I told you all that I would be doing more book reviews etc. So here we go --The first installment in my reading list series. First a little background for those of you who don't know know a lot about me. Last month I read an all time high of 11 books in a month. As a teen librarian I read a lot of YA novels and here’s why: At the beginning of November I went to the YALSA Young Adult Literature Symposium for work, this was an amazing experience! Imagine about 500 librarians and other bookish professionals whose target audience is teenagers. There was a lot of pink hair and tattoos of course, but also an awesome group of people who were extremely invested in young adult literature. I found myself feeling very out of place in a lot of sessions even though I fit in with my pink hair and tattoos ;). These people had read sooo much more than me I didn’t know what all the hot new titles were before the teens started loving them like everyone else. I vowed to put more of my time into keeping up with the curve of my profession. It’s only been a little over a month, but my knowledge has grown exponentially. Reader’s advisory is easier than ever for me when it comes to teens. I know how to get the right book into the right reader’s hands. It’s awesome. Sadly my crafting has taken a cut. Right now it’s still because the craft room is still in boxes. I’m hoping once it is put together again, I’ll get more audio books ordered and be able to craft and read more often.
I just decided I needed to start these and would have started at the end of December but I read some really great books in November that I wanted to include so I'll still do a post at the end of December for this month's books but I wanted to sneak this one in too.
Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Divergent is a dystopian novel set in futuristic Chicago. Everyone is separated into five different factions, each dedicated to a particular virtue; honesty, selflessness, bravery, peace, and intelligence. Every year all the sixteen-year-olds are tested and must choose the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. Beatrice Pryor the protagonist of this book has to go through this process and surprises her family and herself by her choice. The novel follows her through her decision and through the crumbling society around her.
When this book first came out it was marketed
as a Hunger Games knock off. I wanted nothing to do with it because I figured
it wouldn’t be nearly as good. However, when the book made YALSA’s Best of the
Best List and my friend Meg told me that the book was amazing and that I HAD to
read it. This book is excellent!
It is well written and has just the right amount of suspense and romance. It’s nothing like the Hunger Games except being set in a dystopian society. I can now say I enjoyed it more than the Hunger Games and devoured it and the second book, Insurgent, in two days
A Storm of Swords (Book 3 in the a Song of Ice and Fire Series) by George R.R. Martin
I started listening to this series on my commute to work shortly after the second season of the HBO show finished. I needed to immerse myself in the story some more. I was so excited for the third book!! The series is epic fantasy so if you’re not into that you may not enjoy it but I find the world to be fascinating. I don’t think I’d be able to actually read the books because they just take a long time to read, but I love the narrator Roy Dotrice so the audio books have been amazing and while they still take forever to listen to I’m loving it. There are so many story arcs in this book and I was on the edge of my seat through most of it and had so many feelings throughout the book.
Every Day by David Levithan
I always gush about David Levithan. He’s an amazing author and his writing is beautiful! I got to meet him at the YA Lit Symposium and turned into a big puddle of Dana. This is his newest book and Sheldon got a hold it of before me and read the whole thing in a week which is really rare for him. He’s a slow reader and is known to abandon books before he ever finishes them. I read it while I was at the symposium and immediately fell in love with it.
“A” wakes up in a new body every day and has
done so for his entire life. I’m going to use the male pronoun here because it’s
easier but presumably A has no gender since he could wake up in any body as
long as it is the same age as him. He sets rules for his life that involve not
interfering with the other person’s life and not getting attached but one day A
wakes up in the body of Justin and meets his girlfriend Rhiannon and everything
changes. A falls in love with Rhiannon and can’t get her out of his mind. One
thing I really loved about this book is that each chapter is like a short story
because you’re getting acquainted with the new character as A does. It’s
a lovely story about the complexities of love and life and I thoroughly enjoyed
every minute of it.
I read two other books by Levithan (co-authored by Rachel Cohn) as well. I re-read Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List. Both excellent and fun reads. I had a soft spot for Naomi and Ely’s relationship as someone who fell in love with her gay best friend and I think any girl who has gay best friend(s) should read it. After I finished it I immediately handed it to Levi who never reads and told him he had to read it and that he would love it. He loved it as well and connected with other characters and said he wanted to read more now. Warm fuzzies I tell you :)
Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
During the YA lit Symposium I felt like everyone was talking about this book. It was mentioned during many panels and I immediately put it on my to-read list when I got home.
Astrid Jones spends a lot of time staring at the sky -- at least that’s what any observer would notice, but what she’s really doing is sending love to airplane passengers. She's dealing with a crumbling family dynamic, learning to live with small-town life, trying to fit in at school -- things most teens deal with and her coping mechanism of sending love to the airplane passengers is refreshing.
Astrid is also falling in love with a girl and isn’t quite sure what to do about it. While the plot in itself isn't just about Astrid questioning her sexuality, I found this to be one of the best books about questioning that I've read. Not everyone has the same kind of realization about being gay and coming out and I love how Astrid’s is very common but not always represented in popular culture where loud and proud seems to be the norm. It’s nice to see that she has a way of dealing with all these things that are going on in her life in a positive way. Something else I really liked was that we get to see how her sending love affects the passengers on the plane just tiny little stories that are added in which really seems to add to the flow of the book.
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
This book won the prestigious YALSA Printz award for excellence this year. This book is weird, but weird isn’t always a bad thing. It was one of those books where I wasn’t really sure where the story was going most of the time and even when I was halfway through the book I wasn’t sure if I really liked it, but kept reading because I knew there had to be a reason why it won this award. In the end I did really enjoy the book, but I still don’t fully know why. I think its because of the ways the stories weave together throughout the book. I did hate the way it was written in a weird point of view at times, but got used to it.
The story builds through layers of information. Cullen Witter lives in a small somewhat boring town in Arkansas. Everything changes when his younger brother disappears and then the town starts getting fame for the rediscovery of a previously extinct breed of woodpecker. There is a parallel story of a missionary in Africa who is losing his faith who we follow along with his journey. See what I mean? It already sounds kind of weird. But Whaley is a great story teller and pulls the two stories together into a great book. I don’t think this is one that everyone will enjoy, especially in the beginning, but the more I read the more I enjoyed this book.
Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst
I came across this book as I was looking through my collection at work. It’s about vampires and unicorn vampire hunters. When I read the blurb I knew I had to read the book just because there were unicorns and vampires involved. Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire. She’s witty and heartless, definitely not a sparkly vampire. Things change for Pearl when a unicorn stabs her through the heart with its horn. Her family (who is very much like a mob family) thinks she is losing it when she is found unconscious on their doorstep and she tells her story. Obviously unicorns don’t exist so she was attacked by a vampire hunter who missed her heart since she isn’t dead. Pearl begins to change. She’s not allergic to the sun anymore, and she starts to have sympathy for her food -- i.e. humans.These changes come at a price though as she has to deal with her family’s expectations and her new found feelings towards humanity. It’s a different vampire story and I found it quite enjoyable.
Breathe by Sarah Crossan
Another dystopia, I really like dystopias and they are the big thing right now so I read a lot of them. This story revolves around three characters; Alina, Quinn, and Bea who live in a world where the earth has died because people have cut down all the trees to make room for the growing population. They deprived themselves of oxygen so a company called Breathe has learned how to manufacture oxygen and has created an oxygen rich biosphere-like pod for some of the society to be able to live and thrive in while the rest of the world has died around them.
The Breathe society is organized by zones where the wealthiest members of society are in zone one and can pay for extra oxygen and the poorest are in zone three and can only afford to live off of the small amount of free, taxed, oxygen that the pod provides. Their intake is monitored and they can only use what they can afford. Quinn and Bea are best friends Quinn is zone one and Bea is zone three. Alina is also zone three, but she has been working with the resistance, a group of people who don’t agree with Breathe and want to re-grow the outside world. The story follows these three as they embark on a journey outside of the pod with only two day’s worth of oxygen in their tanks. The story’s point of view changes among these three characters so the development lacks a little bit because you never get a full picture of each character in the beginning, but I think through the end of the book all three characters have developed well and I personally felt connected to all three. There’s a tiny bit of a love triangle, a lot of action, and a really unique dystopian world.
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