Archive for the 'Books' Category

Challenge Post #1

Greetings fellow nerdgirls!

Well, it only took me about one and a half months to get started on the Meg Cabot challenge, but start I did! Part of the reason it took me so long was that I had to wait for the books to come in from Largo, Florida! Yay Interlibrary Loans!

For my first post, I’m reviewing both Where Roses Grow Wild (’98) and Portrait of My Heart (’99). As far as I can figure out, these are the very first two books that Meg had published.


So first a recap. Where Roses Grow Wild is about Pegeen and Edward. Funny story. I was talking to the undergraduate student who works in my lab part time, and she read the back cover for the book and was all, “Pegeen is a horrible name. Why would she give her such an ugly name?” And I had to struggle not to laugh at her. Not because I thought Pegeen was a good name. I agree, Pegeen just sounds silly to me. But because ultimately, the name Pegeen turned the student off of the book completely. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a name and then dismissed a book because of it.

ANYWAYS. Back to Pegeen and Edward. So Edward is basically this lazy rich guy who has to be a duke, which apparently was (is still?) a big deal back in the day, unless he can find his long lost nephew of his dead brother. He finds him, but the 10 year old boy, Jeremy (also called Jerry, which confused the crap out of me for a few chapters because I thought that it was a mistake before I realized it was just a nickname. But I’ve never ever known a guy named Jeremy who is also called Jerry) won’t go with him to become a duke unless he can stay with his aunt, Pegeen.

So Pegeen and Jeremy/Jerry go with Edward so that Jeremy can learn to be a proper duke. But before Pegeen will go, Edward totally has to give a bunch of money to the town’s prostitute (Jeremy and Pegeen’s town that is), so that she can take a year off after having given birth to her nth number child (I forget how many children, something in the teens I think). Also Pegeen almost cuts Edward’s finger off or something. They have a little fight, Pegeen cries a little, they make out.

Basically the whole book is about Pegeen and Edward fighting and then making out and having sex, etc.

I have to admit, I really had to push myself through this book. I like romance in my books, but I don’t think I enjoy straight up romance novels. Which is kind of what this book was. The good thing though, is that Meg wrote it, and so it has feminist issues peppered throughout it. That was awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed the parts of the book where Pegeen was being all badass and trying to push Edward to see things from a woman’s view. The downfall for me was when Pegeen was like, “Oh, but he’s so hot! Tear my robe off!” I wanted to give Pegeen a little shake. Also, there is no falling in love for the characters. It’s instant love from the moment they meet, which I just don’t buy. A little more work, please! Also, Pegeen and Edward’s conversation about how they felt about each other got a little too repetitive for me.

Also from

Portrait of My Heart is kind of like a sequel to Roses. It starts off when Jeremy is twenty two and then fast forwards five years. Jeremy returns home after having killed another guy (in a duel (why was there a duel? Because Jeremy totally slept with this girl and then her brother demanded that Jeremy marry her and Jeremy was like, um, no, I paid you to sleep with her already)) and getting kicked out of school for it. He’s turned into kind of a dick. Kind of like a mini-Edward before Edward met Pegeen. I was disappointed by this, because judging from Where Roses Grow Wild, Jeremy should have turned out better. So anyways, 22 year old Jeremy returns home and is jumped on (literally from a tree) by the neighbor girl, Maggie Herbert. Maggie was five years old in Roses. Now she’s seventeen. Much is made about how much Maggie has grown. Her melon sized breasts are mentioned many, many times. Jeremy and Maggie go make out in a barn, Edward interrupts them, sends Maggie home, and tells Jeremy that he hasn’t done anything to earn Maggie.

Later that night, Jeremy proposes to Maggie, Maggie freaks out, Jeremy leaves and enrolls in the army and goes off to India to do manly heroic things. Maggie is sent to Paris to study painting, much to the chagrin of her entire family except for her awesome mom.

Fast foward five years, Maggie is 22, Jeremy is now 27. They can totally have adult sex now without it being weird. Jeremy comes home to London despite the fact that he is malarial. Pegeen wrote to him to let him know that Maggie has gotten engaged. Maggie is in London, trying to start her career as a portrait painter. Jeremy and Maggie are staying under the same roof which is horrifically inappropriate and oh my! what will society think.

Turns out Maggie got herself engaged because her mother died and at the funeral, Maggie found out that Jeremy had been awarded the Star of Jaipur by the maharajah, which meant that Jeremy got himself a pretty pretty princess to marry and that meant Maggie, who had loved Jeremy since that scandalous day in the barn, had been forgotten. Turns out, the Star of Jaipur, is actually just a stone, and Jeremy isn’t really marrying a princess. And he’s going to win Maggie back!

But wait! There really is an Indian princess! Princess Usha is totally nicknamed the Star of Jaipur, and her uncle, the maharajah, totally did try to get Jeremy to marry her. But Jeremy was like, “Nope, I’ve got this girl back home.” But The Times, which is the best newspaper in the universe, is never ever wrong, so everyone was all like, ooooh, Colonel Rawlings is marrying a heathen princess. Awesome. Princess Usha has followed Jeremy to London, most likely with the hopes of marrying him anyways.

So what ensues pretty much throughout the book is Maggie and Jeremy having relations, even though Maggie is super engaged to this french guy, and Jeremy is kind of a dirtball because he’s all, “But I’ve earned Maggie.” Also, there’s a scene where I felt like Maggie should have been all, “Um, you just raped me,” because she wakes up to Jeremy having sex with her, but instead she’s all like, “Yes, this is awesome.” And I just can’t.

The good part of Portrait, was totally the feminist part too! I felt like it was more direct in the issues though, because it was more specifically about how Maggie should totally be a painter if she wants to be. Also, Maggie’s friend, Berangere, was super awesome. I felt like Lana would totally have been Berangere if Lana had been 1) French and 2) lived in the 19th century.

So all in all, I enjoyed the books enough, but I don’t think I’ll ever reread the books. I mean, I would read them again if they were the only books I had on hand and I had nothing else to do, but I’m not going to actively check them out or buy them. You get my drift.

I know Amber read Where Roses Grow Wild. What about the rest of you? Thoughts?


P.S. Next up, An Improper Proposal! Which I will also have to get through the interlibrary loan. So it may take a while. And good thing, because I kind of need a palette cleanser. Also I have a ton of books checked out that I really need to finish. I’ve got The Cinderella Society on the iPad and Unspoken in book form. I’m not really loving TCS, but so far I’m like 5 chapters into Unspoken and Sarah Rees Brennan, please let’s be besties because you’re amazing!

Meg Cabot Challenge

Oh my goodness. It’s been practically five months since our last post! How did that happen! That time really did fly by.

Anyhow, I’ve got to type fast because the whining has started and I know I’m going to have to do some walking and rocking soon.

I have decided to put a challenge to myself! The Meg Cabot Challenge!

*From Meg’s website. Highly appropriate I think.

Starting now, I am going to read every single book Meg Cabot has ever written, in chronological order, until I am done! Okay…so that’s not exactly a challenge since we all know how awesome Meg is. Mainly the challenge will be reading in order. Sadly there are some of her books that I do not own and will be getting from the library. So it will be hard to wait and not just move on to one of her books that I already have. And don’t think I’ll be cheating by not rereading! I’m totally going to be rereading!

Part of the challenge is also blogging the books! I hereby promise to document my challenge on this very here blog! Wooooo! Not every book will get its own post. I will most likely be putting books from the same series together and I will probably put some standalones together too.

Read along with me! First off will be Where Roses Grow Wild. Let’s do this!

<3s! Lindsay

*Update: OMG, this is harder than I thought. My library does not have this book! Maybe I will try interlibrary loan! I will keep you all posted!

Top Ten Tuesday: Discussable* Books

* I’m not entirely sure that’s a real word, but I’m too tired to look it up now.

This week (please ignore how I skipped several weeks since last time) for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish is books that would be good for a book discussion.  My list includes books that I’ve gotten to discuss and were great, books I will be discussing and am looking forward to, and books I would love to discuss.  In no particular order…

1.  Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
All of my answers to Top Ten Tuesday may include Harry Potter.  Everytime I re-read any of these books…or even think about them for longer than one minute…I think they’re amazing and want to talk to someone about how intricately woven they are.

2.  Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
If you’ve read this blog at all in the past, you may have seen me reference this book before.  Because it’s AMAZING and my favorite adult book EVER.  I’ve actually gotten to discuss this before and while it was a good discussion, pretty much everyone else was like “eh, it was ok.”  😦

3.   The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I’ve discussed this book officially 2 times in a true book discussion and have another one coming up in March.  Can I just say it: I am burnt out on The Hunger Games!  *whew*  But it does make a good discussion, and next time the discussion is with adults, so should be interesting.

4.  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I read this a few weeks ago and instantly wanted to talk about it.  I am so sad that it will not come out in paperback for at least a year and therefore cannot be a true book discussion that I lead or co-lead for a long time.

5.  Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
One of my coworkers and I started a book discussion group for adults (and teens) who want to read YA books.  I would LOVE to do Beauty Queens, but again, waiting for paperback.

6.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
We actually just discussed The Book Thief with our new book discussion group for adults reading teen books and it was a great discussion.  Even though I kind of hate the book (please don’t hate me!), the adults were pretty into it.  Particularly when it came to what the colors symbolized and why it is a teen book.

7.  Chime by Franny Billingsley
So even though I was confused by this book while reading it and wasn’t sure I even really liked it, I cannot stop thinking about Chime!  It has a lot of fabulous elements and I desperately want to re-read it for a true discussion about its narrator, writing style, and fairy tale-esque qualities.

8.  When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
It’s been awhile since I’ve read this, but I definitely remember loving it.  It’s definitely the kind of book you want to go back instantly and re-read, which I think means it would be great to discuss.

9.  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This one is FULL of ’80s references and nerdiness.  I read it for a discussion with some friends, and it was great – both the book and the discussion.

10.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
After seeing Midnight in Paris, I really wanted to read or re-read books of the jazz era.  The Great Gatsby is at the top of my list since I haven’t read it since sophomore year of high school and remember nothing besides a car crash and a green light.  (I think?)  If it were part of a book discussion, I would definitely pick it up.  Anybody interested??  (I wish I hadn’t missed when the nerdfighting community read it this summer.)

What books do you want or love to discuss?

– Jill

A Review of Sorts

I realized a few days ago that I have really slowed down on my reading in the past few months. Maybe I’ve just been too tired to stay up late reading like I usually do. Whatever. So my goal for this year is to read more. Also to keep track of what I read, so that I can do fun look back posts like Jill. To start off, I’m posting this kind-of-review. Mostly I’m just going to talk about these books I just read.

The first two books that I have read so far this year just happen to be by the same author, Leila Sales. I read her first book, Mostly Good Girls, first.

I have a confession to make. When I was reading this book, I didn’t really like it. In retrospect, I think that’s because I kept expecting something really scandalous to happen. I don’t know why though. It’s like I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop and it never happened. So then what is this book about? The book follows high school junior Violet as she tries to get good grades (straight As, actually), get the boyfriend of her dreams, and not have her school’s literary magazine, of which she is the editor, suck. But what the book is really about is Violet’s friendship with Katie. I think part of the reason I disliked reading this book is because I kept thinking how much I’d rather be seeing things from Katie’s perspective. To me, Katie is the much more interesting half of this pair of best friends. Katie is always coming up with awesome projects for her and Violet to do, like creating mazes for her dog and timing him, or becoming pool sharks. On top of that, throughout the book, Katie gets more and more defiant and angry, but Violet just kind of ignores this.

I struggled with Violet. I wanted to smack her upside the head a lot. Mostly because she kept ignoring all these signs that something was not right with Katie. Also because she was jealous of Katie. I kept wanting to yell at Violet and be like, “Look, we both know Katie’s awesome, but there’s no reason that you both can’t be awesome.” Sure, Katie gets a perfect PSAT score. But it’s not like she can help it. Why should she have to dumb herself down just to keep a friend? That’s not cool. Not that Violet would ever suggest that, but you can definitely tell that Violet may have thought that a stupider Katie might have been better at one point or another. But her jealousy wasn’t what really bugged me about Violet. It was that she was whiney about her grades. She kept saying that she wanted to get straight As, blah blah blah. But then there would be times when she didn’t bother to finish her homework, or thought she should be studying and then went out anyways. And the whole time I was just like, do your dang homework! Gah! How hard is that concept? If you do your homework, you’re much better prepared when the test on that subject material rolls around. But I guess I’ve been out of high school for almost ten years now, so what do I know?

Now that I’ve just told you why I didn’t like the book, I have to tell you that I actually do like this book. I had to sit on it for a while but I’ve come to appreciate just what Mostly Good Girls did. Like I said, nothing terribly scandalous happened. But then this wasn’t an action driven novel. It was more about the characters and their journeys. I think that if I had gone into the book knowing that it was character driven, I would have enjoyed it while I was reading it. But overall, I can safely say that I really do like this book. I wish I could tell you why I ended up liking Violet, but that’s really the whole point of the book and I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who do end up reading it.

The second book I read was Past Perfect.

First things first. How cute is that cover! Super cute! The only reason I read Mostly Good Girls was because I wanted to read this book. But! My library branch didn’t have Past Perfect and so while I was waiting for them to transfer it over I read Mostly Good Girls because they DID have it. Past Perfect is about Chelsea and her summer working at Essex Historical Colonial Village. You guys. She works as a colonial era re-enactor! How cool is that!? Way cool. I’ve always wanted to do something like that, but I didn’t grow up close enough to any places that could have employed me. Chelsea gets to dress up and pretend to be someone else from a different time all summer! And on top of that her best friend is working there this summer, too! Tons of fun! Wooo! Oh wait. Chelsea’s ex-boyfriend, Ezra (I kept picturing this totally emo teenager), is also working there this summer. Which is totally not cool, because Chelsea isn’t over him. But! But! There is a war on! And Chelsea is second-in-command! Which is way awesome. Except then she meets one of the super cute and totally crushable enemies. And everyone knows you shouldn’t fraternize with the enemy! The war has been going on ever since Reenactmentland opened up right across the street from Essex. Reenactmentland is all about the Civil War, and they’re so passionate that they soak their coat buttons in urine just so it looks more authentic. Dedication, right there.

This book was super fun to read. Not only did I get to learn about what it might be like to be a re-enactor, but there were snippets of history all over the book. So I learned stuff too! Double whammy. It’s hard to beat that. Also, did I mention super crushable enemy boy? Because that was fun too. Chelsea’s got a pretty awesome BFF, Fiona, too. Together they are also spending their summer becoming ice cream connoisseurs. Ice cream! Yes! Who wouldn’t want to do that? Also, there’s a really cool scene where Chelsea finally lets herself remember what a jerk Ezra really was/is.

So to recap: I liked both books, but definitely liked Past Perfect better. My recommendation would be to start with Past Perfect, and then if you liked that, then read Mostly Good Girls. I will be watching to see what Ms. Sales’ third book will be. I definitely can see her becoming one of my favorite authors in the future.



Jill’s Reading Roundup 2011

Happy New Year everybody!  Now that the 2011 is over, it’s time for my annual reading roundup!

Books read:  108 (including one on audio)
Pages read:  24,434 (not including picture books)

Book Breakdown
Picture Book: 31
Juvenile Fiction: 15
Juvenile Nonfiction: 5
Young Adult Fiction: 41
Young Adult Nonfiction: 3
Adult Fiction:  7
Adult Nonfiction: 6

In 2011, I read more adult books because I started attending one of the adult book clubs at my library.  I also reread my top 4 favorite books – 3 for book discussions!  I reread the entire Harry Potter series, which was an amazing decision, to gear up for the final movie, several Rick Riordan books, because they’re as addictive as candy, and near the end of the year, to prepare for the Dr. Seuss exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, I read a bunch of Dr. Seuss books.


Best Contemporary YA (all of these will be books I read in 2011, not necessarily new in 2011)


I read both Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door and loved both!  Maureen Johnson’s The Last Little Blue Envelope was also an extremely satisfying sequel.




Best Nonfiction Read in 2011:

Both of these were actually kind of surprisingly good.  Lauren Conrad’s Style covers a lot of different areas like makeup, how to pack, essential items for your closet, etc.  I would have loved this when I was a teen.  OK, let’s be honest – I love it now.  I was really impressed with how the book was put together – great pictures, topics broken down into easy-to-read paragraphs – and the writing is very encouraging.  This is a great book for teen girls.

Harry Potter: Film Wizardry surprised me because I kept hearing about Harry Potter: Page to Screen (which I haven’t been able to get my hands on yet) and assumed that one would be much better.  Film Wizardry is a great tribute to the movies.  It’s pretty well organized, has lots of interesting facts I didn’t know, and has a TON of great pictures and even some added pull-out features, like the Marauder’s Map and programs for the Quidditch World Cup and Yule Ball.


Best Historical Fiction

I’ve already gushed about greatness that is Michelle Cooper’s Montmaray series.  Please go read them!  I don’t think they’re getting the attention they deserve.  This is the second one and I loved it even more than the first.  How often does that happen?



Funniest Book

Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens is hilarious.  I was looking forward to it since I saw the cover and heard it was basically Miss Teen USA + Lost + Libba Bray.  There’s lots of crazy things going on in this book, including jabs at reality tv, commercialism, beauty products.  I’ve also heard that the audiobook is amazing, which I totally believe since it’s read by Libba Bray.



Best Cover

This is one of my favorite covers of all-time.  It’s just so creepy!  I love this book for the incredibly creepy pictures.





Best Dystopia

This is an older adult book, and it is so good.  I included it when I booktalked dystopias at a high school.  It’s lighter on the science fiction that dystopias tend to be now, but it still has that government controls all feel.  I highly recommend it.




Best Picture Book

One of these is obviously pretty old, but I have developed a new appreciation for The Lorax.  “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” is my favorite line.

Grandpa Green did come out this year, and it’s gorgeous.  I’d expect no less from Lane Smith.



Most Gorgeous All-Around Book

Conor’s mom is sick with cancer and he has been having nightmares lately. Then at 12:07 each night a monster comes. Soon it tells Conor it will tell him 3 stories but after that Conor must tell the monster (which resembles the yew tree near their home) a story- the truth about his nightmare. Through the stories, scenes with Conor & his mom, his grandmother, and his dad who moved away to America with his new family, as well as Conor’s interactions with a bully and his no-longer-a friend Lilly, we see Conor start to understand that the monster was called not to heal his mother as Conor first thought, but to heal him.

The etchings within this book really add to this already gorgeous book.  At the Mock Printz discussion I attended, we easily voted this our winner.  I hope the real Printz committee does too.


Best “I’m not sure what’s going on but I’ll go with it” Book

It’s been awhile since I’ve read Chime by Frannie Billingsley, but even after I’ve had time to think about it, I’m still not sure what genre to really put this in.  Is it historical fiction?  Science fiction?  Fantasy?  We discussed this at the Mock Printz discussion too, and people really emphasized the fairy tale aspect.  All I know is that Chime is a beautifully and uniquely written book.  The story is told in a twisty-turny way that makes the plot kind of confusing to follow, but I loved the way it was written.  Give it a shot, but consider yourself warned- it may be more challenging than most.


Best “Jumped on the Bandwagon” Book

If you were paying attention to anything this year, you would have known that EVERYONE and their MOTHER was reading The Help.  I doubt that any of our many copies have ever been on the shelf.  I hadn’t really been interested in reading it though because, for one, I don’t really read adult books, and two, it was tough to get ahold of.  But when I was in Florida on vacation this summer, my teenage cousin asked if I had read it, and when I said no, she pushed it in my hands and told me I had to.  And as soon as I started, I was quickly drawn into it, and couldn’t put it down.  I really enjoy historical fiction, and I think this does a good job of capturing the heaviness of the Civil Rights Era.  I haven’t seen the movie because it seems from the previews that the movie doesn’t match what I felt the book conveyed.  Maybe I’ll watch it someday.


Best New Series

Percy Jackson is one of my favorite series, so I am on board with continuing his story in whatever way possible.  This year I finally got my hands on the first two in the Heroes of Olympus series.  While I think these two were a little too lengthy, I did enjoy them.  Let’s face it, it’s Rick Riordan, how can I NOT enjoy them?




Nerdiest Book

Not only does this book have a clear goal, is filled with action and excitement, but it’s LOADED with 80’s pop-culture and video-games references.  It’s been getting a lot of buzz, and I really enjoyed it, even more than I expected.  If you’re even remotely nerdy, particularly in the technological sense, you’ll like it.  Easy as that.





So…what great books did you read this year?

– Jill

New YA Books

Since I’m the librarian who orders YA books at my library, I get to hear about great new books coming out.  I’ve been to a few workshops lately and read a ton of journals.  Some of the books I order are ones I have to because they’re popular author or celebrities and teens will read them (Tyra Banks, Hilary Duff, Twilight graphic novel).  But most times the books I order look awesome.  Here are some good ones that recently came out, from oldest to newest.

The Poisoned House by Michael Ford

Life can be cruel for a servant girl in 1850s London. Fifteen-year-old Abi is a scullery maid in Greave Hall, an elegant but troubled household. The widowed master of the house is slowly slipping into madness, and the tyrannical housekeeper, Mrs.Cotton, punishes Abi without mercy. But there’s something else going on in Greave Hall, too. An otherworldly presence is making itself known, and a deadly secret will reveal itself—a secret that will shatter everything Abi knows.

Just in time for Halloween, who doesn’t love a good ghost story.


The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

Twenty years after the start of the war that caused the Collapse, fifteen-year-old Stephen, his father, and grandfather travel post-Collapse America scavenging, but when his grandfather dies and his father decides to risk everything to save the lives of two strangers, Stephen’s life is turned upside down.

I heard the author speak at Anderson’s Bookshop’s YA Literature Conference last weekend and ended up buying a copy of the book.  I’m a fan of dystopian books, and this one sounds really good.  Plus, Suzanne Collins liked it!


Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

As monsters walk the streets of San Francisco, unseen by humans, three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned in Greek mythology, must reunite and embrace their fates.

As soon as I heard that this is essentially Percy Jackson with a female twist, I wanted to read it.  Thanks to Rick Riordan, I am interested in Greek mythology, so I am on board with another book about it.  And it is supposed to be good, not just a Percy Jackson knockoff.


Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children and is headed east toward Willa and her mother. Under police protection, Willa discovers that her mother has harbored secrets that are threatening to boil over. Has everything Willa believed about herself been a lie? But as Willa sets out to untangle the mysteries of her past, she also keeps her own secret—one that has the potential to tear apart all she holds dear.

I wasn’t super-excited about this book at first; I think because I didn’t really know the plot, but I heard it booktalked and it sounds really suspenseful.  And we all know how Susan Beth Pfeffer can keep us hooked!  (Have you read Life As We Knew It???)

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit – more sparkly, more fun, more wild – the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.  When Cricket – a gifted inventor – steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
Ok, you guys know how much we loved Anna and the French Kiss?  I loved Lola just as much, if not more(?).  Seriously, I’m not sure why I haven’t bought this book yet.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper in the autumn of 1888.  Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police now believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? 
I got an ARC of this at ALA, but I didn’t have time to read more than the prologue.  From that though, I could tell that this is not MJ’s typical book.  Still I’m excited to read it as soon as I get the chance.
Crossed by Ally Condie
In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky – taken by the Society to his certain death – only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.  Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander – who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart – change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.
Woohoo, the sequel to Matched will finally be out on November 1!
Are you looking forward to any of these or others?
– Jill

I gotta get over it… and accept Katniss as she is.

soooooo…a few months ago this cover came out:

And I was all “ROWR THEY ACTUALLY MADE HER LOOK OLDER! she looks flippin’ 25! I am so MAD!” and I was rampaging and grumbling and really upset. Yes, she looks badass. But she does not look anywhere near 16.

So then I got all arrogant and decided to prove the point to no one who cared. I asked several of my coworkers, who were unfamiliar with the Hunger Games (beyond knowing the title) and the film’s casting, how old was the girl on the EW cover. I was very very confident that I would hear a “24,” a “about 23” and maybe a “19.”

I was SHOCKED when instead I heard: “14” and “17” and “about 14 or 15.” WHAAAAA?! Are we looking at the same picture? I was speechless. I still do not understand it. But I need to get over it because obviously they are not going to recast just because I am a little grumpy. and yeah yeah yeah, I get it that Jennifer Lawrence is a kick-ass actress…But KICK-ASS is the very point! How much would that movie had changed if they had had, say, Emma Roberts play Hit-girl?!

Weird that I am so negative about this movie so far. It is going to be awesome. SERIOUSLY AWESOME!

But what is with Katniss’ skin-tight leather jacket and boots in the promo pics? Yup, that sure makes her look younger and less like a Bond girl…I just hate it. 😉 gosh, I need to watch Spinal Tap…

Breaking Dawn Trailer…..Duh Duh Duuuuuuuuunh!!

After dealing with all the heaviness of national publications attacking books we love and Summer Reading Programs starting all over the country, we all need a little bit of levity right now.

So…….here is the first trailer for Breaking Dawn Part One.*  I happen to be in the camp of people who adore Breaking Dawn (hey, Jacob got his happy ending, that’s all I wanted….I don’t care how gross it is) and the Twilight movies always make me happy, so I am super excited about this.

I really love the way it starts out with everyone receiving the invitations.  And the wedding itself looks gorgeous!!!  I just can’t believe they revealed so much of the plot.  I guess most people who will be seeing the movie already know what is happening, but still…..they could have left a little to the imagination.

I am really excited to see what the fancy pants director does with the impossible-to-adapt material in the book.  Is anyone else looking forward to it?  At least it will give me something to do after the last Harry Potter this summer.


*Sorry, I couldn’t get it to embed and I was too lazy to devote time to making it work.


Wall Street Journal wants you to be careful

…or you might start engaging in harmful behavior due to the “dark, dark stuff” in Young Adult literature.

In case you missed it, twitter exploded last night (or at least the YA community portion of twitter) after an article posted in the Wall Street Journal titled “Darkness Too Visible.”  Maureen Johnson and Libba Bray responded quickly on twitter.   Libba’s fast tweets were compiled, and Maureen started the #yasaves hashtag.   I encourage you to read the article for yourself before reading my response, which I hope is more logical than emotional – or at least attempts to strike a balance of the two…


So, contemporary fiction for teens is “Darker than when you were a child”?  Excuse my unprofessional, childlike vocabulary, but um, DUH.   The WORLD is a terrible, and I’d argue darker, place thanks to constant access to 24/7 news media. Books eminate from that and help teens make sense of it and find their place in it by telling them they are not alone.  Teens know more than you think. The NEWS shows graphic and terrible things. After Osama bin Laden was killed – and the way he was killed – was broadcast graphically on the news, two 7th graders mentioned it to me.  YA books emanate from real life.   Lately, any mention of war makes me want to head back to Mockingjay to attempt to find a meaning for it.  YA lit CAN help us make sense of it all.   They CAN and DO help teens (not to mention the rest of us) find their place in the world by telling them they are not alone.

Yet it is also possible—indeed, likely—that books focusing on pathologies help normalize them and, in the case of self-harm, may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people who might otherwise never have imagined such extreme measures.

How many of these dark books that depict “kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings” are portrayed in a positive way?   I admit I haven’t read every YA book that was published, but in the ones I’ve read with suicide, anorexia, cutting, and other harmful behavior due to awful situations, the harmful behavior was NOT the protagonist. Rather, the protagonist harmed themselves or knew someone who harmed themselves until they could get the help they needed or BECAUSE they couldn’t get the help they needed.

The article also confuses a parent’s self-selection of a book for his/her child with censorship.

 Yet let a gatekeeper object to a book and the industry pulls up its petticoats and shrieks “censorship!”

It’s not the gatekeeper’s objection to the book that’s necessarily the issue; it’s that they want to prevent EVERYONE ELSE from reading it.   Not appropriate for your child?  Ok fine.  Not appropriate for everyone else’s child?  Not your call.

The bookstore that “created a special ‘PG-15’ nook for older teens” might seem like an OK idea on the surface.   YA books are incredibly different from one another, and teens do need help wading through them and finding what they may want.  BUT is this new area labeling teens who venture into it?  Is the store preventing younger teens from buying those books?  Yes, some younger teens may not be ready for tougher, more graphic YA fiction, but some are.  And some of those younger teens may NEED it.  Instead of trying to label books and teens, why not have someone who is educated in them help teens choose what to read?

Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?

That’s the tagline for this article.  Just a look at a few of the tweets hashtagged with #yasaves can answer this.  The responses remind me of ways YA lit is amazing.   It DOES help teens learn about other people different from them so that they may grow up to be more tolerant of others they don’t agree with.

As it happens, 40 years ago, no one had to contend with young-adult literature because there was no such thing.

I’m happy that now, 40 years later from when the author says YA lit began (YALSA was founded in 1957), we DO have a wide range of YA lit to “contend with”.   I can learn what it’s like to live with a devestating secret without having to endure a traumatic experience, and it gives me a fraction of the experience which can help me have compassion for others.

But don’t forget that contemporary fiction for young adults is more than what was mentioned in the article.  Lighter, funnier books do exist for those who want them.   Meg Cabot!   Ally Carter!   That mother must not have looked very hard if she couldn’t find books by these and other best-selling authors, just to name two off the top of my head.   Maybe she should have stopped in a library first.  Any librarian could have given her some suggestions.

The last sentence of the article is unforgettable for me.

No family is obliged to acquiesce when publishers use the vehicle of fundamental free-expression principles to try to bulldoze coarseness or misery into their children’s lives.

It sums up everything that is backwards and wrong about the article.  I’m considering making it my screensaver so I’ll remember to continue fighting for teens and the books they read.

– Jill


Good Luck to the 48 Hour Book Challenge Participants!

Sorry folks, but for the first time in 3 years, I won’t be doing the 48 Hour Book Challenge.  It is a really busy weekend for me and thinking about squeezing the challenge into my schedule makes me feel stressed rather than happy.

This weekend is the annual city wide garage sales for our town and I have already been shopping it up over here.  I plan to go out way early tomorrow and hit the good sales.  One of the sales at the library has GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!!!  The last two years I have rushed through the sales like a crazy person to get back and read, but tomorrow I am going to take my time and browse to my heart’s content.  Then I have a teen program at night and a meeting on Sunday (ugh).  So I am not going to have a lot of time to read.

Not only will I be pressed for time, but I am also well on my way to my summer zombie-fied state.  I read like a freakin’ maniac during the rest of the year, but in the summer I literally stop functioning outside of work.  Last night was our summer reading kick off and there were like 400 people there.  After something like that I just want to sit on my couch and stare at the wall for days, because my brain literally can’t handle a book.  I will try to keep up my reading this summer, but my amount of books read is going to decrease dramatically from now until August.

So, I have rambled on for way to long, just to say that I’m not doing the challenge this year.  So good luck to everyone who is already reading away (go Abby!) and I hope you all reach your reading goals!