Release Date: March 26, 2013 Title: Going Vintage Author: Lindsey Leavitt Pages: 320 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books Available:Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: When Mallory discovers that her boyfriend, Jeremy, is cheating on her with an online girlfriend, she swears off boys. She also swears off modern technology. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory decides to “go vintage” and return to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat on you online). She sets out to complete grandma’s list: run for pep club secretary, host a dinner party, sew a homecoming dress, find a steady, do something dangerous. But the list is trickier than it looks. And obviously finding a steady is out . . . no matter how good Oliver (Jeremy’s cousin) smells. But with the help of her sister, she’ll get it done. Somehow.
Lindsey Leavitt perfectly pairs heartfelt family moments, laugh-out-loud humor, and a little bit of romance in this delightful contemporary novel.
I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I don’t read a lot of contemporary stuff, but when I do I’m often disappointed by flat characters. Mallory was not a flat character. When she discovered that her boyfriend was cheating on her with an online girlfriend, she decided to go extreme and give up all technology – as if she were living in the 60s. Now, I would never be able to do that. So kudos for her! And she wasn’t little miss perfect either. She lashed out at people, she got emotional, she messed up her goals, but she did try to be true to herself.
I loved that this book wasn’t completely predictable like most contemporary books are. Some things were, sure – but not everything. It was refreshing and sweet and everything I needed to read when I read it.
And Oliver was one of the sweetest book boys I’ve read in quite awhile. That alone made this book worth it.
Release Date: August 14, 2012 Title: Counting Backwards Author: Laura Lascarso Pages: 279 Publisher: Simon and Schuster/Atheneum Books for Young Readers Available:Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: Three weeks ago I tried to run away from home. Now all I want is to go back.
When troubled Taylor Truwell is caught with a stolen car and lands in court for resisting arrest, her father convinces the judge of an alternative to punishment: treatment in a juvenile psychiatric correctional facility. Sunny Meadows is anything but the easy way out, and Taylor has to fight hard just to hold on to her sanity as she battles her parents, her therapist, and vicious fellow patients. But even as Taylor struggles to hold on to her stubborn former self, she finds herself relenting as she lets in two unlikely friends-Margo, a former child star and arsonist, and AJ, a mysterious boy who doesn’t speak. In this striking debut, Laura Lascarso weaves together a powerful story of anger and self-destruction, hope and love.
I had mixed feelings about Counting Backwards. The first half of the book was pretty much meh. It seemed very after-school special to me. I felt that Taylor was selfish and I wanted nothing more than to reach through the pages of the book and throttle her.
Maybe that just means Lascarso writes angsty teenager well? Then I realized that having any sort of emotional reaction at all to a book means that the author is doing a really good job.
By the end of the book, however, my opinion changed. The journey Taylor went through and the transformation she underwent changed the way I felt about her and the book as a whole. It wasn’t my favorite book of the year. I may never read it again. But I am glad I read it.
My emotions were all over the place when I read it. I felt anger, I felt incredulity, I felt disappointment, I felt sadness, I felt surprise, I felt happiness, and I even felt love. Taylor grew up during her short stay at Sunny Meadows.
Don’t expect Girl, Interrupted – but do expect some behavioral issues. Expect to see immaturity. Expect to see gangs. Expect to see those who “play the game” in order to get out.
Sometimes it felt too easy. Do this, say that, take this pill and magically Taylor is the girl we all want her to be. Life isn’t like that. But… books can be. That’s the point of them after all, isn’t it?
Release Date: August 28, 2012 Title: The Stone Girl Author: Alyssa Sheinmel
Pages: 224 Pages
Publisher: Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available: Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: She feels like a creature out of a fairy tale; a girl who discovers that her bones are really made out of stone, that her skin is really as thin as glass, that her hair is brittle as straw, that her tears have dried up so that she cries only salt. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t hurt when she presses hard enough to begin bleeding: it doesn’t hurt, because she’s not real anymore.
Sethie Weiss is hungry, a mean, angry kind of hunger that feels like a piece of glass in her belly. She’s managed to get down to 111 pounds and knows that with a little more hard work-a few more meals skipped, a few more snacks vomited away-she can force the number on the scale even lower. She will work on her body the same way she worked to get her perfect grades, to finish her college applications early, to get her first kiss from Shaw, the boy she loves, the boy who isn’t quite her boyfriend.
Sethie will not allow herself one slip, not one bad day, not one break in concentration. Her body is there for her to work on when everything and everyone else-her best friend, her schoolwork, and Shaw-are gone.
From critically acclaimed writer Alyssa B. Sheinmel comes an unflinching and unparalleled portrayal of one girl’s withdrawal, until she is sinking like a stone into her own illness, her own loneliness-her own self.
This was a difficult book to read; it’s even more difficult to write the review.
The Stone Girl is not the typical book about anorexia. Sethie’s story is about the journey- the downward spiral. It’s not about that spot at rock bottom that we so often read about. Instead, we fall with Sethie.
It was hard to read because so many of her thoughts are thoughts I’ve had myself. The thoughts she had about Shaw were heartbreaking, because I absolutely understood where she was coming from. the thoughts about her food were also familiar.
This story was not about food. It was not about Sethie’s control. It was about Sethie’s life. It was simple. We saw everything through her own eyes. It was a bit shocking at the end when we saw the truth, rather than the reality she had built for herself- the reality she had sucked me into right alongside her.
Rating this book was difficult. It’s not the kind of story you want to like. But it is an important story. It was a really well-written story. It should be read. It needs to be read.
Release Date: October 1, 2012 Title: Skinny Author: Donna Cooner
Available: Barnes and Noble I got this ARC from BEA 2012
From the Publisher: Find your voice.
Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.
But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical – and partly to try and save her own life – Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.
With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.
Donna Cooner brings warmth, wit, and startling insight to this unforgettable debut.
This ended up being a very difficult book for me to read. In the end, it inspired a blog post that triggered a bout of depression that left me in a funk for days. For a book to have that kind of effect on me, it absolutely deserves a 5.
I turn thirty this year, yet I still see myself in this fifteen year old girl. The way she looks at herself is the way that I look at myself. The way that she pushes away the world is the same way that I push away the world.
Ever is me.
And the thing I learned the most from reading this book is that just because your outside changes doesn’t mean your inside does. And your insides don’t always match your outsides. It sounds like common sense, but this is something that so many young girls – and even young adults – struggle with. It’s always if I can lose 5 more pounds. Or my life will begin once such and such happens.
Ever’s story is about embracing who you are while you strive towards becoming the best you that you can be.
Release Date: June 12, 2012 Title: Flirting in Italian Author: Lauren Henderson
Pages: 336 Pages
Publisher: Random House/Delacorte
Available: Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: In Flirting in Italian, Lauren Henderson, bestselling author of Kiss Me Kill Me, follows four girls’ unforgettable summer in the magnificent Italian countryside.
Four girls. One magical—and possibly dangerous—Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!
This was one of the biggest disappointments of the year so far. It tried too hard to be everything for everybody, and as a result the story was all over the place. The primary story seems to be that of Violet searching for her family history, which takes her to Italy. But the title of the novel would have you believe that the side-plot of Violet and Luca would be the primary focus. The two stories battled each other, vying for attention – which means that neither of them truly took precedence over the other.
On top of that, you’ve got the side stories of the three other girls, the Italian instructor who isn’t quite who she seems, and the nasty daughter who calls the girls names and sneers at them.
There’s just too much going on. The ending was abrupt and felt like it came out of nowhere. And I was left feeling as if nothing had truly happened. There will be a sequel… but I don’t yet know if I’ll give it a try.
Release Date: May 10, 2011 Title: One for the Murphys Author: Lynda Mullaly Hunt Pages: 256 Publisher: Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books Available:Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: A moving debut novel about a foster child learning to open her heart to a family’s love
Carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child, and moves in with the Murphys, she’s blindsided. This loving, bustling family shows Carley the stable family life she never thought existed, and she feels like an alien in their cookie-cutter-perfect household. Despite her resistance, the Murphys eventually show her what it feels like to belong–until her mother wants her back and Carley has to decide where and how to live. She’s not really a Murphy, but the gifts they’ve given her have opened up a new future.
I was honestly surprised at how well Hunt was able to write the internal monologue of a teenager going through hell. My reaction to it was different from most books. Ordinarily, I become the characters I’m reading about (in my head at least). And no, I’m not crazy.
But that didn’t happen with Carley. I saw Carley. I felt her pain, but it was not internalized as reading a character would normally be. Hunt made me see Carley as a separate being; someone hurting and in need of love, compassion, and for something good to happen in her life.
I even shed a few tears.
But you’ll have to read it yourself to find out if they were good tears or bad ones.
And trust me, if you like Contemporary YA, you should read this one.
From the Publisher: As a little girl, Daisy Appleby was killed in a school bus crash. Moments after the accident, she was brought back to life.
A secret government agency has developed a drug called Revive that can bring people back from the dead, and Daisy Appleby, a test subject, has been Revived five times in fifteen years. Daisy takes extraordinary risks, knowing that she can beat death, but each new death also means a new name, a new city, and a new life. When she meets Matt McKean, Daisy begins to question the moral implications of Revive, and as she discovers the agency’s true goals, she realizes she’s at the center of something much larger — and more sinister — than she ever imagined.
So long as I don’t stop to think about it too hard, I like this book. A lot.
It reads like a contemporary YA trying to jump into action/thriller/dystopian territory, but it never quite makes it. And that’s good. If it had tried harder, it would have been more difficult for me to suspend my disbelief and I wouldn’t have enjoyed it.
All of the details about the drug Revive, the government-funded program behind it, and the man behind the curtain (nicknamed God) are scarce. We know it exists, but we don’t know how. We know very little about it, other than what fifteen year old Daisy knows. As it turns out, she doesn’t know much but she’s smart enough to figure a few things out.
Things that lead to possible murder. Things that rock the foundation of her world.
Hands down, my favorite aspect of the book was her budding relationship with Matt, second only to the friendship with Audrey. These two relationships were the focal point of the novel. The action was a side-note. I am glad of that, because it didn’t force me to look too hard for inconsistencies and lack of details – something I noticed once I was finished. Those details would have turned my 3 star rating into a 4 or 5 star rating. It was good – it just wasn’t great. I felt it lacked credibility.
Release Date: April 10, 2012 Title: Lexapros and Cons Author: Aaron Karo
Publisher: Macmillan/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Available: Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: Chuck Taylor’s OCD has rendered him a high school outcast. His endless routines and habitual hand washing threaten to scare away both his closest friend and the amazing new girl in town. Sure he happens to share the name of the icon behind the coolest sneakers in the world, but even Chuck knows his bizarre system of wearing different color “Cons” depending on his mood is completely crazy.
In this hilariously candid debut novel from comedian Aaron Karo—who grew up with a few obsessions and compulsions of his own—very bad things are going to happen to Chuck. But maybe that’s a good thing. Because with graduation looming, Chuck finds himself with one last chance to face his inner demons, defend his best friend, and win over the girl of his dreams. No matter what happens, though, he’ll have to get his hands dirty.
I admit; I was hesitant to read this. I wasn’t sure it would really be my speed. Then I opened it up and pretty much didn’t move until I was done.
Chuck’s voice pulled me in from the beginning- even if was kind of weird to open up by talking about masturbation. Nothing graphic mind you- it’s just that Chuck keeps a tally of how often he does, thanks to his OCD. Chuck is authentic- he’s not the kind of boy you ordinarily find in a YA novel, all swwon-worthy and broody. He’s a 17 year old boy with OCD. That’s it. He’s not perfect. He’s not the guy who sweeps the girl off her feet and they become embroiled in a passionate yet ill-fated romance. He’s a senior in high school. He’s the real thing.
I don’t suffer from OCD, though I have known people who do. And Karo brilliantly took me inside of the mind of a young man who does- and did so in such a manner that even though this was a fiction novel written by a comedian, I feel as if I understand the disorder in ways I didn’t before.
The best part? This wasn’t a deep and serious novel; it was light-hearted and fun.
This is definitely a novel to put into the hands of reluctant teen readers – especially boys. But even the girls should find it entertaining and informative.
From the Publisher: At seventeen, Trinity McCabe has already made enough mistakes to fill a lifetime. Especially the one where she got high, drove a car, and almost killed a dog. And then let her friend Aidan take the blame.
She’s clean now and desperate to fix the messes she’s made, but first she’s going to have to get out of her pajamas.
As Trinity struggles to stop sleepwalking through life, she faces the painful, tingling sensation of waking up. It’s sometimes embarrassing (she really didn’t want to have lunch with Aidan’s mom), sometimes terrifying (group therapy is beyond intimidating), and sometimes, amazingly enough, pretty romantic (who’d have though Aidan would be such a great kisser?)
Trin is lucky, though—luckier than she deserves, she’s sure—and she doesn’t travel this road alone. Her family, her therapist, and her new friends are all pulling for her. And it turns out, some of them have made pretty big mistakes, too.
But before she can embrace her new life completely, Trinity has to be forgiven by the one person who is holding out the hardest: herself. It’s not easy changing everything, especially when you don’t think you deserve a second chance. Trinity might make an even bigger mess of things before she figures that out.
When the smoke clears on her latest disaster, will anyone still be standing there?
200 Pages, Amazon Digital Services
I really didn’t know what to expect when I went into this one; self-published books are always so hit or miss for me. Luckily, I really enjoyed this one.
Trin’s character was flawlessly written. Her fears, her insecurities, and even the moment of truth where she realized she needed to grow up – all of it was wholly believable. I was right there with her as she was struggling to find out who she is now that she’s clean. This a story that is not often told in YA literature, but it’s one that should be.
There is life after addiction. There is life after you’ve screwed up. Your past does not define who you are.
All of these truths, and more, are told in Trin’s story of redemption. And the beautiful thing is that her entire redemption story came from inside. No one but Trin herself could forgive. No one but Trin herself could offer absolution.
From the Publisher: In a time of hardship and heartbreak, sometimes, reality just isn’t enough. Slipping Reality is the story of fourteen-year-old Katelyn Emerson, who, when faced with the glaring reality of her brother’s illness, rebels against the truth by slipping away into the depths of her own imagination. There, she finds the kind of support and comfort she feels she deserves. There, she does not have to feel so alone. And yet, as Katelyn’s grasp on reality begins to unravel, so too does the story of a girl who grew up too fast and fell apart too soon. Emily Beaver’s debut novel is a coming of age story that deals with the trials of young grief, insight, and growth where it’s least expected.
This book was a hard one for me to read. I have never experienced the loss of someone as close as a sibling; in fact, I’ve only lost one of my four grandparents. That’s the extent of my experience with death. Because of that, it’s hard for me to understand Katelyn. She spends the novel in denial about her brother’s disease. She ignores it – him – because it’s easier for her.
She retreats into a world her mind has created because it’s happier for her there.
And quite frankly, that makes me not like her.
She is weak. She is whiny. She is selfish.
I do have to give props to the author – she wrote this at fourteen. That’s incredible! To be able to evoke those kinds of emotions from me at fourteen is quite an accomplishment.
But I just can’t get past my dislike of Katelyn’s character. And that’s nothing negative against the author – though she wrote this as she was experiencing her own brother’s battle with cancer, she explains that she never did what Katelyn did. She couldn’t leave her brother behind like that. It makes me wonder why she chose to write Katelyn this way.