Sunday, November 18, 2012

Best YA Books for Adults

There really are many well-written and interesting Young Adult books published each year and just because a book is written for teens doesn't mean it can't appeal to adults too. Library Journal created the following list of Best Young Adult Books for Adults from 2012.

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupa
In a dark future America where violence, terror, and grief touch everyone, young refugees Mahlia and Mouse have managed to leave behind the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities by escaping into the jungle outskirts. But when they discover a wounded half-man--a bioengineered war beast named Tool--who is being hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers, their fragile existence quickly collapses. One is taken prisoner by merciless soldier boys, and the other is faced with an impossible decision: Risk everything to save a friend, or flee to a place where freedom might finally be possible. This thrilling companion novel to the highly acclaimed Ship Breaker is a haunting and powerful story of loyalty, survival, and heart-pounding adventure.

The Diviners by Libba Bray
Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies." When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As a peace treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high. Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered--in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother's pushiness and her father's lack of interest tell her they're the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but they're the only people who won't judge her when she asks them her most personal questions like what it means that she's falling in love with a girl. As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers' lives--and her own--for the better. In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society's definitions, A.S. King asks readers to question everything --and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love.

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
On remote Rollrock Island, men go to sea to make their livings--and to catch their wives. The witch Misskaella knows the way of drawing a girl from the heart of a seal, of luring the beauty out of the beast. And for a price a man may buy himself a lovely sea-wife. He may have and hold and keep her. And he will tell himself that he is her master. But from his first look into those wide, questioning, liquid eyes, he will be just as transformed as she. He will be equally ensnared. And the witch will have her true payment. Margo Lanagan weaves an extraordinary tale of desire, despair, and transformation. With devastatingly beautiful prose, she reveals characters capable of unspeakable cruelty, but also unspoken love.

Every Day by David Levithan
A is a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life. Every day a different body. Every day a different life. There's never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. It's all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with--day in, day out, day after day. David Levithan has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A's world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.

Dodger by Terry Pratchett
A scruffy lad sees a girl leap desperately from a horse-drawn carriage in a vain attempt to escape her captors. Can the lad stand by and let her be caught again? Of course not, because he's . . . Dodger. Seventeen-year-old Dodger may be a street urchin, but he gleans a living from London's sewers, and he knows a jewel when he sees one. He's not about to let anything happen to the unknown girl--not even if her fate impacts some of the most powerful people in England. From Dodger's encounter with the mad barber Sweeney Todd to his meetings with the great writer Charles Dickens and the calculating politician Benjamin Disraeli, history and fantasy intertwine in a breathtaking account of adventure and mystery. Beloved and bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett combines high comedy with deep wisdom in this tale of an unexpected coming-of-age and one remarkable boy's rise in a complex and fascinating world.

Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world's most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun. When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution. As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy? Harrowing and beautifully written, Elizabeth Wein creates a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Wedding in Great Neck by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Cover imageI just love novels about weddings. And families. And I especially love novels about weddings and messed up families, and A Wedding in Great Neck certainly fits the bill. The novel begins on the morning of "the big day" and introduces the readers to the Silverstein family. The beautiful spoiled bride Angelica, her separated and somewhat dowdy sister Gretchen, her sensitive gay brother Caleb, and her arrogant oldest brother Teddy. Add to that the recovering alcoholic father that hasn't been seen for awhile, the socialite mother, the spunky grandmother, and Gretchen's troubled teen twins as well as her soon-to-be ex, and you can see where this is heading. The wedding is being held on Angelica's mother's estate where everything is picture perfect...but only on the outside of course. Just wait until you see what's happening on the inside...


Readalike: Seating Arrangements  by Maggie Shipstead

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

They say that truth is stranger than fiction, and this is certainly true in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It’s an account of the 8 years that John Berendt spent in Savannah, Georgia. This book is not only a story of a murder, it’s also a travelogue of Savannah, and the eccentric people who live there.  The murder trials of Jim Williams grip the entire city and give them plenty to gossip about. Residents like a foul-mouthed drag queen, a former lawyer/bar owner who “borrows” electricity from his neighbors to bypass the electric company, and a man who still walks a dog who’s been dead for 15 years are some of the characters you’ll meet.

I was so engrossed in the book that I had to keep reminding myself that it’s a work of nonfiction. To me, it reads just like a novel. The book spent four years on the New York Times bestseller list, and it’s for good reason. If you want to get lost in the eccentric world of Savannah, check out Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

You might also like The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt. 


Monday, November 12, 2012

The Ice Balloon by Alec Wilkinson

Alec Wilkinson’s The Ice Balloon: S.A. Andrée and the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration is a highly entertaining history of S.A. Andreé, a Swedish aeronaut who made an unsuccessful attempt to fly a hydrogen balloon to the North Pole in 1897. Andrée had solid reasons for trying to get to the pole via balloon, though many of his fellow explorers thought he was crazy. Andrée believed that even though his method of travel would not be able to collect data the way travelling to the pole by sledge would, a balloon was a better and much quicker method for getting there, mainly because it did not have to cross the frozen, rugged terrain. Andrée took only two other men with him, a much smaller number than most expeditions, and used a specially designed balloon steered by guide ropes and sails and funded in part by Alfred Nobel.

Wilkinson also discusses the history of arctic exploration and explorers such as Henry Hudson, Sir John Franklin, and Adolphus Greely. These other attempts to reach the pole are interspersed with Andrée’s failed voyage. I suspect the author did this in part because there is not enough known about Andrée’s journey, particularly what happened at the end of it, to fill an entire book. This leads to the main story in The Ice Balloon starting and stopping before it’s finally finished off in the last few chapters. This is only a minor complaint. The Ice Balloon paints a vivid portrait of a time when not all of the world could be scrolled through on Google Maps.


Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

Cover imageYes, I admit it. I did read this book. I really needed to know what all of the hype was all about, so I waited (and waited) and finally checked it out. It's a really quick read (considering it is over 500 pages long) and I will say it kind of kept my interest. (Well, in reality, I just wanted to get to the parts that everyone is talking about.) However, it left me with a lot more questions than answers:

1. What is the big deal? There are plenty of erotic novels out there, but why is this one so popular?
2. After it's read, why are so many people talking about it? There just wasn't much to it, in my opinion.
3. Sex scenes? Nothing original here, and yet...
4. It's a trilogy? Really, two more books following the same story line. I mean, what else can happen?

I don't mean to sound like I hated Fifty Shades of Grey, because I didn't. I just do not understand what the big deal is.

So, to those of you that are still waiting... I hope you enjoy!


Read alike author: Robin Schone

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub

Cover imageElsa Emerson is your typical small town Wisconsin girl until tragedy strikes her family. After this event occurs, Elsa has one goal - to get out of Wisconsin and move to Hollywood. Her father runs a small playhouse that hires actors on in the summer, and here is where Elsa gets her chance. She meets a young man who has the same goal as her - to be a star. So off they go...

Spanning five decades, Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures covers the life of a starlet. Starting in the 1930s, in a time where Hollywood manufactured their stars and ran every aspect of their lives, we see Elsa Emerson go from an ordinary girl to Laura Lamont, Hollywood actress. But this is not your typical story; this book focuses on the real people, not the glitz and glamour. A real behind-the-scenes look at how movies used to be made.


Read-alike: Sins of the Mother by Tara Hyland

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Implosion by Joel C. Rosenberg

Cover imageRosenberg is a scholar of Biblical prophecy and the author of several best-selling prophetic novels set in the Middle East.  Implosion is his latest work of nonfiction that covers America's current crisis.  He addresses the question of whether America is specifically mentioned in the Bible and how the end-times prophecies are being fulfilled today.  Rosenberg looks at several end-times scenarios, including financial implosion, war and terrorism, natural disaster, and even the Rapture, and analyzes the impact they would have on America.  His analyses are carefully laid out and are easily accessible to the lay person.  Rosenberg then turns his attention to how America can avoid the impending implosion.  His solution is to call for a Third Great Awakening in America, following in the footsteps of America's two previous religious revivals in the 18th and 19th centuries.  He argues that Christians and the Church must take action by making disciples of those around them in an effort to implore God to save America.  Christians will feel daunted by the task ahead, and non-Christians may dismiss this solution, but everyone will agree that America is at a crossroads.

If you enjoy this book, you will like After America by Mark Steyn.