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Fever 1793
Laurie Halse Anderson
Sixteen: Stories About That Sweet and Bitter Birthday
Megan McCafferty, Sarah Dessen, Jacqueline Woodson, Carolyn Mackler, Steve Almond, M.T. Anderson, Julianna Baggott, Cat Bauer, Emma Forrest, David Levithan, Sarah Mlynowski, Sonya Sones, Zoe Trope, Ned Vizzini, Joseph Weisberg, Tanuja Desai Hidier
Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story
Adam Rex
Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir
Jenny Lawson
Front and Center (Dairy Queen Series #3)
How Sweet It is - Sophie Gunn I got this book because of the whole "Enemy Club" premise - four women, once high school enemies (or, at least, adversaries) now meet every Wednesday and have somehow become each others closest friends and support system. And that aspect of the book was a little bit less fleshed out than I would prefer (although, since this is the first in a series, I'm expecting the rest of the books will help with that). But it's the two main characters of this book - single mom/waitress/stubborn as hell Lizzie & traumatized/drifting boy-scout Dante - that rightfully steal most of the attention (and praise) I've got for this story. Dante killed someone - this is not a spoiler, since he tells you so in the first chapter. It was an accident, a horrible mistake that could have happened to anyone, but it he still did it - he caused a woman to no longer be alive. And trying to live with the guilt of that is what brings him into Lizzie's diner - and life - in the first place. He happens to overhear her discussion with the Enemy Club about how she has to fix up her house/property, just as he, coincidentally, is trying to lessen the guilt by living in savior mode. So, naturally, he heads to her house and starts fixing her fence. No? Right? One of the things I really liked was that Lizzie was like "um: NO! Stranger, stalker, what the hell?" I didn't so much appreciate that every single other person she talked to brushed off her very legitimate concerns and was just like "Let him help you ~ I'm sure he's harmless." A lot of head shaking right there. Of course, since it's a book, turns out, he was fine, and the plot could progress, but still: maybe the whole of the town could've acted like Lizzie had some brains instead of treating her like some overreacting child? (end mini-rant).Anyways, aside from that, there was a lot of good in the book - there were people who weren't dopes (Dante recognizing Lizzie's sister's shiftiness long before anybody else, for example); there was PTSD reasonable portrayed (for the most part - although, again, at the end, dabbling a bit into magical thinking territory: in an emergency situation, Dante is able to overcome his fear of driving quickly (he goes literally 10 mph for most of the book) and speeds to the rescue. I do think there was a lot of thought put into the scenes that let up to that, that could, concievably have helped him to make that logical breakthrough, but I'm not sure it's the most realistic thing I've ever read. I'm not an expert in PTSD, though, so I can't say for sure. ); characters with sweetness and secrets and sassiness (Lizzie's daughter Paige, for example), and some animals to play mascots and illustrate themes (which is always fun). So I'm going to be looking for the rest of the series, see if I can learn more about how you turn enemies into friends.

Midnight Angel

Midnight Angel - Lisa Kleypas There's a lot going on in this one - faking your death, escaping the gallows, being chased across continents, hiding out as a governess, the Lord falling for the seemingly inappropriate governess, political intrigue, amnesia - A Lot. The couple themselves are good, and I always enjoy Lisa Kleypas' writing, but it certainly wasn't one my favorites. Just ok, from me.(Also, as a note to me - I have no idea if temporary amnesia should be classified as disability fiction or not, but I am not shelving this there, because, well, I don't want to. Instead I'm making a whole new shelf - soap opera afflictions, just for this kind of thing. )
Tamed By A Laird - Amanda Scott A Scottish lass longing for one last adventure before she marries the fool she's betrothed to, convinces her lady's maid to help her sneak off with a traveling minstrel troupe. Her betrothed's older, wiser, and less emotionally-available brother is tasked with tracking her down and bringing her back before scandal or danger erupts. Of course, scandal and danger erupt, but in less than predictable - & still entertaining - ways. The mostly reasonable characters (there were a few places where I rolled my eyes, by not too many) and the author's ability to pepper humor throughout the story all recommend this book.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green I had avoided this book for over a year, hearing from everyone how wonderful - but heartbreaking - but wonderful - it was. It's been a tough, heartbreaking year for me on its own, so I decided that, no matter how great, I would have to postpone reading it until I felt strong enough. Eventually, I realized that this was as good as it was going to get, and - hoping to fully enjoy all of the TFiOS movie hoopla that's currently taking place on John's Tumblr & Twitter and YouTube - I decided I would chance it. Because I am an IDIOT, I read TFiOS on a day when I knew I would already be sad, an anniversary I was dreading. The objective was to combine sadnesses as a means of compressing them. THIS DOES NOT WORK. I SHOULD KNOW THIS BY NOW. No, no; sadness compounds itself, surely, but never compresses itself. So, of course, I spent an entire day crying, and the better part of this week trying to explain to people that I wasn't just personally grieving, but that a book had punched a hole in my heart as well. ---I remember very clearly the first time a book made me weep so badly that I couldn't stop. My mother nearly took me to the emergency room. I was 6/7, and reading the Little House books, and Mary had suddenly gone blind: Somewhere between one book and the other, she had contracted (scarlet fever?) and was suddenly blind. I cried so hard I threw up. And got yelled at for getting so upset that I'd made myself sick. "Over a book!" my mother - who was, in all fairness, completely freaked out and worried because I couldn't explain to her why I was crying so hard and throwing up until hours later, when I'd calmed down enough - yelled at me. My mother is a book person too, but... not like me. It was my grandmother who understood, who nodded at me when my mother retold the story, who told me later (and many times since) "Some books have knives in them, but that's what makes them good."---Well, John Green comes equipped with his own, finely sharpened, probably personally engraved, cutlery, and he wields it like a surgeon. If you follow my reviews you may know that I have a special interest in how disability is portrayed in fiction, and TFiOS is one of those books that (IMO) gets it so right. Kids with Cancer? Are Still Kids. Are Still Human Beings. Who have senses of humor (God, Hazel: you are freaking hilarious), and bad days and good days and friends and enemies, and likes and dislikes. Sure, they've got other stuff too - and Green does a good job of addressing a lot of that other stuff, up to and including fear of death, contemplating the meaning of a life (particularly if the length of that life seems unjustly short); fighting to become independent - just like every other teenager, in the history of teenagers - only at a time when your body does not allow you to act independently, or behave independently, and when your parents are (justifiably) afraid of letting go, even a little bit. All of the illness related stuff in the book seemed on point to me* ~ the ability of teenagers to be both completely self-aware and actively practicing their denial skills, and the proliferation of gallows humor, particularly. There were so much amazing in the book, so many perfect little moments and scenes that were tender and sincere and hilarious and awful that I just wanted to roll up in a ball by the end. Or write to John Green and tell him how much I admire him, and also want to yell mean things at him. Or sob for a few hours, considering Gus and Hazel, and my life, and their lives, and Anne Frank, and alcoholic assholes, and freaking... stars and shit. I did the last one. (Also, complained to twitter about my stupidity and gratefully received hugs from fellow wounded readers.) Of course you should read this. You should just also be prepared for it to hurt. A lot. *Note: I am not a cancer survivor, so I can not speak for that experience completely. I am, however, a person who developed a significant, life changing illness as a teenager and there was a ton of stuff here that echoed my experiences, emotions and those of my (likewise chronically ill) friends.

Until There Was You

Until There Was You - Kristan Higgins I generally like Kristan Higgans - I think she's got a good sense of humor, and she writes contemporaries in a style I would call "optimistic realism" ~ real enough not to be sugary sweet, but with the happily every after vibe that romances require. That said, Until There Was You was just ok for me: I like a bad boy turned good father as much as the next person, but there was something about Liam & Posey that just didn't fit for me. I guess a lot of that had to do with other aspects of Posey's personality - her doormat-ness, if you will - that bothered me so badly that I wasn't completely on board with her being mature enough for a relationship. (Although there were a lot of other parts of her personality that I appreciated, so she wasn't a total wash out.) But there were a lot of things about Liam to appreciate - the portrayal of his panic attacks, for example. I thought that storyline was generally well handled - it edged a little into uncomfortable areas : The quick wrap up of an epilogue doesn't leave much room for long discussions, but ending things with "his obsession... dwindled. Just enough for Posey to mock him about his handwashing" flirts into both love is a magical cure! and mental illness is quirky and twee! territories, but I'm going to be generous because she handled it so well in the rest of the book, and say that the author just missed those danger zones.

The Demon's Lexicon (Demon's Lexicon Trilogy)

The Demon's Lexicon - Sarah Rees Brennan So I may not be 100% on board with the Demon's Lexicon Trilogy, but this first book did have some interesting characters, a good background on just what kind of world everybody is living in - and how they should be acting in it - and a few standout great scenes. I'm definitely going to check out the rest of the books, see where she goes from here. (Also, just Note To Me: Marked as disability-fic, because Alan, the brother of the main character has a physical disability - an untreated injury has caused him permanent damage to his leg, a (sometimes more pronounced) limp, and some chronic pain. It isn't addressed to any great extent, but IDK what happens in the rest of the books, and it is worth mentioning here.)
Until The Real Thing Comes Along - Elizabeth Berg This book fits into the "too close for comfort" shelf so well I had to create one just for it. Now, I may not have a gay best friend that I'm in love with, or do a ridiculously poor job of selling houses, but the baby-craving to absurd levels (as in "maybe you should stop staring at other people's children before someone calls the cops on you" levels)? Hell yeah: I'm right there. And Berg is one of my favorite authors, and she tackles the subject maybe a little bit too well, because the book made me uncomfortable. I did not want to find out how Patty solved her problems, mostly because I knew it would not be a solution applicable to my problems. Also, Patty's ability to shield herself from things she doesn't want to recognize (they are too long and spoiler-ish to list here, but trust me, as a reader you see them coming from miles away & a few of those plot points were also uncomfortably close to my own experiences dealing with family and friends) was, perhaps, also a little bit too close to the bone for me. Usually, seeing characters I can relate to is what reading is all about for me, but, as much as I enjoy Berg's writing style and her ability to describe things in concise and apt ways - "I always thought I'd have five or six children, and I have imagined so many lovely domestic scenes featuring me and my offspring. Here we are outside on a hot summer day, running through the sprinkler, The children wear bright fluorescent bathing suits in pink and green and yellow; I wear cutoffs and a T-shirt. There is fruit salad in the refrigerator. Later, I will let the older ones squirt whipped cream for the younger ones; then, if they pester me enough in the right way, I'll let them squirt it into their mouths - and mine." - I almost couldn't finish the book, it was that bad. Melancholy mood to begin with, add a dose of (much too realistic) fiction, and even one of my favorite authors gets a bad rating, unfortunately.

13 Little Blue Envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes - First off, to any author who doesn't have a social media presence, let me just tell you, at this point? That's a big mistake. I'm not super-sociable, and tend towards the shy, so I can see how it would be intimidating to put yourself out there, but the ONLY reason I read this book is because I follow Maureen Johnson on Twitter. (And John Green, who also mention Maureen Johnson, etc) She is hilarious and weird and wacky, and I knew I should track down something she wrote. So: score points for Twitter presence, but don't worry if you're not as wonderful at it as Maureen at first - just be there, say hello, you'll figure it out, and people will find you. Now, on to the actual book: If you had a mysterious and flamboyant favorite aunt, who died suddenly, but left behind 13 little blue envelopes with clues that would take you who knows where (and the money to follow the clues), wouldn't you drop everything and go? I'm about ready for an adventure myself, and 17 year old Ginny decided her aunt's instructions were definitely worth following. And while she follows them, she finds out a lot about her mysterious aunt, the life she led while she was among the missing, and what it's like to not know what your next step will be until to you take it. Spontaneity was definitely the winner of the day, here. (I am not good at spontaneity, for various uptight-ish and health reasons, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it vicariously.) Now there's a certain amount of suspending disbelief that goes along with this book, because 1)if anybody (let's just say me, for argument's sake) attempted to do this in real life, there would be a certain amount of missed connections, a few more 'oopses' than occur in the book. and 2) It just seems like an 'only in a book' kind of thing, to this completely boring 34 year old cynic. But hey: that's just me, and maybe I lack the adventurous soul of Ginny, who drops everything and grabs her backpack and flies all over the world and back - Either way, I enjoyed being along for the trip, and I'm going to pick up the next book, see what secrets that last, lost, little blue envelope held.

The Summer I Turned Pretty

The Summer I Turned Pretty - Jenny Han I see the reviews are mixed on this one, and my own opinion is a little mixed as well - there were somethings I really enjoyed about the book, and then other things that made me super angry.Let's get the angry over with first So a supporting character in this book is sick. It's obvious to everybody except Belly, the main character, as far as I can tell, that she is sick, but she is pretending everything is fine, in the hopes of having a 'fun, normal' summer. I call BS. She and Belly's mother sneak off to doctor's appointments and treatments for the cancer that has quite obviously returned, and her children act out and mope and pretend-along, for the most part. And Belly (who's self-absorbed in a way I have personally known some teenage girls to be) doesn't even notice. So - major negative points for 1) Hiding Cancer from loved ones and family "to protect them"; 2)Doing a shitty job of hiding cancer, and then being surprised when loved ones act out, and 3) Belly being so goddamned blind about the whole thing, because she's caught up in her own love rectangle and unperfect summer of her dreams. End rant. For now. (But seriously, this is the 2nd book I've read in less than a month where a main character attempts to hide their cancer: WTF??) Other than that, though, what did I think? I think I knew girls like Belly, and I understood her. I think wanting a perfect summer, like all the summers of your nostalgic memory (which were never perfect when they happened, but now have that gloss of forgotten fights and mis-remembered moods) is something I still deal with, every year, every Christmas, every holiday, every... Saturday. When I remember something with that had that haze of happiness, and want it to keep on happening, try to force it to happen, and only manage to screw things up even more? That's basically the story of my life. (Well, partially, anyways.) I think that's universal, and Han has done a great job of portraying that need, that yearning for easier times, for togetherness and bonding and ... just better than now times. That's why the three stars, even with the spoiler. Because I understand that yearning a whole lot, and Han managed to keep me rooting for Belly, even though she didn't seem to be rooting for anybody but herself. Complicated, like I said.

Not That Kind of Girl

Not That Kind of Girl - Susan Donovan Perfectly ordinary contemporary romance novel: even had cute dog walker type people in it, but I was not charmed. Sometimes a book's review has more to do with me than the book, really. There wasn't anything wrong with it, I just ogt bored and didn't even finish.

Goodnight Tweetheart

Goodnight Tweetheart - Teresa Medeiros Ok, so I guess Spoilers: the main character in this book has cancer, is being treated for cancer, and pretends - for a good portion of the book - that he is instead traveling the world. As a result of the character's deception, I got so angry that I could not finish the book, even though I really liked the format.Up til then, I was on-board with the whole "140 characters or less love story": I thought both characters were cute (but not cutesy), honest, and open (without veering into 'DANGER: DON'T GIVE AWAY PERSONAL INFO ON THE INTERNET' territory). As I began to suspect Mark's dishonesty and then see his entire tweet-history as basically Catfishing this lady, I just was ... done. I mean, I have chronic illness. I would LOVE to pretend that I do not have this constant terrifying overwhelming thing in my life - but do I think it's fair to start a relationship based on that pretending? No; not in any way. I also don't think it's cool, as a person with chronic illness, and disabilities, that disabled characters are still being portrayed this way - as charlatans & fakes. (This is my own personal bias, certainly, but this is also the 2nd (recently published) book I've read this summer where a character had a disability and lied about it. Why is that necessary?) So the more I write in this review, the less stars I give the book - I didn't finish it, although I see from other, more positive reviews that he goes into remission (even though one of his reasons for lying was supposedly that the seriousness of his situation - and small chances of recovery - were part of the things he was sparing the heroine from having to deal with), and they live happily ever after. woo hoo. Not a fan.

Rapunzel's Revenge

Rapunzel's Revenge - Dean Hale;Shannon Hale I love me some fairytale retellings, and Rapunzel's story - as told in comic book form by Shannon & Dean Hale (with art by Nathan Hale) is awesome. In this version Rapunzel doesn't know that there's anything beyond the gated, guarded semi-Utopian community her 'Mother' has created for her. She just knows she's not allowed over the walls. And - as anyone who has ever dealt with children in any capacity can tell you - that means that going over the walls is exactly what she yearns to do. But once she makes it over, she finds a startling new reality: here there are mines and slaves, and magic-less barren wastelands. And here is her true mother, the one she was stolen from long, long ago. Now that she knows all of this, can she once again hide behind the walls, live as if nothing has changed? Hell no: and so she is locked away in the tallest tree, as punishment for disobeying, for rebelling. And in that tree, as her hair grows longer and longer, and time passes, Rapunzel plots her revenge. Which is all super entertaining and amusing and kick-ass: any girl who manages to use her hair as a weapon, a harness, a rope and a disguise, is one I want on my team. And she's fighting for the people who need it, against the Big Bad: comic book 101! I really enjoyed this, and will definitely be passing it on to some littles in my life, and finding the sequel as well.
Every Soul A Star - Wendy Mass So here's the thing about books written for kids - sometimes they treat kids like they are stupid. Or ... if not stupid, just lesser, less than. They're too broad: They give you that same uncomfortable feeling that your Dad's jokey best friend always gave you - you knew he was trying to be funny, but the joke missed its mark by a long shot, and yet you were still required to stand there with a grimace-y smile plastered to your face until enough time had passed that it wouldn't be rude if you just walked away? Yeah: like that. Those kind of books make me feel sad for the writer, as if the author has forgotten all about their own childhood - the triumphs and tragedies and joys and jealousies. The fact that sometimes days would pass when you would barely see anyone besides your parents, and other days you would see so many people you thought the world was in your yard. The way that you could sit for hours imagining dolls and dresses and balls, and how one day, long after all your friends had stopped playing with their dolls, you found that they held no appeal for you either, even though you sat for hours, trying to make the magic come back. It's a tough thing, writing childhood true enough that it hits all the right notes for people, without condescending or writing down to them. In my opinion, it's most especially difficult - and most obviously evident - when an author is trying to portray the chaos that is tweenage-hood, early teenage-hood, middle grade fiction fodder. Those years where people expect you to be responsible enough to do your own dishes or get up when the alarm goes off, yet you're still young enough, and dependent enough that you're pretty powerless when it came to making the big decisions that would effect your life.The good news is that Wendy Mass (whose 11 Birthdays I also found this summer) is exceptionally good at writing this kind of book. She manages to capture that weird sense of self-confidence, mixed for the first time with a heavy dose of self-doubt, that is so characteristic of this age group. She writes the flustered adolescents' amazing highs and unbearable lows with the same amount of dignity and respect that any good novelist would use for their adult characters. That's the thing I often find is lacking - people who write books for kids but forget that kids are whole people - not caricatures or flat set pieces you can move about for the advancement of your plot - but whole, actual people, whose thoughts and feelings and actions and reactions are just as vital as those of any adult character - and in a book aimed at an audience of similar readers - even more so than an adult character. And Mass does this brilliantly, as she introduces her three main characters, and takes us through the whole of the story from each of their perspectives. I loved the book, the split perspectives, the changes in voice and tone and thought patterns as the plot evolved. I loved the characters (well, mostly) and the fact that there were 2 girls and a boy, and yet very little in the way of 'love triangle-ing' or 'romantic pondering'. And I loved the science! So much science, and artsy stuff, and random hippy-dom, and being girly and liking to wear makeup: and best of all, none of those things was seen as dumb! Just a side note, in regards to the science portion of the book: I shared part of it with my nephew, in an attempt to interest him in stargazing and total solar eclipses, and the two of us have promised to be in prime viewing position for the next one (8-21-17, if you're interested). He will have his license by then (shoot me now), and we are road tripping it to somewhere with a spectacular view. Anyways, have added Wendy Mass to my Author's I Autobuy shelf, and will be glomming her backlist, (which I am glad to see is quite long). Because she does it right, and there's nothing better than that.
Much Ado About Rogues - Kasey Michaels Reading through the series: not a favorite, but it was OK
Emmaline and the Bunny - Katherine Hannigan Emmaline probably suffered from my expectations of another wondrous book/heroine like Ida B, but I thought it was just OK. Emmaline lives in Neatasapin, only she is not a tidy child. She likes to run and dig in the dirt, and shout, and most of all she wants a bunny to snuggle and dig and hop & holler with. The mayor of Neatasapin is a big bully, who paves over the grass to make it neater, and has all the townspeople afraid of putting a foot out of line... all of them except Emmaline. She tries her best to fit in, but when her true spirit can't be contained, can she find a place where she truly belongs? And - if possible - where her bunny belongs as well? I think it'd make a good read aloud, with cute dialogue that should get a laugh out of a bunch of early readers. Just the town's name will be enough for Lil Girl to think this book is a little whackadoo. Which is exactly as it should be.
Reckless - Amanda Quick More space fillers, I guess. Sometimes my TBR pile makes no sense.