Tag Archives: YA

Devilish – Maureen Johnson

Okay, I love Maureen Johnson. Not only have I met her in real life (NAME DROP! she is friends with a friend – who this book is actually dedicated to!) but I just think she is a really fun YA writer.

Maureen describes Devilish:

At St. Teresa’s Preparatory School for Girls in Providence, Rhode Island, rebellious senior class genius Jane Jarvis is worried about her best friend Allison Concord. Ally is lovable, but a little clueless, and badly in need of Jane’s help. She needs to get a freshman “sister” at the school’s annual Big-Little celebration. When Ally blows it (rather literally), Jane knows that they are in for a rough few weeks.

She has no idea just how rough they will be.

Strange things start happening in Providence. Hail storms rip into the city. A strangely polite gourmet in a silver roadster turns up every time Jane turns around. A freshman guy from neighboring St. Sebastian’s starts to stalk her. A lanky, cupcake-loving sophomore transfer steps into their lives to save the day . . .

Then Ally begins to change. She looses the awkwardness that Jane has always known and loved and becomes the model of cool. Things don’t go as well for Jane, and she soon winds up facing the threat of expulsion and ruin.

But these are only the beginnings of much bigger problems. Jane’s life is about to get much worse. Ally claims that she sold her soul, and Jane throws herself on the line to get it back. But this battle is big. A crowd of strangers is about to descend on Providence, and they’re not there to go on a campus tour of Brown.

It’s Jane versus the demons, and nothing is what it seems. There will be perfume bottles, dogs, explosions, dancing, death, badly misused textbooks, ex-boyfriends, very long falls, unusual weaponry, and lots of sugary snacks before it’s all over.

Hey, you do what you have to do. Everyone knows high school is hell.

Not really sure what else to say. I love YA, sassy, brilliant heroines and “Glory” style demons (c’mon, you have to watch Buffy, right?). It was cute, it was well-written and it made me laugh and want a cupcake. Then again, most things make me want a cupcake.

The cutest part, was that this was a library book, and some kid wrote on the cover page “Maureen Roxs! Get her other books!” and (s)he listed them all out. It was cute! Note: Vandalizing library books = not cool.

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Hero – Perry Moore

I don’t remember where I heard about this, but I remember thinking “I don’t read enough books about boy teenagers or gay kids. I should do read this.” And so I did.

The description that reeled me in:

Thom Creed is used to being on his own. Even as a high school basketball star, he has to keep his distance because of his father. Hal Creed had once been one of the greatest and most beloved superheroes of The League-until the Wilson Towers incident. After that Thom’s mother disappeared and his proud father became an outcast.

The last thing in the world Thom would ever want is to disappoint his father. So Thom keeps two secrets from him: First is that he’s gay. The second is that he has the power to heal people. Initially, Thom had trouble controlling his powers. But with trail and error he improves, until he gets so good that he catches the attention of the League and is asked to join. Even though he knows it would kill his dad, Thom can’t resist. When he joins the League, he meets a motley crew of other heroes, including tough-talking Scarlett, who has the power of fire from growing up near a nuclear power plant; Typhoid Larry, who makes everyone sick by touching them, but is actually a really sweet guy; and wise Ruth, who has the power to see the future. Together these unlikely heroes become friends and begin to uncover a plot to kill the superheroes. Along the way, Thom falls in love, and discovers the difficult truth about his parents’ past.

I started out digging the book. And then – it lost me. The plot and timeline was a little weird at the beginning,  but I was willing to go with it. And since I just saw “Watchmen”, I was into this idea of costumed superheroes and disgraced non-superpowery heroes and (spoiler!) twists where the good guy is the bad guy. I was digging it. But then there were too many names. Ultra boy? Golden boy? It was too much. And the invisible mom, and  … it lost me. And I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that this town was cool with random superheroes, and was big enough that they could lose 17k people in a freak supervillian incident, and still thrive –  but one gay kid threw them into a tizzy of homophobic rage? The world just wasn’t developed enough for me, I guess.

I did enjoy reading most of it, and would like to see more – but this one just didn’t do it for me.

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Song of the Sparrow – Lisa Ann Sandell

What a pleasant surprise! I had this book on my “to read” list for awhile, and I don’t remember where I heard about it. All I knew was that it was YA historical fiction, and that the cover art was very pretty (I am a sucker for girls with flowing locks and flowers in their hair).

Song of the Sparrow

So, when the library told me it was in, I picked it up and shoved it in my bag for the subway ride. After a very, VERY long day at work, I settled in and cracked open the book. The prologue is a poem. I generally skip poems. First page  – another poem.

Oh no.

It’s a book written entirely in free verse poetry.

Don’t get me wrong – I like poetry. In moderation. A whole book? In a book that was meant to be some YA frivolity? Free verse? But, it’s late – I am too keyed up to sleep on the train and I decide to give it a few pages.

So, here’s my thing with poetry – I don’t understand it (expect a blog post on YouShouldOnlyKnow about this soon!). I can read it, and I can comprehend it, but I am not entirely sure what made this poetry other than seemingly randomly placed line breaks. So, I lucked out, and just read it as I would any other novel.

It’s the story of Elaine of Ascolat from the Arthurian legends. Awesome! I love alternative re-tellings of classic stories, and by coincidence, the only stories I know from the Arthurian traditions are these alternative ones. It was very pretty, and told of the unrequited love of Lancelot, the complicated emotions of Guinevere and some cool Pictish battles. I heart the Picts.

Some other stuff I liked? It brought in Tristan, of “Tristan and Isolde” fame. Double alternative re-tellings. Score! Stuff I wasn’t so fond of? This story had a happy ending. The “real” story has a rather tragic one. I wouldn’t mind them doing some sort of twist, that would explain this happy ending, but acknowledging the more traditional one, but this was kind of a re-write of fake history. Kind of a cop-out for my tastes.

I did a little reading about the author, and apparently she was inspired by a painting of Elaine (The Lady of Shalott) by John William Waterhouse. I wonder how the aforementioned cover art was chosen.

jww_theladyofshallot

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The Seduction of the Crimson Rose – Lauren Willig

Okay. I am now caught up on my flowery spies.

Carolann was right – I would have been totally lost reading this one, if I hadn’t read the others. And I liked it! It wasn’t my favorite, and it surprised me by not having a deflowering scene. But of course, there was an improbale love match, and ends in marriage – virtue intact. A lot of storylines appear to have gotten wrapped up, so now I am genuinely curious to see where it will go in the next one, but I am taking a break from Ms. Willig.

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The Deception of the Emerald Ring – Lauren Willig

My apologies. I started this series and read two books and forgot to write about them. I liked the first in the series, so it explains why I also enjoyed the 2nd and 3rd – because it is almost exactly the same story as the first, and the two of them are almost identical to one another. It’s one of those dual-dealies. There is a modern love story thats going in random chapters, along with the love story of the flowery spies.  Essentially – girl doesn’t quite fit into the high society norm. An unlikely man comes along, despite their best intentions they fall in love. There is an elaborate deflowering scene (hehehe) and they live happily ever after. Story then picks up with a character mentioned in the previous book.

The modern day love story lost some steam though. Carolann assures me that while the first book was good, the fourth was really, really good, but I have to read the 2nd and 3rd in order to understand. So, I am ready! Bring on the Seduction of the Crimson Rose.

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The Masque of the Black Tulip – Lauren Willig

Doesn’t say much about this book that I forgot to blog about it. Not that I didn’t like it – it was just very, very familiar. So familiar in fact, that I can give the review in my next post.

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The Schwa was Here – Neal Shusterman

Okay, okay – enough Shusterman, I get it. I really liked his other books, so I picked up this one.

From School Library Journal
Eighth-grader “Antsy” Bonano recounts how his accidental relationship with three quirky characters winds up being mutually beneficial. The catalyst in this social collision is Calvin Schwa, a classmate who has an almost supernatural knack for going completely unnoticed. When Antsy decides to become an “agent” for the “nearly invisible” Schwa by entertaining wagers on what he can get away with by being able to fly almost entirely beneath the social radar, the boys enjoy temporary success until they accept a dare requiring “The Schwa” to enter the home of a legendary local eccentric and retrieve a dog bowl belonging to any one of his 14 Afghans. Crawley, a powerful restaurateur who also happens to be severely agoraphobic, nabs the unlikely young intruders, and the crusty shut-in orders them to return daily to walk his dogs in exchange for their impunity. Once Antsy has gained Crawley’s trust, he is asked to perform another task: to act as a companion for the man’s blind granddaughter, Lexie. Antsy is then flanked by two peers–one who cannot see and one who cannot be seen–and, together, they overcome their collective liabilities through friendship, improving their own lives and the lives of those around them. Antsy tells his story in a bubbly Beastie Boys-meet-Bugs Bunny Brooklynese that keeps the pages flipping, and Shusterman’s characters–reminiscent of those crafted by E. L. Konigsburg and Jerry Spinelli–are infused with the kind of controlled, precocious improbability that magically vivifies the finest children’s classics.

While this was a cute book, it had none of that thought-provoking content that made me really enjoy Shusterman’s other books.  The main theme was all “if no one remembers you, is it worth existing?” which would be really awesome if I was an actual Young Adult, but didn’t hold my interest as an older Young Adult. In short, I liked it – it was cute, but not for the same reason I liked his other books.

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