Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lips Touch Three Times

Lips Touch Three times  by Laini Taylor, illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo
Three stories of supernatural love, each of which pivots around a single kiss. 
In the first story, a dead grandmother might be the only one who can save Kizzy from the seductive promises of the goblins. The second story features an old woman who makes a demonic deal to save the lives of children, and agrees to allow a newborn baby to take on a curse to bind the deal...a curse that the child contains until she grows up and falls in love. The third story is a tale of mothers, children, and a fey and magical race called the Druj. 
What took me so long to read this book?  I suppose that somehow I thought it was "just another kissing book", maybe with a vampire in it.  It is not just another kissing book.  The tales are dark, enticing, and entrancing, with hints of longing and a hope (but not a promise) of salvation that will draw readers into each story, beautifully illustrated in shades of red and grey.  As soon as I finished reading it, I knew three people with whom I wanted to share it. 
Highly recommended for ages 14 to adult; minimal cussing, some implied violence (including very muted and off-page sexual violence) and three profoundly significant kisses. 

Monday, August 22, 2011


Glimpse  by Carol Lynch Williams

Yes, we are all tired of novels in poem form.  Yes, it is easier to read about abuse if it is in poem form.  And yes, you do need to read this one.

Glimpse begins with 12 year old Hope talking her sister out of the gun that she is about to use to kill herself.  Liz, who is 14, is taken to a mental hospital.  This begins a series of back flashes through Hope's eyes of a severely dysfunctional family where mom has become a prostitute because it pays so much better than working anywhere else; where Hope has all the dreams and simple reality of a 12 year old.  And where the sisters are told to take care of each other, even if it means that 14 year old Liz will perform as a prostitute and cry all night but keep that from her sister to protect her,  After the psychiatrist and her mother both want the diary Liz kept, Hope finally realizes where it is and reads it, finding out why Liz cried every night, and why she won't talk about what happened to her. 

The verse format does not spare the harsh reality from the reader, although the reader will have figured it out long before Hope does.  Recommended for 8th grade and up.  Sexual parts mentioned; sexual acts alluded to.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Swim the Fly

Swim the fly  by Don Calame

Matt, Sean and Coop, best friends since grade school, always set a goal for themselves for the summer.  This summer the goal is:  to see a real, live girl naked.  While they are doing this, Matt also decides that he wants to swim the 100 yd butterfly – a grueling event for any swimmer, and one Matt will need to really practice to even attempt; but he will impress Kelly, a new girl on his swim team- whose boyfriend also swims the 100 yd fly.  

This is a laugh-out-loud, read-to-anyone-around book.  The extents to which his friends go to help Matt avoid swimming this event are hilarious.  The lengths to which Matt will go to keep his friends from actually seeing Kelly naked while not alerting them to the fact that he is doing just that are outstanding.  When Matt does fall in love, we all cheer.  Vomiting, pooping, possible naked girls- what junior high boy wouldn’t want this book?  Ok what adult male wouldn’t want this book?  Or is that too redundant?  Even the adults in this book are well drawn.

Sexual situations; coarse language; raunchy situations;  ages 13 and up.


Sweethearts  by Sara Zarr

What is your earliest memory?  Do you remember being 3?  Jennifer does.  

What is your strongest memory?  For Jennifer it was 5th grade.  That was when everyone at school called her “Jennifer Fattifer, and her only friend was Cameron.  

Strong memory-involved bits of flashbacks continue through the book...including some parts of that memory that Jennifer can’t face yet...including some parts that she has never shared with anyone but Cameron. Then things change dramatically - Cameron disappears.  Everyone says he was killed.  

Now flash-forward to when Jennifer is 17.  Jennifer’s mother is remarried and they move- and Jennifer remakes herself into the thin, fun Jenna with the gorgeous football player.  But you know that strong memory?  It keeps coming back in bits and snatches.  Then Cameron reappears, and he says they must face that memory together.  

Sexual and physical abuse; coarse language; ages 14 up

Be More Chill

Be More Chill  by Ted Vizzini

Jeremy, class geek, lusts after girls.  But how can a dweeb like him even approach them? 

With a new "pill"!  The pill is actually a computer device that implants into the brain, telling step-by-step how to score with a girl.  At first, the voice in Jeremy's brain is pretty funny--the reader even agrees with him:  "First we need to fix your clothes, your body odor, and your work-out regime."  It becomes funnier when, as a part of meeting and just being with girls, the voices advises him as he is talking.  Jeremy pulls back words, restates things, and seemingly is listening to a voice in his head.  How could that be?

It becomes unfunny when we remember, and plot for, the single-purpose conquest.  Well,
maybe it's just me being a female and reading this....   Nevertheless, this funny, quirky, great story contains some bad language and some plot twists that could make it problematic for junior high. 

Sexual comments, situations; coarse language; ages 14 up
But it's hilarious!


After  by Amy Efaw
When Devon's mother finds her home from school on the couch, she is delighted:  with her job schedule, she doesn't have much time to spend with her daughter.  When the police arrive to ask questions about a newborn baby found in the trash nearby, Devon's mom would rather flirt with the officer and ignore his question.  When the policeman questions Devon, however, he notices blood on the sofa...and everything falls apart.

Devon has been pregnant, hiding the fact from everyone with bulky clothes and jogging pants.  Most of all, she hides it from herself.  She is in a complete denial that becomes very believable.  Devon is an honor student and a top soccer player.  Everyone around her accepts her easy lies.  The trial that follows allows Devon to go back in time to the first sexual encounter that led to the pregnancy, and to the horrible re-enactment of the birth. It is this scene that will place the book squarely in the hands of more mature readers. 

A complex book, full of suspense, and a realistic plot will keep readers going.  Devon't character will pull readers in; certainly the subject matter will foster endless discussions.  Not to be missed.  Flash-back sex scenes handled well; violent birthing scene; ages 14 up

The ABC's of Kissing Boys

The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro
Parker has lost her place on the soccer team, being relegated to junior varsity. In a lame-brain but zany scheme to get back on the team and not make the coach angry, Parker sets up her elaborate plan that involves a kissing booth at the fund raiser/beginning of school fair. She includes her brother, now in law school, also a favorite of the coach, who adds a choice parking spot for the coach as a prize into the mix.

Only problem?

No kissing skills.

Parker therefore enlists the aid of her neighbor and longtime friend Tristan. Do we see where this is going? Yes, but only because it climbs out of the "I can see this a mile ahead" hole.

As Parker juggles Tristan, her best friend, girls on the soccer team who hate her, and the coach, she realizes that she is losing control over them all.

Not intense, just plain fun. Will you learn to kiss by reading this? Maybe.  Some allusion to sex, ages 12 up

A good companion book to Confessions of a Serial Kisser (Van Draanen).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to Get Suspended and Influence People

How to Get Suspended and Influence People
by Adam Selzer
14-year-old Leon sarcastically narrates the events that result when he decides to make an avant-garde sex education movie as an assignment for his "gifted and talented" class. Leon's video is weird but comforting, irrational but informative...and very quickly, banned at school.

Leon and his classmates address some common contradictions found in public school where masturbation is often called normal but more often considered vulgar, where nudity may be classical but still censored, and where kids and adults will never see eye-to-eye.  Although the story is relatively predictable, the writing is quirky, engaging, and funny.

This fast-paced novel will appeal to middle-readers who wonder what "normal" is and if they will ever be it. No violence, some cuss words, frequent references to nudity, body parts, and all the other things that absolutely fascinate 14-year-old boys. The book has a few on-page kisses, but everyone stays fully clothed, even when the garage blows up. Ages 12 to 16.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Photo shoot

We need a new photo for the sidebar!   Please express preferences in the comments.

the photographer surprised us

Star Trek-esque soft focus

Mary Jo laughs at everything, while I am much more serious

Coyness = virtue?

trading "good parts" in the stories

Trading the REALLY good parts of the stories

Our wickedness : it shows up on film sometimes

The caption overhead sez it all