Showing posts from May, 2017

The Agony of Bun O'Keefe - Heather Smith

Set in 1980s Newfoundland, The Agony of Bun O’Keefe is the story of a 14-year-old girl who runs away to the city and is taken in by a street musician who lives with an eclectic cast of characters: a pot smoking dishwasher with culinary dreams; a drag queen with a tragic past; a Catholic school girl desperately trying to reinvent herself; and a man who Bun is told to avoid at all cost.
This is a short book, but a book with a lot of heart and a lot of depth. Bun O'Keefe is fourteen, but her social education has been terribly stunted due to living along with her mother. Her mother is a hoarder who is hiding Bun from everyone and who is slowly eating herself to death. Eventually, in a heated moment, Bun's mother tells her to leave, and so she does, heading into the city to find a way of living on her own. After she meets the kind and helpful Busker Boy, who takes her to his place and lets her live with him and his roommates. Each of them help Bun develop socially and allow her the …

It's Not Like It's a Secret - Misa Sugiura

Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.

When Sana and her family move to California she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore.

Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy… what comes after it…

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - Mackenzie Lee

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Who knew that an 18th century road trip…

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal - Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Why the title T​extbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal?​

• Because the book is organized into chapters with classic subject headings such as Social Studies, Music, Language Arts, Math, etc.
• Because textbook ​is an expression meaning “quintessential,” as in, Oh, that wordplay and unconventional format is so typical of her, so textbook Amy.
• Because for the first time ever, readers can further engage with a book via text messaging.
• Because if an author’s previous book has Encyclopedia i​n the title, following it up with a ​Textbook would be rather nice.
Not exactly a memoir, not just a collection of observations, Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal is an exploration into the many ways we are connected on this planet and speaks to the awe, bewilderment, and poignancy of being alive.

This book is spare.

There is a lot of white space, emphasizing the importance of the text and images that do appear on various pages and spreads.

The truths are profound; the insights are simple but often missed in daily life…

The Fashion Committee - Susan Juby

Charlie Dean is a style-obsessed girl who eats, sleeps, and breathes fashion. John Thomas-Smith is a boy who forges metal sculptures in his garage and couldn't care less about clothes. But they share one thing in common: both are gunning for a scholarship to the private art high school that could make all their dreams come true. And whoever wins the fashion competition will win the scholarship. Told in the alternating voices of Charlie's and John's fashion journals which they're required to keep for the contest, this hilarious and poignant tale perfectly captures what it's like to have an artistic passion so fierce that nothing--not your dad's girlfriend's drug-addicted ex-boyfriend, a soul-crushing job at Salad Stop, or being charged with a teensy bit of kidnapping--can stand in your way.

This is a great book! I read it in one afternoon and couldn't put it down. Both of the narrators are distinct, which can be difficult to do in multiple POV situations.…

Pondering Bookish Things; Or, Wearing Many Hats

So, I've been reading a lot of books over the last few years, and I've been writing reviews, researching for my PhD, and working on various award committees. I just wanted to take a few moments to talk through some of the difficulties of wearing these hats. When I write a review, I am reviewing a single book. I am looking at the characters, setting, writing, and possible socio-political implications of events and representation within that particular text. I'm not necessarily looking at the publisher's track record or the author's previous works, or even the larger body of work within a given genre or age-range.
In my scholarly work, however, I am suddenly looking not only at representation in a single book, but also in terms of a larger context. In my particular field for instance, I read a lot of books featuring trans characters. I look not only at representation within a particular text, but also explore the implications of these representations in the larger con…

When I Am Through With You - Stephanie Kuehn

“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”

Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly about what happened on what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of.

I couldn't put this one down. I rarely can with Kuehn's work. I first became enthralled with her work when I read Charm & Strange and later, Complicit. Kuehn knows how to build tension and make readers guess, and she certainly doesn't shy away from ma…

Little & Lion - Brandy Colbert

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new...the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel's disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself--or worse.

Though the novel starts off from a seemingly simple premise, the characters and relationships are anything but. Colbert is a masterful writer. I was first introduced to her through Pointe, a fabulous novel by the way, and was so excited to see Little & Lion show up in the mail!
I love the quietness of Colbert's work, the fact that she knows how to write strong and compelling charact…

Spill Zone - Scott Westerfeld & Alex Puvilland

Nobody's ever really explained the Spill. Was it an angelic visitation? A nanotech accident? A porthole opening from another world? Whatever it was, no one's allowed in the Spill Zone these days except government scientists and hazmat teams. But a few intrepid explorers know how to sneak through the patrols and steer clear of the dangers inside the Zone. Addison Merrick is one such explorer, dedicated to finding out what happened that night, and to unraveling the events that took her parents and left her little sister mute and disconnected from the world.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I was sent a copy of this graphic novel. I was thinking maybe something to do with a nuclear meltdown and some kind of crime-fighting (judging from the cover alone) and then I started reading through and was blown away. This book is creepy, twisted, beautifully illustrated, and super compelling. I should warn people that it's not a one-off; the ending is not complete and th…

Orphan Island - Laurel Snyder

On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.

Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?

Similar (in a way) to Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli, Orphan Island takes an abstract look at what it…