3.5 stars for me. Recommended for younger teens or tweens ready to "read up." Set in 1963 in the music industry, 16-year-old burgeoning songwriter JJ3.5 stars for me. Recommended for younger teens or tweens ready to "read up." Set in 1963 in the music industry, 16-year-old burgeoning songwriter JJ struggles to find her place within her family and among the cultural shifts of the civil rights era. Interracial relationships are explored--JJ is Jewish and she has a budding relationship with an African-American boy. The theme of justice runs throughout (cute or not--your call, JJ's real name is Justice, named by her attorney parents).
The author is a songwriter who worked in the music industry during this era, which is a fun angle. Given the younger storytelling voice and the moderate depth to which the book explores cultural issues, this is a good option for the younger spectrum of YA. ...more
Pretty much the only reason I picked up a New Adult romance about a sexy billionaire is because Courtney Milan's name is on the cover. And she did notPretty much the only reason I picked up a New Adult romance about a sexy billionaire is because Courtney Milan's name is on the cover. And she did not disappoint. She dissects this tired trope within an inch of its life. This is a romance for readers who don't want to check their brain at the first page. The family conflict is unique and layered--no cardboard characters here. If all New Adult was like this, I would read the category more. Highly recommend for romance fans and those looking for a gateway book into the genre but are put off by shirtless dude covers....more
A solid, well-crafted contemporary YA. Annie's adjustment after losing her long-time boyfriend is heartfelt without becoming schmaltzy. Even her questA solid, well-crafted contemporary YA. Annie's adjustment after losing her long-time boyfriend is heartfelt without becoming schmaltzy. Even her quest to run a marathon in her boyfriend's place has very real consequences physically as her body adapts to the harsh training. You can tell the author herself has spent time running, or did really good research. This story was somehow sweet, inspiring, heart-wrenching, and at times just fun. It also shows common struggles of families without much disposable income, and how tangible sacrifices are made day to day. ...more
Based on the cover and description, I did not realize this would lean toward erotic romance, so if that's your thing, this is probably tame (My favoriBased on the cover and description, I did not realize this would lean toward erotic romance, so if that's your thing, this is probably tame (My favorite contemporary romance author is Kristan Higgins who tends toward "closed door" sex scenes, though there's lots of sexual tension and fun in her books.) Since this was a novella, there's only room for one plot, and it's all focused on the romance, with very little else explored with the characters. Quite an interesting and different reading experience for me. I would imagine readers who regularly go for novellas, especially steamier ones, will enjoy this. Just not my usual thing!...more
I can't say I think it was entirely necessary to revisit the lives of Claire and Sydney from Garden Spells, though once there, the comfort of Claire'sI can't say I think it was entirely necessary to revisit the lives of Claire and Sydney from Garden Spells, though once there, the comfort of Claire's cooking, and tucking in at the Waverly house was like visiting old friends. I suppose that's the appeal of sequels--the familiarity, and the assurance their lives are still going on and will still end up Okay at the end. First Frost rides on very little conflict, but again, sometimes it's a comfort to visit a world where the worst danger is an elderly stranger with a secret coming to town, and no one is in danger of being murdered. I just wish things hadn't wrapped up quite so nicely with some of the subplots, or that I wouldn't have called said subplots the second they were introduced.
The book is written the second person 'you' since yes--this is your adventure, and you get to choose how you partake in the life and times of actor NeThe book is written the second person 'you' since yes--this is your adventure, and you get to choose how you partake in the life and times of actor Neil Patrick Harris. A clever concept.
I started out reading this with the same reaction I vaguely remember from a Choose Your Own Adventure book I took out from the library as a kid. "Will you run, or stay behind? To run, go HERE, to stay behind, GO HERE." What if I don't like the outcome, do I go back? But what's on the next page? What if I miss something?
Turns out, reading an autobiography this way is a lot of fun. Plus, it's kind of like living in the future on an e-reader--you can literally skip ahead with the touch of a button! Maybe you don't care to read about a party on Elton John's boat (but you should, because it's surreal), or you'd rather spend your lunchbreak reading about How I Met Your Mother's casting over a more serious topic like how NPH's sexuality was outed by Perez Hilton (though Perez makes a nice statement in the book about his actions).
Most memoir readers probably want the scoop on other celebrities. He only says a few unfavorable things, and not even accusatory, so if you're looking for dirt, this probably isn't the place. Saved by the Bell's Screech is called out for how the actor (Dustin Diamond) defamed NPH in his own autobio. NPH mainly dispels Diamond's tales of him and makes a light barb that's almost so light you'll miss it. And then he's off, recounting the exhilarating experience of filming Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, being a kid actor on a terrible movie with Little Richard, escapades with Harold and Kumar, 1990s made-for-TV movies. partying with Katy Perry's entourage, and some genuinely moving snippets about falling in love and raising a family. This is a fun read, with the added bonus of being able to read the adventure exactly as you want to....more
I love this premise; emotionally damaged kids surviving their loss at a tucked-away Vermont boarding school. The teacher who encourages them to journaI love this premise; emotionally damaged kids surviving their loss at a tucked-away Vermont boarding school. The teacher who encourages them to journal while reading Sylvia Plath; it's like gateway reading to The Bell Jar, which is one of my favorite books.
My issue is, I read The Bell Jar at fifteen, which is quite a bit more complex than what we have here. Not to say you cannot have lighter, less complex YA--I love those too--but given the weight of what these characters were dealing with, the depth of how the story explored these issues is what I saw as missed opportunities. Even a few storytelling misses; when Jam's roommate is known to have "food issues," and one of Jam's most prized possessions is a jar of English fruit spread from her deceased boyfriend, I expected this to end in some unfortunate binging situation. It sort of goes there, but feels very glossed over.
Wolitzer is a wonderful writer, with a number of adult market books of note. I wanted to 5 star this book in the first chapter. Something about the overall execution knocked this down a bit for me, and maybe it was my own inflated expectations. I would definitely recommend this for teen readers though; it may be my more critical eye that lessened the storytelling for me. ...more
I am not huge on dystopian world YA novels. I loved The Hunger Games and Legend. Divergent was OK, and I saw The Maze Runner movie (so you can see myI am not huge on dystopian world YA novels. I loved The Hunger Games and Legend. Divergent was OK, and I saw The Maze Runner movie (so you can see my investment waning).
Not a Drop to Drink scales the focus way, way back from governments and factions to one girl and her mother, who live off the grid and spend virtually every waking moment defending their freshwater pond, as water is scarce. Sixteen-year-old Lynn has known nothing else other than her remote farm, her mother, and a nearby neighbor they are on cautiously friendly terms.
Until Lynn loses her mother (not a spoiler, it happens early), and she is on her own. When people camping nearby need medical attention, Lynn and her neighbor go to help. Only Lynn has been taught not to trust anyone. Even leaving her pond for an hour sets the tension high. Distant smoke sets off alarm bells, and stories of men traveling in packs to steal and destroy cause Lynn to further distrust. Every page there is survival, fear, and determination, and Lynn's struggle between her new found compassion for others and the strict teachings of her mother provide a boatload of tension.
Warning here: there are some intense scenes in this book, and I will state right out that while there is a romantic thread, this is not a romance. While there is a hopeful ending, this is not a happy shiny rainbows type of book. If you're cool with that, I wholly recommend this book for showing the emotional impact of a post-apocalyptic world-gone-wrong, and one where you don't need to roll your eyes at forced world building. The fears built up in this world are human nature at its core, and that's compelling enough when it's written this well....more
This resource includes some great plotting exercises for those of us who need a more creative approach to outlining and plot mapping. Lots of practicaThis resource includes some great plotting exercises for those of us who need a more creative approach to outlining and plot mapping. Lots of practical advice with specifics geared toward kidlit spanning from picture books to YA.
The one fault I think is noteworthy is repetition of ideas and concepts. This is a collection of lectures, speeches, and blog posts, and some of the points are repeated, sometimes even three times. This leads to skimming, which is never a good thing for an author. Overall, the good outweighs the odd organization. ...more