No two people are not on fire

No one should have to handle YA all at once. In general, I disagree with the claim that the genre is “getting too dark”—the real world is pretty fucking dark and teenagers have to deal with that just as much as adults do, with fewer resources. But as a cataloger for a public library, I…

Notes on a Harry Potter Reread

These are small posts that come from my old blog, but which I hadn’t previously reposted here, from the last time I reread the Harry Potter series (in 2014). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone I wish I could remember exactly how many times I’ve read the earlier books in the series; obviously it’s more…

Juliet Takes a Breath, by Gabby Rivera

Four stars, maybe five. Read in December 2016. I’d been excited about this book for a while, and there was a surprise right up front because for some reason—because of the glorious cover design—I had thought it was a graphic novel. It is not. It has a very self-published look underneath that fabulous cover, which was…

Lumberjanes, by Noelle Stevenson

Four stars, read in August 2015. This is a fabulous, diverse, female-led fantasy series about the girls at a summer camp “for hard-core lady-types.” The Millennial humor is a little much for me, but mostly it’s fun. I love all the exclamations referencing women from history—”what the Joan Jett,” “oh my Bessie Coleman,” “holy Mae Jemison!”—and…

A + E 4ever, by I. Merey

Five stars, read in July 2016. This book is gorgeous. I don’t have anything objective to say about it—I just want to gush feelings for a while. It’s so lovely, in fact, that I went and found a bigger-than-usual picture of the cover to use here, just so I could look at it. I read…

Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy

Four stars, read in June 2016. I’ve been considering whether to change this to a five-star rating . . . Can’t quite decide. I already know I want to read it again, and I’m thrilled to see that Goodreads has given it a series page, meaning at least one sequel will be happening. These are…

Top Books of 2016 So Far

It’s June, so it feels like we’re halfway through the year, but also it’s only the beginning of June, so really only five months have passed. If this post is any indication, I am going to have a hard time narrowing down my “best of” lists when January 2017 rolls around. Despite my falling into…

Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson

Five stars, read in September 2015. I didn’t know anything about Noelle Stevenson before I picked up Nimona, but I was intrigued by the lovely cover. It was outstanding, getting much darker than I expected it to, and also way more awesome. The protagonists are supervillains, the antagonists are heroes, and at times you question whether either group…

The Plain Janes, by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

Three stars, read in December 2015. A middle grade graphic novel about a group of girls who form a “secret art gang,” sneaking out at night to create works of art in public spaces all around their city.  This was disappointing because the premise is awesome, but the delivery is so cliche it’s almost—but not—a…

The Thickety: A Path Begins, by J.A. White

Four stars, read in April 2015. The Thickety is surprisingly dark for juvenile fiction: grisly murders, horrifying creatures, dark magic, the extreme torment of small children by an entire village of cruel religious cult members. I liked it a lot even while I was annoyed by some silly things (the twelve-year-old girl’s dead mother’s dress “fit…

Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, by Marissa Meyer

Three stars, read in February 2014. This series isn’t the most elegantly written, to be honest; I actually speed-read large sections of Cinder and didn’t feel like I was missing anything. But I love the idea of a sci-fi fairy tale adaptation, as well as the fact that the series features so many girl action heroes. Each of…

Song of the Lioness, by Tamora Pierce

Four stars, read in May 2014. I knew this series was written in the 1980s, but somehow I could tell just by reading it, too; I think there was a certain style for young adult and middle grade fantasy back then, kind of condensed and sped up compared to YA written today. It’s a little…

Abhorsen, by Garth Nix

Four stars, read from November 2014 to January 2015. Before reading Sabriel I don’t think I’d have been able to imagine how a story could be both action-packed and incredibly slow at the same time, and I honestly don’t know if that’s the book itself or just me. I found it fascinating already from the prologue,…

Black Widow: Forever Red, by Margaret Stohl

Three stars, read in January 2016. I enjoyed the buildup of the first 150 or so pages unconflicted, but man I am just not equipped to tolerate YA romance anymore—especially in a book like this where the bar starts out so much higher than usual, with not just one but two kickass female protagonists. Natasha…

Boxers and Saints, by Gene Luen Yang

Four stars, read in December 2015. How can I use a word like “good” to describe these books, when everything inside them is so horrifying? And when I can feel elements of sympathy for all the different viewpoints represented, but there are none that aren’t also responsible for committing terrible atrocities? I feel like the…

The Wild Girls, by Pat Murphy

Four stars, read in March 2012. I liked this book so much. The wild girls, Newt and Fox (Joan and Sarah), are so lovable, and their story is lovely to read. It deals with serious issues but is neither too heavy nor too lighthearted in its treatment of them—just right, I think, for the age group….

Bird, by Crystal Chan

Five stars, read in June 2015. I immediately loved everything about this book, especially the protagonist. It’s not an easy book to read, in the sense that it’s full of sharp and overwhelming pain. But in the sense that I read the whole thing in less than 24 hours, and would gladly read hundreds more…

The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier

Four stars, read for Banned Books Week in 2011. No one is kidding when they say this is a dark book. You wouldn’t think a novel about a school chocolate sale could be that interesting, much less controversial—but then, The Chocolate War isn’t really about a chocolate sale. It’s about all the darkest aspects of…

What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones

Three stars, read for Banned Books Week in 2011. This book was not as engaging as other young adult romance I’ve read—Sarah Dessen, E. Lockhart, Judy Blume, Louise Rennison, Laurie Halse Anderson, Lauren Myracle, Carolyn Mackler, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor all do it much better—but I have to admit I do like the ones that are…

I’ve read a lot of good things lately.

Every one of these was spontaneous, which was the best thing about them; I just saw them during a shift at work, thought they looked good, checked them out, and actually read them. The only exception was Divergent, which my sister bugged me for a couple weeks to read, and it was still spontaneous for…

Now I’ll Tell You Everything, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Two stars, read in October 2013 (but four stars for the whole Alice series). I was really disappointed with this book, the last in the series. If you were an active fan all along—like, keeping up with the author’s website and writing in your suggestions for the series—you may have been less surprised than I was…

Confessions of a Closet Catholic, by Sarah Darer Littman

Three and a half stars, read January 2012. It was cheesy—really cheesy—but I loved the premise of this book. The protagonist is eleven-almost-twelve, a Jewish girl who decides to give up being Jewish for Lent. Her best friend is Catholic, and Justine really wants to be, too—so she sets up a confessional in her closet with her…

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Four stars, read in September 2011. Despite the fact that this book was not at all what I thought it was going to be, I really liked it. From the cover and the title, I think I had the impression that some kind of alternate-universing or sci-fi-ing was going to be taking place; it didn’t….

Okay for Now, by Gary D. Schmidt

Four stars, read in May 2011. Gary Schmidt is one of my favorite YA writers. I’ve only read three of his books, but two of those have been absolute smash hits, and the third was also good. I adored The Wednesday Wars, and I think I like Okay for Now even better. It’s sort of a…

Medieval Stories

All read in the spring of 2012. Catherine, Called Birdy, by Karen Cushman—four stars. Catherine is the daughter of a minor lord in medieval England—which, to her, is even worse than being just a villager, because at least the villagers can choose their own marriages. Birdy’s greedy father keeps trying to arrange marriages for her,…

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

Five stars, read September/November 2011. You miss a few things if you listen to this on audio, because I saw some illustrations and formatting when I picked up a hard copy—but the narrator is also fantastic and it’s a lot of fun hearing it read in a German accent, so you’ll have to just decide which…

For the Win, by Cory Doctorow

Four stars, read in September 2011. There’s an emotional cycle I go through every time I read one of Cory Doctorow’s books, similar to the cycle I go through when I think about politics, or human rights, or the corporatizing of the world. First is shock, as I start learning about whatever new despicable thing…

Abarat, by Clive Barker

Three stars, read in 2010. This book is as interesting as the cover looks. It’s almost 400 pages, but goes quickly because many of the pages are beautiful, full-sized illustrations done by the author. Barker has a kind of impressionist style, and the characters and places in the book are imaginative, sometimes a bit grotesque. Even the setting…

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

Four stars, read in December 2013. I read 438 pages in less than 24 hours, while still sleeping and going to work and spending a few hours at my mom’s in between. So that tells you something. I think I liked Eleanor and Park better, though. And after so, so much buildup, the ending was…