Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian

I loved this book when it came out, back in the day when I was a YA librarian. Now I’m a librarian for 4th and 5th graders and when I booked Janet Tashjian to visit our school this spring everyone was excited to meet the author of the My Life as a.. series. But I was not so secretly excited to meet the author of one of my favorite YA novels.  Before she arrived I reread it and I have to say, for a book published in 2001 talking about online activities, social celebrities, and movements-this has aged really well. Obviously if it was written today Josh Swensen would have a huge Instagram/Twitter presence instead of his site, but it all still held up and was very believable. I loved it all over again. And now my copy is autographed and extra precious 🙂

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Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: A Graphic Novel: A Modern Retelling of Little Women by Rey Terciero and

True confession: I’ve never actually read Little Women! Which is crazy because it sure seems right up my alley when I was a teen (and now.) I have a fond memory of going to see the film version with Winona Ryder on a snowy day in Pittsburgh (I could walk to the movie theater, which I loved.) And I know what happens in it, I just never really read it. Fortunately I know enough to have known what was updated in this modern retelling and see how it worked. I got this for Tabby and she read it first and really liked it. Now that I’ve read it and really liked it I’m thinking it would be fun for us to read the original and then watch the movie. (and there’ll be a new movie soon enough, too.)

Although I felt that the characters retained their essence in this modern version, I found that I liked them better. Sure, Amy is still a brat, but I didn’t think anyone was simpering or drippy. They were a lovely tight knit family. I liked how in this update they are a blended family. I thought that the letters written to their dad were a bit expository, but hey sometimes that happens when you need to get info to the reader.  Tabby and I especially loved the last page, truly making this a new Little Women for our times.

Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard

I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. Eden and Bonnie are bffs (in England, it’s British.) Bonnie is super studious and straight laced whereas Eden has been known to not be a model of good behavior. So everyone is shocked when Bonnie runs away with her secret boyfriend.  Eden is surprised but doesn’t think too too much about it. Until she finds out that it’s a matter of police interest because the secret boyfriend is a teacher from their school. Suddenly it’s a national news story and everyone is insisting that Eden must have known everything and that she should tell them the truth. What I found so interesting about this story is that it wasn’t at all just about the tawdry running away with the teacher story. It was really about Eden’s inner turmoil and sudden questioning of her relationship with Bonnie and even of her own family relationships and what kind of person she is, all because of this. If she and Bonnie really were so close why didn’t she know about this?
A good solid story.

*though really, even after reading lots of British books I still don’t get what these GSwhatever exams are.

Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks

I really like Faith Erin Hicks’s graphic novels so I was pretty excited to read this–even though it has not one single comic in it! and is about comics! I thought this was terrific and I hope she continues to write both graphic novels and traditional novels because she’s clearly talented at both.

This is set in a small town in Novia Scotia and apparently it is a rural small town. When they talk about leaving to go to Toronto it’s a really big deal, which was very interesting to me.
The set up is that the girl comes from a loving quirky family with an artistic mother. Her maternal grandfather helped create superheroes  that became huge and popular. Basically her grandpa was the Jack Kirby to Stan Lee. What was really neat about this book was how she inserted this fictional empire into our current actual society. For example, talking about a film being made out of the superheroes and basically it’s like the Avengers franchise, but I wouldn’t say it’s a “thinly veiled Avengers” because they actually mention Marvel and the Avengers.

Of course the cool LA boy who is sent to her town for the summer  and with whom she has a connection turns out to be the grandson of the other person who created the superheroes. Except his family retained the rights and made a fortune and are rich and famous, while hers scrapes by because her grandpa wasn’t fairly treated.

I very much enjoyed the talk about comics, the realistic coming of age stuff, and the budding romance.

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

When I read Truly Devious I loved it up right until the end and then I got so mad at it that I said I wouldn’t bother reading the second one. Well of course that was a lie and here I was, back for more, but prepared this time to get angry all over again at some cliffhanger.
The basic set up of this trilogy is going to be “one mystery solved, another mystery begun” for each book.  For Truly Devious did solve one mystery (mostly) but left us still wondering about the historical mystery, and ultimately introducing yet another.
I didn’t quite remember the details of book #1, but everything I needed to know was very neatly and seamlessly included.
In this installment Stevie (who seems more and more like a savant detective) is putting together clues new and old to figure out the ancient Ellingham kidnapping case. But maybe someone doesn’t want this mystery solved?
I found the bits with David and Edward King a bit tiresome, mostly because I was really interested in the clever mysteries.
And while I gasped at the end this time I didn’t throw the book since I was prepared to be left on a cliffhanger.

Locked in Time by Lois Duncan

When I was in 7th grade I loved these spooky suspenseful Lois Duncan books and happily passed them around with my friends. I decided it’s time to reread them. As with many books and movies from my childhood that I read/watch now I can’t get over how slow they were. In this case that’s not exactly true-Duncan keeps the tension going and you can’t wait to see how it works out. But on the way there are many passages of rather lavish descriptions of (in this case) the hot weather of Louisiana, the intense fragrances of the many flowers, and the bayou. It’s hard to imagine an impatient 2018 12 year old carefully reading all that (but they should! Because it’s great.)
You don’t have to wait long for all the clues of the family’s big secret to be dropped. Nore’s creepy new stepmother is controlling and gives off a bad vibe. Nore soon figures out that something is going on with her age and that of her new stepsiblings. What I found annoying about the book was what a dull buffoon her father was. We’re supposed to believe he’s so besotted that he doesn’t listen to his daughter or believe her when she explains how her stepbrother tried to kill her and frankly that was unbelievable.

Fun to have this quick re-read. Looking forward to…Stranger with my Face!

Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

I love me some Neal Shusterman but this one took me a while to get through. And not because it wasn’t good–because it was WAY TOO TERRIFYINGLY REAL.

The premise of this apocalyptic story is that in a region of California suddenly one day all the water is turned off–the Tap Out they end up calling it. This is told from the point of view of Alyssa and Garrett (Brother and sister), Jacqui (a tough street girl on her own), Henry (an obnoxious rich kid), and Kelton-the saving grace for everyone because he comes from a weird doomsday prepper family. Make fun of those families until you need them, right? Kelton goes to school with Alyssa and has had a crush on her, so is inclined to latch on to her and help her out. Kelton’s family is serious survivalist ready and his father has taught him that it takes just 3 days for people to become basically wild animals.  A statement which proves horribly true and if anything is actually a generous estimate.

Without water civility disappears and there are some fairly typical post apocalyptic responses-trashed stores, abandoned cars on highways, enclaves of helpful people, desperate people willing to do terrible things. If all that seems pretty typical for this type of story it is, but this story truly was terrifyingly real to me. It’s not decades in the future and it seems connected to current climate change catastrophes. I think one of the scariest things was the times it was mentioned that FEMA was unable to respond appropriately because they were busy with yet another hurricane. And that other parts of the country were probably holding bottled water drives, but really none of that mattered because people were about to kill each other over a cup of water and also die of dehydration.

I took a big break halfway through to read some other titles and then came back to this and quickly read the rest. While it was very unsettling, it was a good book and I did like it. That said, hurry up Mr. Shusterman and finish that Scythe trilogy! That’s what I really want to read!