Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review of Dream School by Blake Nelson

Dream School picks up exactly where Girl left off, with Andrea Marr on a plane on the way to Wellington, her number one choice for college. Andrea has high hopes for the coming four years, and for the person they will turn her into. But at Wellington, Andrea finds a population of rich, majority white students, most of whom are not interested in her wild experiences as a part of the Portland alternative music scene.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Sweet Valley High Project #1: Double Love

Did you know I once had another blog?  It's true.  And on this other blog, I made it my mission to reread all the Sweet Valley High books and try to figure out why I loved them so much.  As this is the YA Department, it seems only appropriate to repost these explorations here.  So without further ado, I present The Sweet Valley High Project:
In which I reread every Sweet Vally High book and provide thoughtful insight into and analysis of the various anecdotes of the Wakefields, Patmans, Fowlers, and other famed denizens of Sweet Valley, California.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Annas

My library books aligned recently in such a way that I read Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, immediately followed by Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.  I have created a table that compares and contrasts the two Annas.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Can't Wait To Read...

Dream School by Blake Nelson

Blake Nelson's 1994 novel Girl (which I spoke about yesterday) ends with main character Andrea Marr on the plane to college, imagining what her experience will be like, and then commenting on her musings thusly:

"...But of course that's not what happened. Not even close."

That's the last line of the book!  These words tantalized me.  I wanted more Andrea Marr!  For years, whenever I went to the bookstore I would pass by the N end of fiction to see if a sequel to Girl had miraculously appeared.  Eventually, I gave up hope.  But now....Blake Nelson is finally releasing Dream School, aka, Andrea Marr, the college years!

Will Andrea like college?  Will she hook up with another lead singer?  Will she become the lead singer of her own band?  I can't wait to find out on December 6.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Classic Covers: Girl

This is the edition of Blake Nelson's Girl that I purchased in 1997, the cover I stared at, willing my hair to get that long, the one I still pull down from my shelf and reread.

I first heard about Girl from Sassy magazine, which was excerpting the novel before it was even published.  I didn't realize a full-length novel had come out until I read a review in my friends’ ‘zine a few years later.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Opening Lines: Birthmarked

Some opening lines jump out of the book, grab you by the collar, and say "This book is different!  Here's how!"

For example, Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien:

In the dim hovel, the mother clenched her body into one final, straining push, and the baby slithered out into Gaia's ready hands.

Whaaaaaat?  That's right: this book opens with our main character delivering a baby.  It turns out, she delivers babies all the time.  And right there, Caragh O'Brien hooked me; I can't say no to a book about a teenage mid-wife.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I have had Scarborough Fair, by Simon and Garfunkel, stuck in my head ever since I finished Impossible by Nancy Werlin.  But thanks to Werlin, the song is no longer the benign pretty ballad I once thought it was; now it is deliciously chilling.  Werlin’s own realization about the creepy nature of the songthe man asking to the woman to complete impossible tasks in order to prove her loveinspired her to write Impossible.

Impossible focuses on the silent victim of Scarborough Fair: the woman who must somehow make a shirt without seam or needle work.  But this is a different version of the song than the one popularized by Simon and Garfunkel.  In Werlin’s variation, rather than the tasks winning the narrator’s love, the tasks are necessary if the woman wants to escape from being trapped as a true love of the narrator.  Instead of the refrain “Then she’ll be a true love of mine,” Werlin’s narrator says “Else she’ll be a true love of mine.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

I am a pretty fast reader, but I forced myself to slow down while I was reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone; I didn’t want to miss a single exquisite word.  (And it’s might be a while before the next book in the trilogy comes out, so I had to make it last.)  Laini Taylor strikes a tonal balance that makes you feel as if you are reading a traditional folktale retold by a modern writer who seriously respects the story’s roots.  The world building and the characters are also absolutely amazing, but what really feels unique is the way Taylor reveals that world and those characters, peeling back the layers one by one.  Or, to use a metaphor appropriate to the book, flipping through the pages of main character Karou’s sketch book, revealing a new piece of the story in every drawing.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

VD and SC

Almost in time for this week's new episodes, here are my favorite parts from last week's Vampire Diaries and Secret Circle:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


What does the internet have to offer this week?

  • For starters, I just found a Will Grayson, WillGrayson tumblr (  What could be better than a daily serving of the Wills and Tiny Cooper?  Highlights include a wonderful erasure poem using a page from the novel as the source material.
  • This great essay on YARN points out that most YA novels take place in high school.  The author hungers for a YA perspective on college (besides all the adult novels that take place in college, which, she rightfully notes, have a different tone and point of view from YA).
  • What could be better than a Pride and Prejudice retelling?  A P&P retelling that involves Prom!  Considering all the balls that happen in Austen novels, prom is a perfect fit.  And this YA Crush review is making me want to add Prom and Prejudice to my Can't Wait to Read file.
  • Girls swept the Google Science awards last week!  And the winner of the 17-18 category got her start in science making blue spinach.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Opening Lines: Laini Taylor

I just purchased Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I am now convinced that Laini Taylor is a champion of opening lines.

The opening lines of DOSAB (in italics, just before the first chapter): Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.  It did not end well.

Shivers!  Chills!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Loved Drink, Slay, Love

Pearl, the protagonist of Drink, Slay, Love, is not a good person.  That’s because she’s not a person at all; she’s a vampire with no soul.  Until a unicorn stabs her through the chest, and she starts developing a conscience.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Classic Covers: The Secret Circle

These are the beautiful covers of the Secret Circle books, as I read them in the St. Agnes branch of the library on the upper west side of Manhattan in 1992.  I went to the library every day after school to wait for my dad to pick me up.

The library was a quiet temperate sanctuary after a crazy day of junior high.  More importantly, there were shelves full of wonderful books for me to browse, including every book in every LJ Smith series (The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, The Forbidden Game, Dark Visions, and Night World).  But I found the Secret Circle books first, and I read them over and over again in my library haven. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nancy Werlin: My New Favorite

I just finished reading The Killer's Cousin and Locked Inside by Nancy Werlin, and she just may be the new author whose entire bibliography I must consume immediately.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Classic Covers: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

This is the edition of Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle that still sits on my bookshelf.  I read it over and over again, inspired by Charlotte's journey from rich girl, ignorant in the ways of the world, to sailor dressed in boy's clothing.

My Made-up Role Models: Katy Keene

Katy Keene is the titular character of a comic under the purview of the Archie empire. Apparently she's been around since 1945, but I knew her during her 1980's revival period.  I can't actually remember anything she did, besides be a model and generally nice person and have fabulous blue-black hair.  So Ms. Keene was really more of a made-up style role-model for me.  Let's take a look at the clothes!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Programs

I have finally watched both The Secret Circle and The Vampire Diaries from last week and am ready to reveal my favorite parts!  (Massive spoilers ahoy.)

Monday, September 26, 2011


Awesome stuff culled from the dubya dubya dubya.

  • Libba Bray procrastinates by answering questions in a hilarious manner, warning at the beginning of the blog post "It's only going to get weirder from here."
  • Joan Rivers and Coco met each other on the High Line yesterday, and then they had a mutual lovefest on Twitter.
  • Sean Maher, aka Simon Tam from Firefly, came out, and the Entertainment Weekly article is quite wonderful.
  • KateLinnea perfectly sums up The Vampire Diaries season 3, episode 2 by saying "OH MY GOSH I LOVED THIS EPISODE SO MUCH."
  • Tom Wilson, who played Biff in the Back to the Future movies, has a postcard he gives out to fans with a list of FAQs on the back, and the Nerdist has a scan.  Among the info listed: "Crispin Glover is unusual, but not as unusual as he sometimes presents himself."

What Is It About Prep School?

Is it the uniforms, the beautiful people, the stuffy history?  Or is it simply the thrill of being let into a private world, which we could never enter in real life, where the characters are filthy, filthy rich?  Here are some great books about prep school.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Classic Covers

This is it, the edition of Island of The Blue Dolphins that kept me reading obsessively for an entire day.  I had to read the book for school, and I had put it off until the last minute.  So there I was, Sunday morning, my grandparents were in town and all I wanted to do was hang out with them, but I had to read an entire book before Monday.

I had never read an entire book in one day before, and I wasn't sure if I could do it.  But I also had never shirked my homework before, so not doing it was out of the question.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Best Parts: Vampire Diaries and Secret Circle

Every week I will be posting screenshots of my favorite moments from The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle.  These images are after the jump.  To the left is a photo I took of myself after I finished watching the season premiere of The Vampire Diaries.  I hope one day that The Secret Circle will inspire such a self-portrait, but for now it is just a pretty good pilot that I am excited to continue watching.

Do I even need to tell you not to look at this post if you haven't seen the episodes yet?

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Library Queue: Mystery Is in the Air

Nothing beats that satisfying feeling when an author finally reveals a key piece of information about a character or situation and it is really really juicy and completely unexpected.  So with that in mind, and with the Girls Write Now Crime Fiction workshop coming up in October, I have added some exciting mysteries to my library queue.

Friday, September 16, 2011

ANTM Purple Dress Addendum

As a late entry to yesterday's post about purple dresses, here is America's Next Top Model: All Stars contestant Allison Harvard in a light purple bo-peep number.

Andre Leon Talley called it the best example of personal style he's ever seen.  And if the Talley says it, it must be so.

By the by, there is some extremely spoilery information on Allison's Wikipedia about this cycle.  Could it be true?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bleeding Violet Fashion

Last night I finished Bleeding Violet, by Dia Reeves, which was really imaginative and well written and somehow managed to be a lot of fun despite some deeply disturbing occurrences.  The narrator, Hanna, dresses only in purple as a tribute to her dead father, and she only wears dresses that she makes herself.  So, as a tribute to Hanna, let's talk DIY purple dressmaking.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Internet Goings-On

There's a bevvy of fabulous stuff on the web today and I need to share.

  • The Fug Girls are covering fashion week, and they posted the above amazing photo of Nikki Minaj talking to Anna Wintour.  Does this mean a Nikki Minaj Vogue cover?  Please?  Pretty please?
  • In honor of fashion week, Rich Juzwiak put together an AMAZING gif wall of supermodels in music videos.  If you can name every supermodel and the artist and song for every video, I will worship you as a pop culture god.
  • On KateLinnea, a hilarious discussion by her almost-lawyer friend of The Vampire Diaries law (or lack thereof).  Is it really murder if you are killing non-humans?  Does property get passed down when characters die for only two minutes?  And who the heck is taking care of these children?
  • Nathan Rabin rewatched Sucker Punch, aka, the most infuriating, ridiculous, disturbing movie I have seen this year.  His take? Majestic fiasco.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Drink, Slay, Love Is Born

Today is publication day for Drink, Slay, Love (or Kindle download day for me), and to celebrate, Sarah Beth Durst has written a delightful explanation of how she ended up writing the book. Here's a sample:

MY BRAIN: So, what are we writing about next?
ME: I really like unicorns.
MY BRAIN: What are you, four years old?
ME: What's wrong with unicorns?
MY BRAIN: Unicorns are not cool. Unicorns are sparkly.
ME: My unicorns would be cool!
MY BRAIN: You just miss your Lisa Frank sticker collection from your Trapper Keeper.

Read the full dialogue between ME and MY BRAIN over at SBD's blog, along with a brief teaser.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Made-up Role Models

I have been lucky to have a large number of amazing, smart, powerful, and loving women in my family, all of whom have helped me to become the woman that I am today.  But my journey to womanhood was also influenced by another group of amazing women: fictional characters.  These ladies may not have been real, but they loomed large in my imagination and influenced the way I saw the world.

Today's made-up role model: Aunty Entity from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (played by the wonderful Tina Turner, a real-live role model!).

Friday, September 9, 2011

In Other Web News...

Here's some links to great things going on around the YA web.

  • YA Crush reviews the wonderful Melina Marcheta's The Piper's Son, which made me cry many times.  As all of her books do.
  • The Enchanted Inkpot has a wonderful gallery of fall YA Fantasy covers.  Looking at it makes me feel like when you go into one of those all-accessory stores and everything is so shiny and you want to take it all home with you and recreate the display in your bedroom.
  • Look at the amazing cover of the new Buffy Season 9 comic! (posted on LoveYALit.)  So beautiful.  Season 9 can't be any crazier than Season 8, right?  Right?
  • Aisha Tyler has a podcast!  OK, this one isn't strictly YA-related, but I loved her when I was a YA (and still do) and she was hosting talk soup and The Fifth Wheel, so it counts.
  • Rookie has this amazing guide to buying your first guitar.  I got my first guitar from Sam Ash, and even though my dad was there I was so terrified that I would be seen as a dumb girl who didn't know anything that I just agreed with anything that he and the sales guy said.  In actuality, I was only 14 and I'm sure the sales guy thought it was great that I was getting a guitar and never would have judged me about my lack of knowledge.  But I would have felt much better if I had a guide like this to prepare me.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Can't Wait To Read...

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Rookie Is Up and Running

When I heard that Tavi Gevinson, teen blogger extraordinaire, was creating a web site, I was thrilled.  The first piece I read of Tavi's was an essay about Terry Richardson, in which she clearly and persuasively articulated points that people twice her age were having trouble expressing.  And she did it all in a wonderful voice, which was casual and fun while still managing to be thoughtful and poignant.  In the year or so since Tavi's new web site, Rookie, was announced, I have been anxiously checking her blog for news of the launch.  In that time, I fell in love with her writing, her sensibility, and her aesthetic.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Secret Circle Is Almost Here!

Speaking of things I can't wait for: The Secret Circle premieres on the CW on Friday, September 15!  Normally, I would be like any other fan girl, grousing that the show seems like it is not faithful enough to my beloved LJ Smith book series.  But The Vampire Diaries is so wonderfully entertaining that I have learned to Let Go and Let Kevin.  Smith, that is.  Do his thing, that is.

Was I upset that the Vampire Diaries TV show completely eliminated Meredith, one of my favorite characters from the book series?  Yes.  After two seasons of delightful, terrifying, exciting entertainment, do I still care?  Not so much.  I am hoping that The Secret Circle will be similarly wonderful so that I don't care about the characters that have been axed and the plots that have mutated.  And the trailer does look pretty exciting....  (But PS, don't watch it unless you want like the first couple of episodes spoiled)

Unfortunately, I can't embed it here, but I did take some wonderful screen shots that capture the flavor.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My Library Queue

Hello, world!  It has been far too long.  And what better way to get us reacquainted, than to take a look at a few of the items in my library queue?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My covenant with The Demon's Covenant

I’ve just finished The Demon’s Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan, and I’m feeling a pain in my chest, almost as if the book has marked me with some sort of third-tier demon mark and now the book can possess me and control me whenever it likes. If you are not familiar with the Demon’s Lexicon trilogy, then what I just said probably sounds like nonsense to you. But if you are one of the initiated, then you know how devastating Rees Brennan’s combination of breathless action, simmering passion, and cutting wit can be.

Warning! Spoilers ahead if you have never read book 1, The Demon’s Lexicon.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I know I said I wasn't going to talk about that movie anymore, but oh my lord how can I resist.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Where Oh Where Can My Baby Be?*

I’ve been a little skittish around cars for the past few days. This is not a surprise, considering I’ve been immersed in If I Stay by Gayle Forman and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Both books feature main characters who hover between life and death after a car crash. (Also, both covers have giant lying-down girl heads.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Liar Society

I purchased The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker based on a recommendation at, which promised that it was Veronica Mars in book form. That review could not have been more right. I tore through The Liar Society in one day at the beach (on vacation in Florida). And, luckily, unlike the sadly cancelled television show, there is more Liar Society to come; a summary of book 2 is up on Lisa and Laura’s web site!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

One of My Favorites: Weetzie Bat

I first heard about Weetzie Bat in junior high school, from a review I read in Sassy magazine. I don’t remember what the review said, but I remember thinking “That’s my kind of book.” Unfortunately, our local book store did not have it in stock and the woman working behind the counter had never heard of it. “Maybe it’s out of print,” she said.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Mystery of What is a Lavaliere Necklace?

After years of reading about Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield's matching gold lavaliere necklaces that they got for their 16th birthday and wondering "What the heck is a lavaliere necklace?", the Sweet Valley High mystery has been solved.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

No More Hunger Games News For Me

I, along with the rest of America, waited impatiently to find out who would be playing Katniss in the Hunger Games movies. I gasped in horror at some of the Gale/Peeta choices that I felt were inappropriate. My finger hovered over the mouse when I found that Forever Young Adult had obtained a copy of the Hunger Games script and was dissecting it over at their blog.

But I didn’t click.

When the Gale/Peeta casting was announced and the entire internet was in an uproar, I found myself on the outside of the furor. For one thing, I don’t really know who those dudes are. And for another, I have officially decided that I am done reading anything about the Hunger Games movie.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Tiny Cooper Award for Best Supporting Character

As a young girl watching West Side Story, I always identified with Anita over Maria. Anita was tough, Maria was a soft dreamer. Anita tried to protect Maria from the harsh realities of the world, but when she saw that her friend was truly in love, she was willing to set aside her doubts. Of course, that situation didn't turn out so well, but at least Anita tried, right? Despite their efforts, the Anitas of the fictional world get no love. At least, they didn't before Tiny Cooper came along.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sigh of Relief

After a trying two weeks in which I raced to finish Anna Karenina in time for a book discussion at WORD in Greenpoint, I am finally returning from the purgatory of adult novels to the promised land that is YA. So what’s on the docket?

Monday, February 28, 2011

UPDATED: Fingers Crossed!

After seeing True Grit, I was convinced that Hailee Steinfeld would be the PERFECT Katniss Everdeen in the forthcoming Hunger Games movie. And she is in the running against my beloved Kaya Scodelario, so take that as the bold statement I mean it to be.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Race to the Bottom of the Pile

A few weeks ago I went into a frenzy and placed a large number of books on my library queue. And then they were all delivered to my library AT THE SAME TIME. So I got to feel like the awesomest person in the world as I lugged home a stack of YA books that was taller than my torso. (Just to be clear, there was absolutely no sarcasm involved in that sentence. I really did feel super cool.) I am currently in the middle of Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (which is super awesome and I can’t wait for work to finish so I can read more) but I still have three more books to go!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

YA Fugvel

I just found out some super exciting news: Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, the fabulous women behind Go Fug Yourself, have written a YA novel. The ladies have managed to keep their site consistently funny, writing from the point of view of voices as distinct as Jennifer Lopez and that guy behind J. Lo in the picture who can’t believe what she is wearing, and often letting their internal monologues spill onto the page to hilarious effect.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tender Morsels

If forced to choose whether a novel I read would have an excellent story or be excellently written, I would choose story every time. Luckily, the YA novels I have been reading lately—Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart, The Order of Odd Fish by James Kennedy, and now Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan—have made that choice unnecessary. Margo Lanagan’s words seem to lift up from the page and coalesce into a picture around the reader’s head. In Tender Morsels, Lanagan’s lyrical writing brings to life a character who has been so misused by the real world that she prefers to live in a facsimile where everything is safe but no one is real apart from herself and her daughters.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Order of Odd Fish

China Mieville, author of books such as Perdido Street Station and The City and The City, thinks that authors of fantastical fiction “don’t listen to [their] own filters.” In other words, they imagine something outlandish and ignore the voice that says that their idea is silly or impossible. James Kennedy, author of the delightful and moving novel The Order of the Odd Fish, proves that he has an abundance of this talent. His novel is populated with stylish talking cockroaches, octopi that can be ridden like horses, and an order of knights whose mission is to be wrong in interesting ways. And that’s only a brief sampling.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Secret Circle Will (Hopefully) Be A TV Show!

In junior high knew that I was totally obsessed with L.J. Smith's Secret Circle books. Obviously I loved her Vampire Diaries, Forbidden Game, and Dark Visions books as well (I didn't read Night World until recently and I couldn't believe I had waited so long to read them), and no one was happier than me that the success of the Twilight series gave Ms. Smith a new surge of popularity. (Except maybe her. She was probably happier than me.) But The Secret Circle will always hold a special place in my heart. Witchcraft, hot boys, best friends, soul mates, and references to Greek mythology; what more could a girl ask for? And now, thanks to the success of The Vampire Diaries TV show and L.J. Smith's spot on the NY Times bestseller list, there is going to be a Secret Circle TV show!

Banned by Bitch

I just read over on E. Lockhart’s blog about an upset that has taken place in the online YA community. Bitch magazine apparently posted a list of 100 feminist YA books, and then removed three because they were deemed inappropriate. (So really a more accurate title for this post would have been “Deleted by Bitch” or “Pulled From the List by Bitch,” but neither has that snappy alliterative flavor of the current, possibly misleading, certainly inflammatory post title.) Well whenever I see anything deemed inappropriate for any reason, it piques my interest (I imagine most people are the same. So I immediately added the books in question to my library queue.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Skins Series 5: Frankie

Everyone’s been making such a fuss about Skins lately. The MTV one, I mean. Unfortunately, everyone is focusing on issues of obscenity and advertiser pullouts and not, as Meredith Blake pointed out at the AV Club, the fact that the US version of Skins is not very good. It has the look of the UK Skins with none of the heart and guts. But you know what is really good? UK Skins, the new season of which premiered last Thursday.

Friday, January 28, 2011

On My Library Queue

As this is my first post, I will go ahead and introduce myself. My name is Maya, and I love, love, love young adult books. In this space, my friend Rachel (who will introduce herself in a future post) and I will be writing about YA books, and sometimes about movies, television, and music that would also be filed in The Young Adult Department.

To get us started, I’m going to present a sample of books that I have placed on hold at the library, which will be read by me at some future date.