Throwback Thursday: My First Teen Reads

I was thinking about Throwback Thursdays and nostalgia and some of the teen books I read back in late elementary school and early high school, and then I thought, why don’t I combine those topics into a blog post? So here are some of the very first teen books I remember checking out, when I first ventured into the teen section of my local library. (I hope this doesn’t date me too much!)

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
(originally published May 1, 1998)

Sarah Dessen’s second novel! My first introduction to Sarah Dessen, the queen of young adult novels. I loved this and her first book, That Summer. I’m pretty sure I read them when I was in grade six, and then the movie How to Deal came out, which starred Mandy Moore and was based on Someone Like You and That Summer. I loved that too, and I actually still own the DVD. The first picture was the original cover when I read it; how covers have changed!

Wittlinger what's in a name

What’s in a Name by Ellen Wittlinger
(originally published March 1, 2000)

The residents of Scrub Harbor are caught in a war about the name of the town: some want to change it and some want to keep it the same. With this as the backdrop, diverse teens in the town narrate their own chapter while exploring questions like who they are, what identity is, and, of course, what’s in a name.

McCafferty Sloppy firsts

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
(originally published August 28, 2001)

Ah, the funny, smart, observant, cynical character of Jessica Darling. Her journals chronicle her life at high school after her best friend moves away, her encounters with the popular girls, and the indescribable Marcus Flutie. Her sarcastic remarks and observations elevate this above your average YA novel.

Mackler love and other

Love and Other Four-Letter Words by Carolyn Mackler
(originally published January 2002)

To be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot about this book. I think it deals with all the typical teen novel themes: family, divorce, friendship, crushes, growing up, and change. But I remember loving it when I read it way back in the day. And for some reason, it stands out as one of the very, very first books I ever checked out from the teen section. Because of that, it has to have a place on this list!

California Diaries by Ann M. Martin
(originally published starting in 1997)

This series was a spin-off of The Baby-sitters Club, in which Dawn moves back to California and reunites with her friends Sunny, Maggie, Amalia, and Ducky. All the students at school have to keep a journal, so each book in the series is the journal of a different character in the group. California Diaries was much edgier than The Baby-sitters Club, dealing with issues like anorexia, teen partying and drinking, and a parent dying of cancer. Someone attempts suicide; someone else is the victim of a hate crime; another deals with an abusive boyfriend. I remember thinking California Diaries was much cooler and more scandalous than The BSC, and I felt kind of cool and adult for reading them. I don’t actually know if the series is considered teen fiction or children’s fiction. The characters are 13 years old (except for Ducky, who is 16), so they’re kind of on the cusp.

Did you read any of these back in the day? What were your first teen reads?

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Review: The Accident Season

fowley-doyle-accident-seasonTitle: The Accident Season

Author: Moira Fowley-Doyle

Published: August 18, 2015

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

A few months ago, the Top Ten Tuesday topic was “Books Set Outside the US” (see my post here). As The Accident Season takes places in Ireland, many bloggers included it on their lists and ranted and raved about it. I had never heard of it before. But then a few days later I was at the library, and it jumped out at me on the shelves, even though I’d never seen it before. I decided I had to get it and read it, and I’m so glad I did!

The Accident Season is such an original and lovely book. It’s creepy and magical and strange and imaginative. There are tarot cards and lots of whiskey and an abandoned ghost house. There are secrets and accidents and changelings. There are dreamcatchers hanging from trees, and messages typed on typewriters and displayed around the room. The whole thing is so atmospheric, if that’s the right word. Everything, from the style of writing to the plot to the objects and the characters, contributes to a strange and haunting sort of mood.

I loved the idea of the secrets booth set up at school, where students typed up their secrets in private on a typewriter and put them in a box. Then all the secrets are displayed in a room. I think that would be such a cool thing to view, and to see all these anonymous secrets and confessions that you maybe relate to.

October is the perfect month for this book to be set during – October with its black cats and witches and creepy happenings. The whole book is leading up to a Halloween party set in an abandoned mansion, appropriately named the Black Cat and Whiskey Moon Masquerade Ball.

I’ve been reading a lot of magical realism books this year, and I’m so glad this was one of them. I would highly recommend it.

Favourite Quotes:

“Accidents happen. Our bones shatter, our skin splits, our hearts break. We burn, we drown, we stay alive.”

“We bite back the things we can’t say and we cushion every surface for the inevitable moment when they all come fighting out.”

“There are no ghosts; only the dust in the light, our breath and the wind in the quiet, and the feeling that something, or a lot of somethings, are watching us. So maybe there are ghosts after all.”

“So let’s raise our glasses to the accident season,
To the river beneath us where we sink our souls,

To the bruises and secrets, to the ghosts in the ceiling,
One more drink for the watery road.”

You might also like: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

 

Top Ten Tuesday: 80s Movies

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is a movie freebie, so I decided to go with my favourite 80s movies, plus a few I still want to see. When I was in high school, I was obsessed with watching 80s movies, particularly John Hughes and the Brat Pack ones. Now, I just finished watching Stranger Things and, with all its homages and references to 80s movies, it reminded me again of why I liked watching them and why 80s movies are some of my favourites.

1. The Breakfast Club: I love books or movies or other media that take a quirky, diverse group of characters and throw them together in a situation. As they talk to and hang out with people they might never have associated with, tensions rise, secrets are revealed, and unexpected connections and friendships are forged. Bonus points if the characters are confined to a single room or location, because that really ramps up the conflict! The Breakfast Club is equal parts hilarious and touching, and I’ve loved it since the first time I watched it.

Favourite quote: “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.”

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2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: This movie is such a fun ride, with so many memorable scenes and funny quotes. Who wouldn’t want to play hooky with Ferris and Cameron?

Favourite quote: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

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3. Stand By Me: Based on a Stephen King novella, four 12-year-old friends set out to find the body of a missing boy. I think it is one of the best coming-of-age movies of all time. It’s nostalgic and emotional, and it’s also hilarious and truthful in its portrayal of the kind of friends you have at twelve, the kind of friends that bicker with each other but also fiercely stand up for one another. I sometimes get a little teary watching it, and the ending is made even more sad knowing about the untimely death of River Phoenix.

Favourite quote: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”

 

4. A Christmas Story: This is also one of my favourite Christmas movies. It’s about a boy who wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, but I like it because it’s more of a coming-of-age movie (can you tell I love coming-of-age stories?). It has so many funny and relatable scenes: Ralphie’s friend getting dared to touch a pole with his tongue and then getting stuck, Ralphie finally snapping and beating up the bully, the leg lamp, and Ralphie letting loose an F-bomb while helping his dad and then being terrified of the consequences.

5. Pretty in Pink: A classic Molly Ringwald/John Hughes/Brat Pack movie. I don’t think a list of 80s movies is complete without it.

Favourite quote: “It’s called a sense of humour. You should get one. They’re nice.”

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6. Sixteen Candles: Another classic Molly Ringwald/John Hughes movie filled with classic teen angst.

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Some 80s movies I still need to see:

7. The Goonies: This has been on my to-watch list for so long! There are similarities with Stand By Me, and now many are comparing it to Stranger Things as well. I just have to watch it.

8. When Harry Met Sally…: I can’t believe I haven’t actually watched this classic from beginning to end. I mean, I know about it, I’ve seen random clips, I know about the infamous diner scene. I’ve just never sat down and watched it.

9. St. Elmo’s Fire: As it says on imdb, “A group of friends, just out of college, struggle with adulthood.” I can certainly relate to this, and it has many of the Brat Pack actors and actresses.

 

Update

Wow, I have not posted in three months! Things kicked into high gear in August and have stayed pretty busy since. Lots of interesting and exciting things have been happening, so I haven’t been able to do as much reading and writing as I might have wanted.

I started a couple new jobs, one of which has some brutal 7am starts. It’s hard to feel creative and inspired to write when you’re sleep-deprived and going around like a zombie.

I have not read many books these last few months, which I’m kind of sad about. I did finish The Accident Season a while ago, though, so I’m going to post a review for that. I also have a few reviews pending for books I finished much earlier this year. Right now I’m re-reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Harry Potter books are often my go-to when I want to read something but am too distracted to start something new. When I finish this 6th one again, hopefully I will have a post on it for my re-reading Harry Potter blog series.

Coming up is the 7th annual Broke and Bookish Secret Santa. I’d never heard of it before, but I definitely want to participate this year! It sounds really cool and I’m excited.

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Happy reading!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set During the Summer

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Books with X Setting.” I decided to go with a summertime setting. At first I was debating doing books set at summer camp or at a beach house or by the ocean, but what they all have in common is that they’re set during the summer.

What is it about books and summertime settings that seem to go so well together? There’s something about the freedom from studying and annoying teachers and locker drama and finding someone to sit with at lunch. The longer days, the sleeping-in, the late nights or all-nighters. You’re free to have new experiences, meet new people, travel, and figure out who you are. These books capture those summers where anything can and does happen, when you start to see things – or people – differently, when you go outside your comfort zone.

The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen: Sarah Dessen is the queen of summer YA novels. I could have chosen a number of her novels, but I decided on this one. It’s a summer of change and discovery for Macy, featuring romance, quirky workers and the chaos of catering jobs, and dealing with grief.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares: Another ultimate summer read. Four friends spend their summer apart – one in Greece, one in Baja California, one in South Carolina, and one at home – experiencing love and loss, staying connected through their magical pair of jeans.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han: Belly spends her summers at a beach house with her family and family friends Susannah, Jeremiah, and Conrad. But this particular summer is different: she starts to see things differently – and maybe Jeremiah and Conrad start to see her differently too. A cute, sweet read.

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler: Jude Hernandez is spending her summer helping her dad restore his motorcycle and trying to avoid the charming Vargas brothers. There’s a sweet romance, three-dimensional characters, and lots of emotional moments involving family, memory, and her dad’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson: A sad, realistic novel about a girl who is dealing with her dad’s diagnosis and grief, while also navigating relationships with her former best friend and former boyfriend, and learning how to be confident and not run away from everything.

Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson: Three totally different girls spend their summer working at a peach farm in Georgia. Full of friendship, vignettes about the girls’ family and history of the town, and a little bit of magic.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: The synopsis states: “A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth.” And if you haven’t read it, that’s all you need to know, don’t read anything else about it, just read the book.

The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy: Three sisters encounter crushes, heartbreak, bullying, sneaking out, and other shenanigans at summer camp. Ultimately it’s about the bond between sisters.

 

Do you like books set during summer? What other settings do you like? Leave me a comment 🙂

Review: Places No One Knows

Yovanoff Places no one

Title: Places No One Knows

Author: Brenna Yovanoff

Published: May 17, 2016

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

For fans of Lauren Oliver and E. Lockhart, here is a dreamy love story set in the dark halls of contemporary high school, from New York Times bestselling author Brenna Yovanoff.

Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs.

Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world.

But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.

Places No One Knows is an unusual book. I know the synopsis makes it sound a bit like a typical teen novel with all the common tropes: the perfect, overachieving girl; the slacker guy who drinks and does drugs; a romance that develops between two people of completely different cliques/social classes/insert any other category here. How many times has that been done, right? But trust me when I say it’s not like that.

Waverly, for one, is not your typical perfect popular girl. She has two tarantulas as pets. She likes gory horror movies. She is a bit of a sociopath: when asked why she’s friends with certain people, she says, “They have their uses.” She puts on a mask for the world and plays her role. Nobody knows her true thoughts and feelings. And Marshall – Marshall feels too much all the time, and that can be too much, and I just want to wrap him up in a big hug.

dream girlDreams can be fascinating, and the ideas of waking up in someone else’s dream or dreaming yourself into someone’s life are pretty cool. Beyond the dream aspect, there were no other paranormal/fantasy aspects, so this was more realistic than some of Brenna Yovanoff’s other books. Waverly dreaming herself into Marshall’s room essentially served the purpose of allowing them to connect and get to know each other away from prying eyes, when they normally would never talk to each other.

I just loved what developed between Waverly and Marshall. There were several scenes that epitomized, or tried to, showing someone all the messy, ugly parts of yourself, the parts you normally keep hidden, and yet they say, I see all of you and I still want/like you anyway. And isn’t that all anyone wants? I was rooting for Waverly and Marshall to allow themselves to be vulnerable and embrace what they have, despite what others might think.

Places No One Knows is well-written and has a dreamy quality to it, which makes sense given the subject matter. I loved this book; it was one of those ones where I wanted to keep reading more and more of it, yet at the same time I wanted to go slow and savour it. The reader’s dilemma! I would definitely recommend it.

Favourite Quotes:

“The way he watches me is physical – a pressure on my skin. He is so tender, so immediate, and I am only good at wanting things from a safe distance.”

“It’s so hard to love someone when you have to do it in the open. The second you expose a thing to air, it has already begun to oxidize.”

“There’s an inevitability to telling the truth – people never react the way you need them to.”

Review: You Know Me Well

LaCour Levithan You know me wellTitle: You Know Me Well

Author: Nina LaCour and David Levithan

Published: June 7, 2016

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

I love both David Levithan’s and Nina LaCour’s writing, so I thought this collaboration would be a perfect pairing. It ended up being not my favourite David Levithan collaboration, but it was still a good read. It’s a great novel to read during Pride Week as it’s set in San Francisco and features Pride festivities. There are a lot of coming out YA novels; this one is more about what happens after. I could definitely feel the passion and excitement of the characters at the end when they were embracing who they are, celebrating, and heading to the parade.

The characters, especially Katie, were very relatable. In particular, this book absolutely nailed a few things: running away from opportunities because you’re scared or because you think you’re not good enough or don’t deserve them, and pushing away someone you really like because you want to hold onto the idea of them and don’t want to ruin things – and you can’t ruin them if nothing’s begun.

At first I was a bit disappointed in how Mark’s storyline ended, or maybe I was just sad for him. At the same time, I liked that the novel didn’t end with everyone getting together with the person they liked. It can still be a happy ending without everyone pairing off in romantic couples. Plus it felt more realistic that way.

It was nice to have a novel focus on a platonic male-female relationship – in particular, a friendship that wasn’t toxic or dysfunctional, just a friendship where the two of them are there for each other, pushing each other to go after what they want, supporting each other through bad times, understanding each other in ways that other people don’t or can’t.

Favourite Quotes:

“And when I begin to worry that I chose the wrong college, or that my future roommate will hate me, or that I’m going to grow up and forget about the things I once loved – cobalt blue, this certain hill behind my high school, searching for old slides at flea markets, the song “Divided” – I think about Violet.”

“Because we lose it. We grow up and we lose ourselves. Sometimes when my favorite songs are on I have to stop what I’m doing and lie down on my carpet and just listen. I feel every word they’re singing. Every note. And to think that in twenty years, or ten years, or five, even, I might hear those same songs and just, like, bob my head or something is horrible. Then I’m sure I’ll think that I know more about life, but it isn’t true. I’ll know less.”

“And we step off the curb, all of us together, as if to say, Here we come – through hard days and good ones, through despair and through exhilaration, in love and out of love, for just now or for forever. Here we come. It’s our parade.”

You might also like: any of David Levithan’s collaborations – Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (all with Rachel Cohn), Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), and other David Levithan books – Two Boys Kissing, How They Met and Other Stories, Boy Meets Boy, The Realm of Possibility + + check out Nina LaCour if you haven’t – The Disenchantments is a personal favourite!