Waiting on Wednesday: The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

My pick this week..."The Friday Society" by Adrienne Kress
Release Date: Dec 6, 2012

I have been looking for stand-alone books without paranormal characters...and this sounds perfect!  Can't wait!!

From Goodreads:
An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns--and the heroines who use them all!  Set in Edwardian London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician's assistant. The three young women's lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.  It's up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder--and the crimes they believe may be connected to it--without calling too much attention to themselves.  Told with Adrienne Kress's sharp wit and a great deal of irreverence, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike--well, relatively ladylike--heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Kick-Butt Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week I get to choose my top ten kick-butt heroines!

Mrs. Beamer's picks:
Five that may not be on most lists...
  1. Tiny Cooper from "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" - I know, I know...the character is male...but I love him sooooooo much and I believe he would be honored to be included in this list :)
  2. Lisbeth Salander from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" - even though I didn't like the book, she was a great character
  3. Aminata Diallo from "Someone Knows My Name" - perhaps the most gut-wrentchingly (is that a word?!) real and haunting character I've ever met
  4. Soo-Ja Choi from "This Burns My Heart"
  5. Scarlett O'Hara from "Gone with the Wind"
Five I expect to see on many lists...
  1. Katniss Everdeen from "The Hunger Games"
  2. Tris from "Divergent" series
  3. Tally Youngblood from "Uglies" series
  4. Zoey Redbird from "House of Night" series
  5. Clary Fray from "The Mortal Instruments" series

Commentary from Mrs. Beamer: Dystopian Fiction

Recently, several adults have asked me about dystopian fiction.  They are unfamiliar with the genre...and want to know what all the fuss is about :)  As I've stated before, I'm a HUGE fan of dystopian fiction.  However, I think it resonates with readers differently, based on their age and life experiences.  Here is the definition from dictionary.com:

dys·to·pi·a

  [dis-toh-pee-uh]  Show IPA
noun
a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression,disease, and overcrowding.

Another way to think of it...the opposite of utopia (an idealistic, perfect society).  Dystopian novels are set in a world where there is an ultimate flaw in what used to be.  My favorite dystopian novels are ones that portray a future that cause me to stop and think...hmmm...would this way of life really be all that bad?  Of course, the answer is "yes" :)  BUT...the really great dystopian novels cause the reader to ponder a different way of living.  Some of the future societies bare a strong resemblance to past societies that failed.  I've often wondered if this genre is popular in less democratic societies...if growing up with so much freedom causes us to digest the genre differently.  And, because teen readers have less life experience, it is inevitable they will relate to dystopian fiction differently than adults.   Another reason I enjoy dystopian fiction is it gives me a taste of sci-fi...without paranormal characters and space :)



BOOK REVIEW: "Divergent" by Veronica Roth



Title: Divergent
Author: Roth, Veronica
Published: May 3rd 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN: 0062024027
Edition Language: English
Series: Divergent #1
Source:  Borrowed from MHS library

From Goodreads:
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.  During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.  Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series--dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Mrs. Beamer's Review:

As you know, I was dying to get my hands on this book!  My students LOVE it :) so I was expecting a great deal. Immediately I was hooked...both by the story and the characters.  The main character, Beatrice/Tris, is easy to relate to and I found myself routing for her fairly early in the book.  Roth creates viable adversaries for Tris and I enjoyed watching their story lines unfold.  The romance is dealt with in a sweet and innocent way...and it takes a back seat to the main action in the story.  Boys will not be deterred from the series...girls will eat it up.  This book touches on several moral issues (loyalty, trustworthiness, self-preservation, etc), but never in a preachy way.  I imagine teens are drawn to the action, mystery and romance.  Adult readers may find themselves reflecting on certain life choices and their consequences, as I did.  I very much enjoyed this book...and I'm eager to read book #2 "Insurgent"!


Mrs. Beamer’s Wrap-Up Rating: 0-5 (0=none, 5=lots) click here for more info
Language: 0
Violence: 3
Sexual Content: .5
Drugs/Alcohol: .5
Recommend for High School Libraries: YES
Comfortable With My Child Reading: middle school
Potential Controversial Topics: none

DNF...Did Not Finish

In my high school library, I post a "Reader's Bill of Rights" (from Daniel Pennac).  The most popular BY FAR among my students is "The Right to Not Finish".  It constantly amazes me how often I hear of someone dreading to read because they don't like the current book they are reading.  How awful!!  One of the most freeing moments in my LIFE was when I realized...just because I started a book doesn't mean I have to finish that book (unless it is required reading - ha!)

I constantly remind my students of this.  It's simple.  If you don't like the book you are reading...put it down and pick up a different one!  There are SO MANY incredible books out there...find one you like :)

Author Spotlight: Megan Shephard

I first heard of Megan yesterday while researching "scary" YA books.  I found the cover of her upcoming release, Madman's Daughter, captivating...and I wanted to learn more about her!

Imagine my delight in discovering she's a NEW YA author!  AND...she's writing TWO trilogies right now!  Yippee!  Want to know more?  Check out her website http://meganshepherd.com

Waiting on Wednesday: Reached by Ally Condie

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Reached
by Ally Condie
Publication Date: November 13th, 2012

From Goodreads:

Cassia faces the ultimate choices in the long-anticipated conclusion to the "New York Times" bestselling Matched Trilogy.  After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising--and each other--Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.  In this gripping conclusion to the #1 "New York Times" bestselling Matched Trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.

I can't wait!!!  I fell in love with Matched (book #1 in the trilogy).  Once I read it, I couldn't stay away from dystopian novels :)  Only three more weeks...I can hardly stand it!!




Top Ten Tuesday: October 23rd, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week I get to choose my top ten books to get in the Halloween spirit.  This is hard for me because I don't read much in this genre.  But...here goes...

Mrs. Beamer's top ten Halloween picks:

  • Carrie by Stephen King
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Haunted Ohio (series) by Chris Woodyard
  • The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Shining by Stephen King
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
OK...I REALLY need to add some recently published scary titles to my "must read" list :)

BOOK REVIEW: "Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment" by James Patterson



Title: Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment
Author: Patterson, James
Published: April 1, 2007 by Little, Brown and Company
ISBN: 0316067954
Edition Language: English
Series: Maximum Ride #1
Source:  Borrowed from MHS Library

Mrs. Beamer's Review:
This is the first book in the (now 8 book) series…Maximum Ride.  I am a sucker for a good series, and this is a popular series at my high school.  As a long-time James Patterson fan, I was curious to see how he approached the YA market.  I expected a well-written, fast-paced adventure.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Immediately we are introduced to the main character, Maximum Ride, who is the product of a genetic experiment.  She is very human (98% so)…except when her wings are exposed and she’s flying :)  She also has superhuman strength, eyesight, etc.  She is the “mother figure” to five others just like her.  The six of them escaped the laboratory where they were held captive and are on the run from their hunters, the Erasers.  Early in the book, the reader is thrown a teaser…the lead Eraser tells Max, “You’ve got it all wrong!  We’re the good guys!”

In classic Patterson style, the chapters are very short…mostly 1-3 pages.  This, coupled with strong writing, set the urgency of the storyline.  I kept thinking “I’ll just read one more chapter”…and therefore found it hard to put the book down :)

I enjoyed the teens’ dialect.  I found it very authentic, even humorous at times.  At one point, Max thinks “Quelle coinkydink” and I laughed out loud.  I was surprised to come across a word I wasn’t familiar with…fetid (smelling extremely unpleasant).  This was a pleasant finding as it reassures me Patterson is not dummying down his YA books. 

While I look forward to continuing with the series, I don’t feel that addictive need to read book 2 immediately.  I can understand why this series is so popular with teen readers.  I highly recommend it!


Mrs. Beamer’s Wrap-Up Rating: 0-5 (0=none, 5=lots) click here for more info
Language: 0
Violence: 1
Sexual Content: 0
Drugs/Alcohol: 0
Recommend for High School Libraries: YES
Comfortable With My Child Reading: upper elementary
Potential Controversial Topics: none

Thrilling Trailer Thursday!

Book Trailer: The Maze Runner by James Dashner
This is the first book in the exciting "Maze Runner" series.  The series is proving to be very popular with my high school students.  I have yet to read the books...but they are on my "to read" list!
Enjoy!

Author Spotlight - Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth.  Wow.  Can you believe this young lady?!  She is 22.  Yep...that's it.  22.  Apparently she wrote her debut hit "Divergent" while avoiding homework at Northwestern University.  Hmm...can't say I made any money or achieved any fame while avoiding MY homework in college :)  I have yet to read her debut novel.  I'm anxiously awaiting the day when my students no longer have a permanent hold on this title in the library!  Her second book, "Insurgent" hit stores in May 2012...and the entire YA community is awaiting the release of her final book in the trilogy (believed to be coming in Fall 2013.)  Veronica...way to go!  Lots of well wishes for a long and lustrous career :)

Top Ten Tuesday: October 16th, 2012


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week I get to choose my favorite authors in a specific genre...which for me is YA!

Mrs. Beamer's Top Ten YA authors (in no particular order):

  • Sarah Dessen (YA writing like I remember reading when I was a teen)
  • John Green (very interested to see how he evolves as a YA author)
  • Stephenie Meyer (the Twilight series brought me back to my first love...YA books!)
  • Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games cemented my love for all things dystopian)
  • James Patterson (yes, he writes YA books too!)
  • Gary Paulsen (my son's favorite...therefore one of mine!)
  • Scott Westerfeld
  • P.C. Cast (ok...by now you know I'm a "series" nut!)
  • Melissa Marr
  • Judy Blume (a throw-back to my youth)

BOOK REVIEW: "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky




Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Chbosky, Stephen
Published: August 14, 2012 by MTV Books
ISBN: 1451696191
Edition Language: English
Source:  Borrowed from MHS Library

from Goodreads:
standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective…but there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. since its publication, stephen chbosky’s haunting debut novel has received critical acclaim, provoked discussion and debate, grown into a cult phenomenon with over a million copies in print, and inspired a major motion picture.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. the world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. of sex, drugs, and the rocky horror picture show. of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Mrs. Beamer's Review:
I should preface this review by reminding readers of my quirk…I never read dust-jackets, back-of-book summaries, reviews, etc. prior to reading a book.  One of the joys of reading, for me, is discovering the story on my own terms.  That being said, it is virtually impossible to be surrounded by YA fiction and not hear snippets of comment on this book.  I expected this book to be good.

Chbosky tells the story of Charlie, a high school freshman, through a series of letters Charlie pens to a “friend”.  While I enjoyed this format of storytelling, I found myself constantly wondering who the “friend” was and if the identity of the “friend” would be revealed…and if this “friend” had any significance to the storyline.  Consequently, I was distracted while reading this book. 

Charlie starts his freshman year basically friend-less.  Early in the story, he meets Patrick.  Charlie writes, “Now, normally I am very shy, but (Patrick) seemed like the kind of guy you could just walk up to at a football game even though you were three years younger and not popular.”  I couldn’t wrap my brain around this sentence, and therefore found a major premise of the book (the friendship between Charlie and Patrick) unrealistic.  So, while I can appreciate the author wanting to explore the “shy freshman coming of age” story from a different approach…I didn’t get this one.  Given the success of this novel, I am guessing my opinion of the Charlie/Patrick connection is in the minority.

Despite my annoyance at not knowing who the “friend” was and my non-belief in the likelihood of a friendship between Charlie and Patrick, I was engaged in the book.  Charlie’s dialect was real and his insights much what I would imagine a shy freshman to have.  The characters were well developed and believable.  The plethora of issues touched on in the book were age-appropriate for the mature high schooler. 

I would recommend this book to reluctant readers, whom I find are drawn to unique methods of storytelling.  The book touches on many teen-related issues without offering opinion or judgment.  For this reason, I would caution conservative parents and encourage them to read the book along with their child. 


Mrs. Beamer’s Wrap-Up Rating: 0-5 (0=none, 5=lots) click here for more info
Language: 1
Violence: 0
Sexual Content: 3.5
Drugs/Alcohol: 3.5
Recommend for High School Libraries: YES
Comfortable With My Child Reading: in college
Controversial Topics: abortion, homosexuality, child abuse, suicide

My Wrap-Up Rating

One of my objectives with this blog is to give students and parents a simple and straightforward snapshot of the content within a book.

My Wrap-Up Rating will rate (on a scale of 0-5) the level of the following: language, violence, sexual content, drugs/alcohol.

Also, I will list any potential controversial topics mentioned/covered in the book (provided they don't contain spoilers)

In addition, I will answer the following two questions:

  • Recommend for High School Libraries (YES ~or~ NO)
  • Comfortable With My Child Reading (upper elementary, middle school, high school, college)


If you disagree with my assessments, please let me know... I'd love to hear from you!
Ratings are, by nature, subjective :)

EXAMPLE:

Mrs. Beamer’s Wrap-Up Rating: 0-5 (0=none, 5=lots)
Language: 2
Violence: 3
Sexual Content: 1
Drugs/Alcohol: 0
Potential Controversial Topics: domestic abuse
Recommend for High School Libraries: YES
Comfortable With My Child Reading: high school

A guideline on how I judge content...

Language
0=no foul language
1=some derogatory words/offensive comments
2=a few swear words...some offensive language
3=some swearing...moderate offensive language
4=moderate swearing...prolific offensive language
5=severe swearing and offensive language

Violence:
0=no violence
1=some fighting, non-graphic
2=fighting and/or conflict, PG rated
3=PG-13
4=PG-13 plus
5=bloodbath

Sexual Content:
0=no romance
1=affection...mostly non-physical (crushes, boyfriend/girlfriend, romance, etc)
2=mild physical affection
3=some sexually explicit content
4=sexually explicit
5=(I won't be reviewing anything that is a 5!)

Drugs/Alcohol:
0=none
1=secondary characters drinking or smoking
2=major characters drinking or smoking sporadically
3=widespread drinking, sporadic drug use
4=drug use
5=major drugs/alcohol

Potential Controversial Topics (including, but not limited to...): domestic abuse, rape, abortion, suicide, child abuse, homosexuality, racism, sexism

Comfortable With My Child Reading:  just an honest opinion from a regular mom :)



Welcome to my blog!

I am so excited to write my first post on ReadingYA.com!  This blog will have many components...book reviews on YA books (complete with Advisory Ratings from me...more on that in a future post), links to popular YA authors, information about upcoming YA releases, resources to help parents and students find YA books, etc.

As a high school librarian, mother and life-long reader I feel uniquely qualified to offer insights into the content of YA books.  When I started my job, I knew some parents would keep a tight watch on what their children read...what I wasn't prepared for was the fact that some students wanted to know the "appropriate-ness" of books.  I follow many blogs and have yet to see concise information on a books' content.  That's where I come in!  

Thank you for visiting...I hope you find this blog helpful and entertaining!