Category Archives: Young Adult Fiction

Reading ARCs in 2011

I attended ALA in June.  While there, I picked up a dozen or so ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies).  I just got around to reading one that I was very excited about when I picked it up back during the summer.  Boy21 by Mathew Quick is the story of two boys who have both faced tragedies and become friends.  I really enjoyed Quick’s first book Sorta Like a Rock Star, so I was excited to read this one.  Plus basketball was involved.  I always enjoy a good story in which basketball plays a role! (I think of Paul Volponi’s Black and White. . . Loved it!)  Boy21 was an interesting story, a gritty urban drama which included a romance, interracial friendship, the Irish mob, high school, and basketball.  I hope the book will find an audience with older teens when it is released in March 2012. Other favorite ARCS this year:

  • Legend by Marie Lu (read it before it was released, loved it, and have since passed it on to two teens who have liked it very much!)
  • Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes ( A great middle grade read, a verse novel, so it reads quickly.  I enjoyed it very much. )
  • The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch (A good dystopian read)

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Summer Reading

My Summer reading top 10 for 2011(no particular order)

  • Legend by Marie Lu
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
  • Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
  • Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber
  • The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez
  • Fablehaven (1-3) by Brandon Mull
  • The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
  • Enclave by Ann Aguirre
  •  Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry

Faithful by Janet Fox

It’s the Spring of 1904 and Maggie a 16-year-old Newport girl is ready to plan her society debut.  Though troubled by the recent disappearance and presumed death of her mother, Maggie is ready to move on and take her place in society.  Her father however, has other plans.  He announces to Maggie that they will be taking a trip out west, to Montana.  Maggie is shocked by the news but agrees to go with her father because he hints that the trip may help them find her mother and he assures her that they will return in time for her debut.  Nothing about the trip goes as Maggie planned.  In Montana she finds her life turned upside down and full of unanticipated surprises. Janet Fox offers an interesting window into sedate society life in turn of the century Newport.  Her depiction of the early days of Yellowstone National Park is enchanting.  Most of the characters are interesting and multidimensional.  She does a particularly good job with her characterization of Maggie, and the odious George Graybull.  However, the plot line about the mystery surrounding Maggie’s mother’s past was somewhat strained and far-fetched.  Overall, this was a good historical fiction read.

My Top 10 of 2010

I went through my Good Reads list yesterday, examining all of the titles I read in 2010. Most of them were YA fiction with a couple of adult fiction, picture book, and middle grade titles mixed in. It was really hard choosing my ten favorite from the 122 books I read last year. Most of these books were 2009-10 releases but some of them were older or “classics” that I’d never read or read as a kid but didn’t remember,  like Newbery winner Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry (Loved it! And, Yes, It does make you cry! I try to get in at least one “classic” every year, in 2009 it was To Kill a Mockingbird (loved it too!)).

There were so many that I really enjoyed and would recommend in a heartbeat, way more than ten. So, I had to come up with a way to narrow my list. Not being a re-reader, I decided to look over my list and choose only titles that I liked so much that I might be compelled to re-read because I liked them that much and would want to learn something new in another reading of the text. So here goes! In alphabetical  order by author:

  • Brown, Jennifer.  The Hate List:  a contemporary story straight out of today’s headlines about a girl affected by a school shooting
  • Carter, Ally.  Heist Society:  Just a very fun read!  Mysteries, teen jewel thieves, travel, and intrigue.  Very enjoyable!
  • Collins, Suzanne.  Mockingjay:  A fitting end to the Hunger Games series.  I’m planning to listen to it on audio if not read it again.  May even read the series again.  No neat tidy packages of happy endings here.  Dystopia at its best!
  • Condie, Ally.  Matched: This was the last book I finished in 2010.  I loved it.  It felt sort of like the world of The Giver but written from a 21st century perspective.  The author’s creation of her society and characters was well thought out and the plot grabbed me.  I could hardly put this one down! Can’t wait to read the sequel, Crossed (set for release November 2011).
  • Donnelly, Jennifer.  Revolution:  Nice blend of the contemporary with historical fiction.  I’m sure I could learn a lot more about music, the French Revolution, and all the characters with another reading of this book.  It was intriguing! A good pick for older teens and adults who like YA.
  • Frost, Helen.  Crossing Stones:  A charming historical fiction verse novel.  Loved the shape poems.  Loved the characters.  One of the few novels for teens that focuses on families during the World War I era.
  • MacLean, Sarah.  The Season:  Fascinating period fiction.  Reminded me a lot of the Luxe series but set in England.  I loved the story and the romance.  I need to own a copy of this one!
  • O’Brien, Caragh M.:  Birthmarked:  Dystopia once again!  Loved this book.  The premise is shocking.  The characters are interesting.  Can’t wait until the next installment in the series comes out (Prized, Fall 2011). I also loved the cover art.
  • Omololu, C. J.  Dirty Little Secrets:  a contemporary journey into a teens life with a hoarding mother.  The detail was fascinating.  The girl’s final decisions, unbelievable.
  • Williams-Garcia, Rita.  One Crazy Summer: The best middle grade historical fiction I’ve read in a while.  I love this book!  The characters are well written.  I love the tension in the story and the historical backdrop.  This would definitely be my Newbery pick! (Winner will be announced January 10, 2011! Fingers crossed!)

What were your 2010 favorites?

Dirty Little Secrets

Dirty Little SecretsDirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the story of a teenage girl whose mother is a hoarder. In the outside world, her mother is a caring oncology nurse, at home, she is a psychological basket case. The story offers a very disturbing relationship between Lucy and her mother as well as sad unsatisfying relationships with her siblings, extended family, and absent father. Her mother’s problem affects every relationship in the family. The ending seemed abrupt and unrealistic. I didn’t feel Lucy’s problem was ever really reconciled. The author left me wondering if her attempts to cover up the problem worked. However, this novel was an interesting look at a rarely explored topic. A quick but thought-provoking read!

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Revolution

RevolutionRevolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Andi is a teen plagued by sadness. She has suffered a great tragedy, her family has fallen apart, she is on the brink of failing her senior year, and she is contemplating suicide. When her estranged father forces her to go with him on a business trip to Paris, Andi is compelled to deal with all the troubles in her life. In a twist, she finds the diary of an 18th century French girl, Alex, who had troubles of her own. Through reading Alex’s diary, Andi learns to face her own demons.  The epilogue is a thoughtful resolution. A great story, realistic fiction, historical thriller, and a romantic twist all rolled up into one page-turner. Jennifer Donnelly is magnificent. Loved this book! (Reviewed from ARC)

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When I Was Joe

When I was Joe by Keren David (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2010)

What can be said about Joe?  That’s a tough question, with no simple answer.  I was immediately drawn into this book.  I love that it begins in London.  The “Britishness” of it will fascinate American YA readers.  Joe’s story was interesting and so was his culture.  Many elements of the story echo situations that could easily happen to American teenager living in a similar neighborhood.  This is a story about fear, friendship, the evils of violence, and for Joe, self-discovery.  Joe is a frustrating character.  Sometimes he’s brilliant and lovable; sometimes he’s pathetic and insufferable.  He is the quintessential adolescent boy making bad decision, then trying to fix them.  Deep down he’s a good guy.  He’s a real teen, not perfect but not all bad either.  When I was Joe will find and audience among teens who like contemporary drama and gritty urban stories like those by Walter Dean Myers or Paul Volponi .  This fast paced novel is a winner.  I can’t wait to read the sequel.