Books & More from the Teen Scene

Book reviews and other reflections from one of Oregon's young adult librarians

“Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words” by Rachel Coker March 31, 2012

Interrupted cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts:

320 pages; published February 2012

The Basics:

Alcyone (Allie) Everly’s world revolves around her mother and the quiet life they share, gardening, housekeeping, and reading Emily Dickinson. When her mother’s memory and health disintegrates, Allie finds herself alone and shipped off to Maine to be adopted by a kindly widow. Determined to stay loyal to her mother’s memory, Allie turns inward, rejecting the care and love offered in her new home.

Book Talk:

Can you imagine how scary it would be – at age 10 – to have your mother’s memory start to come and go? Can you image how sad it would feel – at age 14 – to find yourself alone in the world and shipped off to be adopted by a total stranger? Alcyone Everly doesn’t want a new mother or a new home. She wants to go back to protecting and helping the mother she loved. She hides within the pages of the journal she still writes to her mother and pushes everyone away, even the neighbor boy who has loved her and been loyal to her all her life. Her adoptive mother continues to pray that with God’s help she can soften Allie’s heart. Will it be possible to restart this life that was Interrupted?

Random Thought:

This is a sweet, gentle story that holds no real surprises, but the writing is solid and it’s a enjoyable first effort from a 16-year-old debut author.


“Anya’s Ghost” by Vera Brosgol March 29, 2012

Filed under: Fantasy,Fiction,Graphic Novel,Multi-Cultural,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:55 am
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Anya's Ghost cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts:

221 pages; published June 2011

The Basics:

Anya is an awkward teen who – on her worst day ever – falls down a well and find herself face-to-face with the bones and ghost of a girl about her age. In a quick decision during her rescue, Anya grabs the girl’s pinky bone, allowing the ghost to follow her home.

Book Talk:

Anya is already feeling pretty low. Her Russian immigrant family is weird. She doesn’t really have many friends. The boy she likes doesn’t notice her. Then, she hits a new low when she falls down a well and ends up meeting a ghost who follows her home after the rescue, intent on being Anya’s new best friend. At first, it’s great to have an awesome new bestie, but Anya soon starts to suspect this ghost may not have her best interests at heart.

Random Thought:

The sweet simplicity of the art style belies how creepy this story gets.


“A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness, inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd, illustrated by Jim Kay March 23, 2012

Filed under: Fantasy,Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 9:32 pm
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A Monster Calls cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts

215 pages; published September 2011

The Basics

As Conor struggles to deal with his mother’s illness, the yew tree in his back yard wakes and come walking – walking into Conor’s room wanting to share with him three strories of Truth. As payment, the Monster demands Conor’s Truth and uncovers more than the boy himself ever knew.

Book Talk

Conor’s mom is so, so sick. His father is absent – gone to America with his new wife. He’s being bullied at school. His Grandmother is unpleasant and unwelcoming. Conor has no where turn until he wakes at 7 minutes after midnight to find a yew tree, come to life in monstrous form and standing at his window. The yew tree keeps coming back, coming in, telling stories it calls Truth and pushing at Conor to tell his own Truth until Conor boils over and A Monster Calls.

Random Thought

The simple black line drawings for this book are stunning, dark, angry, and luminescent. They don’t just complement the story, they help tell it and pull the reader in to Conor’s turmoil. Also, the back story of Siobhan Dowd, who conceived this story but died of breast cancer before she could write it, is fascinating.

Fair Warning

By the time I reached the end of this books, I was crying so hard I couldn’t hardly see the words. Keep tissues nearby.


“Cinder” by Marissa Meyer March 20, 2012

Cinder coverThe Facts:

Published January 2012; 387 pages; #1 in the Lunar Chronicles series

The Basics:

Cinder is a cyborg, considered subclass in New Bejing where people are mainly preoccupied with two things – the upcoming Imperial Ball and the plague which is ravaging the population. A talent mechanic, Cinder finds herself face to face with the prince, seeking a fix for his nannybot. She soon finds herself wrapped up in his attempts to avoid being conquered by the moon-based Lunar forces, find a cure for the plague, and find a date for the ball.

The Review:

Cinder packs in a lot of excitement in 387 pages, with friends and family afflicted with the plague, people with secret identities all over the place, all manner of mechanized things to fix, Lunar forces bearing down, and a prince chasing her all over town. Cinder’s prince is allow far more personality than the original Prince Charming and is one of the most pleasing characters in the book. Her wicked stepmother is really awful, even happily selling Cinder to science so they can kill her off as a plague test subject. Cinder is clever and smart, which adds to her appeal. One problem is that the book ends before anything has really happened. A lot of things start to happen, but it’s a long, complicated lead up to the final page and the promise that something will happen in book 2. Still, it’s entertaining and the attempt to re-cast Cinderella is fun and appealing.


“Withering Tights” by Louise Rennison March 19, 2012

Filed under: Chick Lit,Fiction,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 4:13 pm
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Withering Tights cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts:

Published June 2011; 288 pages.

The Basics:

Tallulah Casey is off to the Yorkshires for the summer, staying with a solid and enthusiastically quirky family, and surrounded by zany girlfriends who are also learning the basics of drama. Extremely worried about the knobbiness of her knees and her lack of visible boobs, Tallulah is about to make a fool of herself – again and again – in pursuit of the theater arts and boys. Of course, boys.


Louise Rennison’s genius is in her skill at making gentle fun of her main character and, in turn, imbue Tallulah with howlingly funny observations about everyone around her. Tallulah Casey is thoroughly charming, totally awkward, and does not display the least talent for serious theater. But she dances one heck of a jig, balancing the demands of theater camp with an ongoing effort to massage her breast buds  into a growth spurt, hatch and mother an owl, and survive the shock of her first kiss.

Who needs Heathcliff when Tallulah’s on the prowl?


My First Poll March 18, 2012

Filed under: Polls,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 7:03 pm

“Planesrunner” by Ian McDonald

Filed under: Fiction,Science Fiction,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 6:52 pm
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Planesrunner cover

Image courtesy of GoodReads

The Facts:

Published December 2011; 274 pages; #1 in the Everness series.

The Basics:

Everett Singh is the son of the theoretical physicist who first proved the existence of parallel universes, and was then kidnapped by power hungry criminals from another plane. Everett finds himself in control of the key to inter-universe transport. Desperate to save his father, he plunges into the plenisphere and into an amazing adventure.

Book Talk:

Everett Singh has always been able to think in multiple planes, to see patterns other people miss. When his father – theoretical physicist Tejendra Singh – is grabbed before his very eyes and spirited away to E4 (we live in E10), Everett is left to sort out the mystery of the Infundibulum—the map of all the parallel earths, discovered and refined by Tejendra.

On an inter-universal quest to save his father, Everett allies himself with Sen Sixsmyth, an airship pilot from the lofty and slightly sub-class Airish culture of E4 London. The agile pair take on evil-doers of every description, digging ever deeper into the mysteries of the plenisphere.

Random Thought:

I feel like the cover of this book does it a disservice. The image is a little cheesy, but the story is a top-notch, well-told adventure that would be highly entertaining to readers of many ages and both genders.