Good, but not as mind blowing as I would have thought. I think most of that comes down to my general dislike of the main character. I liked the otherGood, but not as mind blowing as I would have thought. I think most of that comes down to my general dislike of the main character. I liked the other characters, especially Earl, but even Greg didn't like Greg.
I watched the trailer for the movie after finishing this book and am surprised to say that it actually looks better. I will update after watching it to see if I have actually found the ever-elusive "movie that is better than the book"...more
A cute, light, read that is perfect for the holiday season. The fact that these teenagers kept making stupid, dangerous, decisions in the middle of aA cute, light, read that is perfect for the holiday season. The fact that these teenagers kept making stupid, dangerous, decisions in the middle of a blizzard did cause me to have some irritated "mom" moments. ...more
Totally took me by surprise. I loved the whole concept of telling a story without describing the scene through sight. Parker has so much personality aTotally took me by surprise. I loved the whole concept of telling a story without describing the scene through sight. Parker has so much personality and I loved her friends as well. A great storyline showing how she copes with the death of her father and learns to trust people again. Lots of character growth.
Of you have read ANY mystery YA, don't bother picking this one up. You will find nothing new.
Ranty review full of spoilers:
(view spoiler)[I am so sickOf you have read ANY mystery YA, don't bother picking this one up. You will find nothing new.
Ranty review full of spoilers:
(view spoiler)[I am so sick of the "your evil sister was actually your alternate personality" trope. I have read at least three books this year with THE EXACT SAME PREMISE. This one was actually good, well written, interesting plot that alternated between the present and the past (through Alice's journal), decently written love interest. BUT from page 1 I had a sinking feeling that we were going down that oh so familiar road though I kept reading, hoping that I was wrong. Then in the last chapter or two - here we go again, same old, same old. COME ON! What is wrong with authors today who just re-hash the same plot twists that have been done a hundred times and expect readers to fall for it. I was actually on the way to a 4 star review until the big revelation and now I am just so angry that I wasted all this time on this tripe when I could have been reading something ORIGINAL. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
No where near perfect, but fun. Loved the premise, but wished there had been MORE. Great examinations of anxiety and OCD and how someone can feel abouNo where near perfect, but fun. Loved the premise, but wished there had been MORE. Great examinations of anxiety and OCD and how someone can feel about treatment/medication.
Still trying to digest this novel. Not one for the faint of heart, there were descriptions that I, as a mother and teacher, had a really hard time getStill trying to digest this novel. Not one for the faint of heart, there were descriptions that I, as a mother and teacher, had a really hard time getting through. Theo is an intricate character who becomes more an more complex as the story continues and we learn more about the terrible experiences of her past.
This first thing you will notice upon reading Weightless is that it is written in the first person plural. We follow from the perspective of three (IThis first thing you will notice upon reading Weightless is that it is written in the first person plural. We follow from the perspective of three (I think) girls in the popular clique of Adams High. The girls are obsessed with image; wearing the right thing, hanging out in the right place, being seen with the right people. They constantly name drop celebrities, brands, and television shows. I will admit, this was irritating in the beginning, jarring me from the story each time it happened, but as the plot continued it revealed the mindset of these teens, hyper aware of how they stack up against their peers and the celebrities they idolize. The first person plural does take some getting used to. It is outputting at first, but it gives a strange sort of distance from the story as we see through the eyes of a bystander, rather than one of the main characters. I was left continuously asking myself whether or not I felt the narrator was reliable. It is a very interesting way of telling a story that allows the reader to examine the impact not only of the bullies, but also those who stand on the outskirts, who retweet, share, and spread gossip. Unfortunately, it also doesn't allow for any deep development of the characters. Instead, everything we see is just at the surface and we are left to guess at the feeling and motivation behind their actions.
The plot of Weightless is slow at first. There is a great deal of exposition and concentration on football, church, and pep rallys. While this does show the obsessions not only of the teens, but of the town as a whole, it is also rather dull. We catch glimpses of Carolyn at these events and must piece together stolen moments. Through each event, our narrator is constantly commenting on how skinny or fat each person is and what they are wearing. As I said earlier, it speaks to the mentality of these girls, but it gets tedious. The plot unwinds very slowly and requires a patient reader. It is pretty clear from the beginning where this plot will end, however knowing it is coming doesn't make it any less heartbreaking.
Bannan has created a frightening view of teenage life today. It shows how the intrusion of social media into our lives has made it nearly impossible to escape the bullies. When this is added to a town obsessed with religion and sports, where "boys will be boys" and teens present a perfect image to their parents and something completely different to their peers, it is a terrifying mix. In the end, the most disturbing thing was the justification of our narrator. The teens insisted that they had done nothing wrong, that Carolyn deserved what happened to her for being stuck up and an outsider. That nothing she had experienced was different from what every other girl went through (a thought terrifying in its own right). We know, from the narration, that the girls recognize their role, deep down, but as we all know, it is incredible what you can convince yourself of if you repeat it often enough.
Bottom Line: Weightless requires a patient reader, one that is able to sift through the day to day banalities in order to see what is truly happening beneath the surface. Those who can accomplish this will be treated to a disturbing (and fascinating) view of how many teens today treat one another and the danger of a society where image is everything, "good girls" are held on a pedestal and "boys will be boys".
Age: 16 and up Sex: Kissing, Oral Sex, Sex between teenagers Violence: Fighting with a broken bottle Inappropriate Language: Fuck, Shit, Prick, Bitch, Piss, Slut, Whore, Dyke, Faggot Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, Smoking, Marijuana Use Other Issues: Bullying, Self Mutilation, Bulimia, Anorexia, Suicide ...more
I so wanted to love this book. There are elements that are fantastic and fascinating - but I can't talk about them without filling the review with spoI so wanted to love this book. There are elements that are fantastic and fascinating - but I can't talk about them without filling the review with spoilers. Sooooooo I will put a Spoilerific section at the end.
First off, things that didn't work: The author has a strange writing style. A lot of the narration takes place in Molly's head - which is itself a hard place to be as she fixates on every little embarrassing action and berates herself for it internally. This is interrupted by strange, choppy dialogue - usually with her two friends who were beyond dull and annoying. They had no personality to them (beyond the girl, whose name escapes me, texting non-stop and getting irritatingly pissy whenever Molly didn't respond) and the conversations were typical of how authors who have never spent time around teenagers, seem to think teenagers speak.
There was a great deal of "I know what is going on but I can't tell you" throughout the first half of this novel. And when I say great deal, I mean EVERY CHARACTER KNEW! Even down to the students and staff at school and NOBODY will tell Molly anything! Worse than that, Molly doesn't seem to care all that much. The entire plot is based around her finding out what goes on during her missing time, but she doesn't seem the least bit driven to discover the answers.
What worked: The whole love interest plot line was unique as it happens in reverse. We discover that they are in love, and then work backwards to find out how it all happened. There isn't a whole lot of chemistry between Molly and Sader, but the mystery at least keeps it interesting. This occurs through flashbacks that work from the present time, back to when Molly started losing track of time. The time jumping works to keep the plot moving and, frankly, those parts were way more interesting than watching Molly in the present.
(view spoiler)[Molly has a dissociative identity disorder. Specifically, she has one alter named Mabel who has been with her for most of her life and who is able to take over Molly's body and live her own life. This particular point was fairly easy to guess, but once Mabel is revealed, I was really interested in the book. I don't know much about this disorder (other than watching and loving United States of Tara), so the subject matter was fascinating. I loved watching how Mabel was different from Molly and how she managed to keep herself hidden from Molly for so long.
In the end, however, Mabel simply fades away and allows Molly to live her life. This felt incredibly unrealistic. I very much doubt that most people with dissociative identity disorder are able to simply will their alter into submission and go on with their life as if it never happened. Beyond this, Molly was B-O-R-I-N-G, I would have been much happier if the novel had gone the less predictable route of having Mabel take over and Molly become the alter. Especially if this meant there would be a struggle for control - now THAT would be fun to read. (hide spoiler)]
Bottom Line: The Half Life of Molly Pierce is based on a really fascinating premise, but the execution is not nearly as strong as it could have been. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
UGH! I loved the opening. Then the only interesting character went missing and I was forced to endure a hundred pages of Q whining about how extraspecUGH! I loved the opening. Then the only interesting character went missing and I was forced to endure a hundred pages of Q whining about how extraspecial and ohsoperfect she was. ...more
I didn't love this as much as I had anticipated. I tried listening to each of the songs that was associatSee Full Review Here: Reading Between Classes
I didn't love this as much as I had anticipated. I tried listening to each of the songs that was associated with the chapter as I was reading it, but I just got distracted and eventually gave up. I liked the way the author approached the things that those left behind after a suicide have to try and put the pieces back together. I also enjoyed some of the characters. But others were a little flat and, in the end, Sam came off a little too good to be believable. Things wrapped up a little to cleanly, everyone learned a lesson etc. ...more
Title: Fan Art Author: Sarah Tregay Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books Release Date: June 17, 2014 Rating: 2/5
Cover Impressions: I really liked it when I fiTitle: Fan Art Author: Sarah Tregay Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books Release Date: June 17, 2014 Rating: 2/5
Cover Impressions: I really liked it when I first saw it, but, having read the book, I feel like there was so much more potential cover fodder that they could have used. I would have loved to see part of the actual comic that was such an important part of the story.
The Gist: In Jamie Peterson's high school being gay is right up there with kicking puppies and stealing candy from babies. He is out, but only to his mom and is trying to hide who he is from the rest of the town, including his best friend who he maybe, kinda, sorta, definitely likes. The art girls in his school have created a fantasy world where they are together and their interference, not to mention their artwork, threaten to crumble the walls Jaime has so carefully built.
Review: I really wanted to love this book. It had a nice premise - not the most unique but fair enough. It had a great forbidden romance angle - who hasn't pined after someone that they thought they could never have? There were some side characters who were enjoyable - though they didn't get nearly enough page time. I guess where it really fell flat for me was the conflict. I just didn't care that much about the literary magazine (P.S how many high schools actually have these things? I feel like every other YA book is featuring one nowadays) I get it, the comic was good and it was a step towards showing the LGBTQ kids that they were not alone, but the way Jaime went about including it annoyed me and I got bored to tears every time he went to another office to check font or color or whatever.
When he wasn't making terrible decisions to hijack his way into a magazine, Jaime was whining about how he loved his best friend and trying to tell the reader that his gayness should be a big secret because he didn't play with dolls as a kid and he took pains to never dress nice or stand out in a crowd. Way to perpetuate some stereotypes Jaime! Meanwhile, it was painfully obvious to everyone but him that, not only was he gay, but he was in love with his best friend who - to the surprise of NO ONE - clearly loved him back. Despite all of this being clear, we had to spend the entire book getting Jaime to put down the I'm Not Gay sign (that no one was buying anyhow) and see it for himself.
Title: Life By Committee Author: Corey Ann Haydu Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books Release Date: May 13th, 2014 Rating: 3/5
Cover Impressions: Cute, I likeTitle: Life By Committee Author: Corey Ann Haydu Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books Release Date: May 13th, 2014 Rating: 3/5
Cover Impressions: Cute, I like that the image connects so well with the pictures that members of the Life By Committee website post. The blue of the font is a nice contrast but I wish the shoes were another character - they blend a little too well with the background color.
The Gist: Tabitha kissed another girl's boyfriend. The secret is eating her up inside. She can't tell anyone who knows her but she can tell the Life by Committee - a website dedicated to those who have secrets to tell. As a member, she must share a secret and then receive an assignment. At first, having the LBC make her decisions for her is freeing and she is doing things she never thought she would. Soon, however, the assignments take a dark turn and Tabitha must decide if keeping her secrets is worth the fallout that the assignments will bring.
I chose this book for review because I was really interested in the premise. I have to say, I was a little disappointed that (after searching) there was no Life By Committee website - holy missed marketing opportunity Batman!
One of the downfalls of this novel came in the form of the main character. Tabitha was really difficult to relate to. I could understand her being swept up in the forbidden romance of her flirtations with Joe. Chatting well into the night, trading secrets has a secret allure that makes it exciting. However, it was her actions with regard to her family and her friend Elise that made her rather unlikeable. It is understandable that she be shell shocked, having been abruptly ditched by the people she thought where her friends but, throughout the novel, she comes across as whiny and self centered. She doesn't seem to understand her role in her situation and makes decisions that negatively impact her family and friends.
Title: The Break Up Artist Author: Philip Siegel Publisher: Harlequin Teen Release Date: April 29, 2014 Rating: 3/5
Cover Impressions: Cute and unique. TheTitle: The Break Up Artist Author: Philip Siegel Publisher: Harlequin Teen Release Date: April 29, 2014 Rating: 3/5
Cover Impressions: Cute and unique. The artistic style is really interesting and I like the colors though I am a little confused about some of the elements in the background...
Review: Becca Williamson has a unique part-time job. She recieves requests from jilted friends and then sets out to break up the relationship that caused the issue. She has an excellent track record and few people even know that she exists. Backed up by her sister, a young woman who is suffering bitterly from her own break up, Becca sees herself as freeing her school from the clutches of tyrannical rule of the couples. Poised to embark on her biggest mission yet - to break up the school's most noteworthy power couple, and her former best friend - Becca must step out of the shadows if she hopes to succeed. But, her talents were not hidden as well as she had hoped and devastated ex-girlfriends are well on their way to discovering the identity of the Break Up Artist.
I was really excited to read The Break Up Artist because of its interesting premise. I can certainly relate to the teenage girl feeling like everyone had paired off, leaving the single girls an object of pity and ridicule. It is so easy as a teenager in a relationship to make that the be-all, end-all of your existence and I loved the thought of one girl fighting back. The Break Up Artist delivered on the teenage drama, if not quite on the espionage. The novel was paced well enough to keep me interested, with Becca moving further and further into Huxley's sphere of influence while still attempting to ruin her prom queen life. I wasn't all that keen on the writing style, much of it seemed superficial and I would have liked to see what was going on beneath the surface, but it didn't distract a great deal from the plot.
Title: The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy Author: Kate Hattemer Publisher: Knopf/Random House Release Date: April 8, 2014 Rating: 2/5
Cover Impressions:Title: The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy Author: Kate Hattemer Publisher: Knopf/Random House Release Date: April 8, 2014 Rating: 2/5
Cover Impressions: This cover is interesting, but I am not sure that I love it. The colors are a little bland and the two characters on the front are trying far to hard to look cool.
The Gist: The students at Sewlyn Arts Academy have been invaded by reality TV. The new hit show For Art's Sake is being filmed in their halls and is pitting student against student for a once in a lifetime chance at a scholarship that could change their lives. Mediocre student Ethan, and his friends are appalled at the changed that this has caused in their school and the way that Ethan's crush, Maura, is being portrayed. Inspired by Ezra Pound's long poem, they decide to write one of their own - to protest and bring down For Art's Sake, even if it means losing one of their own.
Review: I had a difficult time with this novel. I feel like this book was written for a reader that is far hipper than I am and I found the overly adult dialogue being spouted from the mouths of teenagers to be more annoying than refreshing. I actually found myself finding other things to do and other things to read, rather than to finish this novel.
This book had a bit of a strange structure. At the beginning, there were 3 "opening" chapters that jumped around in time. I found this to be a bit disconcerting as I was concentrating more on figuring out the time structure than in relaxing into the story. This is repeated at the end with three "How it could have ended" chapters which did not allow me the sense of closure that I was hoping for.
My biggest problem came from the fact that there was no real sense of urgency in this story. Yes, their school was hosting a reality show competition but, I never really felt like this impacted their life in any meaningful way. It had to be annoying, sure, but other than having a few classes interrupted or having to avoid certain hallways, school appeared to be continuing as usual. Instead, the characters just felt like overprivileged children that were desperate to find something to rage against. The whole idea of protesting through the use of a long poem was so inauthentic and it turned me off the characters immediately. I teach teenagers and even my brightest student would never find this idea the least bit appealing nor would they have any chance getting their entire student body to read it.
Title: How to Lead a Life of Crime Author: Kirsten Miller Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin) Release Date: February 21st, 2013 Rating: 4/5
Cover Impressions: ITitle: How to Lead a Life of Crime Author: Kirsten Miller Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin) Release Date: February 21st, 2013 Rating: 4/5
Cover Impressions: I like the cover art but I feel they could have done more with the graffitti concept. It isn't something that would jump off the shelves for me. I do, however, really appreciate the quality of the physical copy. The slipcover paper is thick and has an almost gritty feel to it and I love that little surprise when I grab a book off the shelf and it feels different from everything else.
Review: How to Lead a Life of Crime is not at all what I expected. Like many reviewers, I had anticipated that the author would approach this topic from a humorous point of view. Instead, we have a story that include some incredibly dark elements. Our main character, Flick, comes from an abusive household. He is living on the streets after the death of his younger brother, Jude. Flick is an accomplished pick pocket appears to be trying to prove something to himself. He is close to another homeless teen, Joi (pronounced Joey), who runs an unofficial shelter for kids but still keeps her, and all others, at arms length. Flick's greatest desire is revenge on his father, the man who beat him mercilessly and who, Flick believes, killed Jude in a fit of rage.
The story plays out at the prestigious Mandel Academy, a school that, on the outside, appears to be a safe haven for impoverished youth but, in actuality, is a prison that requires them to become predators to survive. The school intends to benefit from "saving" these children by putting their new found criminal skills to use in order to gain an even tighter stronghold on the resources of not only the country, but the entire world. Flick joins the school with the aim of surviving long enough to get intel on his father and then insure the man's destruction. What he doesn't count on is the horror and depravity that he will discover within the walls of the Academy.
Title: The Lure Author: Lynne Ewing Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins) Release Date: This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Title: The Lure Author: Lynne Ewing Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins) Release Date: February 11, 2014 Rating: 4/5
Cover Impressions: Interesting, I think they could have made better use of the graffiti element and the color is a little hard on the eyes.
The Gist: Blaise Montgomery has built a reputation for being fearless in the face of danger. Living with her grandmother on little more than welfare and social security has left her longing for a different life and a family that can protect her from the dangers of the neighborhood. She finds that in Core 9 a fearsome gang that promises to open up a new world for her. Blaise faces a brutal initiation and is quickly chosen to act as bait for rival gang members so that Trek, the head of Core 9 can exact his revenge. This new position offers her prestige and power, but also places her in a dangerous situation from which she may not escape.
I read this book in a day. With a 2 1/2 year old running around. That is serious high praised. I was shocked when I went on Goodreads to see the low reviews and from people who claimed that they didn't understand why these characters made the choices that they did. I don't think that assessment is fair. Yes, you hear stories about kids who grow up in these kinds of neighborhoods that escape the violence and make a better life for themselves but, do you know why they are such compelling stories? Because they don't happen very often. The characters in The Lure were faced with a limited set of choices and a life that kept dealing them one hard blow after another. The more I learned about each girl's set of circumstances, the more saddened I became.
The Lure features some pretty gritty scenes of violence. I was very interested to see this portrayal of gang life from a female's perspective and that it featured the different initiations and roles that females could take on. I do wish that there had been more development to show why girls do join these gangs. As a reader, I suspected where the plot was headed eventually, but we did not have a great deal of time between Blaise's initiation and her being thrown into a very violent situation, in order to see the prestige and perks that would have drawn her to this life in the first place.
I also wish there was a little more character development. This might have been accomplished by alternating the narration among the four girls. I truly felt for each one of them and their situation, but I would have liked to know more about them personally. Ditto with the two love interests. I loved the scenes between Blaise and Satch and was genuinely rooting for a happy ending for the two of them. Speaking of endings, I did find this one to be a little anti-climactic. There was a great deal of running from place to place followed by a choice that I never really expected these characters to make and one that left me questioning what the repercussions would be.
Overall, The Lure offered a gritty glimpse into gang life and the sense of hopelessness that overtakes many of those thrust into that life. It has some flaws, but is certainly worth a read.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing, Talk of sex Violence: Gunplay, Knifeplay, Intimidation, Rape and Gang Rape Inappropriate Language: Bitch Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, Selling and use of Drugs ...more
Title: Ketchup Clouds Author: Annabel Pitcher Publisher: Brown Release Date: November 12th, This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Title: Ketchup Clouds Author: Annabel Pitcher Publisher: Brown Release Date: November 12th, 2013 Rating: 5/5
Cover Impressions: I was not aware until just now, but this appears to be a novel that was published in the UK and now is being released in North America. The top image is the original and the bottom is the new cover (as far as I can tell). I have got to say, they certainly got it right with the second cover. It is really unique and interesting. I love how it almost looks like one of those weird baby-posed-as-if-he-is-standing photoshoots.
The Gist: Ketchup Clouds begins with a letter to an inmate on death row. Zoe (real name withheld) is writing to Stuart Harris - convicted killer of two - in order to confess her crimes to someone who might understand the depths of her betrayal. Through her letters, she reveals how she became involved with two brothers and the consequences of her playing with a pair of hearts.
Review: I was first intrigued by Ketchup Clouds because the synopsis offered an interesting persepctive - that of a teenage girl, writing a convicted killer in order to confess her own role in a tragedy. The letter format is interesting and the narrator's voice is unique. She speaks very matter-of-factly, even though she is clearly burdened by her secret. Naming herself Zoe, the main narrator shifts backward and forward in time in order to describe her present guilt and her past transgressions. This roundabout way in which Zoe tells her story adds suspense in a very natural way, without interrupting the flow of the narration.
As a character, Zoe seems like a typical teenage girl. She feels oppressed by an overbearing mother and burdened by the constant fighting between her parents. In an effort to gain some independence, she begins lying to her parents and this theme permeates the book as more and more untruths get Zoe into more and more trouble. I very much enjoyed the realistic portrayal of a modern-day family. Zoe has two younger sisters, one who is deaf and enjoys the bulk of her mother's attention and one who is not and has begun acting out. The parents argue over some very serious issues, but we do get to watch them work together to create some sense of harmony. I did feel that this particular portion of the story was a little too easily solved and I am not sure that, beyond the scope of this story, the family would remain intact.
There was also a character whose behavior gave me serious pause. Sandra, Max and Aaron's mother. Throughout the "presentday" portion of the narration her actions become more and more erratic and alarming. She called Zoe far more often than is appropriate and would show up unannounced. I realize that she is being portrayed as the grieving mother, but I simply could not understand why Zoe's parents did not step in and deny her access to their child. I also found it incredibly creepy that Zoe was writing this story to a convicted murderer on death row. It was particularly upsetting when she began describing her sexual exploration. I couldn't help picturing this grown man and how he would react to these descriptions of sexual play among teenagers. It was more than a little unsettling for me, particularly because I teach teenagers Zoe's age.
I really enjoyed Pitcher's writing style and the unique idea behind this particular story. Sign me up for her next book!
Age: 13 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing, Heavy Petting Violence: Fighting, Death by Drowning Inappropriate Language: Tits, Bitch, Bastard, Slut, Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, ...more
Cover Impressions: I like the strange breaking of the silouette on this cover but it doeThis and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: I like the strange breaking of the silouette on this cover but it doesn't give much information about the subject matter. I would love to see something with a little more powerful imagery to represent the powerful story.
The Gist: Freakboy is written in verse and tells the story of a seemingly all American teen boy who is struggling with gender issues. Through the narratives of Brendan, his girlfriend, Vanessa and his friend, Angel we get a special insight into the struggles of transgender teens and those people that love them through it all.
Review: I will admit, this is my first time reading a book in verse. It had seemed a little gimmicky to me in the past and, even in Freakboy, the writing style takes some getting used to. Some of my issues may have come from the fact that the advance ebook that I received was either a) pretty poorly formatted or b) just didn't get along with my Sony Reader. Once I had pushed through 20 or 30 pages, however, I did start to understand the appeal of this type of writing and even highlighted a few passages that made me stop and think. It is clear that Clark chose each word carefully and really got a feel for how they would fit together. I did dislike some particular elements, like the word art, which didn't quite format on my reader, but they can easily be overlooked.
I think the author made a fantastic choice in following three characters and choosing those characters to represent several individuals who are affected by transgender issues. We have Brendan, the questioning teen, Vanessa, the devoted girlfriend and Angel, the teen support worker who has been there. I was particularly fond of Angel. She ha been through the absolute worst that life could possibly throw at her and had emerged on the other side with an intact sense of self and a strong support group. I was very happy to see this perspective and I hope that her message of "paying it forward" will be inspiring to young readers. I also really liked the relationship between Brendan and Vanessa. Vanessa was so devoted to him, in a way that was clearly unhealthy, and which she realized by the end, and he was just so completely and utterly lost. There were several moments during Vanessa's passages where I wanted to shake her and several during Brendan's where I was left thinking "Yes! I am so glad that the author put this struggle in the book!" There were also characters that I absolutely loathed, but that were all too realistic in a world where cruelty is at least, tolerated, or at worst, celebrated. Characters like the wrestling coach remind us why the kind people in this world must be extra kind because the mean people in this world are particularly heinous.
Clark clearly knows her subject matter and is able to write about teenagers in a way that is realistic and respectful. I love that in Freakboy there is no tidy ending. There is hope, but there is no perfect solution. It is clear that these characters, like real teens with these issues, will continue to struggle and to grow, but that they have a chance at a happy life, with people who love them.
I had my doubts about a book written in verse, but Freakboy won me over.
Age: 15 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing, Sex between teenagers, Some vulgar talk of sexual activities Violence: Beatings, Inappropriate Language: Tits, Bitch, Fag, Ass, Pussy, Piss, Dyke, Dick, Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking Other Issues: Prostitution
"Pinning girl thoughts to the mat and gaining control of my brain."
"Do I want to do her, or do I want to be her."
"I wanted to beg her for more words but was scared they'd hurt."...more
Cover Impressions: I like the colors and the illumination on the path but there isn't an This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: I like the colors and the illumination on the path but there isn't anything about this cover that will make it stand out from the other YA mysteries on the shelf.
The Gist: Having been arrested for the third time in a year, Allie's parents decide to send her to Cimmeria Academy. There are, however, a couple of problems. First, Allie has never heard of this school and her parents won't tell her so much as where it is. Second, Cimmeria doesn't actually specialize in troubled youth, they are a school for rich kids, of which Allie is NOT. When the mysteries at the school start to pile up along with the list of the injured, Allie finds herself in a world far more dangerous than the life of alcohol, drugs and crime that she left behind.
In Night School, Daugherty plays a long game of "I can't tell you" and "Now is not the time" and, even by the end, doesn't really reveal anything about what is going on. This appears to be yet another book in which everything must be kept from the super-special main character in order to keep her safe, except not knowing any of the secrets is the reason that she is constantly putting herself in dangerous situations. I sincerely hope that the series does not continue in the same track. I despise books that dangle the Ihaveasecret carrot and never reveal a thing. If the second book had not already been released, I would be PISSED. As it is, I will be starting the next book, but if they continue to play the withholding game, I will just end up skimming to the end.
In beginning, the main character gives in far too easily. Allie is set up as this bad girl with serious attitude. She rebels against any authority figure and has been arrested several times. But the minute she is taken out of her comfort zone she does everything she can to fit in. When she reaches Cimmeria, she immediately changes the way that she dresses (couldn't she make the uniform her own?) and stops wearing makeup, at several points she actually revels in how much happier she is now that she has assimilated.
Naturally, Night School features they oh-so-overdone typical teenage love triangle. However, I can actually see the appeal of both characters (if you pretend that one particular, almost rape scene didn't exist - Allie appears to, so we might as well *scoff*). There are some swoonworthy make-out scenes but nothing that is too racy for the target audience. The female sidekicks are decently fleshed out and have their own issues to deal with. I liked both Jo and Rachel and enjoyed that there was some addition drama and conflict with them. I am hoping that they get further attention as the series continues.
Oddly, I kept expecting for something supernatural to jump up, but instead there was some strange story about a secret corporation that runs the world. Perhaps this says more about my own reading habits than about the book itself but I found myself putting together small tidbits and theorizing my own supernatural elements (chased by something that growls - Must be a werewolf! Murals depict fight between good and evil - Maybe the Night School kids are actually angels and/or demons! MC keeps spilling secrets to one character - She must have secret powers!). Did anyone else notice this? Or has anyone does this with other books? Basically, I am looking for confirmation that I am not alone in this strange behavior.
Even though Night School had enough of a mystery to keep me reading, I found myself a little disappointed at the end. I was really expecting more of a twist, some kind of revelation that would make me clamor to read the next book. Instead, I am approaching Legacy with trepidation and if the author somehow fenagles her way out of having the mother reveal some of the truth in the beginning of the next novel, I am out!
This novel does include some swearing/mature scenes but not all that frequent and nothing that would prevent me from recommending it to most teenagers.
Teaching/Parental Notes: Age: 13 and up Gender: Female Sex: Kissing Violence: Murder by Knife, Fires, *Almost* Rape scene Inappropriate Language: Dick, Bastard, Bitch, Asshole Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking...more
Cover Impressions: This cover is very pretty and I am loving that there is just a hint o This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: This cover is very pretty and I am loving that there is just a hint of cleavage (nothing distasteful).
Review: The Bookstore is the story of a young woman who escapes England for the excitement of New York. While completing her degree, she meets and falls in love with a suave and wealthy man. When she finds herself pregnant and jilted, she takes a job at a local bookstore and contemplates the path that her life has taken. It is a story with very little action and a plot that meanders through scenes that compel the reader to smile or grimace, rather than to laugh or cry.
The love interest/future father was a truly despicable character. From the first few scenes, I found myself hoping that he would meet a timely demise. Unfortunately, Esme's infatuation with him and her inability to see how badly he was treating her, made me dislike her whenever they were on the page together. To be fair, at least Mitchell managed to make an impression. The Bookstore features an almost entirely male cast and I did have some difficulty keeping them straight. I could never remember which characters worked in the store and which were homeless men thrown in with some type of attempt at social commentary.
The Bookstore itself, The Owl, is what piqued my interest in this title. I was hoping for a magical realm full of interesting characters. However, I found the scenes within the store to be some of the most tedious. The author had an unfortunate habit of referencing obscure authors and artists that I found pretentious. I often ended up skimming during those parts.
The ending of The Bookstore was unsatisfying. There is some character growth, but no real closure and I am still unsure as to how Esme is managing to support herself and her child without being deported. This novel is nice for a slow read in a park/at the cottage but simply did not have enough action to distract me from the other demands on my time. ...more
Cover Impressions: This cover is ADORABLE. I love the choice of tiffany blue for the bac This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: This cover is ADORABLE. I love the choice of tiffany blue for the background and the emoticon choices. I think this one will stand out on a shelf and is unique enough to intrigue potential readers.
The Gist: Rafe's entire life has been colored by the fact that he is gay. He is comfortable with who he is, and is proud of what he is accomplished, but he really wants a chance to see what life would be like without the label. He gets his opportunity when he transfers to an all-boy boarding school in New England. Suddenly he is able to fit in with the popular jocks and experience a side of life he never realized he was missing. As Rafe begins to fall in love with one of his newfound friends he must face the predicament in which he has put himself - a lie allowed him to develop a beautiful relationship and the truth may destroy his love and his friendship.
Review: Openly Straight featured a unique perspective. Rafe is "out" and in the public eye. His parents support him, he is an equal rights advocate at his school and even speaks to other youth on what it is like to be a gay teen. But, he often feels that this label places a barrier between him and his peers. He plays sports, but doesn't feel like part of the team. Other students and teachers constantly turn to him to provide "the gay point of view" and, despite his being out and available, he still doesn't have a boyfriend. With his entry to a new school, he finally has a chance to get rid of the label and remove the barriers - but it means leaving a big part of himself behind. I loved getting a chance to see the challenges that can be faced by a teen even if he is supported by his family and is part of a (fairly) liberal school.
This novel featured a lot of fun and unique characters. Rafe and his friends are smart and witty and their comments and conversations often left me smiling, if not laughing. These are the types of characters that could easily carry a novel of their own and I often found myself wondering what they were doing when they were not with Rafe. My absolute favorite scenes were those with his parents. they were fun and quirky and wonderful examples of supportive parents - which is refreshing in a genre where absentee parents have almost become a cliche. I was also quite pleased that Openly Straight showed (if not featured) several gay characters and did a great job of breaking stereotypes.
Openly Straight is not a book with a particularly strong plot. It follows a "will they, won't they" love story that was often sweet and romantic. Rafe did have a tendency to live in his own head and the introspection slowed the story considerably. This was really noticeable in the last 1/3rd of the book and resulted in an ending that was much more of a whimper than a bang. I also wish that it didn't contain quite as much swearing and sexual behavior as this limits me in which students I can recommend the book to. However, I really enjoyed the unique perspective that this novel provided and I was entertained by the fun cast of characters.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing, Masturbation, Sex between Teenagers Violence: None Inappropriate Language: Lots and Often: ass, shit, dick, shit, faggot, piss, bitch, fuck, retard, whore, slut, prick, cock Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking ...more
Cover Impressions: The cover is cute, though a bit simplistic for my taste. I might pref This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: The cover is cute, though a bit simplistic for my taste. I might prefer if it had something in the background, like a mirror that the lipstick was scrawled on...
The Gist: Lexi has spent years catering to her 7 year old sister turned pageant princess. She sews, she primps, she meets the ever-increasing demands of her overbearing mother. She is known as the girl with the "great personality" and she is ready for a change. When her best friend challenges her to put some serious effort into her personality, she reluctantly relents, if only to prove that she is a hopeless case. Armed with perfectly coifed hair and fabulously fake lashes, she receives more attention than she ever dreamed, including one very cute guy - even if it isn't really the guy she wanted. As her world changes, she begins to doubt which Lexi is the real one: the beautiful girl, or the one with the great personality?
Review: Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality was a fun read with a few flaws. I loved the premise and the glimpse into the world of the sister of a pageant princess. Lexi had an interesting voice and I loved that she didn't buy into the whole pageant world. She was a but too whiney for my taste and she constantly lamented her lack of beauty (which was easily solved by a modicum of makeup - really, you're hideous and a touch of concealer fixes everything? I don't think so.) I thought the sometimes rocky but always backed by love, relationship between the sisters was pretty realistic. Even though it was sometimes painful to read about, so was the relationship between the divorced mother and her daughters. The mother was truly damaged and looking for validation in all the wrong places. At one point, she made a move so heinous that I was left feeling shocked and betrayed along with Lexi and it amped up my feelings of disgust and re-engaged me with the plot of the novel. Unlike the familial relationships, I didn't feel any real connection with either of the love interests but, to be fair, I don't think Lexi really did either. They mostly served as a backdrop against which she could make new discoveries about herself. Her friends, however, had a lot of unrealized potential. They were interesting, but fell flat and undeveloped while we followed Lexi through the "popular" world.
The thing that irked me about this novel was the way in which Lexi preached to pageant parents at the end. Being in a profession where I, occasionally, come across entitled, know-it-all children, I found her lecturing to be very off-putting. Her experiences with her sister and mother give her an insight into the beauty and ugliness of the pageant world, but they do not make her an expert on each family's situation not do they give her the right to judge parents who have twice (or more) her life experience.
Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality is, ultimately, a cute novel with a good message about self-love that would be enjoyed by most teenage girls.
Age: 12 and up Gender: Female Sex: Kissing Violence: Teen gets slapped by parent Inappropriate Language: None Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking ...more
Cover Impressions: The cover is cute and effective but needs something to make it a little more eye catching. I am happy to see a cover model that seeCover Impressions: The cover is cute and effective but needs something to make it a little more eye catching. I am happy to see a cover model that seems to reflect the main character, but would have seen a bit more red to her hair.
The Gist: Chelsea has spent most of her teenage years playing sidekick to Kristen. In her climb to the top of the social pyramid, she has discovered and revealed secrets about most of her classmates. One night, a secret she reveals leads to consequences that she never expected and she is forced to re-examine her choices. She realizes that he root of her problem is her gossiping ways and vows to stop speaking. Abandoned by her friends, she must now find a way to survive the abuse and ridicule, without speaking a word.
Review: I read Speechless in just a couple of hours last night. Now, I know, that doesn't seem remarkable to most readers, but you have to realize; I have a child, I have a husband, a home and a full time job. I have a thousand things vying for my attention during every minute of the day and I still read this book in one sitting.
This story tells of a unique perspective: the popular girl who is part of something horrible and is able to see the error of her ways and actually take an action to become a better person. I loved that even though Chelsea had ruled with fear and ridicule as Kristen's second in command, she was able to see what a horrible person she had been and to recognize that her problem had come from being unable to keep her mouth shut. Her progression from popular princess to actual decent human being is not an easy or quick one. She struggles along the way, but, through her vow of silence, is eventually able to see herself and the people around her in a much more realistic light. I love watching a character grow throughout the book and by the end of Speechless, Chelsea is a much better person, able to see not only the flaws, but also the good in herself and others.
The other characters are sweet, if a little underdeveloped. We have two love interests, one sweet and one superficial. Eventually Chelsea is able to distinguish between them and to make the right choice. We also have Asha, the kind and kooky girl who sees the potential in Chelsea and helps her find it herself. Naturally, we also have to deal with the "villians" of the story - Chelsea's former best friend Kristen, who honestly wasn't that nice to her to begin with, and the jocks who torture Chelsea as punishment for ratting out their friends. These characters, particularly Kristen, could have used a little more page time. There were glimmers of potential with her, but it wasn't really explored.
The plot is not particularly fast paced. There is a party, some school issues, a romance, some personal growth and a school dance. However, it is very well written and Harrington does an excellent job of writing realistic teenage dialogue, though I wish she had gone a little easy on the vulgar language. Chelsea's journey to self-realization and her dedication to her vow are interesting enough to keep the plot moving and the friendships and romance that develops is sweet, without being overpowering. I would recommend this for most teenagers, but would warn that it includes vulgar language and sexual situations that may not be appropriate for younger teens.
Age: 15 and up Gender: Female Sex: Kissing, Talk of sexual acts Violence: Fist Fighting, Attack on a gay teen Inappropriate Language: Piss, Shit, Bitch, Slut, Whore, Fag, Fuck, Dick Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, Marijuana Use ...more