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Books to Read (Forthcoming Releases)

June 10th, 2015 (07:00 am)
thoughtful

Current Mood: thoughtful
Current Song: Without a Trace theme song

June 2015
The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Tin Men by Christopher Golden
Uprooted by Naomi Novik

July 2015
All We Have Is Now by Lisa Schroeder
Louisa Trapeze is Totally 100% Fearless by Micol Ostow, illustrated by Brigette Barrager
Mummy Cat written by Marcus Ewert and illustrated by Lisa Brown
The Secrets She Keeps by Deb Caletti

August 2015
Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell
The Raven's Child by Thomas E. Sniegoski, art by Tom Brown
Think Twice by Sarah Mlynowski (sequel to Don't Even Think About It)

Fall 2015
Violent Ends edited by Shaun Hutchinson
Zeroes #1 by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

September 2015
Edgewater by Courtney Sheinmel
Once Upon a Time: Red's Untold Tale by Wendy Toliver
Teen Boat! The Race for Boatlantis by Dave Roman and John Green
Upside-Down Magic #1 by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins
Very in Pieces by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Fall 2015
Zacktastic by Courtney Sheinmel

October 2015
A Deafening Silence in Heaven by Thomas E. Sniegoski
The Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol Ostow, illustrated by David Ostow

November 2015
Dead Ringers by Christopher Golden

Late 2015
World of Payne Book 0: Ghost Dog by Tom Sniegoski and Frank Cho

Spring 2016
The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian
Time Stoppers by Carrie Jones

March 2016
The Girl in the Tower by Lisa Schroeder

Fall 2016
Zeroes #2 by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

Sometime in 2016
Essential Maps for the Lost by Deb Caletti
The Kindness Club by Courtney Sheinmel

Sometime in 2017
Feminism for the Real World by Kelly Jensen

Fall 2017
Zeroes #3 by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

Little Willow [userpic]

Poetry Friday: Ralph Waldo Emerson

June 5th, 2015 (01:54 pm)
optimistic

Current Mood: optimistic
Current Song: Stars by Jessica Rotter

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities
no doubt have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.

Tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely
and with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with
your old nonsense.

This day is all that is
good and fair.
It is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on yesterdays.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.
View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.
Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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Best Books of May 2015

May 31st, 2015 (10:56 am)
sleepy

Current Mood: sleepy
Current Song: Stars by Jessica Rotter

May 2015: 5 books and scripts read

Recommended for Teens and Adults
All the Rage by Courtney Summers
Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Little Willow [userpic]

Poetry Friday: Ida Frickey

May 29th, 2015 (11:31 am)
sleepy

Current Mood: sleepy
Current Song: Hit the Ground by Jessica Rotter

Nothing in life is alien to you:
I was a penniless girl from Summum
Who stepped from the morning train in Spoon River.
All the houses stood before me with closed doors
And drawn shades- I was barred out;
I had no place or part in any of them.
And I walked past the old McNeely mansion,
A castle of stone 'mid walks and gardens,
With workmen about the place on guard,
And the County and State upholding it
For its lordly owner, full of pride.
I was so hungry I had a vision:
I saw a giant pair of scissors
Dip from the sky, like the beam of a dredge,
And cut the house in two like a curtain.
But at the "Commercial" I saw a man,
Who winked at me as I asked for work--
It was Wash McNeely's son.
He proved the link in the chain of title
To half my ownership of the mansion,
Through a breach of promise suit - the scissors.
So, you see, the house, from the day I was born,
Was only waiting for me.

- Ida Frickey in Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

May 25th, 2015 (11:11 am)
hopeful
Tags: ,

Current Mood: hopeful
Current Song: The Writer by Ellie Goulding

In the first chapter of The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough, a baby boy is visited by the manifestation of Love. Appearing as a man in a fine gray suit, Love gives the boy a steady heart and these words: "Have courage." The next night, the manifestation of Death visits a baby girl across town and marks the child with a tear and whispered warnings. The first chapter is set in 1920; the next chapter skips forward to 1937, when the players are seventeen years old and the Game officially begins.

Told in third person, the book shuttles between the perspectives of the players - Flora, an African-American aviatrix who tends to planes during the day and sings jazz music at her uncle's club at night, and Henry, a scholarship student who lives with his best friend's well-to-do family - and the game runners - Death, a cynical feminine presence who would give Once Upon a Time's Queen Regina a run for her money, and Love, a masculine presence who believes in the transformative power of love. Other characters who come into play include Henry's best friend Ethan, Ethan's little sister Annabel, Ethan's cousin Helen, Flora's grandmother, Flora's uncle, and others at the jazz club. The third-person narrative permits the readers to know more about the characters, the events, and the overall big picture than the main players, who are unaware of their part in the Game. Revelations and connections lead to some tense page turns, especially as the story ramps up to the climax.

Death is a master manipulator, cunning and some would say cruel as she finds a way to get close to Henry and use him as a pawn. Meanwhile, Love is determined and hopeful, and his side story is something that made me want to give Brockenbrough a very strong high-five. The world would be a better place if all people were open-minded and optimistic and true to themselves.

The contrast between Death and Love is stark, but what's even more interesting is what they have in common. Consider, if you will, what they want; what they seek; what they are willing to sacrifice; and what they refuse to give up. It's eye-opening and tear-jerking and thought-provoking and other hyphenated things. If you are an emotional reader, you should probably have a box of Kleenex nearby. Also, perhaps you should sit in a comfy chair so you can grip the arm of it and/or curl up in a ball when necessary.

The writing throughout the novel is thoughtful. Every scene offers a complete picture of the setting and the people present. For example:

"Do you ever wonder," Helen said, walking down the stairs towards him, "if flowers feel pain when someone cuts them?" She lifted one from the basket. "Does it look like it suffered?"

"Oh, Helen," Mrs. Thorne said, "what a curious thing to say. I'm sure Henry has thought no such thing."

It was true. But, he realized, he would not be able to look at a flower again without wondering whether it had suffered, or whether anyone had cared.
- Page 94

The word "someday" is introduced early in the book as something important to the characters, and it leads to an impactful song that I wish we could hear.

If you liked The Game of Love and Death, you should check out The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Read the original book, then see the classic film. The book was written by Josephine Leslie, but she used a pseudonym: R.A. Dick. The book also inspired a TV series, a sitcom. You should also read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which is directly narrated by Death, who is omniscient and genderless and more of an observer than a manipulator. Set on the European homefront during World War II, you'll need Kleenex to handle the tears you'll shed while reading that book, too.

Little Willow [userpic]

Poetry Friday: Someday from The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

May 22nd, 2015 (06:14 am)
awake

Current Mood: awake
Current Song: I Love Lucy score music

You are the moon
And I am the sea
Wherever you are
You've got pull over me

The whole of the sky
Wants to keep us apart
The distance is wearing
A hole in my heart

Someday your moonlight
Will blanket my skin
Someday my waves
Will pull all of you in

Someday I promise
The moon and the sea
Will be together
Forever you and me.

- from The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

This song is written by one of the main characters in the novel, and performed as a duet by the two protagonists.

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.
View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.
Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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All the Rage by Courtney Summers

May 16th, 2015 (01:54 pm)
contemplative
Tags: ,

Current Mood: contemplative
Current Song: Winter Sun by Jessica Rotter

Courtney Summers' latest novel All the Rage begins in third-person narrative, detailing what happened to a girl at a party - at a table - in a truck - at the hands of the boy she thought she liked. Within three short pages, we learn this all happened a year ago, that this is a flashback, as we abruptly shift to first-person narrative and are brought into the here and now, where and when something has taken place that makes same girl feel even more ashamed and lost.

The action then shifts back in time two weeks and goes from there. Just two few weeks. Less than half a month. Not a lot of time, right? And yet so much can and will and does happen in that time.

A year ago, Romy was raped by a golden boy, the son of the town sheriff. Her complaints tossed aside like so much dirt, the case not pursued, Romy lost the respect of her peers, who think she made it all up, and her best friend, who is dating the sheriff's other son. Thankfully, Romy has the support of her mother - though they aren't extremely close, as Romy keeps everyone at arm's length - and she makes it through every school day with gritted teeth. At night, she escapes to her job at a restaurant at the next town over, where her reputation doesn't follow her like a cloud of dust.

The supporting characters in this book feel very real and distinct. For example, Todd, Romy's mother's boyfriend. If this were a film, I'd put Clayne Crawford or Christian Kane in that role in a heartbeat. I appreciated the realistic depiction of his chronic pain and condition, and I hope it makes people think twice before they call someone in that position "lazy." Throughout the book, Romy's mother's attempts to connect with her daughter are both heartwarming and heartbreaking, particularly the scene at The Barn (picture Big Lots!) and what comes after. If this were a film, smart actresses that fit Romy's mom's type and age would be doing everything they could to audition for that role. Then there's Leon, Romy's good-hearted co-worker who likes her, as well as his welcoming older sister and brother-in-law, who are preparing for the arrival of their first child. (Romy's reaction to that news is painful: she hopes for their sake it's not a girl.)

This feels like Courtney Summers' most mature work to date. Not to say her previous books were not mature - far from it; please read her debut novel Cracked Up to Be, followed by Some Girls Are, and on from there - but there's something even more grounded here, in the word choice of the author, the pacing of the story, and the mentality/narrative of the protagonist. "It's like a Sarah Dessen novel written by Courtney Summers," I said to a friend the day after I read it. (Then I added: "Now go read it so I can discuss it with you.")

The story could have gone in so many directions. We could have ended up in a courtroom, or a detention center, had the story focused on the pursuit of the person who attacked Romy. Or Romy could have run away, or not gotten up when she hit the ground. Instead, the book follows the story of two missing girls, only one of whom is missing in the way you suppose; the other has been gone for a long time, yet she's still there somehow - she's still here, somehow - and she tries to cover up the cracks in her foundation with red, red, red.

The story could have gone in so many directions. That's what I love about good stories and good storytellers: you can read ten books or watch ten movies or listen to ten songs with the same basic premise, but they won't be exactly the same, and the truly good ones will stand out due to the quality of the work and/or the unique sound and flavor of the author, the narrator, the singer, the artist. Summers has a distinct style, a simple and frank way of putting words down to guide readers along a train track and into a scarred soul. She usually uses first-person narrative to relate the thoughts and experiences of her protagonists, who are often burdened by secrets and losses that have shaken their strength - but it is that underpinning of strength that allows the characters to rebuild, to move forward, to strive for better.

The conclusion of All the Rage leads me to believe that Romy is going make it after all, and it is that simple thing - hope - that carries so many of us through the day, day after day. Instead of getting buried under the secrets and the pain, we should share our truths and make things better not only for ourselves, but for others. If we speak up, if we tell our stories, if we say no to what we don't want and yes to what we do want, we can have the lives we deserve and make the world safer, better, stronger, more wonderful for us all.

My favorite lines in the book include:

- ...the compliment lingers and fades. I remind myself it's nothing I have to hold or be held to. - Page 27

- Still, the way he says it to me is different than he'd say it to anyone else. Small town nuance. Something you don't learn in the city, It's knowing when hello means go away or when rough night means I know you got drunk again or when yeah, I'd love to see you, it's just so busy lately means never, never, never. - Page 37

- When Conway tells me he hopes I'm staying out of trouble what he means is I am the trouble. - Page 37

- I wonder what Leon sees when he looks at me. - Page 43

- I didn't want to see what that looked like on their faces because however they gave it back to me would come from some place I don't want any part of. - Page 53

- Sometimes I want to ask Todd how he's so good at that. Knowing more than he lets on. But I have a feeling it's from all those years he spent on the outside after his accident. When all you can do is watch, you see. - Page 128

- She doesn't even know how hard it's going to be yet, but she will, because all girls find out. - Page 263

- My heart is heavy with the weight of my body and my body is so heavy with the weight of my heart. - Page 314

- The last line of the very first section, and the last line of the book. I won't spoil them here; I'll simply say they act as bookends.

Related posts at Bildungsroman:
Interview: Courtney Summers (2015)
Interview: Courtney Summers (2008)
Book Review: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
Book Review: Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
Book Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
What Makes Courtney Summers Smile
So You Want to Read YA? Booklist by Little Willow at Stacked

Little Willow [userpic]

Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles

May 16th, 2015 (11:35 am)
accomplished

Current Mood: accomplished
Current Song: Aflame by Jessica Rotter

A boy with a broken finger who quietly suffers under the weight of his father's cruel words. A girl desperate to fit in. The teenage boy who dates a girl in public and a boy in private. A young man who is counting the days until he's 21. A teacher struggling to get her students' respect.

Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles tells all these stories and more. The book contains ten short stories total, with each character's tale roughly 40 pages long. The storylines overlap and connect, woven together by setting - all of the stories take place in the same town, on the same day - as strangers, neighbors, relatives, co-workers and classmates interact, ignore, confront, and combust.

Set aside some time for this book, because once you've finished reading it, you may feel compelled to read it again! If you read this book a second time, you will pick up on even more of the connections, causes, and consequences, just like when you read a mystery for the second time, you pick up on more of the clues because you already know the identity (and intentions) of the murderer.

The author said that this book was inspired by a stranger who flipped off her family while driving down the road. That symbol of disrespect is in each of the stories, which may make some parents or teachers hesitate, but don't be worried - overall, the book is fairly PG.

Read Between the Lines is both frank and considerate, honest in its depiction of emotional abuse, intolerance, secrets, and hierarchies within families, classrooms, and communities. Though they have different backgrounds and different interests, each character is trying to find a place for herself or himself in the world, and there's something universal in that search for identity and belonging. The point of the book is to pause, to think, to consider, to look, to look again: we don't always know what's happened to others to make them act or react the way they do; we can't read their minds, we don't know what their day has been like or what their home situation is, but if we take a moment to consider other people's feelings, to respect their space and hear their side of the story, we might be find we are more alike and more connected that we think.

Book Pairing: If you like Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles, you'll also like Leap Day by Wendy Mass.

Related posts at Bildungsroman
Booklist: Multiple Narrators
Book Review: See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles
Interview: Jo Knowles
Booklist: Tough Issues for Teens

This review was also posted at GuysLitWire.

Little Willow [userpic]

Poetry Friday: Acquainted with the Night by Robert Frost

May 15th, 2015 (06:00 am)
contemplative

Current Mood: contemplative
Current Song: Aflame by Jessica Rottler

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain - and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

- Robert Frost

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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Booklist: Multiple Narrators

May 14th, 2015 (08:10 am)
thirsty

Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: So Young by The Corrs

There are two sides to every story - or three, or four, or more. Here are more than a dozen stories for pre-teens, teens, and adults which employ multiple narrators, listed alphabetically by author:

The Poison Apples by Lily Archer (classmates)
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (classmates)
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (best friends)
Never Mind! by Avi and Rachel Vail (twins)
The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June by Robin Benway (sisters)
Just Flirt by Laura Bowers (enemies)
Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough (guardian and charge)
Sweetgrass Basket by Marlene Carvell (sisters)
A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley (acquaintances become friends)
When It Happens by Susane Colasanti (classmates, then...)
Take Me There by Susane Colasanti (friends)
If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko (classmates)
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (strangers at first)
Naomi & Ely's No-Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (friends)
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (strangers at first)
Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman (relatives, neighbors, classmates)
Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis (grandmother and granddaughter)
The Fruit Bowl Project by Sarah Durkee (classmates)
To Be Mona by Kelly Easton (classmates)
Dirty Laundry by Daniel Ehrenhaft (classmates)
Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles (antagonists, then...)
In a Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth (organ donor and recipient)
Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin (coworkers)
The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante (best friends)
The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George (classmates)
Split Image by Mel Glenn (classmates)
Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes (classmates)
Hit by Lorie Ann Grover (student and teacher)
Takeoffs and Landings by Margaret Peterson Haddix (siblings)
Burn for Burn trilogy by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (classmates)
- Burn for Burn
- Fire with Fire
- Ashes to Ashes
Grand & Humble by Brent Hartinger (classmates)
The Drake Chronicles (series) by Alyxandra Harvey (best friends - one's a vampire)
Identical by Ellen Hopkins (twins)
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins (patients)
Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes (classmates)
A Time for Dancing by Davida Wills Hurwin (best friends)
All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab (classmates)
After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel (classmates, then...)
Feathered by Laura Kasischke (best friends)
You Are My Only by Beth Kephart (relatives)
Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles (friends)
Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles (friends, classmates, siblings, neighbors, more)
Going Under by Kathe Koja (siblings)
The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss (friends)
The Cheat by Amy Goldman Koss (classmates)
Poison Ivy by Amy Goldman Koss (classmates)
Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney (3 generations of teen girls)
The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan (schoolmates)
Are We There Yet? by David Levithan (brothers)
How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle (friends/co-workers)
Leap Day by Wendy Mass (classmates)
Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass (new friends)
The Sisters Club series by Megan McDonald (sisters)
- The Sisters Club
- The Sisters Club: The Rule of Three
- The Sisters Club: Cloudy With a Chance of Boys
The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty (best friends)
The Secret Language of Girls and its sequel, The Kind of Friends We Used to Be by Frances O'Dowell (best friends who grow apart)
Jersey Tomatoes are the Best by Maria Padian (best friends)
Harmless by Dana Reinhardt (friends)
34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues (friends and sisters)
The Bridge from Me to You by Lisa Schroeder (classmates, then...)
To Feel Stuff by Andrea Seigel (two college students at the school infirmary and an M.D.) [Note: Adult fiction]
The Swap by Megan Shull (classmates)
The Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith (classmates, siblings, and friends)
This is What I Want to Tell You by Heather Duffy Stone (siblings)
A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone (schoolmates)
Give A Boy A Gun by Todd Strasser (schoolmates, teachers, etc.)
Hung Up by Kristen Tracy (strangers, then friends)
The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld (bandmates)
Afterworlds by by Scott Westerfeld (a writer and her protagonist - but the two worlds do not meet/crossover)
Under the Light by Laura Whitcomb (ghost and host)
Leftovers by Laura Wiess (best friends)
Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia (classmates)
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (two teenage girls)
Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando (two college-bound girls)
Anyone But You by Lara M. Zeises (raised like siblings)

Note: Jodi Picoult, whose novels often have teenage protagonists but are shelved in adult fiction, typically have multiple narrators.