Editor: Lamar Giles
Genre: YA Fiction
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
This is an anthology that was written in partnership with We Need Diverse Books. It includes never before seen works from thirteen of YA’s most recognizable, diverse authors: ten short stories, one graphic story, and a one-act play. I am thrilled to have been allowed to early review this amazing collection of short fiction, that is just demanding to be read, shared, and talked about!
Let me just begin by saying- Wow! After reading the early synopsis of this anthology, and learning who the authors contributing to it were, I had high hopes… I mean really high. This blew them away! Every one of these short stories had something very important to say, and they all made their point in the best way possible. I may not have been able to personally identify with all of the characters in these stories, but the message of each was not lost on me. These authors are all so brilliant, that it is really hard to pick a favorite story out of this collection. If pushed to choose, I would have to say that Eraser Tattoo (Jason Reynolds), Why I Learned to Cook (Sara Farizan), Don’t Pass Me By (Eric Gansworth), Meet Cute (Malinda Lo), and Tags (Walter Dean Myers) really stood out to me. All of the stories were just long enough to pique the reader’s interest, tell their story, and then leave you wanting more. This is an anthology that has been needed for some time, especially in this climate, and I am so glad that it is here! It is bound to be a hit, and one that will last for a long time to come. Now…Can we get another one of these, please? Fresher Ink, anyone?!
As we say goodbye to 2016, and usher in 2017, I can honestly say that it has been a good year in the book world! We have had some amazing books published this year, and some awesome new authors have emerged. We have also suffered some great losses. It was a wonderful reading year for me, personally, as well. I think that I read more this year that I ever have in a single year before, and I was introduced to some wonderful new authors that I look forward to reading much more from in the future.
I have taken the majority of this week to try and determine what was actually my best of this year, and I had a very difficult time with it! I had to break it down in to categories, because I wasn’t able to pick just one!
Favorite Overall Read of the Year: There was a tie in this category!
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Blood Curse by Quincy J. Allen
Favorite Thriller of the Year: In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Favorite YA of the Year: Looking for Alaska by John Green
Favorite New Author of the Year: J.D. Spikes
I’m looking forward to an awesome new year with all of you!! I hope you all have a wonderful new year!! As always, thanks for reading!!
Author: David Levithan & Rachel Cohn
Nick, the straight bassist for a “queercore” punk band, is onstage when he sees his ex walk in to his performance with a new guy. When he realizes that avoiding her is not an option, he asks Norah (a girl in the midst of heart break, there to see the show with a friend) a question that will change both of their nights, and possibly their lives, completely: “Will you be my girlfriend for five minutes?”. This leads to a roller coaster of a night for the two of them that leads through all the ups and downs of teenage (and quite frankly adult) emotions- love, heartbreak, anger, lust, disappointment, and forgiveness. This one very long night ends up in a place that neither of them had ever imagined.
This short read was a bunch of fun! It’s filled with all of those angsty teenage emotions that we can all remember having, but that can still be applied to relationships at any age. It will remind you of what it’s like to meet someone and feel that instant connections with them, but still have doubts because of your past, and want to work through them anyway. These authors have created a fun environment and filled it with a great cast of characters. It’s a great book for anyone looking for an easy, quick read that will make you reminisce a little a pick you up.
Author: Matthew Quick
Genre: YA Fiction
Publisher: Little Brown
Nanette was a good girl: good student, star athlete, college bound (on athletic scholarships!). She spent lunch everyday with her favorite teacher. That teacher chooses her to be the one to whom he passes his favorite (out of print) book, The Bubblegum Reaper. After binge reading this book, Nanette begins to feel that she is not forging her own path in life, but is, instead, living the life that others have pushed her in to. That feeling becomes stronger once she starts spending time with the book’s author, and is introduced to another huge fan of the book, Alex. She rebels, she falls in love, she finds out that every action that she takes has its own consequences that she must deal with.
I enjoyed this book in a very nostalgic way. It is a story of coming of age, finding yourself, and coming in to your own. It reminded me of being in high school, and immediately after, and trying to figure out exactly who I was supposed to be in the world- not who everyone saw when they looked at me, or who they thought that I should be. I could identify, somewhat, with Nanette. I think that this is a book that should definitely be read by young adults, and would be enjoyed by those a bit outside of the YA market (who still love YA- like myself!), if only to look back and remember.
Author: Lauren Kate
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Luce has been ordered to attend Sword & Cross boarding school after an incident with the first boy that she kissed. When she arrives, the reform school is worse than she expected it to be. It is full of psychopaths and major screw-ups. When she first sees Daniel Grigori he feels familiar, like she has seen him before. Daniel, however, makes it abundantly clear that he wants nothing to do with her. She is drawn to him, even as the handsome and charming Cam is trying to build a relationship with her. She is determined to find out what Daniel is hiding, and she recruits her new friend, Penn, to help her figure him out. She must know the truth, no matter the cost.
I read this book for the first time a few years ago, and enjoyed it. I got sidetracked, and never went back to the series, so I decided to give it another try. I actually enjoyed it a bit more this time than I did the first time that I read it. The characters are pretty well fleshed out, and the world building is pretty decent. The concept of the storyline is good. It’s not my favorite YA fantasy, but it was an enjoyable read, overall. I’m looking forward to finishing the series, and seeing where the story goes.
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: The Trials of Apollo
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
This story begins a little bit after the events in The Blood of Olympus (PJO/HOO series), and Zeus is pissed! He blames the events that occurred in HOO and the Oracles not working on Apollo. As punishment, Zeus sends Apollo to Earth…as a sixteen-year-old mortal boy (with a whack name and acne, much to Apollo’s chagrin). This has happened to Apollo when he angered his father before, so he has a good idea of what is to happen. He will be claimed by a demi-god, and bound to serve them and endure the unknown trials before him, until his father is satisfied that he has repented for his wrongdoing. Unfortunately for him, he is claimed by a demi-god that we haven’t met yet…Meg. As he has many enemies (of all types…monsters, Gods, etc.) he knows he must go to Camp Halfbood where he will be safe and can get some help. That’s where things get really interesting. There is no oracle to give a quest that desperately needs to be give, and campers are disappearing. They must figure out what is going on, before they are all killed.
I cannot tell you how happy I was to see some of the same characters from PJO/HOO in this book! It was like seeing old friends after a long time. The new characters, and characters that we didn’t see very much in the preceding series’, are greatly developed in this first book. Although this is the start to a new series, and can certainly be read alone, I strongly recommend read PJO/HOO first, so that you get the backstory and understand the references being made in this book (also, I just recommend that you read them because they are a lot of fun!) There is a small reference to The Sword of Summer, when Percy says that Annabeth is in Boston for a family emergency, so we know that this is taking place at the same time as that book. Overall, this is another fun read from Uncle Rick! I always enjoy his writing style and humor, and I hope that you do, as well!
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
Since his mother’s untimely death, two years ago, Magnus Chase has been a homeless kid surviving on the streets of Boston. When his sixteenth birthday comes around, Magnus is tracked down by the uncle that his mother warned was dangerous to him. When his uncle finally catches up with him, he tells Magnus a secret that he can scarcely believe: he is the son of a Norse god. He finds it hard to believe, until he is attacked by a fire giant while trying to call the Sword of Summer and ends up in Valhalla. Now it is time for Magnus to do his part (with a little help from his friends) to prevent Ragnarok, but to do so he must face his greatest fear.
Confession: I adore Rick Riordan! (I am actually re-reading the entire Percy Jackson series this year) His stories are always well written and entertaining. His world building is always spot on and easy to imagine, and the characters are always well developed. This first novel in the Magnus Chase series is no exception! I didn’t get in to it and begin is quickly as I did the PJO-HOO series, but after a few chapters I sped through the rest of it. I fell in love with these characters and their stories, and I loved that Annabeth made a couple of appearances (note the last name, you PJ fans!). I’m hoping that this will allow for a little cross-over now and then! All in all- if you are a Riordan fan, you will love this series, too!