Read it in One Rainy Day

Image by OiMax
Image by OiMax

Now that Spring feels finally here – the giant snow pile out my north of Boston apartment finally melted – I feel the need for a different kind of book. Like many of you, different seasons of the year make me want different kinds of books. In the winter I like to hunker down with a long, multi-book series and summer brings the annual “beach” reads and the time where I sneak some adult fiction into YA-to-read pile. The return of school in the fall makes me gravitate towards the boarding school story but what about spring?

When it starts to get warmer, it’s easy to ditch the book to head outside to enjoy the not so cold evenings. Breaking my winter hibernation born of cold weather, feet upon feet of snow, makes my concentration wander so I tend to turn to books that I can read in a day or two. There’s nothing like starting and finishing a book on rainy spring day to make you feel accomplished but not overwhelmed.

Here’s a list of recent books I’ve read in a day or maybe two or three. Many are graphic novels which I find great for my spring distraction.

18465566This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (2015 Caldecott and Printz honors): This book does an amazing job of presenting a chapter in the lives of two friends. They are growing up but also apart from the friendship that they thought wouldn’t change. The gorgeous and evocative art, done in shades of blue, makes you long for summer but also revel in whatever weather you’re in, letting you melt into the page.

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley (2015 Great Graphic Novel for Teens): The bright colors of the art and acceleration of the plot makes this a great one day read. You will get sucked in by Katie’s seemingly perfect way to get rid of her mistakes – the magic mushrooms that allow her to fix anything – and tearing through the book as fast as you can as all of her changed mistakes come back to haunt her at the end. Continue reading Read it in One Rainy Day

Narrators You Love to Hate in YA Lit

upauthors.com
upauthors.com

Unreliable, whiney, un-likable, liars—we’ve all read characters like this!  I love to read a good book with a “bad” (and/or unreliable) narrator. This kind of flawed storyteller reaches to the reader and asks us to question, look deeper, and ponder truth and lies. It is a sign of an excellent author who can manipulate you to love the book and hate the character. Skilled writers make the reader believe the lies and then accept the truth.

Here are some favorite examples of protagonists I love to hate.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

  • In this year’s Printz Award recipient I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson twins Noah and Jude lie to each other, lie to their parents, and lie to themselves (and by extension to us: the reader). With all the lies it’s no wonder there was so much to reveal in this tale. The sneakiness and bad treatment of each other made me distinctly dislike them. But Nelson also juxtaposed the twins’ nastiness with descriptions of how deeply they love each other.
  • Cadence from We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults). Here is what I consider to be a likeable character and one whom I really felt for. But what if I knew the truth of what really happened that summer at the beginning of this book? Would I still have felt so sympathetic towards Cady?
  • Froi and Quintana from Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles. Only Melina Marchetta (Printz Award winner) could take a predatory lowlife like Froi was when we first met him in Finnikin of the Rock (2011 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults) and turn him around so distinctly then lead him to star in his own story. Froi is redeemed in Finnikin of the Rock; grows in Froi of the Exiles, and become a hero in Quintana of Charyn. In the second installment of the Lumatere Chronicles Marchetta also introduces Quintana: one of the grossest characters I have ever imagined in a book and quickly made me love her. Quintana is prickly, deranged, damaged, paranoid, abused, and abusive. But she becomes a hero too—fiercely protective and thoroughly decent.

Continue reading Narrators You Love to Hate in YA Lit

Find a New Favorite Female Comic Artist or Graphic Novelist

graphic_novels2As a big fan of graphic novels and comics, I read across many genres from superhero comics to nonfiction to humor and beyond. While I love the work of many different authors, today I want to highlight some of the best work from female artists who create comics and graphic novels. The list below includes some books I have read and some I can’t wait to read, but they are all written or drawn (or both!) by women who are among the best in the field.

Memoir
JapanAiJapan Ai by Aimee Major Steinberger (2009 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens, 2009 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2009 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers – This book, drawn in Manga style, chronicles Aimee’s trip to Japan, where she immerses herself in Japan’s particular cuteness. More of a journal than a traditional comic, this is fun book that will leave you dreaming of a trip to Japan. Continue reading Find a New Favorite Female Comic Artist or Graphic Novelist

Is This the Real Life?: Graphic Novels

September brings a lot of things: cooler temperatures, pumpkin everything, the start of a new school year, Library Card Sign-up Month, and Banned Books Week, to name just a few. This year, Banned Books Week is focusing on comics and I thought I would share some contemporary, realistic graphic novels. What other recommendations do you have?

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Katie’s life was going pretty well– until it wasn’t. She soon discovers a way to do things over… and soon Katie can’t stop redoing anything that goes wrong.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Rose and her family spend their summers at Awago Beach. This summer is different. Her parents won’t stop fighting and she and her friend get tangled up in some local drama. Continue reading Is This the Real Life?: Graphic Novels

Summer Reading: Vacation Destination Books

Photo by flickr user george.bremer
Photo by flickr user george.bremer

It’s summertime! And if you’re anything like me, that means finding a spot to curl up with a cool breeze, a tall glass of something iced, and a stack of good books. Now, I don’t always match my reading to the season, but sometimes I like my books to feel like an extension of the atmosphere I’m experiencing, rather than an escape from it. Especially if I’m lucky enough to be on vacation (or happily anticipating one); sometimes I want to read all about other people having the same disruption to routine that vacations bring, living outside of their regular schedules. And sometimes, y’know, I just want to savor the season as much as possible: sun, sand, water, just-picked fruits and veggies – celebrate the many incarnations of a summer vacation with the following vacation-themed reading.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Destination: Private island estatewe_were_liars

This is the book that prompted  the whole list of summer destination-themed titles; I devoured it in a single sitting (with a pitcher of iced tea, natch) and upon finishing was, a) blown away by the plotting – avoid spoilers!- and b) immediately ready for absolutely everything in my life to be summer-themed, because the setting was so deliciously drawn. Cady, our protagonist, is returning to her family’s summer retreat on a private island after spending the last two years away. She is suffering from excruciating migraines and trying to reclaim the easy, uncomplicated rhythms of the vacations she shared with her cousins in summers past, but she’s hindered by memory loss. As the incomplete flashbacks of previous years on the island draw the mystery closer to the dormant truth, the pages go by faster and faster until the truly shocking finale.

 

this one summerThis One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Destination: Lakeside cottage

This is the first collaboration between cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki since 2008’s much-lauded Skim (a personal favorite and a 2009 Best Books for Young Adults top ten selection), and like that nuanced, thoughtful graphic novel, this nuanced, thoughtful graphic novel is equally beautiful, with pitch-perfect dialogue and a subdued palette awash in blues and purples. The fully-realized characters are visibly bubbling over with complex, rich emotions, their relationships displayed with all the hesitations and missteps of real life. The gorgeously rendered scenes are alive with all the details of small beach town life; the magnificence of plunging into the water on a warm day, the lazy delights of an afternoon indoors after too much sun, the importance of marshmallows at a bonfire. I swear I could hear the gulls while I read. Continue reading Summer Reading: Vacation Destination Books