Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Timeslip Tuesday and random girl books

Yesterday was the only day all week that we don't have some meeting or picnic in the evening, so I read like mad; also had a few titles I'd read over the weekend.

Gier, Kersten. Ruby Red.
Timeslip Tuesday brought to you by Charlotte's Library.
Gwen has been raised knowing that her cousin Charlotte has the family time travel gene, so Charlotte has been extensively trained to prepare her for the day that her dizzy spells take her to the past. However, when Gwen starts to feel dizzy and is whisked back in time, her family is in an uproar. Gwen's mother lied about her birth date so that Gwen would not grow up with the pressure, hoping that she would not have the gene. Thrown into the intrigue of the family concern, Gwen is trained as much as possible and sent with her much-removed (and rather cute) cousin Gideon to deal with secret societies and another relative who has stolen a chronograph so that all 12 time travelers cannot be united.
Strengths: Liked the whole "time travel ability is genetic" twist to this, and also the fact that Gwen got specific clothing to travel to specific points in history. The translation is quite good; I haven't read the German, but there is nothing clunky about the prose. The cover is pretty and shiny. I am looking forward to the sequels, Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green.
Weaknesses: Didn't care much for Gideon, and at one or two points got confused about the time traveling logistics.

Day, Karen. A Million Miles from Boston.
Lucy loves spending every summer at a cottage in Maine with her widowed college professor father, because nothing ever changes. This year, it does. Her father has a girlfriend visit, and a classmate who has bedeviled her moves in, and his contractor father starts messing with the communal gathering place, which is showing years of wear. Lucy runs a child care camp for the area children but wishes she would be invited to hang out with the older kids instead.

Strengths: I really enjoyed this, and the story really sticks with me. Day is a great writer. It reads a lot like the books I read in middle school.
Weaknesses: A bit of a hard sell in my library. The cover is really awful, and there's not a lot that happens in the story. I'll have to think about it.

Harvey, Jacqueline. Alice-Miranda at School.
Alice-Miranda, a precocious 7-year-old, requests that she be sent to a boarding school. Once she arrives at the Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies, she introduces herself to all of the staff and tries to improve their lives. This does not work with Miss Grimm, the headmistress, who proposes a series of tasks designed to get Alice-Miranda removed from the school.
Strengths: Very cute and fun. I would have loved this when I was in about second grade. A series is forthcoming.
Weaknesses: Too young for my students; for them, it would be twee.

Galante, Cecilia. The Summer of May.
May misses her mother dreadfully; even though she was often cranky because of her badly injured back, she was there, and May's life was better. Now, she is in an apartment in a run-down neighborhood with her father and her depressed grandmother. She's been acting out at school, and when she defaces Ms. Movado's classroom, she can either be expelled or retake English over the summer... with Ms. Movado. The lessons include not only writing, but life skills, and the two go on outings to restaurants and parks, and May learns that Ms. Movado has a connection to her family.
Strengths: Well-written and engaging. Galante has several books out that have come across my desk. The details are interesting, as is the twist at the end.
Weaknesses: More of a teacher book, like Because of Mr. Terupt. Most of my students don't want to read books about children who have to spend the summer with a teacher they don't like. I am looking for this one to win some awards, however!

Ostow, Michol. Family.
Oh, so wanted to like this one. Listen to the description: "In the 1960s, seventeen-year-old Melinda leaves an abusive home for San Francisco, meets the charismatic Henry, and follows him to his desert commune where sex and drugs are free, but soon his "family" becomes violent against rich and powerful people and she is compelled to join in. "

The problem? It's a novel in verse. I can't even get my students to pick up Helen Frost, and her novels in verse are brilliant. This was more prose-chopped-into-shorter lines, and was more high school as well. It has gotten a lot of good reviews, so take a look at it for high school. Just not going to work.

There are so many perfectly fine books that are just not going to work in my particular library. I've come to the come to the conclusion that there could be an entire huge library dedicated to nothing but paranormal romance for teen girls. An equally huge number of blogs are devoted to this kind of literature, so someone out there is reading it. Unfortunately, I only have about 5 of my 650 students who like this sort of book, and they are all very fond of the public library. I buy a few, but have far stronger needs for other types of literature.

Atwater-Rhodes, Amelia. All Just Glass.
Part of the Den of Shadows series, I did buy this because the earlier books in the series are popular with my students. I just can't offer a decent review, because I reached some sort of vampire saturation point upon reading this. If Demon in My View and Shattered Glass are popular in your library, definitely take a look at this one. And yes, Atwater-Rhodes predates Stephenie Meyer by five years.
"Turned into a vampire by the boy she thought she loved, seventeen-year-old Sarah, daughter of a powerful line of vampire-hunting witches, is now hunted by her older sister Adia, who has been given the assignment to kill Sarah. "

Rallison, Janette. My Unfair Godmother.
While we ADORE Rallison's realistic fiction books and have multiple copies of each title because students have donated the AR tests for all the books, I didn't purchase the first book to this, My Fair Godmother. Charlotte's Library really liked this one, but I just couldn't get into it. Fairy books are hard to sell anyway, and this is rather long (338 pages) and has tiny print. Drat.
"A fairy godmother-in-training is sent to help angry seventeen-year-old Tansy, who reluctantly is staying with her father and his new wife while her mother and sister are traveling, but the unfortunate result of this intended help is chaos and confusion. "

I wish I could buy everything, but there isn't enough shelf space or money!


  1. I want Ruby Red rather badly....and The Summer of May sounds like one I'd like too!

    I agree with you about the cover of A Million Miles from Boston--it looks kind of dated, which is too bad.

  2. Anonymous9:38 AM EDT

    I was going to comment on that cover also....it does look dated and that is why I LOVE it. :)
    We need to get back to the or at least closer to the innocence that was our childhood. I am older than you, I am guessing.
    I do most of my reading in YA. I try to stay away from the sex and grunge that is adult.
    Do you read all the books before you decide to purchase them for the library? Do all libraries do that? Thanks for the blog. I am enjoying it.

  3. Anonymous11:24 AM EDT

    Oh _boy_ do I hear you on space and money. Needless to say, though, I am thrilled I have a book budget for the Summer Reading Club (and a bit of a slush fund I can use too...).

  4. Glad you are enjoying the blog, B.! I do try very hard to read all the books before purchasing, after having to move several titles to the high school because of language. It also helps me to be able to describe books to students. There is a lot of "sex and grunge" in YA that I tend to avoid, which is why I tend to stock mainly MG novels.