Books & More from the Teen Scene

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

“The Name of the Star” by Maureen Johnson October 9, 2013

The Name of the Star cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts

372 pages; published September 2011

The Basics

On the very day that Rory Deveaux moves from Louisiana to London, someone starts recreating the Jack the Ripper murders. As Rippermania grips the city, Rory gets drawn into the center of the increasingly strange mystery.


Louisiana native Rory Deveaux is a fish out of water when she shows up to the London boarding school where she will be spending her final years of high school. It’s hard to say which is funnier – her wacky stories about the bayou town and redneck neighbors she left behind, or her hilarious observations about the strange life of English schoolchildren.

But Rory’s new life also has a dark side. On the same day she landed in London, a killer began recreating the Jack the Ripper murders in gruesome detail. Then Rory comes face to face with a mysterious stranger on a dark London night – a stranger no one else can see. As news spreads of her odd encounter, she finds herself pulled ever deeper into the baffling and vastly creepy mystery.

But Wait, There’s More!

This is just #1 in the Shades of London series. #2 in the series – The Madness Underneath (February 2013) is also very satisfying; #3 – The Shadow Cabinet – is due out in 2014.

I’ll Recommend This To …

  • Mystery lovers
  • Fans of ghost stories
  • Anyone with a sense of humor
  • Readers fascinated by famous serial killers like Jack the Ripper
  • Honestly, anyone who asks for a good book. I loved it that much!



“Delirium” by Lauren Oliver August 26, 2013

Filed under: Dystopian,Fiction — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:53 am
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Delirium cover

Images courtesy of

The Basics

441 pages; published February 2011

The Basics

Lena is eager to turn 18. She is thrilled that she is nearly old enough to undergo the procedure that will free her from the threat of the worst disease of all – love. But before she can be cured of amor deliria nervosa, she will live one last summer as an uncured. And she will meet Alex, who has hair the color of autumn leaves. And what she learns from him and about him changes everything.


Lauren Oliver has built an amazing world around the idea that love – with it’s ability to take over mind and body, to interfere with rational thought – is a terrible disease which can now be “cured” by a simple procedure which has become mandatory for all citizens age 18 and older. Oliver’s textured writing pulls the reader into the sights, sounds, and smells of a Lena’s existence. Quotes from the new society’s bible, the book of SHHH (Safety, Health, and Happiness Handbook) add memorably amusing twists on current Biblical wisdom, folklore, and culture.

Spirited and bright, Lena nonetheless craves the cure because it will save her from the humiliating fate suffered by her mother – someone for whom the cure failed three times before her mother restored to suicide rather than be “cured” again. She is fully prepared to move forward on her birthday, 95 days in the future, until she meets Alex. Their explosive romance is so fervently written, it is impossible not to hope that love will find a way.

Wait! There’s more …

Delirium is just the first in a delicious and exciting trilogy which finishes with Pandemonium (February 2012) and Requiem (March 2013). Other companion stories have been e-published for devoted fans.

Awards & Honors (source:

  • New York Times bestseller
  • New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association bestseller
  • #2 Spring Indie Children’s Pick
  • Amazon’s Best Teen Book of the Month for February 2011
  • Book of the Month for March 2011
  • Nominee for Best Fiction for Young Adults discussion by the ALA BFYA
  • Amazon’s 2011 Summer Reading List
  • Amazon’s Best YA Novel of 2011 so far
  • Nominee for YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults 2012

I’ll Recommend this to …

  • Fans of dystopia who like elements of adventure and/or romance
  • Anyone looking for strong female characters
  • Readers who value excellent writing
  • Audiobook fans – I listened to the series on audio. The reader, Sarah Drew, was amazing.

“Bad Taste in Boys” by Carrie Harris May 4, 2013

The Facts

201 pages; published July 2011

Bad Taste in Boys cover

Images courtesy of

The Basics

Kate Grable is a science nerd and volunteer medic for the tragically bad high school football team. When the desperate Coach starts injecting the players with a new kind of steroid, instead of improving their win record, he turns them into flesh-loving zombies. Kate is either going to save the day or have her lips chewed off.

The Booktalk

I think the really important lesson of Bad Taste in Boys is that it’s very stupid to inject yourself or others with something when you don’t really know what the something will do.

Here’s the truth of the matter. This is a very silly book. But it is also just plain funny. And it has zombies.

The zombies are created right under the nose of Kate Grable, a wannabe doctor who manages the Ace bandages and EpiPens for the totally awful football team at her high school. The job also gives her important proximity to Aaron, the untalented the totally adorable quarterback. After Kate says heck no to injecting players with some mysterious vials of liquid, the Coach does it himself and – boom – zombie football players.

The change comes on kind of gradually and in some cases, it’s hard to notice. Until fingers come loose and feet start flying. Oh, and until the newly minted zombies start supping on human flesh. But Kate does notice and – having lost part of a lip to a linebacker – she plunges in to unravel the medical mystery and try to save the day.

Random Thoughts

This is far more of a campy, fun read than a hard-hitting, award-winning novel. However, I absolutely give it my personal award for Awesome Cover Art on a YA Book. I mean come on, look at those lips!


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.


“Sparks: The Epic, True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie” by S.J. Adams October 18, 2012

Filed under: Fiction,GLBTQ,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:45 am
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Sparks cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts

256 pages; published November 2011

The Basics

Debbie is desperately in love with her best friend, which was working out OK as a secret until Lisa started dating and Debbie becomes tortured by her loss of status in Lisa’s life. Helped by a quirky pair of classmates, Debbie goes out to find Lisa and declare her feelings.


Debbie is in love. And she didn’t just fall in love. She has been loyal and true and in love with her best friend Lisa since the sixth grade. They’ve done everything together – spent Friday nights watching Full House re-runs, Sundays at church, and their off days at abstinence rallies. All while Debbie has nursed her secret crush.

Everything changed when Lisa started dating Norman, who is hopelessly boring and couldn’t possibly be what Lisa wants, right? Except that now it’s Friday and Lisa has cancelled the Full House marathon to go to a movie – and maybe all the way – with Norman.

Debbie doesn’t know what to do until she is offered a ray of hope by Emma and Tim, off-beat fellow students and founders of the Church of Blue who offer – for the bargain sum of $5 – to lead Debbie on an unpredictable quest to confess her love and stop Lisa before it’s too late.

Random Thoughts

Despite Debbie being the quite likable title character, the zany pair of Emma and Tim and their strangely charming home-grown religion are the lively and memorable element of this sweet, funny book.



“Across the Universe” by Beth Revis October 6, 2012

Across the Universe

Images courtesy of

The Facts

416 pages; published January 2011.

The Basics

Amy is frozen cargo on a spaceship, taking a 300-year journey from our tattered earth to a potential new world. When she is awakened 50 years too soon, she finds herself trapped and alone in heavily controlled society where the people don’t seem quite right. Her only hope seems to be Elder, the leader-in-training of the ship, and Harley, who is considered crazy because he is an artist, not a drone.


Amy wasn’t even sure, not really, that she even wanted to go on this trip. But her parents were going and she couldn’t consider a life without them. So she took off her clothes and stepped into the glass box and let them do that they had to do – push blue goo into her veins, drown her in sparkly blue water – to freeze her for the 300-year journey that would take her family away from an earth where everything is falling apart to the promise of a new planet, a new earth where she and her parents will help rebuild a new, better world. But now, she’s waking up and she doesn’t know why and she’s drowning and can’t breathe and even though she’s rescued, she finds that it’s just her. Only she has been unfrozen. It’s 50 years too soon and there’s something wrong on this ship.

Elder is just a boy, the youngest in his generation and the man destined to lead the people who live on this spaceship. Elder is to learn what he will need to know to be a good leader from Eldest, the current leader, but Eldest is holding back. Eldest is keeping secrets and just wants everyone to obey him.

When Elder meets Amy, his assumptions about how things should work on the ship are challenged as Amy sees the society that has developed on board through the eyes of one who lived life free, under the true sun and in the fresh air.

Wait! There’s more:

The next book in this series, A Million Suns, was released in early 2011Shades of Earth is due out January 2013!

Awards/Honors (source:

  • New Yorks Times Bestseller list! Across the Universe debuted at #7!
  • Indie Bestseller list! Across the Universe debuted at #15!
  • Selected as an Amazon Book of the Month: January 2011
  • Featured on the Indie Next List: January 2011
  • Featured as a GoodReads Mover & Shaker
  • Recipient of the Romantic Times Seal of Excellence
  • Long-listed for the prestigious Carnegie Medal (UK)
  • Nominated for Book of the Year and Best YA Futuristic title from Romantic Times
  • Selected as a Texas Libraries (TAYSHAS) reading list
  • YALSA Reader’s Choice nomination