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classic review: “just listen” January 5, 2010

Posted by Katie in classic reviews.
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[Classic reviews are reviews that I’ve already written for another source and have moved the text here. I may comment further on them as well.]

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.
Speak // Hardcover // 400 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

Everyone thinks Annabel’s life is perfect. That is, except for Annabel. After a really awful summer, Annabel goes back to school and does her best to get through the school year despite the fact that both her best friends have dumped her. And then Annabel meets Owen and her life changes drastically once again.

This book was really good and I stayed up to finish reading it. I guessed Annabel’s secret, but it didn’t ruin the story for me. Sarah Dessen writes very realistic stories, so this is probably a pick for older teens, but it’s definitely one of my favorite recently read books. [March 2008]

Nearly two years later, I still find myself recommending this book to my tenth grade girls like it’s water. Nearly every one of them has read it, and they begged me to include it on our Teen Book Club vote (and I did) so that they could vote for it (which they did), and get their own copies (which the library bought them).

Even though I would argue that Dessen has a pattern with her novels (girl has problems in life, girl meets boy, girl changes her life — sometimes because of boy, not all the time, girl and boy get together, yay), I’m not bored by it and find myself instead wow-ed by her characterization and language. Every time I close a Sarah Dessen novel, I smile and want to start reading it again from the beginning.

Pick one up if you haven’t! You won’t regret it.

Amazon.com
SWAN Catalog
Sarah Dessen

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classic review: “how to be bad” August 19, 2009

Posted by Katie in classic reviews.
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[Classic reviews are reviews that I’ve already written for another source and have moved the text here. I may comment further on them as well.]

howtobebad

How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Myracle.
HarperTeen // Hardcover // 336 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Vicks, Mel, and Jesse — three unlikely friends — with one thing in common: they’re trapped in a car trying to get as far away as possible from Niceville, Florida armed with only a battered copy of the Fantastical Florida guide book. Heartbreak, breaking and entering, sight-seeing, and more than a few fights about music choices later, the girls figure out that this road trip will mean more than they ever expected.

I really liked this book. The girls were totally relatable and I completely saw myself in Mel. (Yes, believe it or not, I was the good girl.) Anyways, the coolest part about this book is that three different authors wrote it together. I think that’s the reason that the girls had such different voices. There’s a really neat interview with the authors available at Publisher’s Weekly about writing the book. (It’s a little bit long, but worth it.) If you’re looking for an escape, this is the book for you. [June 2008]

This novel still remains as one of my favorites to recommend when a teen comes to me asking for books about friendships, road trips, or chick lit. Seriously, check out the link to the interview between the authors — it gives you just a preview of how they constructed the nove, and I think it offers a great glimpse into what the writing style of the book was.

I’m still crossing my fingers that they collaborate on a second novel, but until then, I can honestly say that I’ve each writer’s individual titles and series too. Check them out!

Amazon
SWAN catalog
E. Lockhart
Sarah Mlynowski
Lauren Myracle

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classic review: “the disreputable history of frankie landau-banks” August 12, 2009

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[Classic reviews are reviews that I’ve already written for another source and have moved the text here. I may comment further on them as well.]

disreputablehistoryof

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart.
Hyperion // Hardcover // 352 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

Frankie Landau-Banks is getting ready for another year at boarding school. Last year she coasted by without doing anything. This year will be different. After discovering that her new boyfriend Matthew is in charge of a boys-only secret society, Frankie vows to secretly infiltrate it at any and all costs.

This book is full of adventure and sneakiness and Frankie is an amazing character that will hook readers from the start. I really liked waiting to see how everything would tie up together and I definitely couldn’t wait to see if the secret society would catch on to Frankie! A little book of romance added in and I was sold. Great read for middle teens. [April 2009]

I was so pleased when I found out this book was one of the Printz Honor Books for 2009. I was even more pleased when I had the pleasure of attending E. Lockhart’s acceptance speech (and, of course, all the other winners). This book is a challenging read, and I know that teenagers welcome it. They can’t stand to be talked down to. And I am so pleased that YA authors realize this and write books like this one.

It sounds ridiculous to say, but I felt almost privileged to read this book. (And similarly “Jellicoe Road, too. But that’s another review.) So well crafted, Frankie’s voice will draw you in immediately and refuse to let go until you’ve heard her story. And I love that E. Lockhart doesn’t mind when readers call Frankie a psychotic. (Because she kind of is.)

A great narrator tells a great story. What more could you ask for?

Amazon
SWAN catalog
E. Lockhart

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classic review: “graceling” August 4, 2009

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[Classic reviews are reviews that I’ve already written for another source and have moved the text here. I may comment further on them as well.]

graceling

Graceling by Kristin Cashore.
Harcourt // ARC // 480 pages.
Reviewed from an ARC copy, received at ALA’s Annual Convention, 2008.

Katsa is Graced with the ability to kill, and everyone around her uses her ability to their advantage. When Katsa meets another Graced fighter, she finds herself questioning her life in her Uncle’s palace. With Po’s help, Katsa begins a journey to another kingdom and perhaps to another destiny.

Now, I know that most of the YA readers in the library aren’t wild about high fantasy, but this book is way better than “Twilight.” Seriously! I finished it in one night because I couldn’t put it down. Anyone looking for romance and an escape to another world will be thrilled with this book. And there’s a sequel on the way, coming in the fall! [February 2009]

I originally read “Graceling” as an ARC and immediately ordered it for my library and teens. I really believed in this book, book-talked at Teen Book Club, and I’ve been pleased with the circulation rate (five times in seven months…that is a lot for my crew of reluctant readers). A couple of my girls bug me at least once a week about “Fire” since they caught me reading the ARC.

I’m still enamored with this book and I love Katsa. I think she is a great character, strong but with her own flaws. To me, that’s what makes a book memorable — human characters, characters that I know I could meet regardless of the world they live in. And that’s another story entirely — the world that Cashore has created is strong, vibrant, and has held up through the prequel/continuation/sequel (which I promise I will review shortly!).

Still a safe bet for high fantasy fans, and a great way to introduce new teens to the genre.

Amazon.com
SWAN Catalog
This Is My Secret, Kristin Cashore’s blog and website

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