A.M. Jenkin's Repossessed has appeared on several lists-- quick picks for reluctant readers and the like. Great cover, interesting premise (demon comes and takes over boy's body), and for some odd reason I could notpick it up. Older Daughter read it and had the same reaction, and then she said "But I don't think it's appropriate anyway-- the main thing the demon wants to do with the boy's body is have sex." Sooooo... this goes in the "thanks but no thanks" pile.
The same is unfortunately true with Robin Benway's Audrey, Wait!. Some clever writing (loved the opening paragraph, a description of how a popular song is embraced by various people) and I loved the premise (Girl breaks up with musician boyfriend who is then inspired to write a song about the event. The song becomes a hit, and the girl is catapulted to notoriety.), but the first chapter was liberally sprinkled with the f bomb, and there is some middle school inappropriate discussion (again) of sex. This said, Older Daughter is enjoying the book.
Shanahan's The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year that I Truly, Completely Lost It appealed to me so little that I started to suspect that my dislike of Australian titles is somehow on par with my dislike of talking animals and that I should try to work through it, so I tested it on about ten girls at school, and none of them wanted to pick it up either. The original title is My Big Birkett.
I did read Siobhan Vivian's A Little Friendly Advice, and I liked the feeling of tension that was built up throughout the novel. Ruby turns 16, and her father, who left without a word 6 years earlier, shows up. She deals with this by celebrating a little too hard with her friends (the casual use of alcohol and the lack of consequences didn't thrill me, although Ruby develops a dislike of drinking because of the episode), and is in a funk for most of the book, until she finds out the real reason for her parents' breakup, which her best friend knew. This reason seemed to be a little anticlimactic. I liked Ruby and her friends, but something about the plot didn't do it for me. Not sad enough for the fans of sad literature, but too depressing to be happy.
An Na's The Fold was a very interesting examination of one culture's ideas of beauty, and how that idea impacts one young girl. I'd heard about the was an Asian concern that eyelids without a fold were somehow less appealing, and that some Asian women get plastic surgery to create a fold, so it was helpful to read this and get more insight into the phenomenon. However, I didn't like the main character. Joyce is misguided on many issues, a bit whiny, and although she finally decides against getting the surgery that her aunt has offered as a gift, it doesn't seem that she has really come to accept herself all that much.
My main criterion for buying a book is getting something that students want. Students do ask for a huge variety of things, so when I read a book, I think "Which student would I hand this to?" I'll buy things for a small, specific audience, but if I can't think of a single student who would grab it, I can't buy it. This results in boxes of new books that are usually all checked out within 24 hours. I would like to be able to buy books (like Climbing the Stairs) just because I liked them or I thought they were good, but I just don't have the budget. *Sigh*