Posted in Literacy

Top Ten Books I’ve Read this Year

 

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! Summer is upon us! Finally! So in celebration of that  I thought I’d do something fun today and share with you the top ten books I’ve read so far this year. So if you’re looking for some summer reading check out my list! They’re not in any particular order, just the order that I remembered them in.  Although I’ve been reading quite a few YA books, there’s at least one adult book in there too. 🙂

 

1. The Book Thief

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t is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

 

2. Orphan Train

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Orphan Train is a gripping story of friendship and second chances from Christina Baker Kline, author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be.

Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse…

As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

 

3. Eleanor and Park

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Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.

 

 

4. If I Stay

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In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia’s story will stay with you for a long, long time.

5. Where She Went

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Picking up several years after the dramatic conclusion of If I StayWhere She Went continues the story of Adam and Mia, from Adam’s point of view. Ever since Mia’s decision to stay – but not with him – Adam’s career has been on a wonderful trajectory. His album, borne from the anguish and pain of their breakup, has made him a bona fide star. And Mia herself has become a top-rate cellist, playing in some of the finest venues in the world. When their respective paths put them both in New York City at the same time, the result is a single night in which the two reunite – with wholly satisfying results.

6. The Fault in Our Stars

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Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars brilliantly explores the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

7. Fangirl

In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

8. Sweet Water

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YA-This novel of self-discovery is told from the points of view of two female narrators: 25-year-old artist Cassie Simon and her grandmother Constance Clyde. Cassie was raised by her widowed father in the urban northeast. Unexpectedly, she inherits the old family homestead in rural Tennessee from her grandfather. Though puzzled by the bequest-she grew up without contact with any of her maternal relatives-she decides that the opportunity to change her life, pursue her art, and learn about her mother’s family is too enticing to pass up. But her move to the rundown farmhouse brings her face-to-face with hostility and family secrets. As Cassie’s story unfolds, and she grows to appreciate the simple wonders of the isolated farm, Constance’s voice provides a counterpoint. The old woman broods over her life and dwells on her dead husband’s infidelities with several local women, and on the long-ago, tragic death of Cassie’s mother. The novel’s climax unites grandmother and granddaughter, as each learns the truth about the past and each other. YAs who like a little romance and mystery mixed together will enjoy this gentle story.

9. The Invention of Wings

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Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

10. Catching Fire

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Catching Fire picks up right where Hunger Games left off. Unrest in the Districts is growing at an alarming pace and Katniss unwittingly finds herself the figurehead for the movement against the Capitol. The characters you loved return for the sequel and the reader must endure each indignity the Capitol inflicts upon them. It is painful, tortuous, imaginative and motivating. It is everything The Hunger Games was and more. It both answers your lingering questions and creates so many new ones. It challenges you to think and creates such feelings of empathy for the characters that whenever I had to put the book down, I was genuinely worried for leaving the characters hanging and couldn’t wait to pick it back up just so they could continue fighting for their lives and freedoms.

Everything I loved about The Hunger Games is present in Catching Fire: the unique and engrossing storyline; characters so thoroughly and beautifully described they start to feel like friends; a fantastical setting that is both real and sad; and language that is easy to read and yet conveys such a profound meaning. It has action, romance, horror, hope, despair and, most of all, humanity. It has sci-fi and politics yet, unlike a lot of books on the market, they are not “in your face” and are completely approachable.

 

 

So there you have it! My top ten books I’ve read this year, so far. 😉

If you’re looking for some summer reading and you’ve already read The Super Spies series, check out these gems! They’re very good! 🙂

Posted in reviews

Book Review of “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with a review of “Fangirl” written by Rainbow Rowell. This one is going to be quick because I’ve made a change to my manuscript and I’m back in the editing cave. It’s too bad this little nugget of inspiration didn’t come to me until I was almost ready to send it to the publisher, but that’s the way it happens sometimes.

I liked “Fangirl” very much, not as much as I liked “Eleanor and Park,” but it was still worth the read. It’s the story of Cath and her twin sister Wren and how their relationship changes when the go off to college. Cather is more introverted than her sister. Therefore, when Wren gets a little too involved in extra-curricular activities it’s a source of conflict between the two sisters.

I liked how their father who struggles with bi-polar disorder took control of the situation, confronted Wren, and forced her to get some help for her out of control partying. This can be a problem for young teens that are experiencing their first taste of freedom.

I also liked how Cath and Levi’s relationship developed slowly over time. I think the best relationships do. If you read my post from Monday, you’ll know that I don’t buy the idea of instalove. 🙂

Here’s the link: https://lisaorchard.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/is-the-instalove-in-ya-books-setting-our-teens-up-for-disappointment/

Overall, it was a great read and I enjoyed it. Rainbow Rowell does a great job of illustrating the anxiety of that first year of college very well. Below is the cover and blurb.

Thanks for stopping by, I’d love to hear from you, so if you know of a great YA author or book that would be worth my time to read, leave the title or name in a comment! 🙂

 

In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

Posted in Parenting, Teen

Is the Instalove in YA books setting our teens up for Disappointment?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a three day Writer’s Conference that I thoroughly enjoyed. It gave me the extra incentive I needed to tackle a couple of projects that I’ve been thinking about and I’m going to start on those soon.

I’ve finally finished my personal editing process for my fourth novel and I’m excited about it. It’s a coming of age novel and it’s grittier than my past work. I’ve branched out into new territory and that’s exhilarating for me.

I’ve also been reading more too. I’ve just finished Rainbow Rowell’s “Fangirl.”

 

It was a great story; however, I didn’t like it as much as “Eleanor and Park.”

The main thing that I enjoyed about “Fangirl” is the fact that the love story between Cath and Levi wasn’t instalove like you find in other young adult books. This is important, in my opinion, because it gives a more realistic view of what love is supposed to be like for our young people.

Instalove or love at first sight is unrealistic and if the stories that portray it are the first glimpse of what love is like for our young girls, I think it sets them up for disappointment. They’re looking for something that doesn’t exist.

In my opinion, love at first sight should actually be called attraction at first sight. I agree we can become attracted to someone just by his or her physical presence, but this should never be mistaken for love.

As parents and educators, we need to teach this to our girls. Boys need to learn it too, but many of them don’t read the instalove books that young girls do, so they don’t receive the same misconstrued message.

In my opinion, we need to teach our teens communication skills that will help them negotiate the turbulent emotions they’ll feel when they embark on that treacherous trail of love. Especially that first love. Nothing will burn as deep as this first one.

Both of Rainbow Rowell’s books do this. Another book that shows us that love starts out as friendship is “The Fault in our Stars” by John Green. Real love always starts out that way.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. What are your thoughts on instalove in our books for teens? I’d love to read them, so leave a comment!