Archive | May, 2012

Books & Bikes

28 May

Did you know that May is National Bike Month in the United States?! From the League of American Bicyclists (the national sponsor of Bike Month): “National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride. Whether you bike to work or school; to save money or time; to preserve your health or the environment; to explore your community or get to your destination, get involved in Bike Month in your city or state — and help get more people in your community out riding too!” There are still a few days left so why not celebrate by going for a nice ride (like my husband is right now) or enjoying a good read that features bikes! You can even ride your bike to your nearest library or bookseller to pick up your next great read! Or you can just get inspired by the various fun images that come up when you google the words “book”, “bike”, and “rack” all together. So many options! Anyway, here are some books featuring our two-wheeled friends….

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Viking Juvenile (June 2009)

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce – or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

Shift by Jennifer Bradbury
Atheneum Books for Young Readers (May 2008)

Imagine you and your best friend head out West on a cross-country bike trek. Imagine that you get into a fight—the cheap SOB won’t kick in any cash—and you stop riding together. Imagine you reach Seattle, go home alone, and start college. Imagine you think your former best friend does too. Imagine he didn’t, that he was carrying more than $20,000 in cash the whole trip, and that now the FBI is looking for him. Imagine your world shifting….

Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy
National Geographic Children’s Books (January 2011)

Take a lively look at women’s history from aboard a bicycle, which granted females the freedom of mobility and helped empower women’s liberation. Through vintage photographs, advertisements, cartoons, and songs, Wheels of Change transports young readers to bygone eras to see how women used the bicycle to improve their lives. Witty in tone and scrapbook-like in presentation, the book deftly covers early (and comical) objections, influence on fashion, and impact on social change inspired by the bicycle, which, according to Susan B. Anthony, “has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

Burning City by Ariel & Joaquín Dorfman
Random House (December 2007)

It is the simmering summer of 2001 in New York City. Heller is the youngest employee of Soft Tidings, a messenger service whose motto is “news with a personal touch.” At Soft Tidings, a message is not handed over but told to the recipient. And the messages, as a rule, are not especially good news. Heller prefers his bike to the mandatory Rollerblades, and he gets away with his maniacal bike riding because he is, hands down, the best deliverer of bad news. This summer will be memorable for Heller as he finds himself drawn into the lives of a wildly diverse cast of characters, accidentally falling in love, and relating to people in a whole new way.

I Am The Cheese by Robert Cormier
Knopf Books for Young Readers (September 2007)

Adam Farmer is on a journey – he has to get to Rutterburg with a parcel for his father. But as he travels, he starts to remember the events leading up to this point, memories which are also being prised out in gruelling psychiatric interviews. What is the secret of Adam Farmer? And what will happen when he finds out?

Side note: I didn’t read I Am The Cheese as a teen because I thought it was awfully strange that someone would claim to be cheese (let alone THE cheese) and I was confused why Robert Cormier always seemed to write about food (also didn’t read The Chocolate War as a teen).

Are there any other fabulous YA books featuring bikes that I’m neglecting to highlight? Please do share in the comments!

Girl In Progress

23 May

This movie kind of pissed me off because it put me in a bind that I often find myself in: Story about a teenage girl – awesome! And her relationship with her single, working mom – yes! Directed by a woman – boom! Unfortunately, just like my last relationship, everything looks great on paper but once you’re in it you realize it’s just a big ol’ mess.

This is the story of Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez) a 15 year old girl and the only child of Grace (Eva Mendes). Grace is a self-absorbed waitress who favors time with a married man (Matthew Modine) over spending time with her daughter – or paying bills, grocery shopping, doing laundry. In order to detach from her mother completely, Aniesdad is trying to execute her own initiation into adulthood and does so by staging her own coming of age story through culturally significant yet destructive rites of passage.

Ramirez is a refreshing newcomer whose detachment from/desire for her mother’s love is one of the only genuine elements of this film. The actress herself is an actual teenager so maybe this has something to do with the honesty behind her performance. Girl In Progress also follows the traditional pattern in young adult female driven stories of the protagonist being disconnected, or somehow estranged, from her mother. While I recognize that struggling against authority and, more or less, hating your Mom is part of the process of being a teenager, I wish there were more films with positive Mom characters. Moms who daughters look up to. Moms who daughters admire, despite their flaws. Moms who become better because of their relationship to their children. Save for her 5-minute makeover at the end of the film (which I totally didn’t buy!), Grace is continually selfish and unlikable. Mendes is usually someone I like to watch, but here her charm reads as falseness and Grace remains unsympathetic and distant. Writer Hiram Martinez’s attempts to give her some sense of humanity through her struggles at work and fleeting moments of motherly affection don’t translate. This is a film about a struggling single mom the way Bad Teacher was a film about a struggling high school teacher. Not really. At all. Moments like these make me wonder if it is possible for men to write honest female characters. It doesn’t happen often and certainly didn’t here.

Something I found to be really careless about the film was its attitude towards dating violence. Rated PG-13, and billed as a Comedy/Drama, the target audience for this film is clearly high school girls. Considering that approximately 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner, and these numbers are even higher in Latina populations, I think Martinez could’ve opted out of lines like “Becky can’t come to work; she had a fight with a flight of stairs” when referring to one of the waitresses at the restaurant where Grace works. Certainly, director Patricia Riggin could’ve made a different choice. More disturbing than the careless dialogue are the interactions between Tavita (Raini Rodriguez), Ansiedad’s best friend, and the boy who tells her “I’m not your boyfriend no matter what we do in your basement.” He shoves her at one point and grabs Ansiedad at another. It happens so casually and it is just accepted by both the characters. If it’s a subversive choice by the filmmakers, I missed it. I just found it upsetting.

Girl In Progress does manage to usurp the tradition of providing young female characters with male role models. Ansiedad seeks guidance from her English teacher; a surprising appearance by Patricia Arquette, and Grace is treated with dignity by the wife of the man with whom she’s having an affair. The woman politely and privately lets her know she’s fired yet still acts with empathy towards Ansiedad. This was a refreshing choice even if it was totally unbelievable that Matthew Modine, his character or the real him, would ever end up with either of these women. And, even though there was very little attention given to heritage or cultural experiences, it was nice to watch a film with some non-white faces.

Overall, the film was much more mature than the creators were prepared for. It raises the question of some serious issues facing teenagers that can affect the type of adults they become. The film was released on Mother’s Day and I only hope that the mothers who saw this film with their daughters are also having conversations about the realities of coming of age. Telling them that you can’t create or even choose the experiences that make you an adult; it happens when you least expect it and in ways that are harsh, scary, and beautiful. I hope those same mothers, unlike Grace, are allowing their daughters to see their vulnerabilities and their strengths because as we grown-ups know, this life isn’t so easy. And the line between childhood and adulthood isn’t so clearly defined.

Cross-posted at pop!goesalicia.

Cracked Up To Be

21 May

Imagine four years.

Four years, two suicides, one death, one rape, two pregnancies (one abortion), three overdoses, countless drunken antics, pantsings, spilled food, theft, fights, broken limbs, turf wars–every day, a turf war–six months until graduation and no one gets a medal when they get out. But everything you do here counts.

High school.

(opening lines of Cracked Up To Be)

Last summer, Capillya of That Cover Girl stopped by Love YA Lit to shout-out some of her favorite YA novels. One of the chosen ones was Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers. Capillya promised me razor-sharp writing, a mystery, an extra helping of grit, and a complicated character trying to make sense of their messed up life. When I needed some audiobook accompaniment as I set to work on my garden this spring*, I decided to check another book off the Capillya Says Read It list and dive on into Courtney Summers’ 2009 debut novel. I was not disappointed!

Once the head cheerleader, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, and top student, Parker Fadley started getting a different kind of attention when she quit the cheerleading squad, started failing her classes, and was caught drinking at school. Now she’s on suicide watch at home and forced to meet with school guidance counselors each week. Parker wants to be left alone, but people are watching her every move. When a new guy at school starts directing his attention her way, Parker starts feeling something again. But the last thing she wants is to feel, to open up, because something terrible has happened and only Parker knows the truth.

It’s hard not to draw the connection between Cracked Up To Be and Veronica Mars Season 1. No, Parker Fadley isn’t a private eye, but there are some definite similarities between PFad and VMars. Both girls are distinctly sarcastic and cynical, both were popular teens who after a traumatic experience became outsiders at school, and both of the girls’ traumatic experiences are relayed to the audience via intermittent flashback. But unlike VMars, who is remarkably functional given what she’s been through, Parker Fadley is falling apart. She’s trying so hard to close herself off from the world, that she’s finding it hard to be a part of it. It’s difficult to talk about what she’s going through without spoiling the mystery of what happened, but suffice it to say that her emotional well-being (or lack there of) is understandable given the circumstances of what happened. She’s not a protagonist I imagine most readers will attach themselves to quickly. She’s not the nicest of people, she’s manipulative, and she makes some bad choices. But the guilt she feels and the confusion about that night are easy to relate to and my heart breaks for her.

The audio version of Cracked Up To Be is read by Khristine Hvam, who does an impressive job capturing the spirit – and tone – of Parker Fadley. One thing worth noting about the audio recording is that the flashbacks come a bit as a surprise. In the book, the flashbacks are differentiated from the present day by a switch to italicized text, and this visual marker doesn’t quite translate to audio. Still, it’s a solid bit of storytelling, the audio production is fabulous, and it’s a quick “read” (6 hrs), so well worth a listen.

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Courtney Summers
Reader: Khristine Hvam
Publishers: St. Martin’s Griffin & Brilliance Audio (2009 & 2011)

(While listening to Cracked Up To Be in my garden, I planted tomatoes, bok choy, red cabbage, kale, collards, basil, brussel sprouts, broccoli, nasturtium, cantaloupe, and icelandic poppies. Audiobooks are magic.)

an introduction to Alicia

17 May

Em & Nora began Love YA Lit back in June of 2010. In October of that year, our fabulous friend Jacinta met Alicia at the Reimagining Girlhood conference and Jacinta was kind enough to spread the Love YA Lit love. Alicia reached out to us when she returned home and she began guest reviewing with us the following month. After a wonderful year and a half of collaboration we decided it was time to step it up! So we are happy to welcome Alicia as a regular contributor to Love YA Lit!

When we started Love YA Lit, we asked some nice teenagers who Em worked with to come up with some questions that we could each answer to help blog readers have a better sense of who we are (if you missed all the fun, read an introduction to em and an introduction to nora). As part of the (friendly, of course) Love YA Lit initiation, we asked Alicia to answer the very same questions! So without further ado, here’s a little introduction to Alicia!

Alicia is a music, movie, and book lover with a critical eye and a feminist heart. A freelance artist of many talents, when opportunities arise Alicia finds herself a writer, editor, performer, radio DJ, and cultural commentator, particularly on pop culture and the media. She also blogs over at pop!goesalicia.

If you could live in the world of a book, which book world would you most want to live in and which would you least want to live in?
I would most want to live in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland just for the experience of all that magic. I would least want to live in the world of The Hunger Games.

If you could be any inanimate object, what would you be?
A piece of art or maybe a mirror. Something that reflects the world and makes people think.

If you could have any super power what would it be?
To fly.

What is a color you miss in nature after a snow storm?
I actually love the stark white of fresh fallen snow. Especially if it snows while you sleep and you wake up and everything is still and quiet and white. It’s beautiful.

What are the qualities that make a good friend?
Honesty, self-awareness, compassion, support. I personally am a fan of risk takers.

What is the best dream you have ever had?
I once had a dream that my Mom had this spray can of magic dust that made us fly. I woke up and really thought it had happened. It was awesome.

If you had to have one song stuck in your head for the rest of your life what would you choose?
I’m Comin Out by Diana Ross. It always puts me in a good mood and always makes me want to dance!

If you had to be trapped in a t.v. show for a month, which show would you choose?
That 70’s Show. I love those guys and would totally want to be friends with them. Also, I think that would’ve been an awesome era to experience especially the second wave of feminism and the peace movements.

What YA character would you most want to be friends with?
Cybil from Girl by Blake Nelson. I would’ve loved to have grown up in Portland or somewhere in the Pacific Northwest and been in a band and had friends that were making art instead of just hanging out at the mall.

What inspired you to start blogging about YA literature?
As an adult I still feel very influenced and affected by that time in my life. I even feel like I am still learning and healing from things that happened in my teens. So reading the stories and experience of the characters helps me to identify more with who I am and who I want to be.

What is your favorite non-YA book?
Ohhhh this is a good one. There are so many. I really love The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Anything by Joyce Carol Oates. David Sedaris for non-fiction. bell hooks.

What is your favorite thing about yourself?
My boldness. It scares me, and others, sometimes, but ultimately it’s what fuels my personality.

When did you start reading YA literature?
I remember my Aunt Susan gave me a copy of A Wrinkle in Time when I was maybe 8 years old and she said you may be too young for it now and I was, a little. I think I read it a year later. I was also very into the Judy Blume books in about 4th or 5th grade. Just As Long As We’re Together was one I loooved.

What is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?
So far, Switzerland. I long to go to Africa.

What is one book you wish you could change or re-write?
Just about every history book ever written.

Welcome Alicia! We’re so glad that you have joined the Love YA Lit team!

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes

14 May

What is in the box? This question is the uniting force in this collection of stories from comic artists Kazu Kibuishi, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, Jason Caffoe, Emily Carroll, Stuart Livingston, Johane Matte, and Rad Sechrist. With each story, the reader is introduced to a different artist’s style and to a different mystery box. The boxes hold all manner of things, from a traveling sorceress to a message from the dead. Some of the boxes cause trouble, some bear messages or gifts. Some of the tales are creepy, some goofy, and some thought-provoking.

The collection starts off strong with Emily Carroll’s Under the Floorboards, in which a young girl follows a tapping sound to a box beneath the floorboards in her bedroom. Within the box is a wax doll, who at first seems a blessing but eventually becomes a curse. The collection hits another high note with Rad Sechrist’s The Butter Thief, in which grandma has caught and buried a butter-thieving spirit. When her granddaughter digs up the box and opens it she is turned into a spirit herself. In exchange for turning her back to normal, the spirit wants more butter, but will she be able to get past grandma? And then wrapping up the collection impressively is Kazu Kibuishi (also the editor of this whole shindig) whose story, The Escape Option, is unsurprisingly beautiful and poignant, despite being a mere moment of a clearly larger story.

I’m a sucker for themed collections, so I had high hopes for this book and am happy to say that my hopes were realized. The seven stories are diverse both visually and emotionally, and the gimmick never wears thin. Of the seven stories, there is only one that I felt wasn’t up to par, with a preachy*, melodramatic feel that felt forced especially given the short space the artist was allotted. All in all, though, this is a solid collection and a fun, quick read.

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Editor: Kazu Kibuishi (full list of authors above)
Publisher: Amulet Books (March 2012)

*in defense of the preaching, the message is legit.

The Mockingbirds & The Rivals

11 May

Daisy Whitney’s The Mockingbirds was the best book I read last year. Not the best YA book; the best book, period. The plot centers on the musically gifted Alex, for all intents and purposes a “good girl,” who is date-raped by a fellow student while passed out and the underground student-led justice system that leads her to redemption. A story about courage, justice that transcends age, race and even, gender, I bought a copy for my parents, both sisters and my best friend. “You have to read this book,” I advocated to anyone who would listen. When I received a copy of the follow up book The Rivals (Thanks, Em!) I was hesitant to read it thinking, “No way this will be as interesting as the first one?”

Oh, Alicia. How dare you?

The Rivals picks up right where The Mockingbirds left off: the elite Themis Academy on the brink of another school year. Alex is a senior and has been appointed leader of The Mockingbirds – a position she is not sure she’s ready for. Days before the semester begins, Alex is tipped off to a case unlike any other – one that threatens to affect her future, her relationships and the entire student body.

What I love about both these books is Whitney’s accurate yet empathic reflection of the teenage experience and more specifically, the hurts and haunts that are often known only to girls. Rape is especially controversial subject matter and often I find myself frustrated that so many young adult novels with female protagonists center on some type of sexual assault. But the truth is this is fiction inspired by reality – an all too common reality – and Whitney’s prose and characters never come off as preachy or “representative” of culture. They feel real. In fact, they are real. More importantly, the creation of a vigilante justice system organized by a high school girl to protect another girl who was being bullied by other girls is a bold idea to imprint on readers.

In The Mockingbirds Alex admits that she was a bystander in her life – not a girl who takes action, who gets involved. In The Rivals she is still healing from the previous year and still dealing with the backlash of her actions (read: telling the truth and standing up for herself). Surprisingly though, Alex never feels like a victim. Whitney has usurped the victimhood and instead, reminiscent of Alice Sebold’s memoir Lucky, given Alex agency and power. While you relate to her fears, her pain, her doubts, you always have a stronger sense of her resilience, her perseverance and her innate sense of justice.

Furthermore, Alex is supported by a litany of diverse and active female characters: her older sister, her two roommates, her piano teacher and The Mockingbirds previous leader, Amy. When Alex is struggling with her memories of her rape and undermining her ability to lead, it is Amy who reminds her, “Twenty years from now, you’ll still remember what it felt like to be exposed. And you’ll remember too what it felt like to take a stand. You’ll probably remember that more.”

And that, my friends, is what we call revolution.

Alicia’s rating (The Mockingbirds): 5 out of 5 stars
Alicia’s rating (The Rivals): 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Daisy Whitney
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Nov 2010 & Feb 2012)

The Hunt

7 May

Gene is different from his classmates. He doesn’t sleep hanging from the ceiling. The sun doesn’t hurt him. He sweats and grows body hair. His fangs are fake and he doesn’t lust for blood. Living in a world taken over by vampire-like creatures, Gene was raised to hide the fact that he is human (or heper as humans are referred to in this world) and to pass as “normal”. He follows rules taught to him as a child and tries not to draw attention to himself. This becomes more difficult when he is chosen by lottery to be a participant in the Heper Hunt, a competition in which humans are hunted (and, of course, eaten). This will be the last Heper Hunt, seeing as the supply of humans has run so low, and the organizers are making sure that this particular hunt will last in memory and bedtime stories (sweet dreams) long past the final kill. As Gene and his fellow competitors prepare for the hunt, he struggles to keep his secret safe and to figure out a plan for survival.

I almost didn’t pick this book up, because it seemed like the author had thought to himself “The Hunger Games are big. Vampires are big. What happens if we combine these two?” But I’m glad I did. The Hunt is an intense ride and an exciting start to a new series. The majority of the book takes place during the lead-up to the Heper Hunt rather than during the hunt itself, but the lead-up is not without its own share of excitement and action. There is plenty of suspense and boot-shaking-nerve-wracking moments. Several of the action scenes are very cinematic and the world of The Institute where the training occurs is a fascinating place.

The vampiric characters are bizarre. They’re like vampires in many ways, but also have unique characteristics that set them apart, for instance they scratch their wrists when something is funny and don’t show emotion on their faces. There are some awkward scenes where Gene has to pretend to makeout with a classmate. He is pretending not because he doesn’t like her (he does, even though he knows he shouldn’t), but because the way that these creatures makeout is by touching elbows and armpits. Weird. This strange behavior adds to the creepiness of these creatures and the unease felt by the reader. With all the smoochy-pants vampire books out there, I kind of love how un-sexy these vampiric characters are. They don’t want to make babies with us, they just want to eat us alive.

There are some elements of the story that felt a bit unbelievable (could Gene really pass for “normal” that long?) or too coincidental (that Gene and his somewhat childhood crush are both selected in the lottery and that Gene is set up in a special room at The Institute). There were also some references that seemed potentially out of place given this different world. For example, Gene refers to a character disintegrating in the sun as looking like melted pizza, whereas it seems like all they eat in this world is meat, meat, and more meat (I’m not sure pizza is on the menu, sadly – I hope for their sake that I am wrong). Despite these less believable aspects, I was easily sucked in. Fukuda offers readers a fast-paced story without unnaturally rushing the world building and character development. In the end, he leaves us with a bit of a cliffhanger and some interesting new developments. So yes, I’ll be picking up book #2. I’m curious to see where this is going….

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Andrew Fukuda
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (May 8, 2012)
Note: ARC sent from publicist for honest review

You can sample the Macmillan Audio recording of The Hunt by clicking here. Read by Sean Runnette, the audiobook runs approximately 11.5 hours.

Mirror, Mirror

3 May

“She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her.” – Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

There have been countless retellings of the Snow White story over the years. Americans are most familiar with Disney’s 1937 animated version based on the Grimm’s story Little Snow-White. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was Walt Disney’s first motion picture hence the marks the birth of the original Disney Princess. The Snow White story is my favorite of the all the princess tales because it explores a fascinating aspect of female gender privilege and power: beauty. It is also a classic mean girl tale ever so relevant considering the high incidence of bullying in our nation’s schools. Mirror, Mirror is Disney’s updated version of the classic tale and might be the studio’s first successful attempt at creating a feminist fairy tale.

The basic premise of the story is the same but with a few modernized plot lines: the Queen (Julia Roberts) has manipulated her way into power and is taxing her citizens into poverty in order to maintain her lifestyle. Her obsession with her own vanity and jealousy over the beauty of her step-daughter, Snow White (Lily Collins), drive her to order that the girl be taken to the forest and killed. Snow White is set free by the huntsman ordered to kill her and left in the woods where she befriends a crew of dwarf bandits. 7 to be exact. On is the smart one. One is the mean one. One thinks he’s a wolf. And then there’s the creepy one. Seriously, one of the dwarfs hits on her the whole time and it gets a little weird. Snow White realizes the conditions of her kingdom and enlists the bandits to help return the money to the people. It’s all very Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Oh yeah, and there is a Prince (Armie Hammer – who is just about as cute as his name), and a beast that lives in the woods.

Director Tarsem Singh creates a handful of visually enticing moments but everything evokes the feeling of something we’ve already seen. Guests of the Queen resemble residents of The Hunger Games’ Capitol. In Singh’s version, the Queen walks through her mirror into this odd other world where she enters an igloo made out of straw and converses with her own reflection – which looks like an Austen character painted white. It’s very Alice in Wonderland meets Lord of the Rings. The effect of it distracts from the poignancy of the message – that vanity is our greatest weakness. The evil of Roberts’ Queen is less sinister, more jovial heartlessness rooted in sincere delusion – a cross between Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada and any one of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

The best part of Singh’s re-visioning is Snow White herself. Reintroducing the original Disney Princess in the image of what an actual princess might look like – a political figure, heir to a throne, fighting for her country – is a welcome change to the traditional character who had very little personality beyond beauty. In fact, Snow White 2012 is immediately introduced as curious and thoughtful, if not a little naïve. On her 18th birthday she sneaks off castle grounds into the town and returns with opinions and accusations about how the Queen is ruling the kingdom. It marks a significant identity shift, a coming of age moment when she steps into the skin of the woman she is to become: a leader.

Similar to Katniss Everdeen, another brave teen girl on the silver screen right now, this Snow White is not a helpless child or a detached beauty queen. She doesn’t frolic around the woods singing and chatting up woodland animals until her Prince comes to rescue her. For both of these girls, beauty, as well as romance, is a luxury. It’s just a distraction from the reality of their lives – survival, protection and helping their country. It is a powerful message for both girls and women; a reminder that we can easily become our own Evil Queen – so committed to our vanity – that we have less time, confidence and energy to do what’s really important in our lives.

originally written for the fabulous (go check it out now!) Sadie Magazine and cross posted at pop!goesalicia

May 1 is such a show off!

1 May

The whole month of May is looking pretty good, but today is an especially impressive day for new releases. With three highly anticipated follow ups to some of our favorite reads (Graceling, Ship Breaker, and Divergent) and three other titles that we’ve been hearing great things about releasing today, it is bound to be a busy week!

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

    What has our Bitterblue been up to since we last saw her at the end of Graceling? Eight years later, she’s queen of Monsea and dealing with the lasting effects of her evil father. Sneaking outside the castle walls, she meets two thieves who help her unearth secrets surrounding her father’s reign.

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

    Not a sequel, but a companion novel, Drowned Cities continues to develop the impressively built world of Ship Breaker, while introducing us to two new youth and reuniting us with an old friend (Tool).

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Katherine Tegen Books

    With Divergent, Veronica Roth, amongst other things, set the reader up for quite the adventure in Insurgent. Those looking for an action-packed read need look no further!

Revived by Cat Patrick
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

    Daisy died for the first time when she was four. An experimental drug gave her a second chance at life. Knowing she can always be revived, she takes risks that many wouldn’t (and has been revived five times!). But of course there is a sinister agency involved with this “life-saving” drug. How will learning more about the agency’s plans affect the way she lives her life?

Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman

    I’m so excited for another Carol Lynch Williams book, even though it’s bound to be devastating (right?). This one involves the aftermath of a family member’s death. Sadface.

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
Simon Pulse

    I went through a real Shakespeare phase in high school. What better way to rekindle that love than by reading a little YA-style Shakespeare re-working?! This one is Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of Rosaline, Romeo’s first love. Romeo becomes Rob and Juliet isn’t the nice girl Shakespeare wrote about, but how much else will change? Are the star-crossed lovers doomed or does this story have a different ending? This should be interesting.

What May 1 release are you most excited to get in your hands (or in the hands of others)?