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Archive for the ‘Young Adult’ Category

BreakfastServedAnytimeAs I was reading Breakfast Served Anytime, Sarah Combs’ debut novel, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it. I liked the beginning, got a little bogged down in the middle and then had the epiphany at the end. The book is going to mean different things to different people.

Kentucky born and raised, Gloria Bishop got accepted to Geek Camp, sponsored by the University of Kentucky for four weeks after her junior year. Her course: Secrets of the Written Word. Trying to attract and retain in Kentucky its best students, those accepted get a full four year scholarship upon graduating high school. Gloria’s best friend, Caroline, is off to New York for ballet during the summer, the plan being that they both hit the Big City for college.

Gloria is, however, a shy girl and finds anticipation of exciting and extraordinary events sometimes more exciting than the events themselves. Upon checking into her dorm, she immediately forms judgments on her roommate, Jessica, (rich, confident, huggy and not Gloria’s type) and the first guy she sees from her dorm window, nicknamed the Mad Hatter, for obvious reasons (obnoxious, self-absorbed). It turns at that the Mad Hatter is one of four people in Secrets of the Written Word. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

However, in one respect I will give a spoiler. Although this takes place in high school, it reminded me of middle school and Merle J (I wonder where she is now). Somehow, we decided that Merle was my ‘best enemy’.  We used to taunt and torment each other constantly throughout middle school…yet always with an underlying smile. I wonder what that really meant. So Merle, if you’re reading…. (I’ll let you guess who I’m referring to in the book.)

I can’t remember if I’ve ever read a book taking place in Kentucky. So, while writing a book about camaraderie and friendship, Combs also manages to throw in the issue of coal mining vs. the environment in a manner many of us don’t typically think about.

I’m not going to comment on the Breakfast Served Anytime part of the book. You can find out for yourselves its significance. Neither will I comment on the blue butterflies on the cover, other than to say that, according to the book, they have a life span of 115 days.

So, my final thoughts on Breakfast Served Anytime? I liked it, primarily because it brought back memories that I hadn’t thought about in decades…and pleasant memories at that. For you ‘mature’ YA lit readers, I’d love to know what memories the book might have rekindled. And, for you YA YA lit readers (if I have any following this blog), I’d like to know the same thing. Lastly, what can be bad about a place serving breakfast any time?

Having said that, I’m off to bake Snikerdoodles. A place serving dessert any time can’t be bad either, huh?

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A child’s guilt can be overwhelming and so it is with fifteen year old Francesca (Frankie) Schnell. SummerOfLettingGoFour years ago, while at the beach with her parents, her four year old brother, Simon, drowned. She and Simon were building a sand castle. She went to the beach blanket where her parents were sleeping, looking for food. When she turned around her brother was at the water’s edge, then he was caught by a wave. Frankie was stunned into inaction. Her father, hearing her scream, runs into the water but Simon couldn’t be saved. Frankie hasn’t swam since.

It is four years later. Frankie’s guilt is still in full force. She thinks her mother, who ignores her and spends most of her time at a foundation created in Simon’s memory, blames her and hates her. She’s jealous of her girlfriend, Lisette, who is gorgeous and has the boyfriend that Frankie yearns for.

Having snuck into the local country club pool (for reasons I won’t tell you), she sees a four year old boy dive into the deep end of the pool and look like he’s going to drown. She is paralyzed into inaction and Peter, the lifeguard, jumps in. As the boy’s mother drags him away, they almost bump into Frankie and the little boy asks “Who she?” Frankie introduces herself. It seems that his name in Frankie as well.

The next day, Francesca is called into the office of the pool’s owner. Afraid she’s going to be arrested for sneaking into the pool, she’s relieved when she finds out Frankie’s mother wants her to be a mother’s helper and help with Frankie during the summer.

All of this would generate a so-so book, but there’s more that pulled me into this book, The Summer of Letting Go. Little Frankie is the same age as Simon was when he drowned. Frankie looks like Simon, likes frogs just like Simon and has that same fearlessness. There’s more that I won’t tell you about.

Polisner explores the possibility of reincarnation/transmigration. Is it possible that Simon’s soul migrated into little Frankie? An interesting possibility. She also explores how people cope with pain. Each person in the Schnell household has dealt dramatically differently with Simon’s death. And finally, Polisner deals with a young girl’s self image and self doubt. Is Frankie pretty, especially compared to Lisette? Would any boy like her, especially the one she likes…who happens to be Lisette’s boyfriend?

The characters are all clear cut. They each have distinct personalities. I think it’s hard sometimes to create a four year old character, but little Frankie is cute, exasperating, funny, sad, just like a four year old and his sidekick dog, Potato, is just as cute.

There is a lot to think about in The Summer of Letting Go but Polisner does a fine job of putting all together in a cohesive, interesting, fun read. More that just a beach read, this book will make you think….which is what a good book should do. So, don’t let this summer go by without reading The Summer of Letting Go.

 

 

 

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LiesThere is something about a Julie Anne Peters novel that makes me keep on reading.  Lies My Girlfriend Told Me is soft and sweet. It is, in some ways, innocent and in some ways not. It’s got great characters and a good plot.

Alix’s mother wakes her up with really bad news. Her girlfriend, Swanee, died of cardiac arrest in the middle of her daily run. How can that happen to a 17 year old girl? They had only been going out six weeks. It wasn’t long enough. Now it will never be long enough. Alix is devastated.

While in Swanee’s room, after her death, Alix hears Swanee’s phone ping with a text message. It’s from L.T., whoever that is. There are dozens of texts: where are you, why didn’t you meet me, i love you….. Alix forces Swanee’s sister, Joss, to tell her who L.T. is. And it turns out, she’d rather not know, because Swanee was dating her at the same time she was dating Alix.

Alix steals the phone and, for two weeks, texts L.T. back, as if she was Swanee. But then she realizes that L.T. would want to know what happened and they meet.

That’s enough of the story to get you going. Lies My Girlfriend Told Me is tender. It’s realistic. It’s romantic. So, if you’re a Julie Anne Peters fan, if you’re a romantic, if you like a good story, then read Lies My Girlfriend Told Me. I couldn’t put it down.KeepingYouASecret

And let’s not forget my all time favorite Julie Anne Peters book, Keeping You a Secret. So, pack them both in your bag as you leave for vacation or the beach.

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StrangeAndBeautifulAlmost half way through the year, my vote for the strangest book you’ll read in 2014 is The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. Only on page 22, but… The writing is different. The plot is different. The characters are surely different. Based on my 22 pages, I’m really going to enjoy this book. I bet you will too.

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WeAreTheGoldensWow!!! If anyone has read a great 200 page YA monologue, please let me know, because I haven’t…until now. I had no idea what We Are the Goldens was about. I only knew it was Dana Reinhardt so I automatically put it on my reading list.

Nelly and Layla are as close as two sisters should and could be. Only a year and a half apart, Nelly, the younger used to think their name was Nellayla, Nelly and Layla. They told each other everything…that is until Nelly became a freshman at City Day school where Layla was a junior. Then something changed. Oh sure, relationships change as sisters get older, but this was different, more severe.

Written as Nelly’s monologue to her sister, she describes in such realistic terms her anguish at the changing relationship between her and Layla, her confusion about high school and boys, and her concern over her sisters actions. Right and wrong for a teenager is not a clear-cut thing (it may not be clear to adults either) and We Are the Goldens explores this as Nelly grapples with Layla’s secret.

I could not put this book down. I stayed up late. I read up until the last minute of my lunch hour. It’s a short, fast read so it won’t take you long.

I was introduced to Dana Reinhardt’s books through A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life ABriefChapterwhich led me to become a fan. Other Reinhardt books I’ve read and loved are (which are all of her books that I’ve read):

How to Build a House

Things a Brother Knows

The Summer I Learned to Fly

If you are in the mood for something different, then I strongly suggest We Are the Goldens.

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There is just something so nice about a Jennifer E. Smith book. You go in knowing it’ll be fun and GeographyOfYouAndMeromantic and you smile all the way through, knowing love will triumph in the end. And so it goes with The Geography of You and Me. (This isn’t a spoiler because all her books are feel good books.)

My first exposure to Smith’s books, the one that got me hooked was The TheComebackSeasonComeback Season. It was sad at times but I loved it. So, start there and keep going. The Geography of You and Me is a tad like her previous book, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight or how one moment can change everything.StatisticalProbability

In the current book, Lucy and Owen, who don’t really know each other are in a stuck elevator. There’s a power outage in New York City. It is completely dark. After being liberated, they spend the next 12 or so hours with each other, sleeping on the roof of their apartment building, looking at the stars.  Then, for some reason, fate sets in and they don’t see each other. Was it love? Was it nothing? Was there even a connection?

You’ll love the characters. You’ll love the teenage angst. You’ll love the plot.

I was thinking last night that some authors are so steady. Smith reminds me of Sarah Dessen. Their books are love stories. You know what’s coming but you don’t care. It’s not the destination. It’s the journey. You finish one and you can’t wait for the next one. Treat yourself to a fun read.

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DarkSongAmes Ford lives the privileged life. Huge house with a movie theater, new clothes, all the electronic devices she could want and family vacations. The perfect family…until it all fell apart. Her father, Randal, got caught using his clients’ investment accounts to play the market and lost everything; his job, his retirement funds, his house. The family disintegrates, with a large portion of the animosity shown toward Ames–the spoiled rich kid who can’t conceive of being poor.

Ames and her family are forced to move from Boulder to Texas, into a rental slum owned by her paternal grandparents; grandparents she never new she had. In lieu of three months rent, the family has to fix up the dilapidated, filthy abode. However, help arrives in the form of Marc, a 22 year old who’s a friend of an online friend, etc.

Marc understands the alienation that Ames feels. Her mother yells at everyone, but her the most. Her father chugs beer and Jack Daniels rather than helping and has, on two occasions, almost hit her. But Marc was there to save the day. He’s her hero. But is he too good to be true? What are his secrets?

The first Gail Giles book I read was Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters DeadGirlsand I loved it. I think I read it twice. Shattering Glass I couldn’t get into and, while I remember reading Playing in Traffic, I don’t remember much about it.

GirlsLikeUsSo, while it was nice to enjoy a Gail Giles book again (and I’m looking forward to Girls Like Us coming out later this month), there were things that didn’t ring true. The speed with which the Fords move from Boulder to Texas (it felt like minutes after learning of Randal’s predicament), the immediate and dramatic change in her mother’s relationship with Ames. and the neat ending (hopefully this is not a spoiler). On the other hand, Marc did ring true for me…I won’t tell you more since I don’t want to spoil anything more than I might have already.

I like Gail Giles writing and her ability to tell a story and I’d still recommend this book, but it’s not up to the standards of Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters, which is a MUST read.

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