Archive for the ‘romance’ Tag
This week, several new books that take music as a central theme. In each, the main character’s life comes to be defined in a unique way by music.
16-year-old Elise is unhappy, unpopular, and unsatisfied. A year ago, all of these feelings came together in an ugly way and she attempted suicide. Her home is not her happy place, so she gets out often at night – leading her to discover a world she had no idea existed. She quickly falls in love with the warehouse parties – and in lust with a hot older DJ – but even more she falls in love with DJing. She is excellent at it and through it she feels an escape from the pain. This is a true-to-life story of triumph – despite, or because of, Elise’s stumbles along the way. Bonus: the publishers made a playlist for the book so you can be completely immersed.
Sneak Peek! “You think it’s so easy to change yourself. You think it’s so easy, but it’s not.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Leila Sales)
Like your musical tales a little more magical? Our unnamed narrator and her best friend Aurora grew up like sisters in the atmospheric Pacific Northwest. Their mothers were both wild, and their fathers are both long gone, so mostly they have had each other – similar and yet different like mirror images. When a mysterious and magical musician arrives along with a charmingly conniving boss, the differences between the two girls cause their bond to rupture. Infused with art and music, this is a darkly romantic punk-rock tale for fans of Francesca Lia Block – and it’s the first book in a planned trilogy.
Sneak Peek! “Aurora and I live in a world without fathers. Hers is dead and mine was gone before I was born.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Sarah McCarry)
What if you accidentally fell backwards through time and found yourself at Woodstock? Yes, THE Woodstock. With Jimi Hendrix in all his glory rocking the Star-Spangled Banner. When he finds a white Stratocaster played by Hendrix, Rich wonders what on earth his uptight dad is doing with it. Even weirder, when he plays the right chord, he’s transported back to 1969. There, he runs into his dad and uncle as teens – the thing is Rich’s uncle OD’d at Woodstock, and his death is what left Rich’s dad the angry, sad man ruining Rich’s life. So Rich does the only thing that makes sense in this love-filled hippy fest: sets out to save his uncle – and thereby his dad and himself. Sound like a wacky premise? It may be but it is ultimately a realistic, funny and fun read.
If you loved The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, you will love this book. It’s the 1970s. Lewis is the only kid from the Tuscarora Reservation in the smart-kid track at the county middle school. So you could say he’s a misfit. Used to being bullied and without many friends at his mostly white school, Lewis is surprised when he finds himself becoming friends with the new kid. Misfit meet misfit: they bond over their shared love of rock and roll – The Beatles and other greats – and both slowly begin to trust and understand one another. But when the school’s biggest bully decides Lewis is his next target, their friendship is tested. Given the barriers of class, race, and bullies – can their friendship survive?
When I saw Gene Luen Yang’s newest graphic novel on the shelves, I was inspired to pair it with a couple of other new releases set in, and about life in, Asian countries. Interestingly, these books almost perfectly span the entire 20th century, and are also tied together by a common theme of ancient versus modern cultural values: Yang takes us to late-nineteenth century China, we fast-forward to mid-century India in A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury, and finally Amanda Sun’s first book in the Paper Gods series lets us travel to modern-day Japan.
In true Yang fashion, this is an incredibly unique offering. First of all, it is two books, published simultaneously. You finish one and pick up the other immediately. Oh yeah, and it’s a fictionalized account of real Chinese history. In China in 1898, Christian missionaries from abroad roam the country, converting Chinese peasants through demeaning and violent coercion. Little Bao is fed up with seeing his people suffer in the name of this foreign religion, so he summons the powers of the ancient Chinese gods, and an army of commoners who call themselves Boxers, to fight them down. Saints tells the story parallel to Little Bao’s. Four-Girl is an unwanted daughter, not even given a name, But she finds acceptance, and a name, through Christianity. Because of the Boxer rebellion, China is unsafe for Christian Chinese like herself and she finds her loyalties tested between her nationality and her faith.
It is 1947 in India, a country about to be liberated and partitioned – the Muslim part, Pakistan, severed from the remainder of the country. Tariq is a Muslim Indian, so life is not easy at this moment for him. He dreams of getting out and studying at Oxford in England, but because of his religion he does not have clear access to that world. When he is offered a job translating for the English cartographers working on drawing the India-Pakistan borders, he leaps at the opportunity in the hopes it will lead him to his Oxford dream. He soon meets Margaret, the cartographer’s daughter, who is desperate for fun and attracted to Tariq’s foreignness. But Anupreet, the Sikh girl – and thus very off-limits – catches Tariq’s attention. The tensions in the country do not make love easy, and all three young people find their paths are wilder than they had every hoped.
Sneak Peek! “‘I know you will make us proud, Tariq,’ Master Ahmed calls out to me as I step onto the dusty sidewalk outside the school gates. I lift my palm to my face, fingertips to my forehead, bow. ‘Khuda hafiz.'” (Text copyright © 2013 by Jennifer Bradbury)
This is the first book in a planned series by debut author, Sun, called Paper Gods. When Katie’s normal life explodes in front of her eyes, she is sent off to live in Japan with an aunt. She doesn’t speak the language and is utterly alone and out of place, until she meets Tomohiro. Tomo is popular, gorgeous, and shouldn’t want to have anything to do with awkward Katie, but neither of them can deny the things that happen when they are together. Pens explode, ink drips from nowhere, drawings…live. Tomo is part of an ancient order called the kami. Soon the two are drawn into a world of intrigue as the wrong people start asking the right questions about the kami and both Katie and Tomo find themselves in danger.
Sneak Peek! “I made it halfway across the courtyard before I realized I was still wearing my school slippers. No lie. I had to turn around and slink all the way back to the genkan, the stifled laughs from my classmates trailing me as I mustered what slippered dignity I could.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Amanda Sun)
There are so many books published for adults that have what is called “crossover appeal,” meaning they are recommended for teens, too. It’s hard to find those books, of course, because they are shelved in the adult fiction area and we don’t exactly put shining beacons on them all to let you teens know they’re there! So this week I thought I’d showcase some new-ish books for adults – that also happen to pair well with new-ish YA titles for extra added appeal and ease of entry into the world of books for adults.
Books about growing up
…featuring horses. You’re probably saying, “But I stopped reading horse books when I was 11!” Give these two a shot, though, if you still (secretly) like stories involving animals in some way, but also really love great realistic fiction about growing up in an imperfect world.
In the South during the Great Depression, an elite equestrian boarding school gets a new student: sheltered Thea Atwell is banished from her wealthy family in Florida after her naivete gets her into trouble. Her home-schooled, insular life did not prepare her for what she finds at the Yonahlossee Riding Camp. The Southern belle and debutante students have their own particular social hierarchy into which Thea has trouble understanding at first, but her riding skills allow her to slowly make her way in this new world, coming to terms with who she is and what she needs to learn to grow stronger.
YOUNG ADULT: Catch Rider by Jennifer H. Lyne
Sidney grew up tough, so when she needs to escape her over-protective mother and her mother’s string of abusive boyfriends, she finds a job cleaning stables for a rich woman and drives herself there even though she’s only 14. She loves to ride, so working amongst the horses and riders is thrilling for Sid. The mill town she lives in feels like a dead-end, and probably will be for most of Sid’s classmates and her beloved uncle. But Sid wants so much more from life, and her opportunity to see how the other side lives leads to more opportunities to pursue her dream of riding.
If you’ve seen any of the award-winning TV show The Borgias, you know that this is some fascinating history. When their father rose to power as the pope, the Borgia children had to learn the ropes of the family business: getting even more power for their family and themselves. Cesare is the cold, manipulative one who thinks nothing of killing those who stand in his way – including his sister’s husbands. Lucrezia’s job is to be beautiful and attract those husbands, until she realizes she is a pawn in a game over which she could have some control, too.
YOUNG ADULT: Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub
Love the thrilling real story of the dramatic Borgia family? Methinks the bard did, too. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet takes on Italian family drama, and this novel takes that drama to another level. Still Star-Crossed picks up where Romeo and Juliet leaves off – with the title characters dead. Even though they have died through their love, the Capulets and Montagues are still feuding. A plan to make peace involves another Capulet-Montague match-up, but will it end well this time?
Death & Destruction
ADULT: Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
If you’re a fan of fast-paced thrillers like Michael Crichton or Michael Grant, or literary horror/zombie stories like those of Daniel Kraus and Patrick Ness, then you will love Red Moon. In the world of this book, werewolves are real – they are people disturbingly transformed by a disease – and they are rising up against the rest of humanity. They live in what could be called peace, but an extremist group of lycans is planning deadly attacks on the U.S. (there are major parallels to the 9/11 terrorist attacks), determined to spark a war to end all wars.
YOUNG ADULT: The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer
While not as tensely paced as the book to which this is the sequel, House of the Scorpion (2002), this is another riveting and imaginative look at what our world could be in the future. El Patron is dead, and Matteo must step into his position of power. I paired this with Red Moon because both focus intensely on real-world issues but frame them in an alternate reality.
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…
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…
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…
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)
It’s important to have the right kind of reading material when you’re going to the beach in the summer. You need something you won’t get so into that you can’t put it down and play a little volleyball or frisbee, or go for a quick swim. So here are three awesome brand new titles that I recommend for perfect beach reading. Bonus: two of them actually have a beach on the cover.
Cricket Thompson has big plans to spend the summer near her major crush Jay by staying with her bestie at their home on Nantucket Island. But when her best friend’s mother dies, things start to fall apart. Cricket is no longer invited to Nantucket – actually it seems like Cricket is no longer Jules’s best friend – so she has to scheme to find a way to make her summer as close to perfect as she was hoping it would be. Her friendship may be crumbling, her crush may be less crushworthy than she supposed, and her plans, and she herself, change unexpectedly…but possibly for the best.
Sneak Peek! “Even without Holly Howard and Dori Archer, who’d been suspended for drinking on campus, we were supposed to win the game. The sun was high and white, and the breeze carried the scent of sweaty, shampooed girls and a whiff of the fresh asphalt from the school’s newly paved driveway.” (Text copyright 2013 by Leila Howland)
Rafe is gay. Luckily for Rafe, this is not a problem in his Colorado town/ The problem is that he’s a lot of other things along with being gay and no one really knows about all those cool things he does or likes or is because they focus on his gayness. He’s visits schools to talk about tolerance, he’s well-respected and not teased, but he really just wants to be Rafe, not the gay guy. So when he transfers to a new school, Rafe sees it as his chance to shift the focus from his sexuality to his personality. At his new all-boys school he fits in well until he finds love with someone who doesn’t even fathom its existence.
Sneak Peek! “If it were up to my dad, my entire life would be on video. Anything I do, he grabs his phone. ‘Opal,’ he’ll yell to my mother, ‘Rafe is eating cornflakes. We gotta get this on film.'” (Text copyright 2013 by Bill Konigsberg)
Told in the alternative narrative style Colasanti is known for. From the perspective of both Seth and Skye, their meeting at a beach party is big. They both feel strongly about each other, but they both have a past that haunts them. When Seth leaves for college before Skye can get his contact information, she worries that she has lost the one forever. But even when they find each other, can they make it work with the multiple complications of distance, space, time, and different backgrounds?
Sneak Peek! “‘Something’s going to happen tonight,’ Adrienne says, ‘I can feel it.’ It would be awesome if she was right. We’ve been coming to this beach party for seven years. Nothing ever happens.” (Text copyright 2013 by Susane Colasanti)
Historical fiction is a genre worth exploring. Yep, I know what you’re thinking: “Read history? No. Way.” I’m here to tell you: yes way. There are tons of different, unique, amazing ways that YA authors are bringing you back in time these days: some of them infuse their stories with fantasy and magic, some of them lean towards elements of the paranormal or supernatural, and some of them seem like magic in the way that they evoke the time and place they take you to. Check out these three new and highly recommended historical fiction/fantasy stories!
Historical Fantasy: Delusion by Laura L. Sullivan
Sisters Phil and Fee Albion come from a family of illusionists, so they are used to life being full of drama. When things in World War II London get too horrific, they are sent to the country where life feels free of the drama they crave. Or is it? When Phil – determined as ever – decides to get their new country town to sit up and play a role in the ongoing war, she stumbles upon a college for magicians. Their work is nothing like the illusions she and Fee produce, and the magic has power over her she never expected.
Sneak Peek! “Phil sprinted along the bank of the Thames, unbraiding her hair as she ran, so late she didn’t dare ask a passing stranger the time. Even that small delay might be disastrous. This was opening night.” (Text copyright © 2012 by Laura L. Sullivan)
It’s 1918: World War One rages and the flu epidemic consumes millions worldwide. Mary Shelley Black is sent to San Diego to live with her aunt when her father is jailed for anti-Americanism – a considerable threat when the country is at war. People everywhere are seeking spiritual solace as their loved ones die around them. Mary Shelley (despite being named after a horror novelist) does not believe in spirits, seances, or anything else taht the people around her are going crazy for. When her first love comes back to her as a ghost, however, she must reckon with forces beyond her control and outside of our world.
Sneak Peek! “I stepped inside the railroad car, and three dozen pairs of eyes peered my way. Gauze masks concealed the passengers’ mouths and noses. The train smelled of my own mask’s cotton, boiling onions, and a whiff of something clammy and sour I took to be fear.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Cat Winters)
Historical Fiction: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross
Maude’s escape from provincial France to the bustling city of Paris has left her with broken dreams and empty pockets. When she answers an unusual ad for the Durandeau Agency, she is thrown into the midst of Paris aristocracy. However, she’s there under a ruse: she’s been hired to act as a “beauty foil” for high-society Isabelle – acting as Isabelle’s friend but there because her plain looks make Isabelle stand out. Drawn deeper into the aristocracy through her friendship with Isabelle, at the same time that she is kept very much outside of it because she is hired help, Maude struggles to keep herself and her dreams from being lost. Based on a short story by French author, Emile Zola, this is a riveting and atmospheric tale.
Sneak Peek! “‘Perfect, just perfect,’ says the stout man. He scrutinizes me, his suit pinching across his rotund torso, and I assume that this is Monsieur Durandeau, but he doesn’t introduce himself.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Elizabeth Ross)
Summer is almost here! Summer Reading has started, school is winding down (okay, exams don’t feel like “winding down” but they do signal the end is near!), and the sun is shining. We could use a few more warm days, but soon enough we’ll be complaining about the temperatures and running inside for the air conditioning. On that note: the library has free air conditioning all summer long. Come hang out when you need a break!
Without further ado, some awesome new summer reads. Pick these up ASAP!
Ahh first love! Summer is a great time to explore romance, whether fictional or in real life. In Anthem for Jackson Dawes, the first love happens to be between two young cancer patients, Megan and Jackson. Sound familiar? While it does have some similarities to The Fault in Our Stars, this story has a very different feel. Less raw sarcasm, more quiet hope. Jackson is the only other teen in the pediatric cancer ward with Megan, and she takes comfort in his presence as she pushes everyone else out of her life. But every love has an ending, and ends come too fast when you’re sick: when Megan goes back into the real world, she is left only with the memories of Jackson to sustain her and bring her back to life.
Sneak Peek! (from Megan’s anthem to Jackson) “Jackson Dawes. He’s as tall as doors, standing in his battered old hat, singing his battered old songs, slapping his fingers down the length of the stand like an upright bass.” (Text copyright 2013 by Celia Bryce)
A Cinderella story perfect for the summer months. Cousins Zoe and Jess just landed their dream summer jobs – working at Fairyland Kingdom theme park. With a huge college grant on the line for outstanding interns, Zoe has a lot riding on this summer. But when she’s assigned to “serve” the Queen, and finds herself woefully distracted by all the handsome Princes running around, things do not seem promising. As the title implies, Zoe – and all of us – can’t make every dream come true, even in Fairyland Kingdom, but the tough choices she must make between friends, family, and boys, lead to a happy ending.
Sneak Peek! (from the Prologue) “There was no getting around the fact that Tinker Bell was a little bitch. The tiny, white powder-puff bichon frise with professionally manicured toenails scampered under the thornbush and out of sigh. Aghast, I stared at her diamond-studded collar swinging perilously from her leash like a noose swaying from the gallows.” (Text copyright 2013 by Sarah Strohmeyer)
With “summer” right in the title, you know this is a sure bet for a beach read. This incredibly fresh and unique dystopian tale takes us to a futuristic Brazil wherein men are no longer the dominant gender, having been nearly wiped out by a plague 400 years earlier. In the matrilineal society of Palmares Tres, 16-year-old artist June Costa dreams of greatness. Until she becomes entangled in a love affair with this year’s Summer King, Enki, the boy who will be sacrificed at year’s end so the city can continue to thrive. June’s art thrives, and as Enki’s sacrifice draws near, the two escape the political turmoil of their city, risking everything in the process.
Sneak Peek! “When I was eight, my papai took me to the park to watch the king die.” (Text copyright 2013 by Alaya Dawn Johnson)
After looking at three dystopian books last week – that genre that seems to be taking over the world – let’s look at three brand new books in other genres.
With its creepy title, this book sounds like a horror story. It’s really a little fantasy, a little paranormal, a little mythology, a little dystopia, and, yes, a little horror. There’s not just one story here, but there is one story. It’s made up of seven different vignettes – seven interwoven tales set on the same creepy Scandinavian island called Blessed. There are funny things afoot on Blessed, and it appears there have been since the beginning of time. Each piece of the puzzle takes place in a different era, starting in 2073, going back through the 10th century, and ending in time unknown. Fantasy, mythology, and paranormal fiction lovers should pick this up.
Sneak Peek! “The sun does no go down. This is the first thing that Eric Seven notices about Blessed Island. There will be many other strange things that he will notice, before the forgetting takes hold of him, but that will come later.” (Text copyright © 2013 Marcus Sedgwick)
Rory Miller’s life changes forever when she is nearly the victim of a serial killer. She escapes, but she knows who he is and what he almost did to her. She and her family enter Witness Protection, which means starting over in a new place, with a brand new life. Until one of Rory’s new friends goes missing. Has the killer she ran from found her? As teens continue to go missing in Rory’s new home of Juniper Landing, other seem unconcerned, but Rory is determined to track down the truth. If you like a little mystery with your stories, and a little supernatural with your mysteries, check this one out.
Sneak Peek! “His hands felt like ice. He rubbed them together, the dry scratching an even tempo in the otherwise quiet woods.” (Text copyright © 2012 by Alloy Entertainment and Kieran Viola)
And now for some romance! This is positively Downton Abbey from the perspective of two teens, one a rich young woman, and the other, her ladies’ maid. Lady Ada Averley has just returned from India to her family home at Somerton. A new ladies’ maid is found for her, Rose Cliffe, who is the same age as Ada. The two become close, despite their very different upbringings. Ada finds herself inexplicably involved in a less-than-expected romance with Ravi, an intelligent young Indian man in England to attend Oxford. Forbidden romance, upstairs-downstairs relationships a la Downton, and riveting writing make this a keeper.
Sneak Peek! (from the Prologue) ” Lady Ada Averley leaned on the rail of the steamboat Moldavia, feeling the hum of the ship’s huge engines through the steel, a rhythmic shudder like a giant’s breathing. The black sea glittered with the reflection of the stars above her, and the wind tugged at her had and loosened the dark curls that framed her pale face.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Disney Publishing Worldwide)
Thursday is the February meeting of the 712 Book Club for y’all in grades 7-12. We’re reading our way through some different kinds of dystopian fiction, since there’s so much of it and it varies a lot! (Last month was Enclave by Ann Aguirre, which was awesome. The sequel, Outpost, is out now and is similarly great.) Read on to find out why you need to be reading this book right now:
This Thursday, in honor of last week’s Valentine’s Day – a day that celebrates all things chocolate – we’re reading All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin. In the dystopian world that she imagines, food is somewhat limited, water is rationed, phones are strictly landlines and cost a bundle, alcohol is legal for everyone, and coffee and (worst of all) chocolate are utterly illegal.
Anya Balanchine’s family is the Russian mafia and she’s a no-nonsense kind of girl. She runs her family, her immediate family that is, as she is in charge of her sister, brother and ailing grandmother (who was born in 1995, just to give you some idea of when this story takes place), after her father was gunned down when she was young. Even when her older brother, who is mentally handicapped, is recruited to work for “the family” under somewhat suspect terms, and she gets sent to jail for dishing out poisoned chocolate, Anya keeps it together. Nothing can cause her to waver from the path of doing what’s right for her family and friends. Luckily for us, there is a forbidden romance in Anya’s future. It might be the only thing that can shake up her cynical, overly practical worldview and let her change her life, and that of those around her, for the better.
The world is not an easy place in this dystopian version of New York City, yet the cool thing about Zevin’s futuristic NYC is that the government’s corruption and distorted sense of rules and regulations have meant that life is sort of a throwback. There are no hover cars or people living on the moon, because dystopia means that people really just live harshly. The rules are strict, and so just like in historic times, such as the Prohibition Era in the 20s, people find a way to get around them. There are speakeasies. And weirdly harsh prisons. Teens get “high” on coffee and chocolate, but don’t like the taste of alcohol, which is legal for everyone, so don’t drink it much.
It’s a really cool example of the dystopian idea that is everywhere in books these days. More like the sci-fi dystopian classic Fahrenheit 451 than the more violent and dark books like The Hunger Games, it’s realistic fiction zoomed into a future gone a bit wrong.
Come chat about it over pizza and chocolate (which is legal here, thank goodness) this Thursday!