The Fault In Our Stars
Young Adult / May 10, 2017

Author: John Green. Summary: “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.” Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. My Thoughts: Well, I picked this up because of popularity. – it made a big splash in a certain section of the bookworm community, and there are intriguing quotes floating around in all the fan merchandise, and- I was curious. I probably should have known better. Anyway, I was really disappointed. All those quirky quotes about the nature of life and death just sound pretentious and vaguely existentialist coming from a teenage boy. And having your signature ‘thing’ be ‘okay’? I’m sorry, that’s just… boring.  I get that all the characters have cancer and it’s tragic and painful and unfair. But that’s still not enough to automatically make you an interesting character. (And how could the author miss the opportunity of ending mid-sentence? It would have been simultaneously meta and tragic and funny…

After Ever After
Young Adult / October 6, 2016

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie #2. Author: Jordan Sonnenblick. Summary: Jeffrey isn’t a little boy with cancer anymore. He’s a teen who’s in remission, but life still feels fragile. The aftereffects of treatment have left Jeffrey with an inability to be a great student or to walk without limping. His parents still worry about him. His older brother, Steven, lost it and took off to Africa to be in a drumming circle and “find himself.” Jeffrey has a little soul searching to do, too, which begins with his escalating anger at Steven, an old friend who is keeping something secret, and a girl who is way out of his league but who thinks he’s cute. My Thoughts: Eh. The subjects were YA but the writing style felt aimed toward middle grade, a characteristic I’m beginning to associate with this author. Also, I didn’t find out this was a sequel until after I read it, which may explain why I didn’t get it very well. Content Review: Sexual content: Some implied kissing, off screen. Two friends, boys, seem to make a running joke of talking about dating each other’s mothers. (Yeah, I didn’t get it either.) Multiple instances of a boy…

Swing Sideways
Middle Grade / Juvenile / July 12, 2016

Author: Nanci Turner Steveson. Summary: Annie has always wanted to be a country girl, and now she finally has her chance. The doctor has prescribed a summer of freedom. Out go the spreadsheets, the schedules, the rules that bind Annie’s life – she’s ready for adventure. California lives right down the road, and she seems to be everything Annie has ever wanted to be. More, she wants Annie’s help; she’s hatched a plan to bring her own mother back to the farm, by finding her mother’s old horses and returning the farm to its old state. Annie is delighted by this chance for adventure, but she’ll have to lie to her mother – California’s family is looked down upon in Annie’s family. The truth comes out in unexpected ways and from unexpected places, and this will be a summer Annie’ll never forget. My Thoughts: A well-told, tender story. The friendship between Annie and California, misunderstandings and reconciliations and all, was believable and interesting, the back-and-forth friendship more true to life than many. The relationship between Annie and her parents was also fine-tuned and tender as Annie learns to understand both her mother’s love and need for control and safety. Too…