Tag Archives: YA literature

Book Review: Here We Are

17 May

25226116I received Here We Are: 44 Voices Writes, Draw and Speak About Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen from Algonquin Young Readers to review as an ARC (advanced reader copy), with a post-it note that simply stated, “The! Best!” which I’m entitled to agree with.

The premise of this book is offering 44 people a chance to “discuss” feminism in whatever way speaks to them – whether it’s by writing, drawing, speaking, in an interview, in a blog post, article, etc.

So let me give a little background about myself and then I’ll talk about the book as well. I’ve shied away from the term “feminist” for quite a while – it has a relatively negative connotation in many circles, which is unfortunate. I often felt, that personally, I wasn’t enough of a feminist, in that I believe that women (and all people) should be treated be equally in all aspects of life, but I never really acted on these thoughts and honestly kept them to myself for the better part of my life. As I’ve said before on my blog, I am white, cisgender, educated, middle-class and about as privileged as you can be without being a white man but more and more I look at today’s world and not only see the inequality that I face (as a woman), but more so the inequality that faces so many people who are different. And I believe that people can be different and still treated with respect and equality.

This book, written for a teen audience, does a great job of describing how feminism can differ depending on your background and your own story – what you bring to feminism. There are descriptions about what feminists believe, FAQs about feminism and then breaks down feminism into different areas to focus on – Body & Mind, Gender, Sex & Sexuality, Culture & Pop Culture, Relationships, Confidence & Ambition and Go yOur Own Way.

Each voice in Here We Are, brought their own story to the table and shared what being a feminist means to them – and not only are there women on the list, but the group of people talking about feminism in this book include a diverse group of voices some of which are men, women, different cultures, and people who identify differently than I do. By hearing/reading/seeing their stories, I learn more about the world around me. I learn about these individual people and I think the biggest take-away from this book is that everyone’s story creates their own view of feminism, with the belief that women (and all people) are equal.

As an aside: I’m sure that many will argue that there are too many views from this group and too few views from that group. But, when you only have a book with 44 voices, you’re not going to hear every single person’s story, because that would require a much larger book. I think the editor did a great job of trying to reach out to as many different types of people as possible and hopefully the reader can find themselves in the book and if not, feels strongly enough to share their own story online, with their family and friends or by writing their own book, if they so choose.

Twitter Booktalk (140 characters or less): Here We Are is a young person’s guide to what it means to be a feminist  in the real world from 44 diverse voices in today’s world.

Title: Here We Are: 44 Voices Writes, Draw and Speak About Feminism for the Real World
Editor: Kelly Jensen
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Page Number: 218 pgs.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Things On Our Reading Wishlist

9 May
  1. Disabilities (other than Autism Spectrum)
    There are so many titles with characters on the Autism Spectrum, which I think is valuable, but there are so many other disabilities that can be portrayed and these books are not always easy to find.
  2. “Lighter” teen fiction
    I was the “good kid” in high school and didn’t enjoy reading the really heavy and dark material in the young adult department, I’m still not a huge fan of books that deal with such heavy topics in YA lit, probably because the story is too real. At least in middle grade, heavy topics are dealt with and usually have an underlying sliver of hope (which I cling to with a very strong grip) I’ll take Sarah Dessen’s work any day – dealing with heavy topics, but still a little on the lighter side.
  3. Biracial characters
    My boyfriend is biracial and although I’ve asked him about whether or not he missed seeing characters that looked like him in literature when he was young, it’s hard enough to find characters that aren’t white, let alone characters who are Black & Hispanic, Asian & Black, etc.
  4. Magical Realism
    I absolutely adored A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd and loved the sprinkle of magic in a very realistic setting. Whenever I can get a little magic, it’s just the right amount!
  5. Diversity in Fantasy & Science Fiction
    Diversity in realistic fiction has its own difficulties, don’t even try to find diversity in Fantasy and Science Fiction, it’s even more difficult! Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older and a few characters in the popular Hunger Games trilogy are specifically described as not being white, but without it being stated in the text, many people will read characters as white.
  6. Modern Fairy Tales
    Can anyone say The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey or The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill? These are amazing modern fairytales, not retellings of a story we already know, but a brand-new story and I love them!
  7. Sports stories with female protagonists
    There are some solid sports middle grade fiction with male protagonists like Ghost by Jason Reynolds and Booked by Kwame Alexander and while I Loved (with a capital L) these books, I’d love to see strong female athletes as this is a group of kids who are sometimes reluctant readers and it can be difficult to find something they can relate to.
  8. Individual stories that converge at the end
    The easiest example of this concept is Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, where three seemingly separate stories are connected through the harmonica and in the end all the stories combine and get interwoven together.
  9. Historical fiction for middle grade readers
    I love historical fiction (always have), so things like The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson, Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper and The Marvels by Brian Selznick are some of my favorite reads!
  10. Diversity without screaming “THIS IS A DIVERSE BOOK”
    Always on the lookout for the books that are diverse without screaming “DIVERSITY, RIGHT HERE!” I really enjoyed Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate, One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt and All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor have diversity at their core, but you don’t read them thinking, “Of course, I see the diversity staring me in the face.”

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Book

Top Ten Tuesday: YA Romance

14 Feb

ya romance.png

  1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
    I love Rainbow Rowell’s writing style with this quirky couple.
  2. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
    My first Sarah Dessen read and the one I believe will always be my favorite!
  3. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
    I just finished this book recently and loved the concept of falling in love with your soulmate over the course of eight hours.
  4. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
    One of those books I’ll never forget that I’ve read as I bawled on the metro in DC…
  5. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benajmin Alire Sáenz
    Beautiful coming-of-age story about a Mexican-American teen as he learns about himself and the importance of friendship.
  6. Beastly by Alex Flinn
    Beauty & the Beast is my favorite Disney movie, so of course I had to add this one to the list!
  7. Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
    I really enjoyed this LGBT cute romance!
  8. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han*
  9. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo*
  10. When We Collided by Emery Lord*

*These are on my TBR list, so I can’t say anything about them, but I’m excited to read all three!


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created byThe Broke and the Book

Bibliotherapy for Teens: 25 Title About Tough Topics

20 Jan

YA bibliography.pngThe idea of bibliotherapy is one that has been around for over 50 years. It is the idea that “the use of selected reading materials as therapeutic adjuvants in medicine and psychiatry; also guidance in the solution of personal problems through directed reading.” (AHIL Quarterly, Summer 1966, p. 18.) There is much talk about whether or not novels can help heal patients, but in my opinion, these books help teens deal with issues in their own life, but also could help to better understand what friends and peers are going through and maybe even ways to help before something horrible happens.

These are just a small number of titles that deal with mental illness, poverty, physical/emotional abuse, substance abuse, and characters with disabilities or who identify as LGBT. There are dozens more titles that could be added to list and I only tried to add titles that have been published with in the past few years, so please share other titles that you think would be good additions to this list below.

  1. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
  2. The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
  3. When We Collided by Emery Lord
  4. Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir
  5. Winger by Andrew Smith
  6. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
  7. The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten
  8. Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
  9. Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
  10. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  11. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
  12. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
  13. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  14. Gabi, a Girl In Pieces by Isabel Quintero
  15. Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Abertalli
  16. Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
  17. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  18. Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
  19. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
  20. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
  21. All the Rage by Courtney Summers
  22. Break by Hannah Moskowitz
  23. Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz
  24. Other Broken Things by Christa Desir
  25. Caged Warrior by Alan Sitomer

Book Review: A Fierce and Subtle Poison

20 Oct

25810644Last week I tweeted, “I’ve got hives from working in my garden… or is it from reading ‘A Fierce and Subtle Poison’ by ” but in all actuality I ended up with a fairly severe case of poison ivy (which I’ve never had before) and let me tell you, it is majorly uncomfortable!  But, I’m laughing to myself because I just finished A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry last week and my poison ivy fits right into the story line.

Lucas spends the majority of his time on the mainland of the  U.S. going to school, but during the summer months he lives in one of his father’s hotels on Puerto Rico.  Lucas grew up listening to the señoras stories of the house surrounded by walls and wild plants growing all around. They say Isabel, a young girl with green skin and grass for hair lives there tending to the poisonous plants that surround the home.  Lucas has heard stories of wished granted and of death if she touches you.  And when a few girls around the island start disappearing, including his girlfriend, Lucas must confront Isabel to learn the truth in the stories and learn what really happened to his girlfriend.

I really enjoyed this story, with a magical realism that permeates the stories told by the señoras and the story surrounding the mysterious house.  I also really liked the relationships between Lucas and the islanders – even though Lucas is biracial, he “looks” white and with an affluent father who can get him out of trouble by paying people off, Lucas finds himself at the heart of the investigation surrounding his girlfriend’s mysterious disappearance.  Although very different in nature, the story reminds me a little of The Jumbies with fantasy wrapped in island culture and stories.

Twitter Booktalk (14o characters or less): Stories about the girl surrounded by walls living with poisonous plants invade Lucas’s dreams until he meets her and learns the truth.

Title: A Fierce and Subtle Posion
Author: Samantha Mabry
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: 2016
Page Number: 288 pgs.

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