Wednesday, October 30, 2013

YA Epidemics #11 - Insta-Love

Ah, yes.  Insta-love, the bane of romance lovers everywhere.  Girl meets boy, boy is gorgeous and has a tendency to go around shirtless, girl falls madly in love within a chapter or two.  Strip a romance bare of all the romantic build-up and commence with the kissing!

The thing about this one is that writing a believable, slow-burn love story is hard.  It's so difficult for an author to create the kind of chemistry I love to read about, I won't deny that for a second.  But come on.  Writing a slow-building romance that doesn't sizzle is understandable, but to make your two characters fall in love with next to no build-up, sometimes in as few as one or two days?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Book Review - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Pages: 550
Publisher: Knopf Books
Genre: YA/Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 Stars

"It 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."

I have been seriously slacking on my review writing (seriously slacking; it's unforgivable, and I apologize), choosing instead to write a one -or -two-line summary on GoodReads with the promise of a review to come that never does, but this one...this one needs a review. It may not be as in-depth as you're used to from me, nor as long, but I'm going to do my best to capture what my reading experience was.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Book Review - Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

A funny, honest novel about being out, being proud . . . and being ready for something else.

Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He's won skiing prizes. He likes to write.

And, oh yeah, he's gay. He's been out since 8th grade, and he isn't teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that's important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys' boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret -- not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate breaking down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn't even know that love is possible.

This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate being different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.

336 Pages
Arthur A. Levine Books
4/5 Stars

I’ve been reading a fair share of books with LGBT characters lately, and with the exception of Hannah Moskowitz’s Gone, Gone, Gone, they’ve all focused too strongly on their characters’ sexual orientation to actually make them seem real.  It’s like these authors feel like they have to shove in our faces that they’re writing a GAY BOOK, and it’s just like…no.  Stop it.  I don’t live every day of my life obsessing over the fact that I’m straight, my identity is not attached to the genitalia I’m attracted to, and it’s no different for gay people.  Openly Straight understands this and gives us a wonderfully fun -- and surprisingly deep -- reading experience.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Book Review - Fire by Heather James

Is control over the elements a gift, or a curse?

Roxy thinks that she is in control of everything: with flames flaring at her fingertips and an equally fiery attitude, what more could she need? But then she meets Brae, a prince from a rival Realm, who turns her assumptions of superiority upside down.

Jasmine has none of Roxy’s confidence or intensity. But she does have a secret - and Brae - and she’s not going to give either up willingly.

A YA fantasy about opposing nations, each holding different elemental powers, Fire is one of those self-pubs that you could easily see being picked up by a publishing label.  With just a bit of work and polish, this novel could compete with YA fantasies like Graceling and Touch Of Power.  Not without its flaws, Fire is a short and compelling journey told through the eyes of two very different protagonists.

The first thing I noticed about this novel was its prose and structure.  I love me my indie writers, but let’s face it.  Most of them could use with some major editing.  Heather James writes like a pro, making it easy to immerse yourself in her world and her characters.  The build-up of her world was a bit slow, but it was smooth and believable.  If I’m completely honest, there were a few times when I’d feel my attention drifting, but it was never very long before it was back on track.