Archive for the ‘humor’ Tag

New Books Highlight: Books to Make You Think

There have been some major books released over the last couple of months, so it’s been hard to choose which ones to highlight. This week, though, I was struck by how many “challenging” books I’ve seen hitting the new shelves recently.

By “challenging,” I mean books that suck you in, mess with your head, and knock you back out again as a new person. Books that leave you feeling winded, introspective…changed. Books that make you think – and keep you thinking even when you’ve finished them. One that sticks out in my memory as a challenging read for me is Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Not everyone likes these kinds of books: some of us read to be entertained or for comfort, and don’t want to be messed up by a book. That’s okay. You might be surprised, however, next time you reach for what sounds like a comforting read. One thing that is unique about “challenging” reads is that they come in all genres – and they sometimes come out of nowhere. You remember how you felt the first time you read The Hunger Games? You thought, “Boy, my life is different now that I have lived through that.” It’s entertainment, yes, but it left you breathless and altered. Personally, I read it in one night, convinced I wouldn’t like it, but completely changed by watching these children (children!) fight and die for nothing in the messed up world of Panem.

I digress. Without further ado, here are some challenging new reads I hope you pick up soon!

Tumble & Fall by Alexandra CouttsTumble and Fall by Alexandra Coutts

What if you knew the world was ending soon? The characters in this book do. An asteroid is headed for Earth, and all anyone can do is wait. Sienna returns from a mental health facility in time to watch her father get married. Zan must face her fears and get past the recent death of her boyfriend. And Caden is confronted by his long-lost father. Despite the terrifying premise, or maybe because of it, this is a deep and quietly wise book that will make you stop and think about your own life. It’s really kind of joyfully sad, in a way – so perfect for a “challenging” read that leaves you thinking.

Sneak Peek! “The day she gets out, it feels like the end. It’s funny to think about endings now. Now that all there is to do is wait. Now that the real end is coming, all of the other endings feel like something else completely.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Alexandra Coutts)

Into That Forest by Louis NowraInto that Forest by Louis Nowra

This one is challenging on several levels. It’s short – so it has less time to hook you, but it still manages to do so quickly and effectively. Narrated by Hannah in somewhat broken English, she tells the story of her youth. When her parents died in a flash flood on a river, she and her friend Becky were left to fend for themselves in the forests of Tasmania. They were essentially adopted by a pair of tigers who managed to keep them safe and fed, despite the girls’ fear and worry. But when Becky’s father finally found them, they were forced to reintegrate into human society at great cost.

Sneak Peek! “Me name be Hannah O’Brien and I be seventy-six years old. Me first thing is an apology – me language is bad cos I lost it and had to learn it again.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Louis Nowra)

Sex and Violence by Carrie MesrobianSex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian

The title sure puts it all out there, huh? In a sense, that’s the point: these two topics run rampant in our society, many believe to the detriment of it. And this story tells just how the normalization of sex and violence hurts young people – without preaching a moral message. It’s is honesty on a plate – and it’s not always pretty. 17-year-old Evan is a master of being the new kid in school, after spending his lifetime moving around with his dad’s job. Evan is also the master of figuring out which girl will say ‘yes.’ But this time, he picks the wrong one and ends up getting beaten by the kings of his school. When he moves to a quiet small town to recover with distant family, he must confront the fears and weaknesses that have driven him, and result from his miscalculations. Gritty, funny, life.

Sneak Peek! “When I came out of the Connison gang shower, Collette Holmander was waiting for me.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Carrie Mesrobian)

Picture Me Gone by Meg RosoffPicture me Gone

Mila is highly attuned to people – able to read the room, sense emotions and put together the puzzles people make of themselves. When her father’s best friend goes missing, what was to be a visit to him turns into Mila and her father on the case, so to speak. But this story is far more than a mystery with an easy solution. Written in first person, so much so that the dialogues is filtered through Mila’s head, without quotes, you are drawn into Mila’s world in a strange and thrilling way. This is a complex story that will challenge your worldview and assumptions.

Sneak Peek! “The first Mila was a dog. A Bedlington terrier. It helps if you know these things. I’m not at all resentful at being named after a dog.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Meg Rosoff)


New Books Highlight: Stress-Free Reading

Summer is drawing to a close. Sure, for those of us who don’t go back to school in the fall, it feels like summer stretches just that little bit longer. But for you readers who are getting your back-to-school shopping done, living in your bathing suit and flip-flops until you’re forced to change into something else, and soaking up those last-minute rays, summer is actually nearing an end. Read some stress-free books and unwind a little before it’s done!

If you wish you could go on one last hilarious adventure this summer try…

Ship Out of Luck by Neal Shustermancover image of ship out of luck by neal shusterman

This is a companion to the incomparable The Schwa was Here so you can expect goofiness, antics, a little intrigue (because why not?) and good old Anthony “Antsy” Bonano. When Old Man Crawley turns 80 Antsy’s family is invited to pack up and join him on a cruise. Antsy can’t keep himself out of trouble despite being stuck on a boat floating in the Caribbean Sea, and soon finds himself at the center of an international incident involving illegal immigration. Oops! But Antsy takes it in stride because he’s a Brooklyn kind of guy. If you liked the previous books, or are just looking for a fun, realistic fiction read, pick this one up.

Sneak Peek! “Don’t ask me because I don’t got an opinion. I’m not red, I’m not blue; I’m not an elephant or donkey; I’m not left or right; and I ain’t center either. I’m not even in the ballpark. If it’s a ballpark, then I’m playin’ hockey.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Neal Shusterman)

If you’re wondering what the new school year will mean for your social life try…

Over You by Amy Reedcover image of over you by amy reed

A perfect end-of-summer read: Max and Sadie have always been best friends. Max is the steady, serious, shy one, while Sadie is the flighty dreamer. When they go live on a farm with Sadie’s mom for the summer – to get over some bad decision-making during the previous school year – their friendship is quickly tested. Max gets an unexpected opportunity to come out from Sadie’s shadow, and she is left wondering if they really are good for each other. Did they run from their problems just to realize their problem is staring them straight in the face? If you like true-to-life friend books – think Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – or even if you just have friends, this book is right for you.

Sneak Peek! “We’ve been sitting on our bags in the middle of nowhere for almost an hour. ‘No one’s coming,’ you say, always the pessimist. You sigh and pull a sweaty clump of hair that’s stuck between your temple and the giant sunglasses you always wear, the ones that cover nearly half your face and make you look like a movie star. ‘I thought Nebraska was supposed to be cold.’ Where you got that idea, I don’t know.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Amy Reed)

If you want just one last lazy weekday afternoon romantic read try…

The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standifordcover image of boy on the bridge by natalie standiford

Travel back to 1982 Russia. This is not a Soviet-era spy novel, though, although because of it’s setting it does have a bit of international intrigue. Laura has decided to come to Russia for a semester to expand her horizons. The freezing winter she arrives to warms suddenly when she meets Alyosha on a bridge. Soon they are deeply in love and Laura is shown a side of Cold War Russia she didn’t know existed where kids read banned books, have parties, and find a way to get around all the rules of their Communist society. Laura and Alyosha’s romance is fast and beautiful, even when they both know it may be destined to end shortly.

Sneak Peek! “Laura and her roommate Karen tramped along the frozen mud road that lead through the university, past a wall with OGNEOPASNO! painted on it in huge red letters. An icy wind blew off the Neva River. It was January in Leningrad.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Natalie Standiford)

New Books Highlight: Coming Soon

This week instead of writing about books that are already on the shelves, waiting for you to pick them up, I though I’d highlight some brand new books that aren’t even ready to be checked out yet (at Shorewood at least).

I am super excited about all of these books. They’re from a few of the best writers writing YA lit. It also just so happens that they all write books with major guy appeal. Ladies will like these reads, too, but if you’re a literarily inclined gentleman you will not want to miss them.

Teen Boat by Dave Roman and John Green

Yes, the real John Green. This is a new and hilarious graphic novel that promises to be one of the most ridiculous things you read this year. The subtitle really says it all: “The angst of being a teen, the thrill of being a boat!” Basically this dude is a sort of a transformer – he morphs into a boat – and a semi-superhero who is really just trying to make it through high school.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

His first novel, Silver Linings Playbook, was made into a movie last year, but his second and third novels (Sorta Like a Rockstar and Boy 21)  were both YA and were really where he made his name. Like in his other books, Quick takes a deep, dark and unflinching look at mental illness in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.

Wise Young Fool by Sean Beaudoin

Another slightly dark, mostly hilarious book from another well-known dude writer. Ritchie Sudden is a teen rocker in juvie with a dead sister. He likes none of these things about himself. Ritchie will tell you all these things in his raw and real, and really funny, story.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola has an awesome life as an aspiring costume designer in San Francisco with her two loving dads and her rocker boyfriend.  But when the Bell twins move back in next door, Lola’s life is turned upside down.  For years Lola had a crush on Cricket, but he broke her heart.  Now he’s back living next door and Lola wonders if she ever got over him.

If you’re looking for a sweet romance about fun and quirky characters with a fantastic setting, try Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.  Wait, actually, if you haven’t read Stephanie’s first book, Anna and the French Kiss, go and read that (it’s also amazing), then read Lola.  And watch for her third novel, Isla and the Happily Ever After coming Fall 2012.

Beauty Queens

Lord of the Flies girl style. That’s exactly what Beauty Queens, Libba Bray’s new book, appears to be.  But, as I read further, I found it was so much more than just 50 Beauty Pageant contenders marooned on a deserted island.  Full of sarcasm and political satire, Beauty Queens forces the reader to take a good look at their own life and ask themselves, am I the bad guy in this story? Beauty Queens will keep you reading until the end, and keep you thinking long after you close the book.  Hold on tight to your hardcover for this one, and be warned, you may smudge your eyeliner!
Reviewed by Becky, Teen Advisory Board member

“Bumped” and “Notes from the Blender”

If you’re looking for a seriously funny book, try one of these:

Notes from the Blender by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Dec has a crush on Neilly.  Neilly doesn’t know Dec exists…that is until she finds out she’s going to be his stepsister.   Hilarity ensues as Dec and Neilly become friends, join a youth group, give each other dating advice, and deal with a new family.  Notes from the Blender is a surprisingly funny look at stepfamilies, relationships and death metal.
Bumped by Megan McCafferty
A satirical look at teen pregnancy, Bumped takes a serious topic and makes you laugh out loud while pondering pop culture.

In the near future a virus has caused wide-spread infertility, leading to high rates of teen pregnancy (teens are the only ones still able to have babies).  Melody and Harmony are twins, separated at birth and raised by very different communities.   When they meet for the first time, each sister brings a unique perspective that begins to change how the other looks at their world.  I know it sounds super serious and it will get you thinking, but it’s also very funny!

Anna and the French Kiss

Sent to boarding school in Paris, Anna should be ecstatic. But it’s her senior year and she misses her friends and family and the crush she’d finally kissed right before leaving.

But Paris might not be so bad…she’s learning french, making new friends, and discovering the City of Light.  And there’s Etienne, a wonderful guy and amazing friend, but could they be more?

Anna and the French Kiss is a fun romance with a great location and lots of humor.  If you like Anna and the French Kiss, watch for Stephanie Perkin’s new book, Lola and the Boy Next Door, a companion book to Anna, coming in September.

Heist Society by Ally Carter

From Ally Carter, author of I’d Tell You I Love You, but then I’d have to Kill You, comes Heist Society, the action packed story of Katarina Bishop…art thief.

All Katarina wanted was a normal life, boarding school, friends, bad cafeteria food; she’s finished with her father’s life as an art thief. That is until she gets kicked out of school for a crime she didn’t commit and finds herself planning the biggest heist ever in an effort to save her father’s life.

Smart and funny, Heist Society has a great cast of characters, exotic European locales, and plenty of excitement!

Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Best friends since they were in diapers, the dazzling Naomi and outrageously out Ely have been through just about everything together in their Greenwich Village apartment building. To prevent anyone from coming between them, they’ve created a “No Kiss List,” full of people who are off-limits to both Naomi and Ely. But when Ely kisses Naomi’s boyfriend, their never-ending friendship becomes a never-ending disaster. Can they ever recover, or is this the end of Naomi and Ely forever?

Told from multiple points of view, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List is a fast-paced, hilarious, and heartbreaking look at the relationship between two wildly independent best friends and learning the difference between love and being in love.

If you liked Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, this second book from authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is definitely worth a read. And don’t miss their next book, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, coming in October.

Other books by Rachel Cohn:
Very LeFreak
You Know Where to Find Me

Other books by David Levithan:
Love is a Higher Law
Boy Meets Boy
Wide Awake