Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blast from the Past - Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

So, I have to read this book for a comparison paper that I am writing for my young adult literature class. I read this book a LONG time ago, back when it first came out and I was really getting into LGBTQ YA lit. There are so many thing that I love about this book including two of my favorite characters:
Min: The main character Russel's best friend, who is bisexual! There aren't enough bi characters in YA lit. Or in any lit really.
Belinda: The straight girl who wants to join the Geography Club because she likes geography! yay geography!

I love how realistic this book is. The main characters, all who are gay to some degree, aren't perfect. The do spend a good portion of the book complaining about how it's hard to be gay in a society that devalues homosexuality. But unlike some gay teens in YA lit, they don't become dumping grounds for morality. They make mistakes and are assholes to other kids, which is totally real. (not very nice, but real). I'm specifically thinking of how they treat another student named Brian Bund. Brian is the school loser, and gets teased and assaulted on a daily basis. While some of the members of the club (Min, Belinda) think they should invite Brian to their club (even though they aren't sure if he is gay) others don't want to risk further alienation from the student body. And this sucks! But it's realistic to how teenagers are. Which I like alot. And I love how they start out this way, but grow and change over the course of the book. Yay for growing and changing! Hartinger writes teenagers as they actually would be, not how we, as readers (especially adult readers) want them to be. Good stuff.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Freaks and Revelations by Davida Willis Hurwin

Freaks and Revelations – What a book. Seriously. This sat on my shelf for a really long time, I’m not sure why. Maybe I wasn’t ready to read it, maybe I was a little scared, the subject matter is super intense, and even more than that, it’s based on a true story. Hurwin tells the story of two boys, Jason who is 13 and Doug who is 17, whose very different lives are on a collision course towards each other, tragedy and inevitably growth. Jason is a gay hustler in San Francisco and Los Angeles. He didn’t choose this life, it was thrust upon him after his mother kicked him out for being gay. Doug is unhappy with his life and his family, and is slowly sinking into the depths of drugs, punk music and white supremacy. (the ultimate trio!) The majority of the book chronicles the two years of their lives before they meet. And that meeting is what changes their lives forever.
I don't want to give away to much, but the book flap, as well as the amazon.com review, both describe the event as a hate crime or a gay bashing. So basically Doug gay bashes Jason to within an inch of his life, and both are traumatized. The amazing part is what happens when they meet up again, twenty years later. And the amazing thing about it is that it's true! It really happened! Hurwin takes some liberties with the storytelling aspect, and the narrative portions of the two years leading up to the event are all fiction, but the events are true and here are some links describing the history.


I think it is pretty amazing that two such differing people are able to learn from their history and in Doug's case, mistakes, and come together to teach others about hate and intolerance, as well as love and acceptance. I also think it is amazing that Hurwin turned this into a ya novel, it is such an important aspect of LGBT history, and a wonderful story to tell, and Hurwin tells it extremely well. Her dialogue, is sharp, witty and heartbreaking, especially Jason's, who is forced to claim a persona of a someone much older and street-wise. And she manages to imbue in Doug enough sadness and tragedy so that the reader feels connected to him, and although his actions were awful and hateful, is able to feel happiness at his ultimate redemption. This is a wonderful book and I recommend it to anyone who likes stories about love, friendship, hate, betrayal, redemption, as well is readers interested in the history of punk and the LGBT struggle.

Friday, August 20, 2010

This sucks

So Ellen Hopkins has been banned again. This time from a Teen book festival in Texas. Here is a link to her discussion on livejournal: http://ellenhopkins.livejournal.com/11666.html. In response to this, Pete Hautman and number of YA authors have dropped out of the festival in protest. http://petehautman.blogspot.com/2010/08/nasty-thing-in-corner.html Hopkin's novels, written in verse, deal with very serious topics including drug addiction, teenage prostitution, suicide and sexual abuse. She doesn't beat around the bush and her novels are raw and intense. It is understandable that some people might be offended by these topics, which is fine, they don't have to read them. But when the put their personal views upon the general population, specifically the teenage audience, they are doing an extreme disservice to readers everywhere. Two things really upset me about this.
1) The initial complainer was a librarian. Librarians are supposed to support free speech, intellectual freedom, and are under no circumstances supposed to encourage banning books. WTF? It is one of the specific statements, in the American Library Association code of ethics, that "We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources." Additionally, "We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources." What this librarian did was wrong and in direct violation of her post. And I can't believe that the superintendent didn't take into consideration ANY of the other opinions, except hers and a few parents. OI.
2) Kids really like Hopkins books. While censorship is always wrong and should be frowned upon intently, sometimes the books that are opposed to aren't in wide circulation. But Hopkin's novels have a large audience, and I have met literally hundreds of kids who eagerly await her newest books. To deny them what could be a life changing moment, where they get to meet this esteemed author, is wrong. I remember when I was growing up I met two of my favorite authors, Lois Lowry and Yoko Kawashima Watkins, and what a profound affect this had on me as a child. These poor kids will never experience that.

Also, while I totally support the other authors who dropped out in protest, and I think they are doing the right thing, I can't help but feel so bad for the children and teens who are now missing out here. What message are we sending to these readers? Who is really being hurt here? Certainly Ms. Hopkins is saddened by these events, but the young adults who her visit would affect are the real losers in this situation. WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

Pink by Lili Wilkinson

Alright, first of all, how awesome is this cover! I love the contrast between the pink and the black. But aside from the cover, this is probably the best book I read all summer, and I work at a bookstore and am in library school, so I read a lot of books this summer. (We will exclude Mockingjay for the moment, as it is not yet August 24th...) Pink tells the story of Ava, who transdfers schools and joins the school musical in an attempt to fit in with the "normal" crowd. She quickly learns that no one is normal, and that might not be a bad thing. So, the back of this book does not make any mention of the fact that Ava is a lesbian and is in a long term relationship with a girl named Chloe. I both like and dislike this editorial/marketing choice. This is not a coming out story, but it also kind of is. Ava struggles with her sexuality at various points in the novel, but for the most part, she is very happy in her relationship and her family is very supportive. I like the fact that Ava's sexuality, while certainly an important aspect of the novel, is not the MAIN point. It is nice to see LGBT characters that fit into the story fluidly and whose sexuality is just another awesome aspect of their character.
And the characters in this story are awesome. Wilkinson is a great writer and all of her characters are fully developed. Ava makes friends with the popular kids and with the stage crew kids (called screws) and Wilkinson manages to make the reader fell like he/she really knows these kids, without providing extensive backstory. My favorite was Alexis, who starts out as a vapid (albeit incredibly smart and talented) popular girl, but who ultimately becomes incredibly endearing and hilarious. That's another thing I loved about this book. Althought it deals with serious issues, identity, belonging, sexuality, death, it isn't super serious, and it is HILARIOUS. Good job Ms. Wilkinson. It is not preachy in the slightest! The only issue that arises, is the fact that there is no mention of Ava's sexuality at all. I can understand why they didn't include it in the blurb, as it is not THE ISSUE in the novel, but it is central to her character, and readers who pick up the book expecting the traditional coming of age story might be in for a little shock. But that isn't really a big deal and it could change before the book actually gets released. So read it!

This book will be released Feb 8th, 2011, from Harper Collins. but I loved it so much I had to review it right away! Thanks for the review copy Anne!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Obligatory BEA 2010 Post

Like hundreds of other bloggers (and publishers, authors, teachers, librarians, shnorrers) I took went to the Book Expo America last week. This was my second year going and unlike last year, my boyfriend decided to stay home this time, leaving me to carry a million pounds of heavy books all on my own! This year was pretty crazy compared to last, the whole show was on one floor instead of two, which made it seem as if there was three times as many people, and they condensed the floor show down to two days instead of three. Last year I went in with a kind of sketchy plan of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see, also last year I didn't have the same ridiculous knowledge of upcoming YA titles that I do now. (I'm not bragging, I'm lame, I have every book release marked in my day planner. Also, I have a day planner.) This year I recognized a lot more upcoming stuff and was able to plan better which authors I wanted to meet. Some of the more exciting things that happened to me, in a convenient numbered list. (because I cannot figure out how to make bullets)

1. Speed dating with Children's book authors where I met some favorite authors including:
- Bryan Collier (Illustrator for many picture books including Rosa, Barack Obama and the upcoming Dave the Potter which is super beautiful)
- Karen Gray Ruelle (The Grand Mosque of Paris)
- Diana Peterfreund (Rampant!)
- Lauren Kate (Fallen and the upcoming sequel Torment)
- Charlie Higson (The Enemy)
and a lot more, but those were pretty exciting.

2. I got to hang out with my friends Jenny and Sarah from Foreveryoungadult.com, best site ever! yay! and we ate pretzel croissant's from City Bakery, the most delicious thing ever. I also ate a lot of beef short ribs.

3. Meeting tons of other bloggers including Steph Su, Angie,
and Tania

4. Seeing American Idiot on Broadway, YAY GREEN DAY!

5. Meeting Patti Lupone as she signed her new book (actually she signed a two page excerpt that had a book plate on it, lame! but it was still amazing)

6. Being able to cross off a ton of the books on the previously mentioned, upcoming books section in my day planner! Although I didn't go crazy like some people (I still have the elbow marks in my side to prove it) Also a lot of the hot ARCS that were out had already come into my bookstore, yay! Although I didn't get Cassandra Clare's new book, but I bet the hardcover will totally be worth it and then it can match my hardcover Mortal Instruments BOXED SET HOLLER.

7. Meeting the people from Rowand and Littlefield, the publisher's who created my favorite line of non-fiction, library related textbooks about ya novels, including The Heart Has It's Reasons about LGBT YA novels.

There were a lot more fun things but I am tired right now, I can only hope next year will be just as awesome and I will see you all there as well!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Grand Mosque of Paris by Karen Gray Ruelle

So I am not the hugest fan of picture books, who knows, maybe when I have children of my own I will develop a deep appreciation for them and the stories they tell, but right now the are just kind of meh. However, I recently read this awesome book because the author, Ruelle, will be attending one of the events I am signed up for at the BEA (wahoo! book expo!) This is one picture book that she be read by everyone (except actually, little children, because there is a ton of text on each page, It's probably better for late elementary school and onward). Ruelle tells the story of a group of Muslims who joined together to provide sanctuary to a large number of Jews in Paris during the Holocaust. They let Jewish people hide in the Mosque and provided escape routes for them to take them to safe places. Additionally, they created false papers for the Jews that could "pass" as Muslim and helped them stay safe too. I had never heard of this story before which surprised me. As a pretty well educated Jewish girl from the suburbs, I was exposed every single year of my public school education to Holocaust studies. Additionally, I read a lot on my own. Now I have heard plenty about the Righteous Gentiles, or the Righteous Among Nations, people (non-Jews) who risked their lives to help Jews stay safe, but I was unfamiliar with this particular story.
There is a lot of discord today between Jews and Muslisms, especially in the Middle East. It makes me sad to read about and witness all the hatred between the two groups that I see frequently. But it gives me hope that it doesn't always have to be like this. History proves that Jews and Muslims (and other people too!) can get along, and if we truly are doomed to repeat the past over and over again, at least this story shows us that's not all bad.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Fold by An Na

I bought this book a while ago at my bookstore, for some reason I put it on my shelf and forgot about it. About a month ago I saw the bright green cover and grabbed it to read on my break. The Fold is about a high school student named Joyce who is faced with the dilemma of whether or not to accept plasic surgery from her aunt to change the shape of her eyes. The idea of Korean women getting the fold put into their eyes, so that they might look more Caucasian is not something that was new to me. I can remember writing a paper in my freshman writing class at NYU about an MTV special I had seen on the topic hosted by Su Chin Pak (who is awesome!) I also recently watched the surprisingly awesome show, Jessica Simpson's Price of Beauty, where she went to Japan and met with a woman who was considering the surgery.
So while the surgery might not be national news, it is talked about in pop culture, especially on MTV. The book was great. Joyce was kind of aggravating sometimes, but the author more than made up for a lackluster main character with awesome supporting characters. My favorite was Joyce's sister Helen, who throughout the course of the book goes through a huge transformation of her own. The whole family is effected by both Joyce and Helen's dilemmas and that is what I loved most about this novel, it's description of family.
A lot of YA novels leave out important stuff that every day, real life teens experience. There is a great post on what's missing in YA at http://stephsureads.blogspot.com/2010/04/whats-missing-in-ya-lit-contemporary.html who is one of the best bloggers out there. There was also a recent NY Times article about parents in YA literature and how they mostly fit ridiculous sterotypes, there just arent any YA books with normal families. Now, I know that isn't true, and YA lit with well rounded families do exist, but they are far and few between. And while I wouldn't necessarily say that Joyce's family is completely normal, they are well rounded and realistic, and this is a breath of fresh air. I love reading about real families and the struggles they go through, and An Na does a great job of telling the story of this family.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In My Mailbox

So I said that I wasn't going to keep doing all of these posts because I feel bad and I don't want this to become all about the books I get at my awesome job. BUT I am super excited about one particular book that I got this week from Little,Brown and I wanted to share my excitement. YAY! So Roger, the LB rep, was kind enought to get me an arc of... Beautiful Darkness!!! I am so excited for this book, I loved Beautiful Creatures so much and when I heard there was a sequel coming out I got so excited. Everyone should read these books, yay! Thanks Roger!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis

I LOVED this book as a child. I know it isn't new or anything, but I want to review it because it is just an incredible book that deals with an important piece of history that I personally, did not really know a lot about. The book deals with various hilarious incidents on the life of the main character Kenny, who is around eleven years old. Kenny has an older brother Byron who is a little bit of a bully and a younger sister Jo that he adores. Most of the book focuses on the crazy antics that Kenny gets up to and the relationship he has with the rest of the people in his family. Byron is pretty mean to Kenny and picks on him a lot, but he also stands up for him when it is necessary and gets in to some pretty crazy situations himself. Most of the books is funny and light, any middle schooler reading it would think it's funny and hilarious and it is. However, towards the end of the book, the whole family takes a trip down to Birmingham (like in the title!) While the trip starts in the same vein as the rest of the book, (crazy pranks and angry parents) it takes a much more serious turn when Kenny's sister Jo is at the 16 street Baptist Church on the day it gets bombed in a vicious hate crime. Here is some information about the bombing if you want to know more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16th_Street_Baptist_Church_bombing

Suffice to say, the book takes a slightly more intense turn (although it ends on an upbeat note) and we the readers are introduced to an event in history that is often overlooked.

I think it is great that there are books out there that cover this lesser known historical events. It might surprise some people out there that a lot of schools today don't cover things that seem really important to us. When I was in New York recently I was shocked that people my own age had never heard of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, so it is great that this particular event is being represented in a way that is extremely accessible to children. Are there other events out there that need a bigger presence in YA literature?

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

I am not going to lie. Part of why I love this book so so so much is that it takes place in Boston, where I live and I enjoy reading a book and shouting out "I've been there!" multiple times per chapter. But I also love this book because it is probably one of the most well written, witty young adult books I have ever read in ANY category, not just books with LGBT characters. This book also has many other things that I enjoy, here is a list:

Musical Theater
Julie Andrews AND Mary Poppins
Deaf Culture
International Intrigue (ok, just a the daughter of an ambassador)
Dreams coming true
Unrealistic jaunts to NYC
Happy Endings

So much awesome stuff right? The book focuses mainly on three characters, T.C. Augie and Alejandra (the aforementioned daughter of an ambassador). T.C. is trying to get Alejandra to date him, Augie is coming to terms with his sexuality and Alejandra is trying to break free from her parents rigid expectations. It all culminates in an awesome musical theater production and other fun stuff that is too spoilery to talk about. There is also a really great subplot where T.C. befriends a deaf orphan who he (T.C.) thinks is a baseball savant. It might seem that the Boy rescues sad orphan from horrible future plot would be cheesy and overplayed, but it is totally heartwarming and touching.

This book is great for everyone to read, students, teachers, random adults, bloggers, everyone ever. Just go read it. Now.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Where My Interests Lay

One of the reasons I have decided to make some changes to my blog is because of my specific interest in LGBT YA literature. I can't really remember what started my interest in this genre of books, but when I was in graduate school, getting a Master's degree in education, I focuses mainly on books with LGBT characters or by LGBT author's during my studies. As a former educator in the NYC public school system, I noticed that they read a very wide variety of books either as a whole class, or in small groups. Additionally, a large part of my college education focused specifically on bringing multicultural books into the English classroom. Obviously I feel that books by and about POC are extremely important for teens and middle grade students to read, I hope to focus on lots of those books in upcoming posts. But I have noticed, that even as schools trend towards reading more and more diverse titles, books by and about LGBT characters are still far and few between.

**LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. I realize that the acronym has grown to include QQIA [Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Allies] but for the purpose of this site, I think LGBT will suffice, let me know if I should change that.**

I think it is really important for the English classroom, and schools in general, to be more inclusive spaces. Many schools are already extremely supportive in creating safe spaces for their students and faculty, but I think many middle school and high school students, especially in areas that aren't major cities, are still sometimes fearful of being who they truly are. I would like for all students to feel safe and comfortable in school, school should not be a place where you are afraid. Hopefully this blog can show students and teachers good books to use in creating a more inclusive space for all.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel Fattah

Alright, here goes with my first review after lots of exciting changes! Ok, not that many changes but I AM going to try reviewing more books by POC and LGBT authors, liked I just said, one post ago.

This book is great, I can't really think of many other books that deal with the issues Muslim teens face, or actually any at all besides this one and Fattah's other book "Ten Things I Hate About Me." I read this book while I was sitting in my furnitureless apartment in the middle of Borough Park, Brooklyn. I had all hardwood floors and I repeat, NO FURNITURE. I sat on the floor for four hours, waiting for my bed to be delivered (damn you sleepy's) and read this book the entire time. So basically this book saved my sanity and boredom, but not my aching spinal chord.

The main character in this book, Amal, makes the decision early on to start wearing a hijab (head scarf) full time. Her decision is met with a lot of negativity, from her friends, her schoolmates, and even her family, but she sticks to her guns and doesn't let them bring her down! Ok, it's not as easy as that and she goes through a lot of inner turmoil and angst (my favorite) as she comes to terms with her decision.

Backing up Amal are a super duper cast of supporting characters, her four entertaining best friends, some cute boys, some bitchy girls, and her hilarious family.

Like I previously mentioned, the issues that Muslim teens face are not extremely prevalent in YA literature. I wish there were more books in general that dealt with teens facing religious issues and questioning their beliefs or their parents beliefs, or not questioning it, but embracing it and loving it. I don't have any particular religious ideal to push, but I think that many teens are struggling with these topics in real life and just like other things YA (sex, family, friendship, etc) religion is an important part of growing and forming your identity (for some, not all). Let's have some more of these books people!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


So I haven't been keeping up with my blog as much as I'd like. I don't want to this to just become a dumping ground for me to post all the books I get for review and I have decided to make a change. Tonight at dinner my friends and I were talking about the political role blogs can play, and while it is definitely not necessary for a blog to be political or discuss controversial topics, it is a good place for these topics when they arise. One of the things I am most interested in the study of YA literature are the voices that have typically been silenced. There has been much discussion about the lack of books, and book reviews, of YA lit by or about POC (People of Color), as well as other groups of people who are oppressed or minoritized (which isn't a really word, but it means what it sounds like.) Specifically I am talking about books by and about LGBT people. Lots of blogs don't want to focus on books that fall specifically within this category which is totally valid, I mean not everyone has focus on a 'very important issue' but I have decided I want to.

So this is where the changes come in, I am going to try to review mainly books by or about POC and LGBT people (or both!) I already have some books that fall into that category, but now I will hopefully have a lot more! Of course, if I read something that I consider to be "the best book ever" and it doesn't fall into that category, I am still going to review it.

My hope is, as a teacher and a future librarian, one day we won't need to have specific places to go to discuss these types of books, that the literature students, teens and everyone reads is just naturally diverse. But until then, here goes!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

In My Mailbox (6)

I got some good stuff from Random House this week! I also bought a couple of very exciting books including


Runaway by Meg Cabot
The Exile of Gigi Lane by Adrienne Maria Vrettos
The Metal Children - Adam Rapp
Utopian and Dystopian Writing for Children and Young Adults by Carrie Hintz and Elaine Ostry


Nancy and Plum by Betsy Macdonald
Notes From the Blender by Trish Cook and rendan Halpin
Rich and Mad by William Nicholson
A Crack in the Sky by Mark Peter Hughes
Museum of Thieves by Liam Tanner

Very exciting stuff!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

In My Mailbox (6) or Why I am Obsessed With Dystopian YA Literature

So right now I am reading the Nought's and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman and I am loving it. It's basically a retelling of the civil rights movement in America, only it is set in England and the Black people (Crosses) are the ones with all the power, while the White people (noughts) are the ones who are struggling for civil rights and equality. So interesting! Blackman does not go easy on the reader, there is a lot of death and violence and although the main characters are all very well developed, at times they are all extremely unlikeable. However, as unlikeable as they can be, I never stopped caring about them and about their stories, which I think is a true testement to Blackmán's incredible writing and storytelling.
Which leads me to the books I got this week, I went on a kind of insane dystopian book buying amazon binge. Now, I love my bookfair, but it's hard to beat amazon marketplace, especially for these older books which my store doesn't carry anyway. So here goes:

The entire Nought's and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman including:
Black and White (this is the American title of the first book)
Knife's Edge
Double Cross

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

The Children's Story by James Clavell

Flux and Fixed by Beth Goobie

Genesis by Bernard Beckett


Sapphique (The sequel to Incarceron which I ordered from the UK!) by Catherine Fisher

Additionally, I somehow managed to end up with three copies of Knife's Edge... so if anyone wants one just leave your email in the comments section and I'll mail it to you.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

In My Mailbox (5)

This is a weekly post inspired by Kristi from Thestorysiren.com go check out her new blog layout!

This week I bought a few books:

The Secret Under My Skin by Janet Mcnaughton
Keep Sweet by Michelle Dominquez Greene
Pedro and Me by Judd Winick

And as I mentioned last week I got a bunch of books for review from my store:

The Billionaire's Curse by Richard Newsome
Sincerely by Courtney Sheinmel (I loved her first two books, Positively and My So Called Family)
Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
The Steps Across the Water by Adam Gopnik
Red Moon Rising by Peter Moore
Home is With Our Family - by Joyce Hansen
Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

well that's it for this week! Thoughts?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Well, this book was certainly a trip. It was kind of like watching The Sixth Sense and Fight Club at the same time. A lot has been said about the two different covers of the book. Bloomsbury sent out the advanced reader's copies (arc's) with the cover on the left, but there was such an outcry of rage, considering the main character is Black, that they changed it the cover on the right. (even though that model looks nothing like the way the main character Micah describes herself) The main point of this book is that you can't trust anything Micah says, and it is really hard to read a book where the narrator never tells the truth. One of the interesting things I thought about the original cover, is that that since it depicts Micah as white, does that mean she is lying about being biracial? Larbalestier says no, she says that her race is on of the only things Micah actually tells the truth about and while I am all for a larger range of POC (people of color) in YA fiction (and everywhere) I think it would be extremely interesting if that was something Micah was in fact lying about. It is confusing, at points, trying to figure out Micah's racial identity. I am thinking specifically of a point towards the end of the book. Now I can't really go in to what happens without giving away a HUGE SPOILER, so if you haven't read the book and you plan on it, and you hate spoilers, stop reading.

When she is talking to Pete, the new wolf that goes to live with her family upstate, she mentions that she is the only Black wolf on her father's side and the rest are white, even though her father is Black. Huh? I am pretty sure that her whole "I and generations of my family before me are werewolves", is a huge delusion and she is really just a psychopathic killer trying to justify murdering her boyfrienD and the entire story pretty much takes place in her mind. So if that were the case, she would basically be saying she is the only Black person in her family which I'm pretty sure is biologically impossible. So what does it mean?


Is she lying about her race? Larbalestier says no, but that's the great thing about literature; once a book is published, it becomes open for a million interpretations and responses from the readers, some which the author might never had intended. Does that make them any less valid? That depends on which literary theory you believe in, and if you believe in reader response than my response and analysis is just as valid as anyone elses. But that's a whole other discussion. This is a great book, but it is very confusing. Read it if you are willing to scratch your head numerous times and go huhwhat?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

In My Mailbox (4)

This week I bought The Immortal Life of Henrietta Sparks by Rebecca Skloot about the woman behind the immortal HeLa cells and what her family went through. I also picked up a bunch of books for review, however I left work early because I was sick and I left them there. So instead of posting about them, I will post about five upcoming books I am really excited to read that are currently sitting on my shelves waiting for me.

1. The Enemy by Charlie Higson

2. The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

3. The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

4. The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell

5. Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

So that's what I am excited about and next week I will do a double post about what books I got.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Truancy by Isamu Fukui

Ok so listen up: when I first started reading this book I looked at the author's name and naively assumed it was a translation of some middle aged Japanese author. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I totally love all middle aged Japanese authors. But I was wrong. Surprisingly, Fukui is a college sophomore (!) at my alma mater, NYU. He wrote this book when he was 15 but the only hint that the author is not all grow'd up is that he actually manages to completely, and perfectly capture the disenfranchised teenager voice.
In "Truancy," an evil mayor of a nameless city rules the city and subsequently the educational system with an iron fist. Reading about how the students are treated by their teachers made me cringe, and I had HORRIBLE school experiences. Combating the evil government are "The Truancy" who will stop at nothing (even mass murder) to end the current regime. Caught up in the crossfire is Tack, who after the death of someone close to him, joins up with the Truancy to exact revenge. And holy moly does he kill a lot of people. This book is not for the faint of heart. As evil as the goverment, and as much as they deserve the horror rained down upon them by the Truancy, at times all the violence seems a bit excessive, which is something Tack realizes early on. This book is dystopian to the nth power and reminds me of my absolutely favorite book, The Hunger Games. I can't wait to read the sequel "Truancy: Origins" and then the third book comes out in August of 2011 (so far away!) I love this book so much it has inspired a new label. Top Book. I will hencetothereforth give this label to any book I consider an absolute must read for anybody, anywhere, anytime. I can't wait to keep reading.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

In My Mailbox (3)

This post is inspired by The Story Siren and it shows some of the fun books I got this week.


Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler
Broadway Lights: Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita

For Review

Kiss It by Erin Downing
The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood
Take Me There by Carolee Dean

That's about it! Time to get ready for the Oscar party!in

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I'm not sure anyone reads this, but I'll ask for help anyway. I want to get a 7th grade boy a bunch of books for a bar mitzvah present, nothing to innappropriate 9for example, no sex of any kind, but romance is ok but not above say, the hunger games.)

Any suggestions woudld be great!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Heidi Chronicles by Wendy Wasserstein

Kelly picked this one, 13, 13. So lucky number 13 led to The Heidi Chronicles, which is an excellent play about one woman's journey through feminism from the 1960s to the 1990s. The play really captures the changing face of feminism and how it was much more ardent and intense in the '70s than in the '80s. Although the play mostly focuses on Heidi and her female friends, it also examines her relationships with two men, her gay best friend Peter and her sometimes paramour Scoop. I have read this play ALOT. It seems like any class I took in college that had any relation to women, homosexuality, feminism, culture in the 1970's or '80s, drama, or any combination of these topics made us read the book. It wasn't a huge problem for me because the book is so engrossing and it lead me to read Wasserstein's first (and only) novel, 'The Elements of Style.' I would recommend this play to any woman, from age 14 until 104. Heidi's voice really resonates with me and I think this is probably a must read for anyone interested in women's studies or women's history in any way. Also, it won a Tony award and a Pulitzer. Holler.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

In My Mailbox (2)

This is hosted by Krisit from Thestorysiren.com, she's awesome. Here are the books I got this week.

House Rules - Jodi Picoult (YAYYYYY! I love her and I am so excited to read her new book.)

From Simon and Schuster:
Glimpse - Carol Lynch Williams (I loved her book 'The Chosen One')
White Cat - Holly Black
After the Kiss - Terra Elan McVoy
She's So Dead to Us - Kieran Scott
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson
It's Not Summer Without You - Jenny Han
Claire de Lune - Christine Johnson
Morpheus Road: The Light - D.J. MacHale

I also got The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell which I found on a shelf in the back of the store hiding. I am really excited for that one, it sounds awesome. Sorry about now pictures, I still can't figure out how to make it look good, oh well.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

Before I read this book, the only thing I knew about Lauren Myracle was most of her books were titled after chat room acronyms (ttfn, ttyl) I wasn't so keen on reading an entire book written in instant message format so I was a little hesitant to read Bliss, but boy am I glad I did. Bliss is the child of two draft dodging hippies who is sent to live in the south with her proper old grandmother. Bliss is super laid back and chill and into peace and love, so it's a harsh awakening when she gets to a school where there is one black student and rampant racism. There are also these weird interludes where an unknown character is doing crazy blood rituals and communicating with her kitty. Is it: Sara-Lynn the aloof, bitchy popular girl, Thelma, the hanger-on who just wants to be popular or Sandy, the fat girl who is teased by everyone except Bliss. The best part of this book is definitely the random history that Myracle throws in about the Charles Manson trials. Everyone at Bliss' school is obsessed with them and it is super interesting to read about all these women who were brainwashed and willing to kill for Manson. Good times.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

In My Mailbox (1)

So this is a post about the cool books I bought/received for review from work that is on lots of other book blogs. It was started by The Story Siren @ Thestorysiren.com and inspired by Alea at aleapopculture.blogspot.com. I got a lot of fun books this week that I want to share with everyone so I hope I do this right.

Newes from the Dead by Mary Hooper
Double Helix by Nancy Werlin
The Hole We're In by Gabrielle Zevin (I didn't even know she had a new book coming out, I love her! It's not YA but it looks super awesome)
What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson (yay! LGBT ya!)
Breathe My Name by R.A. Nelson ( I love Nelson's book "Teach Me").

For Review (well, they ended up on my librarything so I could potentially review them some day.)

Rules of Attraction: A Perfect Chemistry novel by Simone Elkeles
Mistwood by Leah Cypess
Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn
Numbers by Rachel Ward
The Beautiful Between by Alyssa Sheinmel
7 Souls by Barnabas Miller and Jordon Orlando
Birthmarked - Caragh M. O'Brien

There are more I think but I am at my parents house right now so I don't remember. Now I am off to Vegas for a week! Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Perfect by Natsha Friend

Don't let this girly pink cover fool you, this book deals with some SERIOUS issues, but not in a way that makes you think, "gee this book is sure dealing with some SERIOUS issues." Perfect focuses on Isabelle, an eighth grader who has a lot of problems in her life. She lives with her mother and her sister, all of them still reeling from the death of her father. Her grief manifests itself in her inabilty to stop binging and purging. The book focuses on what happens when her bulimia is found out and what she has to go through to recover. I read this book when I was leading a book club for seventh grade girls at the middle school I taught at in Brooklyn and they all loved it. It is the perfect (no pun intended) book for middle school girls because it deals with a very important issue without being preachy, but it is still an extremely engaging read. One of the main reasons that I read a ton of YA literature is to stock up on good recommendations for my students. This book falls squarely into that category.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Laramie Project

The Laramie Project is a play by Moises Kaufman that culls together interviews conducted by Tectonic Theater Project with various people from Laramie, WY, as well as people associated with Matthew Shepard who was brutally tortured and murdered in October of 1998 in a hate crime related to his homosexuality.
The play deals with the reactions of various people from his hometown including the boy who found him after the assault, random townspeople who knew the boys involved in the assault, the bartender from the bar where Matthew was last seen, various LGBT people from the town, a member of the clergy, associates from the college he attended and many others. There are many poignant essays about the effect his death had on the town, I pretty much sobbed during the entire show when I saw it.
A few important points:
- The movie version (by HBO) incorporates real footage from the news reports covering the events including Ellen's heartbreaking reaction, and a very intense vigil in Washington Square Park in NYC all shouting "shame" over and over again which makes me choke up just to think about it.
-There is a great moment where Fred Phelps and his horrific, bigoted, homophobic, nazi-esque, hate group the Westboro Baptist Church come to protest at Matthew Shepard's funeral and spew there hate. However, they soon find that the people of Laramie are not going to take their hatred lying down. A group of people dressed up as angels with super big wings stand between the funeral and the protesters so that the protestors cannot be hard. NICE.
- During the annual Laramie parade (for the 4th of July maybe? or just civic pride) a small group of people join on at the end in show of support of Matthew Shepard and his family. By the time the parade is finished, thousands of people have joined in.
- One of the most intense moments comes at the end, during the sentencing of Matthew's killers, when Shepard's father basically says Matthew supported the death penalty despite what people might think, and although he (Matthew' father) very much wants them to die for the pain they have caused his family, he knows that sparing their lives will force them to give thanks each and every day to the boy they killed. Intense.
When I was in college my former high school put on a performance of "The Laramie Project" that was protested by Phelp's "church." As it turned out, the protest of the protest was way bigger than the actual protest. We rock!
This is a great play, everyone should read it, if only to see that a community doesn't need to be defined by a tragedy that occurs there, and to always remember the memory of Matthew Shepard in hopes that a similar tragedy will not occur again.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nappy Edges by Ntozake Shange

I don't really read a lot of poetry. I know that is blasphemous to say and that as an English teacher I am supposed to love poetry more than anything and that my deepest desire is supposed to be imparting this love onto my students but, eh, I don't LOVE poetry. There are however, a few specific poems that I absolutely love (for example, Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost and My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke) and at the top of that list is the poem "With No Immediate Cause," from this collection. I don't know the legality of posting the poem so I will just post a link:
If you read the poem you will see that it seems very angry. The speaker is shocked and saddened by what she sees is society overlooking the horrific everyday violence and abuse women face. This is a common theme that runs throughout Shange's work. I can still vividly remember the scene from her amazing play "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf," where two children get thrown out of the window by an angry husband. That was traumatizing. This IS a very angry poem but it is more than that. I can remember as a teenager, reading this with my friend who had experienced some of the things Shange talks about and how reading it together opened up a whole new level to our friendship and our desire to educate others about these issues. This is not just a poem about someone who is angry over the state of things today, it is a call to arms, a rallying cry for all women, to come together, and support one another whenever we feel like life has given up on us. Good stuff. That's just one poem btw, the rest of the book is great too, but obviously, that poem really stuck with me.

Gypsy: Memoirs of America's Most Celebrated Stripper

So many pictures, yay! First and foremost, let me preface this post by saying "Gypsy" as written by Arthur Laurents, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim is pretty much my favorite musical of all time. I recently saw it (twice) in New York with Patti Lupone starring as Mama Rose, and let me tell you, that was a sight to be seen. As Seth Rudetsky was say, "it was a-MAH-zing." I have seen a lot of musical theater in my life, but I have never seen an audience give a performer a standing ovation in the middle of a number that quite literally stopped the show. Anyway, the book. So this book is the memoir of Gypsy Rose Lee, who during her time, was the most famous stripper in burlesque. She was known for not only being sexy and highly skilled in the art of the strip tease, but she was also hilarious. Unlike other women who just took of all there clothes and ran the stage shaking their junk, she actually put on a show. Her memoir, accordingly, is hilarious and was the basis for the musical. It has been said that a lot of what she says isn't necessarily one hundred percent "true," but who cares! Most of it probably is, and the most interesting aspect of her life (her relationship with her mother) was what the entire musical was formed around. Interesting fact: late in life, Gypsy's mother opened a lesbian boarding house where she shot and killed her lover (who was apparantly making a pass at Gypsy) and got off because it was ruled a suicide. hmmm. HERE SHE IS BOYS!

Shattered Dreams by Irene Spencer

Just like my Buffy phase, I also recently went through a phase where I read a multitude of books and memoirs about life as a Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint (FLDS) you know, a polygamist Mormon, like the kind on Big Love. Now, if you know me, you know that the one "religion" that I truly hate is scientology, but I also think FLDS' are pretty crazy. I can't imagine being married off to an eighty year old man who already has six wives, but reading these books help me do that a little! Shattered Dreams tells the tale of Irene Spencer who was:
raised strictly in the Principle as it was lived secretly and illegally by fringe communities of Mormon Fundamentalists- groups that split off from the LDS Church when it abandoned polygamy more than a century ago. In spite of her mother's warnings and the devotion of a boyfriend with monogamist intentions, Spencer followed her religious convictions-that living in polygamy was essential for eternal salvation-and became a second wife herself at the age of 16 in 1953. It's hard to tell which is more devasting in this memoir: the strains of husband sharing with - ultimately- nine other wives, or the unremitting poverty that came with maintaining so many households and 56 children. - Amazon.com
This whole thing is so messed up to me. Far be for me to judge someone based on their religious beliefs, but this doesn't seem like that to me. What is seems like is a way for a few select older men to completely dominate everyone in their lives, treat their families like dirt, and rape innocent little girls. Also, I feel awful for the young boys who get thrown out into the street, because the older men want to keep all the young girls for themselves. Disgusting. I was so happy when the government raided that compound and took out all of those children, but I wasn't surprised when they wanted to go back. It's hard to compete with years of torture and brainwashing. Other really great books that deal with this topic are "Stolen Innocence" by Lisa Pulitzer, "Escape" by Carolyn Jessop and "The 19th Wife" (which is fiction and has an awesome history of how the LDS church came to be) by David Ebershoff. I really urge people to read more about this topic and educate themselves about the horrors that are going on in this country, pretty much right next door.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

This next pick comes courtesy of my friend Deena whose favorite number is 16. Thus, she picked page 16, book 16 and I ended up with the wonderful novel “Dark Angel”, part of the night world series by the incomparable L.J. Smith. The Night World is a series of nine (soon to be ten!) books that focuses on, well, the night world. Comprised of vampires, witches, werewolfs, shape shifters and all other things creepy and crawly, the night world books show what happens when various members of the community break the most important law and fall in love with a human. In Dark Angel we discover Gillian who is being watched over by a guardian angel, only does he really have her best interests in mind? Smith is arguably most famous for her Vampire Diaries series which has been turned into the SUPER awesome television show starring Mia from Degrassi, Boone from Lost and Maureen from Freaks and Geeks. VD unlike GG, is a perfect example of when the tv show actually exceeds the written material in amazingness. The show is awesome, the books are kind of lame. But that doesn’t really have anything to do with Dark Angel does it? Oh well. What I love about the Night World series, is that even though each book focuses on (mostly) completely different characters, there is a clear story line that runs throughout all of the books. Soulmates and wild powers, ancient kings and the witch child, the whole series vibrates with intensity and all builds to a (hopefully) Armageddon-y conclusion. Which brings me to my main issue with the series. I read these books when I was in middle school. That was like 1997ish, and I think the books actually came out a few years before. But the final installment, Strange Fate, has STILL not been published. It is supposedly coming out in April or July or something, but there have been potential release dates for years, YEARS, what’s a poor, impatient girl supposed to do? Apparently “Strange Fate” is like 12,000 pages long so I am excited, and the first few chapters are available for consumption which gives me hope, but if I have to wait ten more years, I might go VAMPIRE STYLE on someone’s ass. I don’t really know what that means…

This next pick comes courtesy of my friend Deena whose favorite number is 16. Thus, she picked page 16, book 16 and I ended up with the wonderful novel “Dark Angel”, part of the night world series by the incomparable L.J. Smith. The Night World is a series of nine (soon to be ten!) books that focuses on, well, the night world. Comprised of vampires, witches, werewolfs, shape shifters and all other things creepy and crawly, the night world books show what happens when various members of the community break the most important law and fall in love with a human. In Dark Angel we discover Gillian who is being watched over by a guardian angel, only does he really have her best interests in mind? Smith is arguably most famous for her Vampire Diaries series which has been turned into the SUPER awesome television show starring Mia from Degrassi, Boone from Lost and Maureen from Freaks and Geeks. VD unlike GG, is a perfect example of when the tv show actually exceeds the written material in amazingness. The show is awesome, the books are kind of lame. But that doesn’t really have anything to do with Dark Angel does it? Oh well. What I love about the Night World series, is that even though each book focuses on (mostly) completely different characters, there is a clear story line that runs throughout all of the books. Soulmates and wild powers, ancient kings and the witch child, the whole series vibrates with intensity and all builds to a (hopefully) Armageddon-y conclusion. Which brings me to my main issue with the series. I read these books when I was in middle school. That was like 1997ish, and I think the books actually came out a few years before. But the final installment, Strange Fate, has STILL not been published. It is supposedly coming out in April or July or something, but there have been potential release dates for years, YEARS, what’s a poor, impatient girl supposed to do? Apparently “Strange Fate” is like 12,000 pages long so I am excited, and the first few chapters are available for consumption which gives me hope, but if I have to wait ten more years, I might go VAMPIRE STYLE on someone’s ass. I don’t really know what that means…

The Blinde Side by Michael Lewis

I read half this book. The reason is because while I really enjoyed the story of Michael Oher and the Tuhoy family, the rest was about the specific reason the left tackle (Oher's position) is so important to football, and the evolution of how it become one of the most highly paid positions in pro football, second pretty much only to the quarterback. So that part was pretty boring and I skipped most of it, but what I basically gleaned from what I did read was that the left tackle is superimportant because he protects, you guessed it!, the quarterback's blind side. So he can prevent an awful thing happening like Tom Brady getting tackled and ripping his acl and sitting out from a year and coming back and the Patriots never being quite as awesome as they once where. Bitter much? Yes. (I had to watch the Patriots/Giants superbowl in New York, with all my Giant's fans friends, while I had the stomach flu. )
So this position is muy importante. But I don't really care about that, what I care about is the feel good story of a bunch of white Christians rescuing an African American teenager from bitter poverty and then turning him into the "next big thing" in pro football. Ok, that's a little unfair but it's basically what the book boils down to. I haven't seen the movie yet but I'd like to because Sandra Bullock is awesome. The story was feel good and heart warming and the Tuhoy's are an amazing family and Michael Oher is a great example of a "rags to riches" success story, so yay for everyone involved, and Michael Lewis: next time please focus more on the heart of the story and less on the boring analysis-y stuff. K? Thanks.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Regina's Legacy - Sweet Valley High No. 73

Oh man, I love the Sweet Valley High books. They are about two beautiful, blonde twins, Jessica and Elizabeth, who are a "perfect size six." Elizabeth is the smart, studious, nice one and Jessica is a crazy bitch. This book focuses on Elizabeth, who receives a sweet camera after her friend Regina dies of a cocaine overdose. These chicks are hardcore! While the book where Regina dies is much more interesting, this book is pretty good if only because it involves drug rings, the mafia, and Jessica dating a guy who is only interested in one thing: a photo Elizabeth took (fooled you! it wasn't sex!) So some crazy stuff happens, darkrooms are vandalized, punches are thrown and everything ends up all fine and dandy, except of course, Jessica is hurt by the guy who Only Wanted One Thing, which ultimately ends up to her alienating herself from her friends and family and joining a cult in book no. 82, "Kidnapped by the Cult."
Recently, Random House republished the first couple books in the series which made me super excited. But then, when I opened them up to reminisce I noticed something fishy. Instead of being "perfect size sixes", the girls were now size four! And instead of Jessica dreaming about a sparkly gold pantsuit with extra-larage shoulder pads and a chunky turqoise necklace, she now wanted the last pair of sevens. COME ON GUYS, the only reason these books were so good was how well they captured the amazing levels of cheesiness that were present in the eighties. What's next? Are they going to to stop swooning over Burt Reynolds in favor of Taylor Lautner? Are they going to to trade their matching lavaliere necklaces for tiffany heart bracelets? Are they going to trade their sporty little fiat in for a prius! Ugh. As long as they keep the six part series where Margo, who is conveniently identical to Jessica and Elizabeth comes in and tries to kill them and take their place and then HER identical sister does the exact same thing five books late, I'll still be happy.

What Would Buffy Do: The Vampire Slayer as Spiritual Guide

So, my mom bought be this book during my Buffy obsession phase (which never really ended). She is all spiritual and mystical and stuff and I guess she thought I would appreciate examing Buffy through a different lens. And I did, really, I like being able to look at my favorite tv show in different ways so I can understand new things about it, and for all I know, Joss Whedon is super secretly religious. But I don't think so.
For some reason Buffy lends itself to a multitude of interpretations some legit and some freaky. There are endless academic texts analyzing it's art, it's aesthetics, it's language, it's ethics, it's morals, it's view of sex, it's view of women and plenty of other random things. And just like another gigantic character from a world of fantasy (Harry Potter!) Buffy is often compared to Jesus (in that she sacrifices herself to save the world among other things).
Although I, like my mother, love a good analysis, there comes a time when I throw up my hands and say, ENOUGH!, can't I just watch the show for fun and enjoy it's awesome girl power campiness without discussing if "Buffy is truly a Kierkegaardian knight of faith or if Faith's (the slayer) corruption and return to the good life demonstrate Platonic eudaimonism" (that's from the blurb for BTVS and Philosophy and I have no idea what it means.) I also think it's funny that on amazon, the Buffy books are all under the tab "good & evil" that about sums it up don't you think?
Buffy as a tv show obviously lends itself to much interpretation and discussion and I love that about it. I also love that when you go back and watch it for the 75th time you keep finding new things to say "oh! that's Joss referencing something that is going to happen in three seasons" about. And Joss is brilliant, there is no doubt about that, and he loves to write strong, tough women, which there are not enough of on tv (RIP Dollhouse) but sometimes I just want to sit back, and watch monsters die.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

You Know You Love Me: A Gossip Girl Novel

Sorry this imaged is smushed (but not in the Jersey Shore sense where smushing equals something far dirtier) I love these books, they are hilarious and witty and super juicy. However there are a million of them and they all kind of run together in my head. This pick comes courtesy of my boss Greg who likes to pick the highest number possible, when I asked him to give me a number from 1-30, he said 50. I made him choose again so he chose 29. Then when I told him to pick a number from 1-50, he was super excited and mad to pick 50. Thus, Gossip Girl.
This book is pretty much the same as all the rest. Blair and Serena fight and act super bitchy. Nate dates someone who isn't Blair and she gets all testy. Jenny is all innocent and freshman like, and Dan is a super sketchy, weirdo creep. The point of this is that the books are awesome and the tv show is not. In the books (as I just said) Dan is super creepy and a stalker and a lame hipster poet. On the show he is having threesomes with Hilary Duff!!! Oh Lizzie Mcguire, where did you go wrong? Also, on the show Vanessa doesn't have a shaved head and is way more mainstream then in the books where her anti-everything sentiments actually make sense. And Jenny? Don't even get me started. Taylor Momsen is like a crappier Courtney Love and Courtney Love SUCKS. The only redeem quality of the show is how awesome Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) is. In the books he is kind of a secondary character (who wheres scarfs and carries around a monkey, classic!) but on the show he is all, "I'm Chuck Bass..." And then he has sex with you in a limo. Or anywhere basically. He is awesome and his relationship with Blair on the show is amazing. It's like Cruel Intentions incestous sibilings Katherine and Sebastian all over again but without the incest. Oh well, you can't when them all.
So to recap, Gossip Girl books: yay. Gossip Girl tv show: Boo. Leighton Meister and Ed Westwick: Double yay! Taylor Momsen: Barf. Random cameos by Dawn from Buffy: holler!

You Gotta BE the Book

So my coworker Lauren thoughtfully provided me with my next pick, page 29, book 49 (that's pretty much the end of my whole collection!) I'm gonna be honest here, I read this book at least three years ago when I was an undergrad in English Education at NYU and I remember nothing about it. I will however, tell you a super hilarious story from the class where I maybe read this book (I totally don't remember which class it was for.) So back in 2006 (or 5 or 7) I took a class that combined English Ed students with Social Studies Ed students. For one of the assignments my group asked the rest of the class to respond to the material we were teaching in a "creative" way. Most of them just wrote poems or something similar, but one student, who was a total jerk, decided to do an interprative dance. Now this wasn't a guy you would picture as a dancer. He was not graceful or fluid, but he was EXTREMELY serious about his art. The rest of us pretty much dissolved into laughter from the get go with a few of his peers running out of the room, attempting to hide their snorts of laughter. Even the teacher couldn't contain herself. It was the greatest thing ever. Anyway, that has nothing to do with this book but it pretty much sums about my entire undergraduate educational experience at NYU. Two words: Interprative Dance.

In A Heartbeat

So for my first review I picked page 14, book 15 which ended up being a book I just read (lucky me) called "In A Heartbeat" by Loretta Ellsworth. (And I added a picture! go me with my computer skills!)
Here is a short summary from amazon:
When a small mistake costs sixteen-year-old Eagan her life during a figure-skating competition, she leaves many things unreconciled including her troubled relationship with her mother. From her vantage point in the afterlife, Eagan reflects back on her memories, and what she could have done differentl,y through her still-beating heart.
When fourteen-year-old Amelia learns she will be getting a heart transplant, her fear and guilt battle with her joy at this new chance at life. And afterwards when she starts to feel different - dreaming about figure skating, craving grape candy - her need to learn about her donor leads her to discover and explore Eagan's life, meeting her grieving loved ones and trying to bring the closure they all need to move on.
Told in alternating viewpoints, "In a Heartbeat" tells the emotional and compelling story of two girls sharing one heart.
Ok, so full disclosure here: one of my closest friends had a liver transplant a while back so reading books about this topic seem to hit close to home for me. I recently read a similar book called "Cold Hands, Warm Heart" about the exact same thing and I am pretty sure that Lurlene Mcdaniel has a similar type book as well. Obviously there is no shortage of books about this topic and for that I am grateful.
This book was great, Ellsworth compellingly tells the story of both girls pre and post transplant. We learn about Eagan's life through flashbacks she has in a sort of purgatory she's waiting in and how Amelia ultimately ended up with her heart. While the separate stories of the girls are incredibly interesting and moving, the best part of the novel is towards the end when both girls learn about each other and come to terms with life (Amelia) and death (Eagan) While I didn't sob uncontrollably at the end of this book like I did with "Elsewhere" by Gabrielle Zevin, there is a moment towards the very end that will make anyone choke up (but look closely, it's never fully explained.)
Overall, while some might think that this book reads like a slightly more literary Lurlene Mcdaniel novel, I believe it's worth the read. Amelia and Eagan's stories are heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time and anyone who has ever experienced any kind of loss will appreciate their tale.
Rating: four out of five stars.


Hi, maybe I will post here more often than my other, failed blogs. Here's what I am going to do, pick a number between one and thirty, and then pick another number between oen and fifty. That will result in a random selection from my librarything account which currently contains 1,456 books. Then I will review the book. I have read most of the books in my catalog so hopefully I won't end up reviewing something I haven't read. If that happens, I'll read it!