Pretty Little Liars (Book 1) Sara Shepard

January 30, 2011

Pretty Little Liars is escapist literature for teen girls at its best.  There is nothing but drama for every character.  And, I found, it was hard to even like any of the characters, which may actually be the point.

I found that two of the five main characters stood out the most to me.  Emily comes from a strict upper class family, but is dealing with the realization she might like girls.  Her family is so Pale, Male, Stale, Yale (thanks Father Neilson for that term), that her mother doesn’t want her hanging out with the new girl simply because the new girl is Black.

The other main character who stood out to me is Aria.  She reminds me of a couple of my close girl friends.  She’s different and hates where she lives because of the conformity.  She loved Iceland more than her town in the USA.  The first couple chapters (once the book catches up to current time and not flash backs of seventh grade) is Aria moving back to the States.

The other three main characters were just too stereotypical for me to really enjoy: although Spencer is so anal and such a perfectionist she reminds me of my best friend. lol.  There is Ali, the girl who kept the five together as best friends.  She is typical Queen Bee, Mean girl, and she never moves past the seventh grade!  but the one thing about Ali?  She knows hurtful secrets about each of the others that nobody else in the group knows.  Finally Hannah, has always felt inferior, so to feels superior she changes her appearance, and attitude to become uber bitch.

There is one character, whom we only ever see, in the form of text, who only goes by “A”.  You’ll understand his/her importance only if you read the book.

The author does a good hook job.  She hints at things, but keeps the story going so you’ll read the next book.  I did find the separation of chapters, where each focused on the story of one of the girls more compelling then mashing them all together.

I gave this book 3/5 stars, but the next two books get 4.

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2011 Non-fiction challenge

January 16, 2011

Hey guys,

I’ve decided I need to get back into the non-fiction swing.  So, here goes a challenge.

I am going with Master of Trivial Persuit simply because I do want time for some fiction as well.

Maybe I wanted to learn an extreme sport too

October 15, 2010

 

Along For the Ride: Sarah Dessen. Viking: 2009.  $25.00 (CDN).  Harcover, 383 pgs.  ISBN:978-0-670-01194-0.

5Q, 5P

This, to me, is the perfect YA book. The main character is female, but the novel can appeal to guys, especially with the dirt bike scenes.   Because, really, everyone growing up has issues with parents, and living up to those expectations.  But what happens when you start to live? Just a little?

The writing style is clear, crisp, and descriptive.  I was sorry that the tense was more past than present, but it didn’t detract from the story.

What I love so much is that Auden grows up, but in a way most people don’t. This is a summer about adventure, coming to terms with parents screwing up, and maybe catching up on things you missed in the past.  Above all it’s about that “It all counts…[a]nd the bottom line is, what defines you isn’t how many times you crash, but the number of times you get back on the bike.  As long as it’s one more, you’re all good” (pg. 325/hardcover).  It’s true.  Life isn’t about watching it go by, but living it and Along for the Ride reminds us of that.

After a year, I wanted to start updating again

September 13, 2010

Wintergirls: Laurie Halse Anderson. Viking: 2003.  $11.37 (CDN through Chapters online).  Hardcover, 278 pgs.  ISBN: 9780670011100.

I had issues reading this book because of personal things.  However, I think this is a terrific book for any young adult girl.  Girls should be aware of the realities and negative effects of eating disorders.  Cass is already dead by the beginning of the novel.  She is survived by her best friend, Lia, who describes herself as living and not living.  She is dealing with bulimia and we see how her view of body and food is skewed and how hard it is on everyone around her as she spins out of control.  She remembers times of being more innocent and parts of the book haunt.  But it is a wonderful work.

5Q, 4P

The finger bone’s connected to the hand bone…

September 15, 2009

a stie of bones

A Stir of Bones: Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Viking: 2003.  $24.00 (CDN).  Harcover, 208 pgs.  ISBN: 0-670-03551-3.

5Q, 4P

A timid, and very protected  girl gets up the guts to join a new group of friends on an expedition to a haunted house.    What she finds, instead is the courage to voice the secrets of her family with her new friends, the ghost of the house, and House, itself.

Wonderfully written this story holds wide appeal, especially for younger teens dealing with abuse in the family.  This book might be more enjoyable for younger teens or older pre-teens as the main character is 14.  There are plenty of male characters, ghosts, and bones to keep the interest of male readers.

Sleeping Beauty, meet the Holocaust

June 30, 2009

When I was twelve I read “Briar Rose” the first time.  I loved the book then.  I had to read it again for a class this semester.

+ I still found it as appealing as when I read it thirteen years ago.

+ Well written

+ Imaginative/creative work

+ Reworked history

There were few negatives about this book except that it’s hard to grasp Gemma’s version of Sleeping Beauty because of the chapeter setups.  I think an older youth should read this book, because some of the descriptions are quite blunt for a twelve or thirteen year old.

Jane Yolen is amazing as usual.

Y’all…Sa! (or 10 Things I Learned about Yalsa)

April 15, 2009

1. They have way too much information on the home page.  No, seriously.  I felt overwhelmed.  I felt that maybe there were too many options for me.

2. While examining the votes for the top ten teen books I’d only read two: Eclipse and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Oddly enough they were also the only two I even knew about (though I knew once other author, thank God).  I need to get back into the YA circle of reading if I want to be a youth librarian.

3. That being said I actually knew of/read more than 2 on the 2004 list.  Yay for Harry Potter and Eragon.  (and The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things).

4. YALSA relaizes that teens have many entertainment options.  So we should promote reading (okay we all knew that, but it’s still nice to realize that other librarians/readers realize teens don’t always value reading as much as other activities)

5. Albuquerque is apparently an important city.  In that it’s where the next 2010 Young Adult Symposium is being held.  Not that I have anything against the city.  It’s just…well really who thinkins of going to Albuquerque? (I’ll be honest, the line from National Treasure popped into my head just now where Riley is spouting off words, including Albuquerque)

6. With all the information available I don’t know what to click next.  Even clicking on a link leads to many more links.  Unfortunately clicking on the join us button seems to eventuallys end me back to the home page.  I may need to look into this further.

7.  Actually the only non-confusing or over crowded page is the page with the informationf or the symposium.  This makes me happy because that should be straightforward to those who want to go or submit.

8.  I can become a fan of YALSA on facebook.  I feel slightly odd about this.  Must everything be on facebook where one can become a fan?  If so, why? (I want 300 words on this thought, now!…kidding)

9. I want to figure out how to join Yalsa.  This is rather annoying.  I am not this inept, generally.

10. I’m glad to know there is a site dedicated to libraries/librarians for youth.  Maybe if I was a youth I would be able to figure out how to join.chesire_cat

There is no point to the Chesire Cat, other than Alice In Wonderland is a wonderful novel that youth should read.

Second YA novel review

March 20, 2009

wish-you-were-here

Wish You Were Here.

Barbara Shoup.

Woodbury, Minnesota: flux, 2008.

331 pp., paperback, CDN $11.50.

ISBN:978-0-7387-1355-7.


“I miss him, you know?  I can’t exactly stop missing him just because I decide to.  But what I’ve been thinking is maybe I’m missing somebody that never was” (Shoup 208-9).

Jackson Watt, at the beginning of the novel, is preparing for his senior year of high school, and moving into an apartment with his best friend, Brady.  But plans change when Brady runs away and abandons Jax.  Follow Jax as he goes through his senior year and deals with changing family dynamics, a first love, life lessons, and above all the abandonment of his best friend.

This book is modern day somewhere in typical America.  Although, I feel that maybe it isn’t taking place today, but maybe about five years ago with the popularity of tape decks in the story.

I would recommend this book to any teenager, or really grown ups even, especially teens and parents dealing with divorces and/or blended families.  The main character is male, but everything he feels I remember feeling at one time or another, and while I was certainly a teen, I was never a teen boy.  I still found myself feeling bad during the times he is coming to terms with his parent’s divorce, and that’s one experience I haven’t had.

I think most readers have dealt with loss, love, and abandonment just like Jax.  Maybe in different forms, but it’s still been there and so most teens can related.  It’s also apparently an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.  Even with that message I still think teens and adults will enjoy the novel.  I know some felt this novel was for ages 12 and up, but I feel that with the sexual encounters, no matter how safe, makes the novel more for 15 and older.

5Q, 4P  (Extremely well written, holds broad appeal)

book talk!

March 11, 2009

http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=2693798293503903188

my-sisters-keeper-lg

Scholarly Journal (ish)

February 13, 2009

For the professional or scholarly journal I read “Give Us Faces” in The Heart Has Its Reasons.  Although I’m not entirely sure it fits under a scholarly journal, I do think it’s important as a history of young adult lit with LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trandsgendered, Questioning/Queer).  It’s important for teens who are “different” to know that literature exists with characters who may be going through similar circumstances.  It’s hard enought o be a teenager, it gets harder when a teenager feels alone or that nobody will understand.

This article goes through more of a history of LGBTQ literature, but mentions works with homosexual instances that, while originally for adults, have been adopted by young adults, such as Catcher in the Rye.  The article also dsicusses the book I’ll Get There.  It Better be Worth the Trip, by Donovan.  This novel focuses on a young teenager, named Davy, who ends up falling for his close male friend, and apparently the feelings are mutual.  However, after a terrible accident the blossoming relationship retreats in the background especially as Davy explains to his father “he isn’t queer”.

I think this chapter is quite useful as it discusses how very few novels have been written on this subject for this age group.  This is a bit sad when taken into account that homosexuality has certainly been prevalent since before the mid Twentieth Century.    There is also a discussion about “love” between the two boys, though it never goes past making out between the two.

What bothered me while reading this chapter is books for lesbians doesn’t seem to be treated in the same way.  Inf act, until the woman’s movement in the 1970’s there just wasn’t as much out there that weren’t lesbian pulp novels. Also works for young males and females who identify as bisexual doesn’t exist, in this chapter anyway.

I think the history of this is important for a librarian working with teens.  Teens who view themselves as “different”, whether for sexual identity, religion, race, or some other differentiating aspect need to know that literature exists for themt o read.  This article makes it possible to find such literature for the teens identifying as LGBTQ.