping everywhere to get people’s attention when Tasha’s assaults and antagonizing were repeatedly missed/overlooked and he alone was blamed for his anger management problems.  Now, Gerald’s stuck with no friends, continued anger management issues, and placement in a special education class that he doesn’t really need/deserve.  Right as he fears he is about to finally break, though, Gerald starts to become friends with a girl [from school and work] named Hannah who’s dealing with some family dysfunction of her own.

As terribly heartbreaking as it was to stand by and “watch” Gerald suffer at the hands of his sister and parents, I was grateful that his story ended on a note of hope.  It just makes me wonder, though — how *have* all of those kids who’ve been featured on shows like Supernanny been effected by their appearances?  Have there been any others who ended up as infamous as Gerald?  Or is this simply an embellishment of what could have happened?  (Man, I hope none of those kids ends up like Gerald!)  I would recommend this book to readers who enjoyed A.S. King’s Ask The Passengers and Chris Crutcher’s Angry Management.

Happy Reading!

The Misfits by James Howe

misfitsI listened to this audiobook a few months ago, but I decided to wait and review it during LGBT Pride Month.  It’s not because the entire story was about one particular LGBT character or centered around a specific LGBT problem, though, because it wasn’t.  The story actually revolved around a group of self-proclaimed misfits and their attempt to stop bullying in their school.  Joe, nevertheless, was identified as being gay and other characters recalled that Joe used to wear dresses sometimes.  I really appreciated the way Joe’s sexual identification and history of cross-dressing were treated as more of a side note to explain why some people bullied him and but that his story didn’t overshadow or make light of the other forms of bullying at their school.  This was a story in which a variety of students were bullied for a variety of reasons, all of which were wrong.

Everything started back when Addie refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance; she was adamant about the fact that there wasn’t “liberty and justice for all” and, on principle, refused to say the pledge anymore.  Even though her teacher didn’t quite seem to understand where she was coming from, her friends, the misfits, thought she was on to something.  They were tired of being made fun of and mistreated, and they were fairly certain that nothing would improve unless they did something about it — so they decided to go about affecting that change by creating a third party in the student council elections.  The book did get a little didactic at times, but I think many tween and teen readers will appreciate Addie’s brand of idealism and the fact that working together actually made a difference in their school.  Fortunately, many schools are making an effort to teach character education and to promote an environment free from hatred and bullying… but it’s still out there.  Sadly, I’m all too certain there will always be kids who can relate to this story.

Happy Reading!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

fangirlCath was not just a Simon Snow fan.  She was an über Simon Snow fan who actually had followers of her own.  How?  Cath wrote fan fiction.  More specifically, she wrote Simon/Baz fan fiction.  And her story, Carry On, got tens of thousands of hits every time she posted a new chapter.  While I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that Cath entered college with the intention to be a fiction writer, I was interested in how she struggled with creating stories all her own even though the fan fiction flowed so easily for her.  And even more than that, I was impressed by how wholly I found myself being absorbed into Cath’s everyday life and her struggle to adjust to the new realities of her life as a college freshman.

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Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill

soul-enchiladaThis story had a little bit of everything.  The whole enchilada, if you will.  (Sorry, but I couldn’t resist using that pun!)  But seriously.  This story had drama, action, fantasy, humor, sports, and a love story all wrapped up in one.  Fans of books like Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and Croak will definitely want to check this book out!   Continue reading