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22323658Title: Ignite
Author: Sara B. Lawson
Series: Defy #2
Recommended for: 6th grade & up
Pages: 304
Call Number/Link:  Teen Fiction Lawson, S

Synopsis: Alexa continues to harbor a secret love for the newly crowned King Damian, yet she remains by his side as his guard and ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion’s people. However, when a new threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on the once friendly nation of Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. Once again the fate of her country hangs in the balance. Will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy — before it’s too late?

This is book two in the series and does not disappoint. Not a lot of time has passed between book 1 and 2; maybe about 6 months at max. Alexa is known by all as being a girl now (hidden as a boy in book 1) and she’s getting a lot of gruff about if from the newbies. Well, that is until she proves how good she is and kicks their butts. Alexa has made it to King’s Guard for a reason. The girl is good. I enjoyed getting to know her even more in this book. We’re should how tough and smart she is, but we get to see more of her softer side as well. There’s still a lot of trouble in the romance area, but all love triangleness is gone. Damian is the only one who holds her heart; she just doesn’t believe she’s worthy of him/would be a good queen for the kingdom. The new threat is quite believable, especially when it’s all untied. I look forward to what book 3 will bring!

Read-a-likes: Alanna, Graceling, & False Prince are perfect pairings with this book.

 

22249710Title: Geek Girl
Author: Holly Smale
Series: Geek Girl
Recommended for: 6th grade and up
Pages: 384
Call Number/Link:  Teen Fiction Smale, H

Synopsis: Harriet Manners is tired of being labeled a geek. So when she’s discovered by a modeling agent, she seizes the chance to reinvent herself. There’s only one problem: Harriet is the definition of awkward. Does she have what it takes to transform from geek to chic?

So, this is one of that books that you have to suspend belief a little. I mean, really, how often does a girl who knows nothing about fashion, photography, or the like really get discovered? Not to mention, she gets discovered because she knocks over a whole aisle of booths. If you can ignore that, Geek Girl is fun book with a lot of heart. I love, love, love her relationship with her step-mom, Anabel. While she doesn’t call her mom, she’s truly the only mom she’s ever known. And I love how she discovers that one of the places she goes to feel safe started because of Anabel. It’s a sweet scene/memory and truly shows how Anabel is kind of the safety net/person who makes sure all things go okay of the family.

There are a couple of problematic things. I hate how one boy, Tobi, is called a stalker over and over again. He truly does act like one, too, making notes about Harriet, where’s she been, and watching her behind trees. I hate how these facts/actions are just brushed off as if it’s no big deal. I also didn’t like the nick name “lion boy” she gave to Nick. He’s given this exotic/fantasy feel and serves as a boy that Harriet can crush on and not much more. There’s very little page time or depth to him. I would have loved to see more done with his character. He had this charm/sense of humor/chemistry with Harriet that could have been great.

I know a 384 paged book isn’t what we’d normally consider a reluctant reader book, but I’m going to say it is anyways. It has super short chapters (usually 5 or 6 pages) that make the book fly by super fast. Plus, the short chapters make it easy to pick up and put down when needed. For those who like the geek to chic make-over stories ala Princess Diaries, this would be a great one to hand them. Also, great for those tweens who want to read YA, but aren’t ready for some of the heavier stuff.

17838490Title: Playlist for the Dead
Author: Michelle Falkoff
Series: N/A
Recommended for: 7th grade & up
Pages: 288
Call Number/Link:  Teen Fiction Falkoff, M

Synopsis: Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand.

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Okay, let me start off with saying that the playlist left behind plays very little into the actual book. It triggers memories, but no answers are offered by what songs are chosen. However, that’s not so say if someone when and listened to the songs/looked the lyrics they wouldn’t get a deeper meaner. I didn’t take the time to do that, but I could totally see that being a possibility.

That being said, the heart of this book is about dealing with a friend’s suicide and the aftermath. It’s about unraveling the questions that are left behind and realizing sometimes there is just no clear cut answer. It’s about learning no matter how close you are to someone there are still secrets left to discover. It’s about how personal perspectives shade what we think happened and how we choose to deal with that. It’s about how revenge and how getting even isn’t always the answer. There’s a lot about bullying, the aftermath of said bullying, and how (or how not) to deal with that knowledge.

There some strange parts where it makes it seem like Sam is communicating with Hayden’s ghost. There are some things that are explained, like the IMs, but the rest is kind of left up to interpretation. Was Sam simply hallucinating from lack of sleep/grief or could there have really been a bit of supernatural help going on? The uncertainty of these parts was my least favorite part, but it wasn’t anything that left me ranting.

The blurbs have been pairing this book with Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I dont’ see at all. Instead, I would pair this one with 13 Reasons Why. I think that one person can make a difference message is very strong in both books. I say 7th & grade and up, but I think 6th graders could handle it. While it’s about the suicide, it’s more about unraveling the mystery of why he did it and how bullying can affect people.

20518842Title: Laughing at My Nightmare
Author: Shane Burcaw
Series: N/A
Recommended for: High school
Pages: 256
Call Number/Link:  Teen 617.482044 BUR

Synopsis: With acerbic wit and a hilarious voice, Shane Burcaw’s Laughing at My Nightmare describes the challenges he faces as a twenty-one-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy. From awkward handshakes to having a girlfriend and everything in between, Shane handles his situation with humor and a “you-only-live-once” perspective on life. While he does talk about everyday issues that are relatable to teens, he also offers an eye-opening perspective on what it is like to have a life threatening disease.

I didn’t particularly like this one because of how he acts towards those with disabilities. He spent the whole book trying to get the reader to not judge him because of his own,but then went and bashed almost every disabled kid he mentioned. At one point, he describes two of his classmates in gym as smelling like they had “atomic bowel movements simmering in their pants”. I know it’s suppose to be “funny”, but I hate that type of humor & makes me a bit hesitant to recommend it. Although, it was a Non-Fiction Honor award book, so mileage will vary. I also would have loved to hear so much more about his parents/brother as they’re the reason he can even function day to day. However, there are some good points, especially his childhood memories w/friends and his outlook on problems/tackling life. There is a lot of swearing and a bit TMI, but nothing a high school-er couldn’t handle. Also, for what it’s worth, my book group teens loved it. (Although, they did agree w/me that he was a massive jerk.)

 

21469086Title: Alex as Well
Author: Alyssa Brugman
Series: N/A
Recommended for: 8th grade & up
Pages: 224
Call Number/Link:  Teen Fiction Brugman, A

Synopsis: Alex is ready for things to change, in a big way. Everyone seems to think she’s a boy, but for Alex the whole boy/girl thing isn’t as simple as either/or, and when she decides girl is closer to the truth, no one knows how to react, least of all her parents. Undeterred, Alex begins to create a new identity for herself: ditching one school, enrolling in another, and throwing out most of her clothes. But the other Alex—the boy Alex—has a lot to say about that.

So, this is one I’m actually not recommending because of how problematic is is. I was super excited to read it, especially since it dealt with an intersex teen, but it did not live up to expectations. Alex splits her personality into girl-Alex and boy-Alex and they’re very gender stereotypical. For example, boy-Alex disrupts the class and makes lewd comments/actions to girls while girl-Alex likes all things sparkly and is inept at tools. Her parents are a problem as well. Even though Alex had ambiguous genitalia, chose to raise her as a boy, & documented all her actions to make sure they made the right choice, they still acted as if her decision to be a girl was from left field. They call her “weirdo” & “pervert” & her mother refuses to call Alex her. In fact, when her mother discovers Alex has stopped her testosterone medication, she starts to hid it in Alex’s food without her knowledge. Even worse, her mom has a “mental breakdown” at the end of the book, almost as if that excuses away how she treated Alex.There is a lot more I could complain about but won’t. (Though you can check out my post if you want to know it all).

All in all, this is one of those books where I’ll let it do it’s thing on the shelf. I’m sure some teens will discover it, but it won’t be one I’ll be hand selling at all.

 

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