THE END. To a reader, these two words can be devastating…especially if you have to wait for the next book in a series to come out!!! Today, however, it’s truly the end…of a series. Gone by Michael Grant has kept me on the edge of my seat since page 1 and six books later, I still couldn’t put it down! I have seen those teenagers growing up, fighting, dying. They grew more emotionally than physically, though many of their bodies did change drastically. Some changed for the better, others for the absolute worst…you might even say absolute evil. At the center of it all is one Autistic boy who just wanted to protect himself and a terrifying creature seeking destruction. The end came in a classic battle between the two. The end was fire and blood and pain and violence. This is a story not for the faint of heart or delicate sensibilities. It is a story of human nature at its worst and best and everything in between. Astrid said it best, “There were heroes in the FAYZE…and there were villains. Most of us were a little bit of both.”
Just the other day my boss said, “there’s nothing new in the world” of fiction…while that may be true, some authors have figured out a way to make old, tried-and-true stories new and exciting again. One example is Beauty and the Beast. My favorite retelling is Beauty by Robin McKinley (the best version of the fairy tale you’ll ever read). Alice in Wonderland is another. I first read Frank Beddor’s Looking Glass Wars and absolutely loved that trilogy…exciting, action-packed and totally unexpected! I just loved how Beddor wrote the Cheshire Cat’s demise!!! Another fantastic entry in the Alice story is Splintered by A. G. Howard.
Alyssa’s family is cursed. It started with Alice Liddell…yes, that Alice. When her female descendents come of age, they begin to hear voices…crickets, rabbits critters of all sorts begin to speak to them and it invariably drives them mad. Alison, Alyssa’s own mother, sliced her hands to ribbons when she saw a 5-year-old Alyssa talking to a beautiful blue butterfly…to be fair, Alison was aiming for the butterfly. Alison is now in a mental hospital. Alyssa has her own problems, besides being bugged by bugs. She has had another voice in her head since she was a child and he’s back. He tells her that there’s a way to break the curse and get her mother back but she must go down the rabbit hole. She accidentally brings along Jeb, her good friend and secret crush since they were children. Wonderland is a place full of strange creatures and powerful magic. Morpheus is the voice Alyssa has heard all her life and she trusts him…but he is not exactly what he seems and neither, as she soon finds, is she. Alyssa and Jeb will have to navigate the intrigue and dark schemes to not only break the curse but to survive!
Truly, this is a fascinating romp through a very familiar tale but with wonderful, dark twists and turns that will keep you guessing.
Most of the time, Real Life is good, you know? It’s real and it’s life…better than the alternative (Heaven, not withstanding). Sometimes, though, I read a book and want more than anything to crawl into it and live there. A book where the heroine gets swept away by a dashing Englishman who loves books. I just finished just such a book called, of all things, Killer Librarian by Mary Lou Kirwin.
Librarian Karen Nash has just been dumped by her plumber boyfriend (no pun intended:). The second worst part is that it happened just hours before they were supposed to board a plane on Karen’s Dream Trip…England, Sigh…The very worst part is that he took the trip with another woman, a younger, skinnier, prettier woman. Karen knows this because she decided that she WAS going to England, no matter what, and happened to be on the same plane as they were. For much of the flight, she had murder on her mind. She plotted the hours away even though it didn’t make her feel much better. Upon her arrival at “their” B & B, she finds the owner a quintessentially English gentleman . Still she plotted. At a pub, one evening, she was quite drunk (English beer is quite a bit stronger than the American variety), and blathered her sad story to a young man at the bar. Rather cryptically, he replies “Not to worry. Dave will be taken care of. I’ll make sure of it.” She thought little of it at the time but later, her sober mind kicked in and she felt guilty. Still, she was in LONDON so she did what any self-respecting librarian would do…she wandered the streets of London as she would the shelves in a library. She was pleasantly surprised to find that Caldwell, the B & B owner, was also a bibliophile and had a wonderful collection of books for her to peruse. They would sit at the breakfast table and talk about their favorite authors, books, characters, anything bookish. Karen soon found herself noticing how handsome he was and how charming. During a trip to Hay-on-the Wye, a tiny town with more bookshops than most large cities, they realized how alike they were and how much they enjoyed spending time together.They were falling in love.
So where’s the “killer” part? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out…and just see if you, too, don’t want to become a killer librarian!
I am one of those people who says “Read whatever, Read it all”! This does get me into trouble, on occasion, because I sometimes forget my audience when I get excited about book-talking. If I’m with a 6th grade student, it’s probably not a great idea to talk about a book with older teen or even adult situations (yes, I’m referring to the “S” word, among others)! I try very hard to remember because, if I had a child, I would want my kid’s librarian to care about what he/she reads (yet another reason it’s good I have cats…I’m up to reason 465, I think). That said, I do love edgy books that are well written. I had a nemesis once who called YA books “after school special”. I really hate that phrase…they don’t even make after school specials any more so, obviously someone else didn’t like it either! I believe that these kinds of books can offer a safe way for teens to explore dangerous territory. As one of my middle school girls said about Ellen Hopkins’ books, “After reading these books, I will never do drugs…ever!” Anyway, I just read through an article/interview in VOYA magazine about books that are “Sure to Raise Eyebrows”. Now, this would be a good time to tell those of you with young kids, Click away, click away! But, if you have teenagers, read on. If you want to read the full article article, you can check their web site, voyamagazine.com. I may add some titles that fit into my version of VOYA’s categories. If my library owns the book or I have reviewed it, I provide the summary. If we don’t own it, I have linked the title to the Amazon or Barnes and Noble review page…I don’t want to get caught plagiarizing!
Books about drugs…Meth, specifically
Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina — she’s fearless. Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul — her life. These books are based on Hopkins own daughter and they are not at all hopeful, nor do they end happily. After reading, you might want to sit down and cry then go watch something really hilarious or uplifting or go have some ice cream (that last always helps me, though not my hips).
Those awkward boys:
When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson/Green
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical. This book will make you laugh out loud!!!
What happened to you? “Hidden abuse that least to Big Problems”
Th1rteen R3asons Why/Asher
When high school student Clay Jenkins receives a box in the mail containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends a bewildering and heartbreaking night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah’s voice recounting the events leading up to her death.
Black-eye’d Suzy/Shaw (this is an older title)
This is Suzie. She used to be normal but now she lives in a box of her own making; four walls that close in on her so that she has to sit with her knees under her chin and arms wrapped protectively around them. Her box has blocked out all of the words she used to have, so now she cannot speak nor can she eat or sleep in her small space. Suzie’s mother insists that it is only a phase that she’s going through or that she is punishing the family, that nothing is wrong…she’s doing it on purpose. Her father and sister can do nothing but watch as Suzie wastes away. Things change when Uncle Elliot comes by the house to speak to his brother. He immediately recognizes that Suzie is in serious trouble and she is whisked away, box and all, to a hospital. Her mother is angry, so angry and Suzie’s box closes in tighter. She finds herself in St. Dorothy’s, a mental hospital, where she is surrounded by people who want her to talk, eat, sleep, things she is not capable of doing. But slowly, slowly, she begins to feel safe and to trust those around her until the walls begin to push back and she is able to see what made her retreat into her self-made box and how to deal with the world outside of it
Boy’s friends: Close guy relationships
Last Summer of the Death Warriors/Stork
Two young men-one dying of cancer, one planning a murder-explore the true meanings of death and life in the tense and passionate new novel from the author of Marcelo in the Real World. When Pancho arrives at St Anthony’s Home, he knows his time there will be short: if his plans succeed, he’ll soon be arrested for the murder of his sister’s killer. But then he’s assigned to help D.Q., whose brain cancer has slowed neither his spirit nor his mouth. D.Q. tells Pancho all about his ‘Death Warrior’s Manifesto’, which will help him to live out his last days fully-ideally, he says, with the love of the beautiful Marisol. As Pancho tracks down his sister’s murderer, he finds himself falling under the influence of D.Q. and Marisol, who is everything D.Q. said she would be.
Where things come back/Whaley
Just when 17-year-old Cullen Witter thinks he understands everything about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town, it all disappears. Tinged with melancholy and regret, comedy and absurdity, this novel finds wonder in the ordinary and emerges as ultimately hopeful.
City of Bones/Clare
Suddenly able to see demons and the Shadowhunters who are dedicated to returning them to their own dimension, fifteen-year-old Clary Fray is drawn into a bizzare world when her mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a monster.
Picturing Books: Picture books for teens
Underwater dogs/Casteel (I had to include the cover…just too cute and funny)
Monkey Portraits/Greenberg (hilarious pictures of facial expressions…it would be fun to caption the pics)
ID, Please: “Teenage Drinking, Nothing good comes from this”