I don’t know if you know about Book Riot but it’s a great blog that features everything literary. I subscribe to their YA page and get regular updates full of articles, lists, podcasts, etc. about YA Lit. Obviously, they have regular grown-up bookish stuff, too, but that’s not who I am (at least literarily). If you’re looking for a great book to read, check them out! They’ll find you something!
Surprisingly enough, this is a controversial thing! I’ve often asked my students if they re-read books and have gotten a mixed bag of responses. Most of them say no, “What’s the point when you already know what’s going to happen?” Like any librarian worth her sensible shoes, I ask, “But what if you are older or in a different place mentally than when you first read it?” Sometimes I get a thoughtful look and answer and sometimes I get a blank stare. Sigh…Hello, My name is Donna and I am a re-reader. You know, there’s actually research and articles written on this topic. There’s even a whole book dedicated to re-reading!!!
I re-read for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I want the comfort of old friends. Yes, yes, I realize I’m talking about fictional characters. I’m not crazy but I do love to meet them again between the pages of my favorite books. Other times, I’m waiting for a book to be released and want to read something I can stop in the middle of. Like when, Holly Black’s newest book, Queen of Nothing wasn’t coming out until November 19 but I finished my other book on Halloween. What’s a girl to do? Not reading wasn’t an option so, I picked up Fire by Kristin Cashore. I settled in and got reacquainted. I also found myself surprised by things I’d forgotten and new things I learned…mostly about myself. You see, when you re-read books, you not only get to see your old fictional friends; you also get to find yourself, both the old you when you read that book so long ago and the new you who found something you didn’t know you were missing. I highly recommend re-reading!
Fire is a monster. Not your typical snarling, ugly, murdering kind of monster. Rather, she’s the last of her kind, a human monster. Her power is both in her looks, which captivate and ensnare those with weak minds and her ability to read and control minds. Though she has great power, she refuses to use it against anyone and goes to great lengths to earn the trust of those around her. Then, one day, Prince Brigan rides into her life. There is a war brewing and her power could tip the balance. She knows she has the ability to save her beloved kingdom but does she have the strength to save herself from becoming the real monster her father was?
I like this quote. I like the idea that stories never truly end. If you’ve ever read Jasper Fford, you know that the characters in the story have full lives when they are not being read. I like that idea, as well, especially when you find a great trilogy or series. I like to imagine the characters living, loving, and moving about their daily lives when I close the book. It helps when you get to the end and you’re sad that it’s over. I mourn the characters lost and the those I love but who aren’t real (SIGH!!!).
Holly Black is one of my favorite authors. Her latest trilogy (?), The Folk of the Air has been dreamy! She writes about the Fey as though she knows them intimately, has seen their revels and danced with Faerie princes. The first two of the series, Cruel Prince and Wicked King paint a picture so vivid and heartwrenching that I was unsure of how the final book would go. I was not disappointed, though she did give me a massive fright toward the end and I almost broke my cardinal rule NOT to read the end before getting there. I am glad that I did not do so for it would have ruined the sweetness.
Jude is doomed to the mortal world indefinitely. She is always thinking, scheming of a way back to Faerie, back to her wicked king to repay his betrayal. In the meantime, though, she is a Fey fixer and assassin, when necessary. On a day that begins like all the rest, her chance for revenge appears in the form of her backstabbing twin, Taryn who has put herself on the wrong side of the Fey court. Being an identical twin has its advantages. Playing the role of Taryn, Jude defies her exile order to confront the charges against her sister and her feelings for Cardan. Upon her arrival, she discovers that Elfhame is in dire straights. War is coming and at its head is her father, Madoc. Soon she is entrenched deep in enemy territory and must find a way to stay alive long enough to warn her king of impending war. In an unexpected and tragic turn of events, a hideous curse is unleashed putting her in the very place she longed and dreaded to be, Queen of Elfhame. She must walk a razor-thin line between love and control if she wants to save her kingdom and her King.
I do enjoy a good historical fiction story, especially when it’s based on a real character. As I started reading Susanna’s Midnight Ride by Libby Carty McNamee, I had to see if the author wrote anything about whether she was real or not. I was surprised to learn about this young girl who played such an important role in the war to create our great nation!
Susanna Bolling, Suki to her family and friends, is living on a plantation in Virginia during the Revolutionary war. Both of her older brothers are fighting further down South in North Carolina and Sukey finds herself frustrated at being stuck at home doing housework. She is sure she could do more for the cause than cleaning the floor for the umpteenth time. What she’s not so sure about is whether she’d have the courage to do something dangerous.
Early one morning, Sukey and her mother hear strange noises coming from down the lane. The ground shivers with the stomping of feet and hooves as General Cornwallis invades the once quiet Bollingbrook Plantation. Her mother puts on a brave face and orders the servants to hide so that they aren’t kidnapped by the army and she serves them dinner. As Sukey moves around the dining room keeping plates and classes filled, she overhears a nefarious plan to capture and kill Lafayette, the French hero of the Revolution. Now, her courage will be truly tested. Will she be able to overcome her fear and the concerns of her mother to do what needs to be done to prevent disaster?
Tilly Castillo is an amazing dancer. It’s all she’s ever wanted to do since the day she first put on ballet shoes. Lately, though, she’s fallen in love with modern dance. Her dreams were are nearly dashed when a nasty fall puts her dancing future in jeopardy. She worked hard to get back into shape and is rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to dance in NY as a part of a troupe, she jumps at the chance. The only damper to her excitement is that she has to lie to her mom.
In the troupe, she finds a best friend and an arch enemy. In the city, she finds love and courage. In the end, she slays her dragons.
Christina June has written a sweet and simple tale of triumph over adversity and finding your path no matter what the obstacles. Her characters are typical teens and mostly believable. I love that the main character is Hispanic. The story is wrapped up into a bow a little too neatly but, for readers looking for a great beach book or fun independent reading book, this would be excellent.
I started reading The Great Libraries series because I’m a great librarian. Seriously, though, I love the library and everything about it. Librarians and authors are superheroes to me so, of course, I read a book series all about libraries. Thing is, this series shows libraries in a different light. Power, privilege, words, and money are the currency. Sound familiar? Right, all of those descriptors apply to governments and politicians around the world. And that is exactly what the Great Libraries are in this series.
The Great Library has absolute control over what knowledge is accessible to people. The Scholars are powerful and ruthless; they will do anything to restrict what information is available to the masses. Jess and his friends are determined to change things, to make the Library live up to the ideals they still believe in; that all knowledge is precious and should be accessible to everyone. Not all of them will survive this revolution but what they are fighting for is worth more than their lives.
As some of you know, I’m a huge Cassandra Clare fan. Her book City of Bones was absolutely fantastic and I devoured that entire series. This series, The Dark Artifices, was even better, if that’s even possible. Reading the three books made me laugh out loud, cry angry tears, yell at the characters (embarrassing but I managed to control myself until I got home), and cry over broken hearts. The last book, though, was the most difficult to get through. Lord of Shadows ended tragically. It took me weeks to get over that horrifying loss. Queen of Air and Darkness picked up in the aftermath and barrelled through, picking up speed and terror along the way. It literally took me from the day it came out (Dec. 4 2018) until today to finish it. I NEVER take that long to read a book, regardless of how long it is.
Throughout this series, Cassandra took on issues currently plaguing our society without flinching, namely racism and bigotry, and carrying them through to their inevitable and deplorable end. Along the way, each of the characters endured pain and love, loss and discovery. So much emotion that it seemed like I was on a roller coaster. I just had to get off to rest and breathe for a bit every so often.
So why do I do this to myself? Because reading about it makes the reality a little more palatable and it gives me hope that maybe we, too, can defeat hatred and bigotry. That’s what books do, particularly Young Adult novels. I wish that I could infuse my student with my love for books and stories. I am a big believer in bibliotherapy, that is giving books about certain topics to students who are struggling with them. They can experience, vicariously (and safely) the ills of the world and maybe get some insight into how to survive, themselves. Reading stories about people just like you is a very good thing, especially for teens how might be living in places where they don’t know anyone else who looks the same, thinks the same or feels the same as they do (think really small, rural towns, etc.).
The moral of this story? If you are dealing with something difficult, take time to tune out and pick up a book. You can either read about someone else dealing with your difficulty or you can completely escape from your reality and vacation somewhere else for a while and breathe for a bit.
Why, oh why must authors taunt me like this. Why can’t I discover these fabulous series’ AFTER they’ve all been written so I can binge read them? I’m like a 3-year-old being told to wait for, well, anything. I do love Holly Black and her fairy stories. They are so real and awesome and scary. Cruel Prince has more twists and turns than the biggest, baddest roller coaster on the planet and Wicked King will have you on the edge of your seat. Be prepared because Ms. Black will leave you desperate for the next installment.
Jude witnessed the murder of her parents and was taken by the murderer, Madoc, to live in Faerie along with her twin sister Taryn and older sister Vivian. She has very little memory of her life in the mortal world, and the man who slew her parents has become her father. It’s little wonder that Jude isn’t is unusual. She is the brunt of cruel jokes and tricks by the other fey teenagers, but she has a goal. Jude wants to serve the High King as a knight. Crazy, impossible, insane but she wants it more than air. It isn’t long before she gets her chance. However, it’s not quite what she expected. Things rarely are in Underhill.
When last we saw Jude, she had tricked and schemed her way around Madoc’s power grab for the throne and put her most fearsome enemy in his place with her as the puppet master. Cardan is under her control but just barely and not for very long. Their hold on Faerie is tenuous at best, and it soon it comes to light that someone close to Jude will betray her. Meanwhile, the love/hate relationship between Jude and Cardan builds creating tension that you could cut with a sword. The Fae may not be able to lie but they are adept at tricks and the one played on Jude will send her reeling but will it unravel all of her devious plans?
I needed a quick read today so I browsed the teen titles on Overdrive and stumbled upon Margaux Froley’s Keaton School Novels. At first, they seemed like typical teen angst novels with private school snobbery for thrown in for flavor. But it soon became apparent that there was much more to these novels and now, I’m hoping that there are more to come!
In Escape Theory, we meet Devon MacIntosh, a scholarship kid at a prestigious private school overlooking the Pacific ocean. To say she feels out of place is an understatement. She’s managed to get to her Junior year under the radar but with college applications looming, she decides to get involved with the newly created peer counseling program. She wasn’t prepared for how quickly her services would be needed. The school year started with the suicide of one of it’s most popular and well-liked students. Jason Hutchins, known by all as “Hutch” was the golden boy who really had a heart of gold. As his friends came to her, they slowly began to trust her and let out their secrets and fears but, as they did, Devon began to realize that there was more to Hutch’s suicide than anyone else thought. Maybe she was crazy or obsessed with losing him before figuring out what was really between them but she just knew that he did not kill himself. Proving it, though, opened a whole other can of very dangerous worms.
In Hero Complex, Devon and her classmates are doing what they can to move past the losses of the semester before and get on with their lives. New Year’s Eve, Cleo convinces her to go to a party on a yacht to have a bit of fun and to get away from things for a while. At first, it was working. The lights, the swaying of the boat and the single glass of bubbly have Devon thinking that things are going to be okay. Suddenly someone hits her on the back of the head. Cleo finds her a few minutes later but there’s no sign of her assailant. Now, everyone thinks she’s paranoid and obsessive. Ironically, she is required to go through therapy because of the trauma she suffered. It seems that solving Hutch’s murder was just the beginning of a much deeper mystery and Reed Hutchins, Hutch’s grandfather, know the answers. With the help of Reed’s diary from his youth, she uncovers something someone is willing to kill for. The truths long hidden from her come out that will change her life forever.
I don’t know if you’ve read anything by Tamora Pierce before but if you haven’t, you need to pick up any of her books. My favorites were the Song of the Lioness series and the Trickster’s Choice duet. It’s been a while since she’s published anything new so when I heard that she had another book coming out and that it was going to be set in Tortall, I was over the moon! I couldn’t wait until the fall when the book would be available through my school (I pre-ordered) so I checked it out from the library. It was absolutely fabulous, as expected. Tamora is a consummate storyteller. Her characters are always interesting and always flawed in the coolest ways. She keeps you guessing and coming back for more. Her latest book is called Tempests and Slaughter.
Arram has a knack for getting into trouble. His burgeoning powers are becoming too much to handle so his family sends him The Imperial University for his training and education. He is the youngest student there. On his first day of class, he performs a complicated spell that works a little too well, earning him deep distrust from one teacher and great interest from others. He is moved into private tutoring and a new dorm where he befriends Ozorn, the “left-over” prince and Varice whose gifts are powerful but often go unnoticed. They form a bond that seems unbreakable but one day, Arram will have to make a choice about where his loyalties lie.
This is a bit of an origin story for a major character in some of the other books and you will meet characters you will see again.