Books & More from the Teen Scene

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

Awesome Scene from “The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door” by Karen Finneyfrock February 27, 2013

Filed under: GLBTQ,Quotes — hilariouslibrarian @ 9:02 am
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Sometimes, when reading a book, I have the feeling that the author just really needed to say something so she has a character say it … even if it’s not strictly central or necessary to the plot. In this case, I was delighted to find the following passage because Celia Door says something so well – in just the words I’ve wished I had, but never seem to have at my command when they are needed.

From Page 152:

“Ugh, that movie was stupid,” the other girl said.

“I know, everything is zombies now. That movie was so gay,” said the salesgirl.

“What did you say?” I asked.

The girls looked surprised, as if I has just walked over to their private table in a restaurant and asked to sit down. “We’re just talking about the movie with the zombie aliens,” the salesgirl said dismissively.

“But what did you call it?” I asked. I could feel Drake shift uncomfortably next to me and take a small step away.

“I said it was stupid, don’t bother seeing it,” said the girl.

“But you didn’t say ‘stupid,'” I said, my voice getting a little louder. “You said it was ‘gay.'”

“Oh, yeah, whatever, I didn’t mean it literally.”

“No, you said ‘gay’ like that was another word for ‘stupid’ or ‘lame.'”

“A lot of people say that,” one of the other girls broke in, “she didn’t mean it in a mean way. She’s cool with gay people.”

“Well, if you’re cool with gay people, then why don’t you choose another word to use so you don’t offend anyone?”


Go, Celia!


“The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door” by Karen Finneyfrock

Filed under: Fiction,GLBTQ,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:53 am
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The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts

272 pages; published February 2013

The Basics

It is the first day of ninth grade and Celia Door has just one thing on her mind – revenge. Over the summer, Celia has become Dark, an isolated tower of rage ready to mete out just dessert on the evil and popular Sandy Firestone for the truly awful thing she did to Celia in the eighth grade. The complication here is Drake, the interesting new boy who chooses Celia to be his friend, hear his confidences, and who may bring a dangerous measure of happiness to break up her Darkness.


I’m not sure what attracted me more to this book – the fact that the author’s last name was Finneyfrock (awesome); that the cover blurb was an enthusiastic endorsement by my beloved Sherman Alexie; or that I loved the cover shot of the combat boots and gingham dress.

Whatever it was, I’m glad I grabbed it. Celia Door and Drake are fun and funny together. Yet, they are really having troubles. Celia is being nastily bullied by the nasty popular girl and her best attempts to come up with a plan for revenge are just heartbreakingly ineffective. Celia’s parents are in the throes of a “trial separation” which she hates without understanding at all what happened. Drake has been sent to Hershey, Pennsylvania to start high school because he didn’t get into a good one at home in New York City. And although he is witty and urbane and handsome, he is hopelessly in love with his best friend back home who may or not be gay.

Freshman year is not starting off well.

Random Thoughts

Celia Door is also a writer, filling a poetry journal with Dark, quirky poetry alongside her charts of doomed revenge plots. Here’s one:


The classroom bell like a slow heartbeat
pumps students through the hallways of your veins.
Your cafeteria growls and your doors close
like eyelids at night when you sleep.
What do you dream about, high school?
Do you dream that you are a hospital,
keeping us alive with your textbook-heart monitors,
your basketball court, an emergency room?
When I fall down in the hallway,
my books spraying over the floor like vomit,
you wish you could pull your mortar arms
out of the earth and pick me up.
But you can’t help me. No one can.



“Level 2” by Lenore Appelhans February 20, 2013

Filed under: Fiction,Science Fiction,Thriller — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:26 am
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Level 2 cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts

288 pages; published January 2013

The Basics

Felicia West, after a brief life and a tragic death, contentedly spends her days reliving memories of her happier times on earth and making new friends in the high-tech “hive” that has become her world. When an outsider steps from her past and through the wall of her hive, she finds herself on the run and wrapped up in a wild plot that may have her knocking on heaven’s door.


Felicia West, age 17, now dead, has landed in what is essentially purgatory – suspended between heaven and earth in a high-tech world where memories are relived, shared, and traded through a sort of purgatory intranet. Enclosed in a smooth, white hive with several other dead teens, Felicia passes her time making new friends and “plugging in” to the network to drift through the key moments of her own life. A blast from her past – in the form of an old boyfriend who suddenly breaks into the hive – turns her placid afterlife into a wild adventure as she is pulled into a rebel network challenging the practices of the half-fallen angels who run Level 2.

Because of the access to earth-bound memories, the book is a sci-fi adventure interlaced with realistic fiction. As Felicia re-plays select scenes from her short life, we slowly piece together the mystery of why she died, why she might not be heaven-worthy, and why she is so important to the rebel cause.

Random Thoughts

There were parts of this book that made very little sense to me, but it was an intriguing premise. I felt a stronger affinity for Felicia’s “real” life, which is doled out in little bites with some heavy foreshadowing. I was heavily engaged in the struggle to find out what she had done in life that was so, so terrible. My mind wasn’t exactly blown by the answer, but it was a satisfying conclusion.

But Wait! There’s More …

This is Book 1 of  The Memory Chronicles. Level 3 is expected out in 2014.


Charlie Joe’s Tip #14 February 12, 2013

Filed under: Fiction,Quotes,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 9:25 am
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From Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald

Tips for not reading or explaining why reading is terrible are scattered throughout the book, but it was this list that made me laugh out loud (in a librarian kind of way).


To make sure you don’t get too invested in the characters or story of whatever book you’re reading, please remember these simple facts:

1. The characters aren’t real. (fiction)

2. You don’t know these people personally. (nonfiction)

3. They may well be dead. (historical biography)

4. They would ignore you in a restaurant. (sports biography)

5. What they’re doing could never happen. (science fiction)

6. There’s not way that awesome girl would fall in love that that dorky guy. (teen fiction)

7. There’s no way that skinny kid could strike out that huge kid. (sports fiction)

8. None of this will matter later in life. (math textbook)

9. None of this will matter ever. (science textbook)

10. Who cares? (pretty much any book ever)


“Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading” by Tommy Greenwald; illustrated by J.P. Coovert

Filed under: Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 9:11 am
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Charlie Joe Jackson cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts

219 pages; published July 2011

The Basics

Charlie Joe Jackson is determined not to break his perfect non-reading streak, but that’s going to be tough now that his good friend Timmy has decided not to read for him (in exchange for treats) anymore.


Charlie Joe Jackson knows a lot about books. He knows how to avoid them. He knows they make you blind … and fat. He know they’re not as good as sports. But most of all, he knows he doesn’t want to read one. Ever. Never. And Charlie Joe is willing to use all his creativity to scheme, bribe, manipulate, and cajole others into doing his reading for him – even it if costs a fortune in ice cream sandwiches. And let’s not even start on his girl troubles – in love with one that doesn’t love him back; can’t stand the one who loves him; and who knows what’s really up with his best friend.

Charlie Joe Jackson is a funny guy who’s putting it all on the line to make you laugh – and to pass along his best anti-reading tips. It’s a useful guide for anyone who wants to avoid reading. All you have to do is … read this book!

Wait! There’s More

#2 in the series – Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Extra Credit – is also available; Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Summer Vacation is due out in May 2013.


“Thirteen Days to Midnight” by Patrick Carman February 6, 2013

Filed under: Fiction,Science Fiction,Thriller,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 9:03 am
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Thirteen Days to Midnight cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts

304 pages; published April 2010

The Basics

Jacob is grieving for his adoptive father, who died when their car crashed into a tree. But he also has other things on his mind – a beautiful new girl at school, his best friend, the future – and the very odd fact that nothing seems to be able to cause him any physical harm since his father, just before the crash, whispered, “You are indestructible.”


It’s a simple question: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

But there are downsides to every superpower, aren’t there? If you could fly, would you be able to learn to control your ability before smashing yourself into a building? If you could read minds, what would you do when you heard things you didn’t want to know? If you had invisibility, would you have to be naked all the time for it to work?

What if you were indestructible? What if nothing could hurt you and you simply couldn’t die? Is there a downside to that? Jacob Fielding is about to find out. It would seem his adoptive father has given him this power – passed it along just before his own death. But cheating death is a tricky thing and not without consequence. With no one to help him understand how the power works, what will Jacob do and who will it put in harm’s way?

Random Thoughts

This book was exciting and interesting, made more so for me because it was set in the author’s hometown, which made it local for me. It’s not a common setting, so it was a nice touch.



“After” by Amy Efaw February 5, 2013

Filed under: Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 2:20 pm
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After cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts

350 pages; published August 2009

The Basics

Devon Davenport was a good kid – a quiet, self-motivated scholar-athlete who was so good at soccer, words like “The Olympics” were being used about her. Until she put her newborn baby in a garbage bag and put it in the trash behind her apartment building. Now, she has been arrested and even she can hardly figure out how it all happened.


Stories about “dumpster babies” get a strong reaction. As one character asks in the book, “What kind of a monster would do this?” Amy Efaw works to supply an answer in this riveting story of a nice young woman who is lying on the couch, feeling ill and out of sorts as her mother describes the scene playing out behind their apartment building. A man on an early morning walk with his dog discovered a baby in a trash bag, crying in the alley. Devon is nearly as shocked as her mother and the visiting police officers when they discover that the mother of this baby is ¬†Devon. She is a straight-A student, a hard worker, a crackerjack on the soccer field, a reliable babysitter and yet … How did it come to this? We come to understand a great deal about Devon – some things only she knew; some things even she didn’t seem to know. The story is certainly interesting and well-written, but I can’t truly say I feel any more understanding of the “dumpster baby” situation. How could someone not know they are pregnant? And while they may not want the baby, how could someone – a decent, nice, good person like the character here – not feel the impulse to protect a life that grew inside them?

Random Thoughts

This book was recommended to me by a library patron who was helping a friend find “really sad stories.” She said it was both worth reading and “super sad.” She was certainly correct on both counts.


  • Borders Original Voices Award for Kids & Teens (2009)
  • Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee (2011)
  • TAYSHAS High School Reading List (2010)
  • Florida Teen Read Nominee (2010)
  • Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2012)