Will Grayson, Will Grayson

I borrowed Will Grayson, Will Grayson  by John Green and David Levithan from Okanagan Regional Library.

Basically, I loooooooooved this book!!!!

I heard great things about this book when it first came out (no pun intended) but I thought the story of two guys with the same name meeting might be kinda lame. I decided to give it a shot because I haven’t read much with LGBQT characters (basically just the Lord John series by Gabaldon)  and while there are some sources for gay reader’s advisory I like to diversify my reading.

The characters are unbelievably real. There’s something in the story about how we can be taken in by a fictional person, fall for someone who isn’t actually there, and I feel like I have with all of these characters. Not in a romantic way, just in a I would be their best friend kind of way. Each of the characters ooze with genuine personality. I adore flawed heroes and underestimated rejects and I got my fill of both.

The sarcasm, bluntness, confusion, and raw emotion that the authors throw at us is exquisite. I rarely feel this emotionally invested in a book, I laughed, I cried…it’s a good thing I decided to read at home instead of at the park because I probably would have looked mentally disturbed.

The language is fresh and young, completely realistic dialogue for online chat, texting and awkward conversations.

This was an amazing collaboration between authors. Alternating chapters is an interesting and effective way to get two writers involved in the same story and the distinct narrators of the same name make this possible.

This story deals with so many great things that it has something for everyone. A book club could discuss

  • Friendship
  • Clinical Depression
  • Love
  • Online Dating
  • Homosexuality
  • High school drama (as in plays not angst, although that too)

There’s swearing, talk about sexuality and talk about suicide so if you are sensitive about these things be forewarned, but I think that they add to the authentic feel and are important to getting the message across.

Gave me goosebumps

shiverShiver by Maggie Stiefvater was awesome. I may have been watching too much HIMYM because I say awesome a lot lately, but seriously it was a great book and here’s why:

  • It dealt with neglectful and abusive parents, doing a pretty great job at showing the child’s POV
  • The awkwardness of Grace’s evolving friendships with Olivia and Rachel was well written, touching on something a lot people face when they reach a certain age
  • The werwolf lore was different from any I am familiar with, and really interesting
  • It spoke to the nerd in me, with lines like “Books are more real when you read them outside” and fantastic descriptions of the book store and the candy shop (my 2 favourite places 😉 )
  • It was an easy read but with sophisticated language

I’m on the waiting list for Linger at the library

Heat Wave was Lukewarm

I mentioned a while ago that I was excited to find Heat Wave by Richard Castle, which is a ghostwriter throwback to the show Castle starring Nathan Fillion.

I just read it and I have mixed feelings. It wasn’t bad considering it is a bit of a gimmick. The plot was decent, the characters similar to those on the show, and a few twists. It was enjoyable, but really not much more than a mediocre episode of Castle.

I think Richard Castle the character would have more interesting word-plays and a more sophisticated use of language. The book didn’t have Castle’s humour, and felt a bit bland. Not terrible but I can’t rave.

A Modern Fearie Tale

cover art of Tithe by holly blackIn this modern faerie tale the teenage heroine doesn’t mop the floor and sweep the chimney, she takes care of her alcoholic mother and deals with dropping out of school to pay the bills. This is no Disney story with a completely happy ending so be prepared for a bit of gore and some sex.

That being said, I love the gritty reality of Holly Black’s Tithe. It was thoughtful and well written, to the point where I read most of it in one sitting. If you have already read Tithe check out The White Cat.

It’s like Holly Black put a curse on me

Cover Art of White CatThe Curse Workers:  White Cat comes out May 4th 2010 but  I got my hands on an advanced reader’s copy. It took me a little while to get into the novel, I wasn’t sure if I liked Cassel (the narrator). Once the mysteries in the plot began to unravel I was hooked, and could not put it down. Holly Black does an excellent job at creating a complex world in the background of the story, giving readers a feel for Cassel’s version of our world. There are more layers to her characters than I expected, and I was pleasantly surprised by their development in the last few chapters. The ending is brilliant and devastating at the same time, wrapping things up nicely but leaving me wanting more.

Would definitely recommend this, and don’t give up if you find the first few chapters a bit strange.

I always wanted to be a gamer girl…

I highly recommend Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi to teens and YA librarians. It is an enjoyable love story full of teen angst but also so much more.

It deals with serious issues that effect young adults:

  • Divorce- the mixed feelings that you deal with when your parents splitcover art of Gamer Girl
  • Bullying- the jerks who make high school unbearable at times
  • Media Literacy-the dangers of online gaming and identity theft
  • Breaking down stereotypes- don’t diss the geek girl but don’t diss the in crowd
  • Loneliness-being isolated from your old friends, trying to make new ones

But it’s not an after-school special over the top cheesy way of shoving issues down teens’ throats, it’s fun to read and relatable.

Tie ins

You will enjoy this book if you like manga or online gaming

Review-Teen Spaces

cover artThis weekend I wrote a paper on the best practices for redesigning a young adult area in an urban public library. I may share that paper later, and definitely intend to link you to some of the great library redesigns I found pictures of. First I would like to discuss one of the sources I looked at during my research,

Bolan, Kimberly. Teen Spaces: The Step-by-Step Library Makeover. Chicago: American Library Association, 2009.

I enjoyed how much emphasis Bolan put on understanding what teens want and what they need before designing anything. Getting their input is essential to making the library work for them.

A great feature of the book is it gives examples from real libraries, and one of the examples was London Public Library, which was a pleasant surprise in an American book.

I do think that a book that talks about the value of colour and discusses aesthetics would have been better off with colour images, because a drab black and white photo of a teen space that the caption is telling us is painted and textured is not very inspiring.

Bonus: She includes sample surveys that you can model your own after when getting input from the youth in your community

While I can’t say I agree with everything in it, I would recommend this book to anyone tackling a redesign.

Summoning up a Review

I started reading Kelley Armstrong’s The Summoning because of the promotion where it is available for free online. I wanted to see if it was worth advertising on this blog, and it is. I enjoyed the parallels between the onset of magic and mental illness. The author brought awareness of the stigma surrounding mental illness to an audience that might not have chosen a book directly about that topic. The challenges faced by the teens at Lyle House represent the challenges those faced with real mental illness face. Armstrong seems to be in the school of thought that being treated like you are crazy makes you believe  you are crazy, and this encourages more behaviour that restarts the cycle. Being cut off from their lives and surrounded my other mentally ill patients sometimes severs their connection with reality instead of restoring it.

I’m sure the target audience will focus more on the cool magic powers and the conspiracies, but I hope they will be moved as I was and think about real homes for troubled teens.

Putting mental illness aside, the author explored the general theme of wanting to feel normal and have the changes you are going through be explained. This is an element I think many teens will relate to.


Review: Wintersmith

cover art of the Wintersmith This was my first Terry Pratchett novel, and will not be my last. The man has an  incredible sense of humour and delightfully twisted use of language.

The Good

  • – The blue guys on the cover are Feegles and they are hilarious
  • – The relationship between the witches and the villages is really well developed
  • – Values honesty and hard work
  • – I like the balance of defying and maintaining tradition

The Bad

-It does not indicate anywhere on the cover or first few pages that this is 4 books into a series (It does mention Diskworld but does not clarify where it is the scheme of things).

The Ugly

– Normally novels have some sort of transition when the author jumps from one character in one location to a totally new location and character. Pratchett needs to learn the value of ” * * *” or a sword or some little image to indicate he has transitioned. There were several time-jumps that could have been clarified better as well.

Conclusion

Great for young adults and imaginative older ones