High School


5M4B disclosure

to all the boys I've loved beforeI’m the mother of a teenager, but I also love reading YA just for me. I love remembering what it was like to be a teen.

In Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we meet Lara Jean. She’s going to be a junior, and she knows this year is going to be different. Her sister has just left for college — in Scotland! — breaking up with her boyfriend, literally the boy next door, before she leaves. Lara Jean, Kitty, and her father have accepted Josh as a part of the family, so this changes thing for their family. The absence of Margot is even more felt in this family because she’s sort of stood in as their mother since her death years ago.

Lara Jean has never really had a boyfriend, but she’s certainly had her share of crushes. But when she decides that she’s “over” the boy or that it’s time to be over him, she writes him a letter and puts it in her special hatbox. When Peter Kavinsky — the “it” boy of her school — comes up to her with the letter, she’s dumbfounded. How did he get it? And does that mean….?? She rushes home to find all of her letters are gone.

I don’t want to give anything away, but it leads to a funny comedy of errors and misunderstandings. Lara Jean is a sweet teen with that mix of insecurity and confidence that many teens have. This was my first Jenny Han novel, though I’ve been meaning to read them, but her characters reminded me of the equally lovable Maureen Johnson’s.

CONTENT NOTES (from a mom): This book is about a high school junior, so there is definitely some content that is more suitable for older teens, such as sexual activity, drinking, etc, however this is mostly just discussed in reference to someone’s character, but not described or glorified. The swearing is probably moderate — more than just a few mild swear words, but not as prevalent as some novels.

I’m glad to see that there’s another book coming out in 2015, P.S. I Love You.


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These Broken Stars

I accepted a copy of this book for review because I had already been hearing how fantastic it was, and upon reading it myself, I was not disappointed. I’m almost 100% sure that my 15-year-old daughter will like it too.
These Broken Stars is a young adult novel set in the future with dystopian undertones (class wars, controlling elements) and has some supernatural overtones as well (mysterious things that aren’t quite explained fully). The Icarus is an air ship colony of 50,000 people which is suddenly pulled out of suspension, causing the ship to crash. There’s a mob scene as people take to the escape pods.
Young decorated war soldier Tarver Merensen and Lilac LaRoux, daughter of the richest, most powerful man in the universe,

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Liv, Forever

Young Adult literature runs the gamut from material that middle schoolers will enjoy to mature titles for older high schoolers and beyond. I think that Liv, Forever, Amy Talkington’s debut novel, will appeal pretty broadly. There is nothing in the content that I recall that might be a bit “too much” for a middle school audience, and yet, the relationships, the universality of trying to change one’s future and trying to fit in, are themes that will resonate with high schoolers as well.
Olivia leaves her past behind when she goes to boarding school in New Hampshire. She is a loner, having survived the foster system and being adopted, even though she doesn’t feel much of a connection to her parents. Her art portfolio got

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Queen of Hearts #Giveaway

I’m not alone in loving my fairy tales long after I should have outgrown them. Lately, there have been so many books, movies, and television shows that go behind the basic fairy tale to create real stories for the characters. This isn’t limited just to our favorite characters like Cinderella, but also to the villains.
The Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland is the hero of the new Queen of Hearts saga by Colleen Oakes. In her first installment, The Crown, Dinah is a teenager lost in her kingdom, not the princess her father and everyone hopes she will be. You see slowly how she is driven to become the queen we all know and despise.
See more in the full review and giveaway

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Ketchup Clouds

If you look at the cover you might imagine that this is a lighthearted young adult read with the requisite teen love triangle and maybe some angst. Well, there’s a love triangle, and there’s some angst, but it’s not over a botched dye job or a back-stabbing best friend. No, Zoe is writing letters to a death row inmate who is set to be put to death on May 1 for killing his wife. She introduces herself by telling him she knows how she feels, because on the previous May 1, she killed someone she loved too. Stuart Harris is paying the price for his crime, but Zoe has to deal with the fact no one knows.
The entire story is told in the form

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Roomies #Giveaway

Roomies was such a fun trip down memory lane for me! It follows the summer before college in the life of two potential roomies. Elizabeth (EB) is ready to leave New Jersey for San Francisco, so when she gets the name and email of her assigned roommate, she emails her immediately. Lauren is a SF native, living in a house packed with younger siblings. She’s just moving across town, but she was hoping for a single, since she’s shared a room with her much younger sister for so long.
We follow EB and Lauren’s ups and downs that summer with boyfriends, friends, hookups, parent trouble, as they work out questions about who they are and who they’ll be in college. Because Lauren has a lame

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2013 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Award Finalists #Cybils

Dawn and I each worked hard all fall in our respective categories, narrowing down many nominees to a shortlist of finalists. We’ve been posting reviews of the nominees along the way, and now our hard work is out there to see. The finalists were posted today. Check out the lists in all of the categories HERE. It’s a great way to find some new books or authors or even genres for your kids.
Now the work is in the hands of the round 2 judges. The winners will be announced on February 14.

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The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation #Giveaway

I am, in no way, a history buff. In all honesty, history was always my least favorite subject in school, and I took only the bare minimum of courses required for my high school graduation and never looked back. I don’t have the kind of memory that lends itself to retaining important names and dates from historical events, and the delivery of facts always seemed as dry as could be when I was a student, so my interest always waned.
Author Jonathan Hennessey and illustrator Aaron McConnell take an entirely different angle in presenting history in their collaboration The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation. Here, they take on one of American history’s most well-known speeches, as well as the complex topics of slavery, the Civil

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I finally read The Book Thief (and interviewed the author!) #Giveaway

I attended a press trip to NYC for The Book Thief movie, paid for by Twentieth Century Fox.
The book
The Book Thief is one of those books about which people (book bloggers and booklovers in particular) gush. It was on my list to read, and that was confirmed each time someone else read and loved it. One of our former contributors Lisa reviewed The Book Thief almost 4 years ago here on the site, giving it 5-Stars, and always talked about it as one of her favorite books.
In my materials for the phone interview I got to do with the author, I read that it’s been on the NYT Bestseller list for 300 weeks. Years ago, I saw it sitting on a shelf

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Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales #Giveaway

There are reasons some tales endure–because they speak to our hearts, to our fears and fantasies, to our wildest imaginations and to our wishes too deep for words. Editors Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt asked 10 other authors to join them in taking favorite stories from literature and, as it were, boiling them down to their bones, seeing what essence survived, then rebuilding them afresh in a modern setting. The result is Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales, a thoroughly delightful look at old tales through new eyes.
This is a fantastic collection of stories, with something in it for everyone. From Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening” imagined in a world of selchies and the men who would try to capture them, to a

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Fangirl, a 5-Star Read

Cath and her twin sister Wren are college freshmen. Even though they’ve always been different and led somewhat different lives, they’ve both shared a love of Simon Snow (think Harry Potter), so much so that they write fan fiction on the fan site. Wren wants to start fresh in college, even choosing to room with someone else instead of her sister. They’ve been roommates their whole life! Cath worries about her sister Wren, she worries about her dad, who they’ve left back home. She doesn’t seem to worry about making friends, but doesn’t do much about it either.
I’m not a young adult. I’m old enough to be Cath’s mom–a young mom, but still. I read young adult and children’s novels, both for my own

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The 100

Take the class system and limited resources of The Hunger Games, add in a love triangle (also in Hunger Games, huh?), a crash and limited resources a la Lost and mix with 2001: A Space Odyssey (I just picked that space movie out of thin air, so it could be more like Star Trek for all I know), and you have The 100. But I’m not calling it derivative. It was an unusual and interesting combination in my mind, bringing together all the elements of a good Young Adult book. It’s pretty light and easy, but that’s okay too.
A few hundred years ago, earth was hit with a nuclear detonation. A group of people are living on a space station, where they’ve been researching

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