Mrs. Zed's Book Blog

The right book in the right hands at the right time.

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I loved Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin and liked her follow-up Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, so I’m not sure why I didn’t start reading The Birthright Trilogy when it first came up.  The simple answer is so many books, not enough time.  Anyway, I read All These Things I’ve Done this week and definitely enjoyed it and see myself reading the other two books in the trilogy.  The dystopian story includes an orphaned mafioso daughter navigated high school and what remans of her family and is set during a time when caffeine is illegal, chocolate is contraband (thankfully for Anya her family is in the chocolate business—how does one navigate life without chocolate?) and (the worst in my opinion) showers are only 90 seconds long.  I won’t give much away, but I like Anya’s pluck and the layers of the story looking at family and “family.”

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I loved Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin and liked her follow-up Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, so I’m not sure why I didn’t start reading The Birthright Trilogy when it first came up. The simple answer is so many books, not enough time. Anyway, I read All These Things I’ve Done this week and definitely enjoyed it and see myself reading the other two books in the trilogy. The dystopian story includes an orphaned mafioso daughter navigated high school and what remans of her family and is set during a time when caffeine is illegal, chocolate is contraband (thankfully for Anya her family is in the chocolate business—how does one navigate life without chocolate?) and (the worst in my opinion) showers are only 90 seconds long. I won’t give much away, but I like Anya’s pluck and the layers of the story looking at family and “family.”

***

Filed under Gabrielle Zevin All These Things I've Done ya dystopia chocolate

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Empty is written in a way that makes it easy to fly through, and as a result I found it a bit unfulfilling, but perhaps that is because immediately before it I had read a more literary novel.  The topics in Empty are important and I can imagine many students would be able to relate to at least certain parts, such as the main character using self-deprecating humour to try to get the sense that she is laughing with rather than being laughed at, but ultimately she knows this is a false sense of security.  I cringed repeatedly at the language used surrounding Dell’s obesity.  At 256lbs (a number repeated many times) I’m sure Dell is a bigger girl, but hearing her pick apart her rolls is tough.  Watching her do a sumo stance and Moo for laughs is horrific, but also probably not far off from the reality of many bigger students.  

What strikes me more about the novel and for me is more important than the weight issue is how Dell desperately wishes to be seen and to be valued as a person.  Feeling invisible is painful and can lead to feeling worthless…hence her eventual decision to consider suicide.

The reviews on this novel vary quite widely and I can certainly see the points about sensationalism and a lack of follow up.  The rape and rumours were definitely not fleshed out enough in my opinion.  Obviously it is very very common. Not to report a rape, but if a rumour then went around about the rape, I find it very hard to believe that it wouldn’t be followed up on in some way.  Worth reading for the discussions that could arise…for example, a girl power group or a literature circle…

**1/2

Empty is written in a way that makes it easy to fly through, and as a result I found it a bit unfulfilling, but perhaps that is because immediately before it I had read a more literary novel. The topics in Empty are important and I can imagine many students would be able to relate to at least certain parts, such as the main character using self-deprecating humour to try to get the sense that she is laughing with rather than being laughed at, but ultimately she knows this is a false sense of security. I cringed repeatedly at the language used surrounding Dell’s obesity. At 256lbs (a number repeated many times) I’m sure Dell is a bigger girl, but hearing her pick apart her rolls is tough. Watching her do a sumo stance and Moo for laughs is horrific, but also probably not far off from the reality of many bigger students.

What strikes me more about the novel and for me is more important than the weight issue is how Dell desperately wishes to be seen and to be valued as a person. Feeling invisible is painful and can lead to feeling worthless…hence her eventual decision to consider suicide.

The reviews on this novel vary quite widely and I can certainly see the points about sensationalism and a lack of follow up. The rape and rumours were definitely not fleshed out enough in my opinion. Obviously it is very very common. Not to report a rape, but if a rumour then went around about the rape, I find it very hard to believe that it wouldn’t be followed up on in some way. Worth reading for the discussions that could arise…for example, a girl power group or a literature circle…

**1/2

Filed under KM Walton Empty YA obesity rape high school addiction divorce suicide friendship

1 note

Apologies for taking awhile to post, but I’m having a busier summer than expected and therefore reading less frequently than planned.  The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is not YA, but it could be read by any strong reader with an interest in time travel from about age 13 up.  It includes some science talk which forced me to slow my pace, but for the most part it is accessible, just on the long side.

The novel follows Harry August as he proceeds through his life multiple times, trying to prevent the acceleration of the end of the world as well as the loss of his fellow kalachakras.  There are interesting takes on 20th century history, moral questions regarding technology and time travel, and chunks of both mystery and intrigue.  I found Harry to be an interesting character especially in the end when he masks his memory.

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Apologies for taking awhile to post, but I’m having a busier summer than expected and therefore reading less frequently than planned. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is not YA, but it could be read by any strong reader with an interest in time travel from about age 13 up. It includes some science talk which forced me to slow my pace, but for the most part it is accessible, just on the long side.

The novel follows Harry August as he proceeds through his life multiple times, trying to prevent the acceleration of the end of the world as well as the loss of his fellow kalachakras. There are interesting takes on 20th century history, moral questions regarding technology and time travel, and chunks of both mystery and intrigue. I found Harry to be an interesting character especially in the end when he masks his memory.

***

Filed under Claire North The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August time travel

1 note

Book two has been out a few months so I finally made it a priority to read The Program by Suzanne Young, and I’m glad I did.  This novel has a fairly intriguing dystopian concept where the suicide rate for teens has skyrocketed so the solution is to cart potential infecteds away to mental hospitals where their memories are erased to cure them.  As in any YA novel (seriously, this is so irritatingly common) there is a love triangle thrown in, but I was more interested in the evolution of the main character Sloane.  It was neat to see her as “normal,” react to her newly cured friend, go through the curing process herself, and then falter along as she readjusts to life.  If I brought book two home from school I’ll likely read it soon.

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Book two has been out a few months so I finally made it a priority to read The Program by Suzanne Young, and I’m glad I did. This novel has a fairly intriguing dystopian concept where the suicide rate for teens has skyrocketed so the solution is to cart potential infecteds away to mental hospitals where their memories are erased to cure them. As in any YA novel (seriously, this is so irritatingly common) there is a love triangle thrown in, but I was more interested in the evolution of the main character Sloane. It was neat to see her as “normal,” react to her newly cured friend, go through the curing process herself, and then falter along as she readjusts to life. If I brought book two home from school I’ll likely read it soon.

***

Filed under The Program Suzanne Young Sci Fi Dystopia YA

2 notes

“You know I’m never going to be able to not kiss you again, right?” he said. “For the rest of my life, every time I look at you, I’ll have to kiss you.”

Some swoon worthy YA romance in a rather creepy novel!

Excerpt From: Young, Suzanne. “The Program.” Simon Pulse, 2013-04-29T08:00:00+00:00. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Filed under The Program Suzanne Young YA first kiss

0 notes

I read this novel in two chunks, before and after my trip of a lifetime on the West Coast Trail, but it is simple enough that I don’t think the week off in between made much difference.  The fact that I didn’t miss the book at all does factor in to my rating though!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has the stated premise of what would you do if your goodbye love letters accidentally got sent, but most of the novel is actually about a love quadrangle.  Lara Jean has secretly loved her sister Margot’s boyfriend Josh for a long time.  When Josh and Margot break up Lara Jean begins fake dating Peter in part to hopefully make Josh jealous.  What ends up happening is expected and therefore believable teen drama.  There is an interesting familial layer to the novel as well—the Covey sisters, including the youngest Kitty, live with their dad after their mom passed away when they were little, as well as some subtle notes on racism faced by the Korean American family.

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I read this novel in two chunks, before and after my trip of a lifetime on the West Coast Trail, but it is simple enough that I don’t think the week off in between made much difference. The fact that I didn’t miss the book at all does factor in to my rating though!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has the stated premise of what would you do if your goodbye love letters accidentally got sent, but most of the novel is actually about a love quadrangle. Lara Jean has secretly loved her sister Margot’s boyfriend Josh for a long time. When Josh and Margot break up Lara Jean begins fake dating Peter in part to hopefully make Josh jealous. What ends up happening is expected and therefore believable teen drama. There is an interesting familial layer to the novel as well—the Covey sisters, including the youngest Kitty, live with their dad after their mom passed away when they were little, as well as some subtle notes on racism faced by the Korean American family.

***

53 notes

trishisthinkingagain:

catagator:

I’m trying to talk up more backlist YA on the Tumblr parts since it seems like the right place to do so.
This weekend, buy yourself Hilary T. Martin’s Wild Awake if you want a great contemporary YA book about mental illness. It’s pulsing and manic and honest, with a mystery and romance that is, at heart, a novel about grief and overwhelming loss. It is $1.99 at all e-book retailers. 
I wrote a lengthier review of the book here, and Hilary wrote a guest post for Stacked last fall about mental illness in YA fiction. 
This is worth far more than $2.00. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re in for a huge treat. 

Amazing book!

For frugal readers who still like quality…

trishisthinkingagain:

catagator:

I’m trying to talk up more backlist YA on the Tumblr parts since it seems like the right place to do so.

This weekend, buy yourself Hilary T. Martin’s Wild Awake if you want a great contemporary YA book about mental illness. It’s pulsing and manic and honest, with a mystery and romance that is, at heart, a novel about grief and overwhelming loss. It is $1.99 at all e-book retailers

I wrote a lengthier review of the book here, and Hilary wrote a guest post for Stacked last fall about mental illness in YA fiction

This is worth far more than $2.00. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re in for a huge treat. 

Amazing book!

For frugal readers who still like quality…

(via yahighway)

Filed under Wild Awake

0 notes

While it took me a little while to get into this novel, once I got going I didn’t really want to stop.  It was a pleasant surprise to enjoy yet another book set in a boarding school, but Frankie is bright and determined so I definitely wanted her to succeed.  I would have hoped for some longer lasting changes from her efforts, but based on the prevailing patriarchy and stiff social expectations what ended up happening is probably pretty accurate.  There was also technically a love triangle but thankfully Frankie spends more time on the Bassett Hounds then on her love life!  Worth a read ( and a few chuckles or eye rolls depending on how you feel about her vocabulary and Matthew’s editing).

***

While it took me a little while to get into this novel, once I got going I didn’t really want to stop. It was a pleasant surprise to enjoy yet another book set in a boarding school, but Frankie is bright and determined so I definitely wanted her to succeed. I would have hoped for some longer lasting changes from her efforts, but based on the prevailing patriarchy and stiff social expectations what ended up happening is probably pretty accurate. There was also technically a love triangle but thankfully Frankie spends more time on the Bassett Hounds then on her love life! Worth a read ( and a few chuckles or eye rolls depending on how you feel about her vocabulary and Matthew’s editing).

***

Filed under E Lockhart The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks YA

0 notes

Love Letters to the Dead is a lovely novel about the complexities of grief, friendship, love, family, and adolescence.  I really appreciate how the various situations (including new love, quiet lesbians, sexual abuse, the loss of a sibling…) were all done in what felt to be a true rather than contrived way.  Yes, certain issues circle around allowing for nice closure at the end, but it still felt right.  It didn’t take me long to get wrapped up in Laurel’s story and hope for happier times for her.  My one issue is the actual letters themselves.  While I really liked the connection between the people she chooses to write to and her journey, the letters themselves didn’t feel very real…it could have been a novel of diary entries with some smaller letters to famous dead people because they didn’t feel like true letters to me.  Nonetheless, it is a solid story with a lot of heart and I definitely recommend it.

***1/2

Love Letters to the Dead is a lovely novel about the complexities of grief, friendship, love, family, and adolescence. I really appreciate how the various situations (including new love, quiet lesbians, sexual abuse, the loss of a sibling…) were all done in what felt to be a true rather than contrived way. Yes, certain issues circle around allowing for nice closure at the end, but it still felt right. It didn’t take me long to get wrapped up in Laurel’s story and hope for happier times for her. My one issue is the actual letters themselves. While I really liked the connection between the people she chooses to write to and her journey, the letters themselves didn’t feel very real…it could have been a novel of diary entries with some smaller letters to famous dead people because they didn’t feel like true letters to me. Nonetheless, it is a solid story with a lot of heart and I definitely recommend it.

***1/2

Filed under Ava Dellaira Love Letters to the Dead YA