Category Archives: YA

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Word Lily review

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010), 336 pages

please ignore vera dietzSummary
Her best friend, the boy next door, the guy she loved — *he* died. But maybe even worse, the friendship/relationship ended before he died. The title character goes through life, most days in a haze of grief, getting through her senior year of high school, working at the pizza place, and dealing with her dad. Mostly trying to avoid her destiny (of becoming her mom).

Thoughts
Just a touch of mystery pervades this book for most of its breadth. But for the most part it’s the story of how a girl deals with the grief and regret of losing her best friend.

It’s really readable. Good, but tragic, sad. I feel like it says good stuff about life, but maybe I was reading too fast to catch it? Maybe just too tired or racing through it too fast. I mean the underlying meaning stuff.

It reads a bit like Sara Zarr’s How to Save a Life. Except a bit more shallow. Which sounds bad, but I don’t mean it as an insult, exactly. It’s a little angry and rough. Vera is very real, in that she’s wounded, she makes mistakes.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz reads quickly. I liked how her history with Charlie is played out in History chapters, and how brief words from Charlie and her father are interspersed with the main, current-day, chronological text. My favorite aspect might well be how it dealt with the question of nature vs. nurture, or how one can avoid the path he/she is generally expected to walk in.

This was my first King, but I don’t intend for it to be my last. One of those hot YA authors I’m glad to have tried.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a Printz Honor book.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Other reviews
Book Addiction
The Englishist
Jenn’s Bookshelves
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

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Clearing the To-Be-Reviewed shelves

Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren
I loved this book. I mean, seriously: time travel, Italy, and archaeology all in the same book? The adventure, the fun, the ingenuity. Excellent. This is book 2 of the River of Time series (3 books out so far), and while I haven’t read book 1, Waterfall, now that I’ve read book 3, I think part of my enjoyment stemmed from being allowed to fill in those pieces from the bits of background scattered throughout.

Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren
This, book 3, was a letdown. Maybe it’s because the storyline seemed so one-dimensional after attempting to construct book 1 while reading book 2? I also thought book 2 indicated a larger discussion of or focus on elements of faith in book 3, but while there was a bit more, it was still seriously lacking in that department.

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games trilogy has been hashed and rehashed countless times while I was getting up the courage to read them. See, I was afraid, when I first heard about them, that they would be too much like The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, which, when I read it early in high school, left me scarred. But the similarities were quickly overcome once I dove in, and I quickly devoured the whole series. The reality TV (a la Big Brother) component is really interesting, but really they’re just great stories. They plumb the depths of what it means to be human.

And, with that, my writing time for today is just about up. Maybe I’ll add some thumbnails to the above and move on with my day. Hopefully this hasn’t drained me too much and I’ll be able to post another set of mini-reviews (or a few) soon. Hey, maybe I’ll even post more than once in a week — now that would feel like a miracle!

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

Word Lily review

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker (Bloomsbury USA Children’s, July 19, 2011), 288 pages

Summary
Lacey Anne Byer’s a preacher’s kid and has never really rebelled. But there are some things she hasn’t quite told her parents yet. She really, really wants the lead – Abortion Girl — in her church’s annual Hell House. And then a new boy arrives in town.

Thoughts
To me, Small Town Sinners is mostly the story of a teenager beginning to make her faith her own. She questions what she’s always been taught, sees discrepancies between words and actions of the church.

Quote: “‘Lacey Anne,’ says Ty, ‘the God I know welcomes questions. He welcomes doubts. He welcomes criticisms of His kingdom when things aren’t just or fair.'” (page 158)

In some ways, I could relate to Lacey Anne. I grew up in the Church, my dad’s a pastor. Something I had, though, that Lacey Anne doesn’t have for most of Small Town Sinners is parents who gave me space to ask the whys and hows.

Lacey Anne believes that if she doesn’t believe exactly as her parents do, then that the relationship is harmed. And her parents don’t respond well when she even begins to pose a question; they give her pat answers, regurgitations. And get angry. As I read, I mourned that her parents didn’t give her that space for growth.

I, like Lacey Anne, see so much of life in shades of gray rather than merely black and white. Yes, there are some things that are definite. But there are many things that just … aren’t.

Other thoughts:

• I kind of loved that they used their personal prayer language as vocal warm-ups.

• The whole Hell House thing. Ugh. I wish the Church didn’t feel the need to make “Christian” versions of all things secular. From T-shirts to haunted houses, the Church has been in copy-cat mode for centuries now. Why can’t we create something original? That feels like a dead horse, though. *wry grin* There’s more I could say about Hell Houses, but I’m not going there today.

• I was excited to read it, but this book didn’t really live up to my expectations.

• Ty felt like a plot ploy. I wish she would have had the courage to walk this road without a romantic partner.

• The cover is really nice!

Rating: 3 stars

About the author
Melissa Walker (@MelissaCWalker) has worked as ELLEgirl Features Editor and Seventeen Prom Editor. She’s the author of the Violet on the Runway series as well as Lovestruck Summer. Melissa manages a daily newsletter, I Heart Daily, and handles blogging for readergirlz.com, an online book community that won the 2009 National Book Award for Innovations in Reading.

Other Faith & Fiction Posts about Small Town Sinners
My Friend Amy
Books & Movies
3 R’s Blog
Ignorant Historian
Book Addiction
Book Hooked Blog
My Random Thoughts
Tina’s Book Reviews

I received this book from the publisher as part of the Faith & Fiction Round Table. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links. Quote(s) are from an uncorrected advance proof and have not been verified with the final version of the book.

Book Spotlight: Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

About the book:
Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all except her father and her nanny goat. And then she meets a privileged young man sent to the mountains for the summer. Leo befriends Rose Red, and together they begin hunting for the rumored Mountain Monster.

This is book 2 in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, which I’ve been drawn to since I first saw them. I’ve heard good buzz, but I can’t find too many links now.

Read an excerpt of Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

Here’s a review of the first book, Heartless:
Books, Movies and Chinese Food

I received this book from the publisher as part of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Book Spotlight: How Huge the Night by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn

About the book:
Fifteen-year-old Julien Losier just wants to fit in. But when his family moves to a small village in central France in hopes of outrunning the Nazis, he is suddenly faced with bigger challenges than the taunting of local teens. Nina Krenkel left her country to obey her father’s dying command: Take your brother and leave Austria. Burn your papers. Tell no one you are Jews. Alone she arrives in Tanieux, France, dangerously ill and in despair. Thrown together, Julien begins to feel the terrible weight of the looming conflict and Nina fights to survive. As France falls, Julien struggles with doing what is right, even if it is not enough, and wonders if he can save Nina.

Based on the true story of the town of Le Chambon, honored by Israel for rescuing Jews from the Holocaust.

Read an excerpt of How Huge the Night by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn.

I received this book from the publisher as part of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

The Charlatan’s Boy by Jonathan Rogers

Word Lily review

The Charlatan’s Boy: A Novel by Jonathan Rogers (Waterbrook, October 5, 2010), 320 pages

Summary
Grady (no last name, just Grady) lives on the road, playing his part in Floyd’s scheme of the moment. (His favorite role: He-Feechie, of the Feechiefen Swamp.) It’s the only life Grady’s ever known. But questions niggle; where did he come from? what were his parents like?

Thoughts
Disclaimer: I met author Jonathan Rogers at Hutchmoot, although I don’t think I had an actual conversation with him. He did a reading from this book.

A really fun, imaginative tale. I love the simultaneous Southern and English feel of the story. It’s labeled as a young adult story, but I’d say it could go middle grade, pretty easily.

Grady is a great character, very sympathetic. So very earnest, too.

It’s written in dialect, which can sometimes be annoying or feel off, but in this case it just adds to the (swampy, thick) atmosphere.

This book is published by a Christian publishing house, but it’s not one of those books that really center on the Christian life. It does, however, focus on big questions — Who am I? Why am I here? Where did I come from?

I quite enjoyed this book. The story and the telling itself are both fun, engaging. I’d almost say heartwarming too, but it’s not sticky sweet, not at all. This is one of those books I can recommend to anyone.

Oh, one more thing: While this book is definitely fantasy, the story is so down to earth, relatable, it transcends that label.

About the author
Jonathan Rogers is the author of The Wilderking Trilogy (The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Secret of the Swamp King, and The Way of the Wilderking) as well as a (more scholarly, I assume) book on Saint Patrick. He’s also among the Rabbit Room contributors.

Other reviews
A Christian Worldview of Fiction
My Friend Amy
Whispers of (a new) Dawn
Shannon McDermott
Sarah Sawyer
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Winner of Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

The winner of a signed copy of Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book by Kersten Hamilton is:

Lemon123

I’ve emailed Lemon to get her mailing address. Congratulations!


I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Giveaway: Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

I posted my review of Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book by Kersten Hamilton [my review — I loved it!] on Monday, and today I’m thrilled to offer you the chance to win an autographed copy of the book as part of the blog tour! (U.S. only, though.)

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment on my review expressing interest in winning and interacting with the review. (One entry per person.) I’ll accept entries through Thursday, November 18, 2010.

Edited to add: This giveaway is now closed. See who won.

I received this book from the publisher, as part of a Winsome Media blog tour. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.