Now Matter How I look At It…

March 29th, 2014

No Matter How I look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! by Nico Tanigawa

Tomoko Kuroki has finally made it to high school. She isn’t a girl anymore, but a young woman and it is her time to shine. The boys will like her, the girls will envy her. In short she will be popular.

Unfortunately her soul crushing social anxiety has different plans. She can barely speak up in class and she can’t seem to get the latest fashion trends to be as “cute” as the other girls.

So she begins a quest to figure out what it takes to become “popular.” Each chapter Tomoko explores a different possibility. Will she be popular if she dresses more provocatively? Perhaps pretending to have a boyfriend would help. What if she plays to her strengths and is the silent snobby type? Tomoko tries and tries again and her failures are incredibly funny as well as insightful as a young girl tries to fit what society thinks she should be. But will Tomoko ever gain the confidence to just be herself?

No Matter How I look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular is an incredibly funny manga series about high school and fitting in. It is intended for an older teen audience, 16 and up, because of some mature subject matter. But if you need a laugh you cannot go wrong here.

Charm & Strange

March 3rd, 2014

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Win is a young man who believes with all his heart that one full moon he will turn into a wolf. He yearns for this transformation and comes up with elaborate scientific excuses every month when he doesn’t change. But he believes this next full moon will be different. Someone died in the woods near his prep school last month. Win wonders if he did turn and killed the man and then forgot. And if that is true maybe he will remember the change this upcoming full moon.

But there is a hitch. there is a new girl at school, a transfer student. She doesn’t fit in with the rich prep students. And her and Win keep crossing paths which leads to a wary but mutual friendship. So when the next big party comes up he feels the need to look after her. The party just happens to be on the full moon and in the woods where the man died.  Throughout the evening events occur that make Win remember the past. when he went by is first name, Drew, and he was just nine years old.

What has to happen to a young boy to make him believe he is werewolf? And what happens to a young man who remembers those answers? Charm & Strange is the story of a young man torn in two. And tonight under the full moon he will need to piece himself back together if he can.

Charm & Strange is a wonderful novel that keeps the reader guessing at horrible secrets that make up Win’s childhood, while also hoping for the violent and idiosyncratic young man’s search for liberation and recovery from his past isn’t in vain. This book is recommended for ages 16 and up.

Lily and Taylor

February 15th, 2014

Lily and Taylor by Elise Moser

Taylor and her little brother, Mason,  live with her sister Tannis. Unfortunately Tannis is murdered by the hands of her boyfriend  in an act of domestic violence. Soon Taylor and Mason have to move away and live with their grandparents. Taylor is distraught over his sister’s death and also scared because it forces her to look at her own relationships, such as with her boyfriend Devon. Devon has rapid mood swings and can get angry argumentative, controlling and physical with Taylor. She tries to keep up a long distance relationship with him (mainly because she is afraid of him), but surprisingly finds herself relieved that he is not around. She meets a new friend named Lily, who has baggage of her own. Together they start helping each other out and soon both of their lives are looking better than they ever have been.

But then a few days before Christmas Devon shows up at Taylor’s door. He forces her to get in his car that his friend Conor is driving. Lily is there and decides to get in as well to ensure Taylor will be safe. Soon the four of them are at a remote cabin in the woods and Devon is angry. The next two days will challenge the girls in ways they could never imagine and in ways where they may not survive. How does the cycle of abuse end? In the case of Taylor, will it end in death like her sister? And wills he doom her new friend to die with her?

Lily and Taylor is a tense thriller that brings out the emotional complexity of domestic violence; how you can both love and be afraid of someone at the same time. If you need a quick read that sheds light on such important issue than I’d highly recommend this book. It is appropriate for ages 14 and up due to explicit violence, as well as physical and sexual abuse.

The Kingdom of Little Wounds

February 11th, 2014

The Kingdom of Little Wounds Book CoverThe Kingdom Of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal

Once upon a time fairy tales were not animated musicals at your local theater. Once upon a time fairy tales didn’t have happily ever afters. Once upon a time fairy tales spoke of life’s cruelties and misfortune.

The Kingdom of Little Wounds is this latter type of fairy tale. It is set in an imaginary Scandinavian kingdom during the 16th century.  The kingdom is in turmoil because the royal family is suffering from a mysterious disease. No one knows why the royal family is dying off one by one. So rumors are created and spread overnight.

In this midst of this misfortune and palace intrigue two young women try to find better lives for themselves. Ava is a seamstress for the Queen, but after one mistake she is sent to the nursery, then again becomes a maid. Her life is seemingly spiraling out of control and she has no power to stop it. The second lady, Midi, was stolen from her native Africa, and forced into servitude for a Countess. She is also mute because her tongue was sliced in two. Eventually the Countess gave Midi to the Queen to curry favor. Now she works in the nursery caring for the diseased royal children.

And since this a dark and truthful fairy tale these girls have no power over their lives. The live and work by the whims of the people in the court. They are degraded by a manipulative man seeking power. He uses them as pawns to advance his own needs. Soon misfortune piles atop misfortune for our young heroines. How can they escape the betrayals and backstabbing at court? Can there be a happy ending for them? And in a realistic world how happy an ending can they have?

The Kingdom of Little Wounds is a powerful tale that mesmerizes the reader. It is not a pleasant tale and horrible things happen all the time, but I could not put this book down. I needed to know if and how these young girls survived. If you like historical fiction, or a realistic dissection of the structure of fairy tales then pick this book up. If you like to live in a bubble of happiness then this book is not for you.

The Kingdom of Little Wounds is appropriate for  ages 16 and up due to graphic violence, rape, and all sorts of mayhem. If you can handle that then I highly recommend this book. It is incredibly powerful and an amazing insight to the past.

The Here and Now

February 4th, 2014

The Here and NowThe Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Prenna is a young girl not from our time. She and her family fled a future torn apart by global warming and horrible plagues. She and the other time refugees form a small tight-knit community, Originally they wanted to stop the future from happening but now they just try to stay out of time’s way. Surviving while they can is enough.

But Prenna is shaken from her complacency by a young man named Ethan. She is drawn to him and tries to deny the feelings that are between them. Prenna has lived so long by the rules set out by her community, the most important of which is to not let any outsiders know where they are from.  But Ethan knows things, or notices things about Prenna, little tips that let him know she isn’t who she claims to be.

Ethan has another friend and he wants Prenna to meet him. The man is homeless and lives in the city park. But what this homeless man tells Prenna makes her question everything. Soon she and Ethan are in a race against time to stop the future she knows. But people in her community are not pleased with Prenna and her new friends. They will do anything to stop her. Then there is Ethan. A normal young man who has fallen in love with her. Would Prenna risk the future in order to love him back?

The Here and Now is a fast paced sci-fi romance thriller that you won’t want to put down. If you need something fun to read then definitely pick this book up. I don’t think you will be disappointed. It is appropriate for ages 12 and up.