Not quite ready to say goodbye to summer love interests, warm settings and sigh worthy reading? Me either! Check-out these summer YA reads by authors you may not have tried yet.
All the Things We Lost: Kayla Tirrell
18 year old Katie returns to her childhood home in an effort to overcome the recent loss of her mother. While there she is reunited with Julian, a sweet memory from her past who has had some tough years of his own to overcome. Told from the perspective of both Julian and Katie All the Things We Lost will have you clamoring for these two soul crushed teens to let go of their hurt and find hope in one another.
This Summer: Katlyn Duncan
Hadley and best friend Lily are on a mission to have the best summer of their lives before the two off to college in the fall. What they didn't anticipate? Hadley's former neighbor and all around hunk returning to town for the summer and bringing with him a whole lot of drama, heartbreak, and possibly ...just possibly..a hella good reason to wish summer never ended.
Hushed: Joanne Macgregor
When Romy saves superstar Logan from a near drowning she is offered the job of a lifetime serving as his personal assistant. However, Romy soon finds that Hollywood isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sometimes you have to make difficult choices. Will she choose love, her own aspirations, or revenge? Check out this fun take on The Little Mermaid for a different type of summer read.
Throwing My Life Away: Liz Czukas
When Mariska's stepfather accidentally tosses her beloved camera Mariska goes on a summer long mission to recreate her lost high school memories. This one is wrought with touching situations, the realities of growing up and moving on, and some seriously sweet memorable moments. Big Fat Recommend!
Everyone loves a good giveaway. How about three?
1. Free Download: Want to read The Hunter's Daughter but don't want to shell out 2.99 for a newbie author? I sympathize yo! Tomorrow August, 8th from midnight to midnight The Hunter's Daughter will be available on Amazon as a free Ebook. Give it a shot. You've got nothing to lose but time..and that's not really all that valuable ;)
2. Blog Subscription: Subscribe to this blog via the link to your right and be entered in a monthly drawing for merchandise from my literary jewelry, bookmark and gift shop. Check it out!
3. Paperback Freebie: Head over to the M.F. Lorson Facebook and checkout the details for this giveaway. Heads up you must like the page to be entered.
How I got it: I received The Way it Hurts via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Why I picked it: A couple of years ago I reviewed Blount's previous novel Some Boys for School Library Journal. Some Boys struck a chord and I was hopeful that The Way it Hurts would do the same.
Kristen wants to spend her summer in an elite music program but finds herself rejected despite her obvious talent for broadway style vocals.
Eli strives to make it big with his heavy metal band Ride Out and use the fame and fortune to provide safe at home care for his autistic younger sister.
The two have never met in person but rival one another in an online forum similar to twitter designed to help musicians offer one another feedback. When Kristen and Eli meet at a performance of Cats they quickly realize that working together can help them both get what they want. By joining forces Kristen is able to stand out to potential conservatory scouts and Eli is able to help Ride Out appeal to a wider audience.
Feedback: Although the bands ascension is front and center in this book there is a subplot that cannot be overlooked. Eli and his bandmates use sexism to appeal to their target audience at the expense of Kristen's safety. Though romantic lead Eli often voices that he doesn't approve of what the fans say he refrains from taking a stand on the subject. At no point in the book does Eli's character evolve. At no point in the book does Kristen's character acknowledge that her love interest is actively putting her in danger for the sake of the band. Given the strong stance Blount took against sexual assault and harassment in Some Boys I anticipated a similar approach in The Way it Hurts. I figured it was slow coming to prove a point about the fact that people don't take sexual harassment seriously enough or that online harassment can be dangerous outside of the internet as well but the final chapter came and went without ever delivering the message.
Verdict: This was a disappointing read. There was a lot of material here that could have been used to show teens yet another permutation of dangerous online behavior. Maybe the subject is getting old but the danger is still out there. No, predators aren't picking young girls and boys up on Myspace anymore but that doesn't mean that there aren't people out there using tools like Twitter and Facebook to stalk and harass people. I would have liked to see Kristen and Eli recognize that danger and make an effort to stop it. Instead readers got a nearly packaged romantic ending where everyone's dreams come true. This Librarian says...back to the drawing board Blount! Some Boys was too too good to be followed up by this fluff :(
I am semi-excited/mostly terrified to announce my second YA book will be available on Amazon in the coming weeks. Although I am proud of this title, (which I invested in by hiring both an editor and someone to professionally format it) I am also wildly nervous. What if it flops and that is all money down the drain? Or....worse what if no one reads it and I spent months, and many dollars writing something no one outside of dear old Mom and Dad will read? I suppose those are the risks.
Putting yourself out there is hard, which is why when I review titles I try and keep in mind that authors are people, and their projects very personal representations of their hard work and passion. Usually it is me reviewing someone else's project but today I am asking YOU to review mine. If you are interested in a free preview copy in exchange for an honest Amazon/Goodreads review please shoot me a message via the contact form or comment below. Without further ado...the cover and description for this year's shot at the dream career...psp thats writing if you didn't catch on :)
The Hunter’s Daughter takes place in the rodeo town of Pendleton, Oregon where 17 year old Maura lives with her 8 year old sister and single father Mike. When Mike’s diabetes threatens to take his foot he decides to spend his final steps hunting in the Blue Mountains; leaving his children to fend for themselves.
Meanwhile, back at home Maura’s elderly alcoholic neighbor takes in his teenage grandson Alex. Before long Maura finds herself falling in love while navigating nearly 30 days entirely unsupervised. Though nothing about Maura’s summer has been easy it becomes far more challenging when Mike’s return date comes and goes with no sign of her father. Determined to bring Mike home she and Alex venture into the wilderness in search of the only real parent she has ever known. Maura has never doubted her father’s love but the deteriorating state of his health and the mental conflict that accompanies it has her wondering what she’ll do if it turns out she’s looking for a man who doesn’t want to be found.
The Librarian of Auschwitz is my first review title from the good people at netgalley.com (a great place to snag free ARCs). I feel like I struck gold getting approved for this title, which won't be available to the public until October.
The Librarian of Auschwitz is YA historical fiction at its best. Real life heroes and villains of Auschwitz come to life in this unique telling of a little known aspect of the holocaust, the family camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When we read about concentration camps we typically learn little of the children because very few children survived. There are of course stories of parents who successfully hid their children from the SS guards, and heart wrenching tales of children gassed on arrival but little is said of the children who were allowed to live, allowed to go to school, given extra food rations, given as the author puts it "Special Treatment". Don't get your hopes up the family camp and the school that resided within it were not a flicker of kindness in an otherwise dark time. The family camp existed for one purpose. To hide the reality of the concentration camps from the rest of the world. The Nazi's knew that the Red Cross would be inspecting Auschwitz and the family camp was developed to make it appear that jewish families remained intact within the camps. Think Japanese American Internment Camps. That was the image meant to be portrayed by the family camp.
Author Antonio Iturbe researched Auschwitz extensively while crafting this novel. Though the story centers around Dita Kraus, a young girl who served as an assistant in the family camp's school and was the keeper of the schools 8 contraband books, he incorporates other important figures in history including Rudi Vrba, Freddy Hirsch and the unimaginably cruel Dr. Mengele (famous for experimenting on prisoners).
Nothing about this book shies away from the brutal reality of the jewish experience in World War II. However, the graphic details are minimized making it approachable for young teens. I predict this book will be a crossover favorite for adults and teens alike.
My take: I feel real real bad that you all have to wait for October to get ahold of this title. That being said, mark your calendars because this book is going to make waves and you don't want to be 47 people down on your libraries hold list when it hits the shelves.
As a 32 year old currently very pregnant adult I'm probably not the perfect person to say whether or not teens should be having sex but as a YA author I'm constantly thinking about it (boy did that come off wrong). What I mean is, do teen characters have to have sex to be realistic in YA literature? It's hard to say but I like to lean towards no and here is why.
Sex in YA books is not akin to Erotica. People aren't reading YA for the sex. They are reading YA for the story, the nostalgia, and the reliability. YA authors don't go into sexual detail because said detail has a certain pedo feel to it! It is typically a glossed over paragraph or even just one line at the end of a chapter ala Maggie Stievfater's "Shiver". So does the sex really need to happen? In my opinion when you have young characters have sex without repercussion or follow up discussion its like saying sex for teenagers is as frequent and easy as getting Netflix without paying for it. To me that is not realistic. I remember my own teenage years and though I wasn't cool enough to be in a crowd where sex was common I do remember talking about it a lot and I definitely remember it being a big deal when someone had it. It seems to me that YA books don't talk about sex unless it is related to rape, characters have it, but they don't talk about it and I think it would be a positive change to see a little more of that.
My characters never have sex, not in my first book and not in the two I am working on now. Why? Because they don't have to have sex to make you believe their relationship is going somewhere and quite frankly I think teen fear of sex is more realistic than the act itself.
So, how am I going to be a helper and not a contributor to the problem? As a writer I am going to challenge myself to avoid mating my characters for the sake of the easy romantic climax (not the sexy kind) but I'm also gonna challenge myself to make sure my characters talk about it when it's relevant, something I avoided doing in Delinquent.
I'm interested to hear what you think? YA sex: Yes, No? Go!
1. The Awakening: Confession, I read the Awakening EVERY year. It never stops shaking me. Edna Pontellier falls in love with a man on the island she visits with her husband and children. They don't kiss, they don't cross the line, they just orbit around one another until he leaves suddenly, presumably to save her from herself. Edna enters a deep depression, realizing wife and mother are not terms that define her. The further she awakens the more clear it becomes that she cannot return to her former life, not for her husband, not for the children, not for herself. There is no saving her.
2. The Likeness: This deeply sad book was nearly a DNF (did not finish) for me. A detective discovers she bears a striking resemblance to the murder victim in her most recent case. In order to delve deep into the psyche of those around the victim the police do not announce the murder. Instead they plant the detective in the murdered girl's household where she is tasked with investigating the four roommates, consequently the last four people to have seen the victim alive. Detective Maddox finds herself intrigued by the housemates, make it difficult for her to see them as suspects. This one was hard for me to finish because the deeper it got the more attached to the characters I became. I knew one of the roommates had to have been the culprit but I didn't want to see them go to jail and I didn't want to see Cassie give up the close relationships she developed while living in the house. Though Tana French always writes things that leave me thinking long after the last page, this is one in particular has been difficult to let go of.
3. Frostfire: Amanda Hocking is officially my indie publishing idol. This is the girl that lent credibility to self-publishing. Her books pretty much rule and on top of that...they sell, which can't be said for most indie books. In fact they sold so well that she now has a publishing contract. When I bought Frostfire for our library I didn't know the history behind the author. I had read a good review and I had a co-worker desperate to read it (perks of knowing a purchasing librarian). I am so glad to have taken a chance on it. Frostfire has it all, fantastic settings, a convincing world of the fae, young love, and quick paced storytelling. I'm pretty psyched about completing the series.
Hey you! Random girl on the internet, why should I listen to you when it comes to books? I can make my own decisions!
You can totally make your own decisions. Don't be so feisty! I'm just trying to establish a little credibility here. So why should you listen to me? When I'm not on the internet writing and answering my own questions, I'm working as a Youth Services Librarian and part of that job entails reading hundreds of book reviews to determine what books will be a good fit for our library. It also means I get to spend my days talking to people about books they love, hate, want to burn etc.
Your bio says you review for School Library Journal. Is that not enough for you?
Well...it's really kind of not. SLJ is awesome. They send you free copies of up and coming authors and sometimes you score an advanced readers copy from a super celebrity author like Veronica Roth or Maggie Stievfater but.....you don't get to pick what you read and that can be a bummer! I'm starting this review site because I want to review books that peak my interest. I want CHOICE!
Are you only gonna post reviews? That can be kind of a snore.
Nope. I am also going to write snarky entries like this one whenever the mood strikes.
Will you take review requests from Indie Authors?
Why yes...why yes I will! But, I am also going to review whatever I am reading at the moment whether that be a traditionally published giant like Jane Eyre or a fun find through Amazon Prime. If you want to send me a book to review check out the submissions tab.
Don't you secretly want to be an author yourself?
Pretty much...which is why reading, reviewing and conversing with literary fans like yourself is a great way to learn what people like to read! Follow this blog please!