Venturess, by Betsy Cornwell

Venturess

If you haven’t read Mechanica – the feminist, steampunk Cinderella retelling – yet, what are you waiting for? Seriously, it’s so so so good. I’m obsessed with Cinderella retellings and it’s my second favorite one of all time (Ella Enchanted will ALWAYS be number one to me, sorry Betsy!). If you have read Mechanica, then I’m guessing you are already so enchanted by the amazing world building and nuanced characters that you don’t need me to tell you to read this sequel. But I had some thoughts I wanted to write out and this is my blog, so … here we go!

Also there will be some necessary SPOILERS for book one in this series. Proceed with caution.  Continue reading

Three Mini Reviews of Some Good (No Great!) Books I’ve Been Reading

Happy weekend! I am having a huge good book streak. I’m really hoping it doesn’t end anytime soon – obviously. I might be losing sleep, but it’s one hundred percent worth it. Here are some favorite YA books that I’ve read in the last few weeks!

Eliza and her MonstersEliza and her Monsters, by Francesca Zappia, blew me away and kept me up late at night. In some ways it felt like Fangirl on steroids. In others, it had its own special and unique magic. In the story, teenage Eliza is the creator of one of the most popular webcomics on the internet. She doesn’t do friends, at least not IRL, and her identity on the internet is a closely guarded secret. Then Wallace, her comic’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school and they develop a relationship through their shared interest. But he thinks that she’s just another fan and doesn’t know how to tell him. Ugh. This writing is beautiful. Like makes you want to cry and throw up at the same time beautiful. And the story is … I said on twitter that it made me feel like a mix between having a crush and the night before a new Harry Potter book comes out. And I stand by that strong endorsement. More people should be reading this book. Aside from being oh so swoony, it also has some of the best descriptions of anxiety I’ve ever read. Continue reading

Ramona Blue, by Julie Murphy

Ramona BlueI took a YA lit class in grad school with David Levithan. One of the first things he said was to make the details in our writing as specific as possible. More detailed. More specific examples. These were two phrases, I became accustomed to seeing on my personal essays. It’s one of the lessons that I try to keep in the very front of my brain while writing. It’s also a lesson that no one needs to teach Julie Murphy, apparently. Because Damn! Ramona Blue, the latest book from the author who brought us Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary, is one of the most specific, detailed, and unique books I’ve ever read.

As with people in real life, Ramona’s history looms large over her present struggles. She was a small child when Hurricane Katrina dramatically changed her family. She’s been a kind of surrogate parent to her little sister, who is now pregnant. She likes girls. She wants to leave town, but doesn’t know if she can now that her sister needs her more than ever. Continue reading

Girl Out of Water, by Laura Silverman

Girl Out Of Water CoverI met Laura Silverman at the end of my orientation at New School. I was a nervous and slightly overwhelmed new student who’d moved to New York City that week and was still scared of taking the subway. She was a confident and wise second year in my MFA program, who told me to check out my now-favorite bookstore Books of Wonder and gave advice about professors. Even though she was younger than me, I definitely looked up to her – and I still do. So it was lovely to lose myself in her debut novel Girl Out of Water this weekend. I started reading it on a sunny day in the park. After having to take a break for a friend’s dinner party, I finished the book late that night. As much as I like sleep, I liked Anise’s story better. Seventeen-year-old Anise loves surfing and is intensely connected to her California hometown. But when her aunt is injured, she and her Dad must spend the summer in Nebraska helping to take care of Anise’s three younger cousins. Anise expects a summer of boredom and wistfully checking up on her friends back home. But a cute, one-armed skateboarder named Lincoln (swoon!) and her growing connection to her cousins, cause her to lose touch with her friends and her surfer identity in Santa Cruz.  Continue reading

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Always and Forever Lara Jean no captionI have major love for Lara Jean Covey and all the Song girls. I like that she is a shy, quiet, bookish girl who finds her confidence not by losing her shyness or a boy liking her – but through her own journey. I like her relationship with her sisters and the way Margot and Kitty have changed over the last three books. I like the cultural details of being half Korean American that are weaved in and out of the narrative. I’ve said this several times now, but reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before  was formative to my interest in writing contemporary YA. Hearing Jenny Han speak at The National Book Festival in 2012 was formative to my decision to move to New York City and get my MFA in writing for children and teenagers.  So yeah, I’ve been looking forward to reading the third and final Lara Jean book since I found out it was happening. And, as expected, it did not disappoint.  Continue reading

The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli

upside of unrequitedI knew I’d like this book. Correction: I knew I’d love this book. Becky Albertalli’s debut, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was pure magic (I’m shocked I didn’t review it when it came out). But I didn’t just love this book – I love, love, LOVED (add in a million heart eye emojis) it. I know as a writer I should probably have better, more specific words, but I don’t. My love of this book, of these words that Becky Albertalli wrote, transcends my ability to describe it. The story was that good and, perhaps more specifically, that perfect for me.

The story starts with 17-year-old Molly saying she’s had 26 crushes and no boyfriends (you and me both, girl). When her twin sister Cassie starts dating her first girlfriend, Molly vows to be less careful. She should probably be less careful with the new girlfriend’s flirtatious, hipster-boy best friend, Will. But there’s also Reid, her new coworker with too-white sneakers, Middle Earth (correction Middle-earth) t-shirts, and an awkward affinity for Renaissance Fairs. Who Molly totally doesn’t like. Because she can talk to him. And she can never talk to her crushes. That’s how this is supposed to work, right?  Continue reading

We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour

28243032When it came time to think of my favorite read of March, two books instantly came to mind. One I already reviewed (and by reviewed I mean gushed over) on this blog. The other is We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour. Gosh, this book is beautiful. With full, nuanced characters and an emotional, nonlinear, sparse pacing my emotions were running high while reading the story of eighteen-year-old Marin. After a family tragedy, Marin leaves her California beach town to head to college in New York City two weeks early. She doesn’t say goodbye or offer explanations to anyone in her life, not even her best friend Mabel.

In the present of the story, Mabel is coming to visit Marin during winter break. They haven’t talked since the summer. Mabel has questions. Marin wants to avoid thinking about anything having to do with her old life.  Continue reading