Sad.

All this joyful crying at the Olympics got me thinking: why not take a tearful look back at the last seven months to see just how many books have made me cry?  It’s only three so it won’t be too painful.

I should preface this by saying that I’m not a big crier while reading.  So 2012 has been a particularly productive year thus far.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler.  Illustrations by Maira Kalman

Did this book make me cry out of sadness?  No.  Oh no. This book made me cry out of pure, unfiltered rage.  Is there anyone I hate more in this world than Ed Slaterton?  Probably not.

To counter the sadness and rage blackout, this Amazon interview with Handler and Kalman brings the LOLs.  I love how awkward the whole thing is with the interviewer and am especially tickled by their description of the “working process” that starts around 5:10.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Who doesn’t cry reading this book?  I mean, really.  The interesting thing about TFIOS is that it has a major Charlotte’s Web effect on me.  That means that I can be anywhere, doing anything, and reading the last line of the book will put tears in my eyes.  I was trying to pester our Summer Reading Club assistant into reading TFIOS and actually got damp peepers in front of her when I flipped to the back page.  And it convinced her to check out the book!  Note to librarians: teary eyes sell books.  And make you look like a crazypants.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd. Illustrations by Jim Kay.

Hoo boy, I have never, never cried so hard reading.  I literally had to put down the book, take off my glasses and put my head in my hands and sob.  That was followed by crying steadily for the last 40 pages.  It is such an exquisite, articulate, seemingly effortless portrayal of loss and self-doubt and fear.  Brilliant.

And you know, while we’re on this whole sad theme, let me also share the only book trailer to ever make me cry.  This is the trailer for Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been? by Dan Bar-el with illustrations by Rae Maté.

WHAT IF THE CAT NEVER CAME BACK!?! Oh, it makes me so sad.

And just for good measure, the movie that has made me cry the most is a bit of a shocker so I’ll throw it in here too.  It’s completely ridiculous, but I bawled through most of District 9.  I was so, so, so concerned for that little alien baby!  Thank goodness for the internet, because someone has made a bad quality clip montage of the alien baby with “Dust In the Wind” in the background! YES!

Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day by David Levithan. Random House. On sale August 28, 2012. Reviewed from ALA ARC.

You wanna know what makes a quality young adult romance?  One that really sticks out from the pack and just kicks you right in the nuts of your heart?

INCONVENIENCE.

That’s right.  There is no romance more exciting to read than one that centres around really inconvenient love.  Figuring out how to love someone when you both have cancer? Inconvenient. Deciding whether or not you should return to consciousness post-auto accident for your boyfriend?  Super inconvenient.  Trying to love someone you thought was a girl but then turned out to be a boy? Definitely not on the list of the top ten most convenient things.

Of course, those three scenarios refer to some of my recent favorite lurve-themed YA books: John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and Brian Katcher’s Almost Perfect. They are brilliant in different ways (and of course deal with many other themes beyond love), but all feature characters who must really, seriously give ‘er to earn what their heart desires.  I think this theme of inconvenient love is so powerful that it can even carry a the book in the absence of really terrible writing (see: Twilight).

But what does all this talk of inconvenience have to do with David Levithan’s new book, Every Day?  It is officially one of the most inconvenient cases of love I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  The book’s main character, simply called A, wakes up in the body of a different person every day.  The body might belong to a male or female, a straight, gay or bisexual person, a person of any race – the only consistency is that all the bodies belong to sixteen-year-old people.  This is all going along fine until A meets Rhiannon.  A falls in love with Rhiannon.  And then things get SUPER INCONVENIENT.  Because how can you love someone when you have a different body every day? How the heck can that possibly work?

It’s a conundrum and a half, and that is why Every Day is so addictive.  As readers, we want to find out how someone in such an impossibly difficult, inconvenient situation could make it work.  Because if some genderless being with no body can make it work in love, then certainly we all have a shot, right?

This novel is not only exceptional in its premise, but in the brilliant points it subtly makes about the fluidity and elusive nature of gender.  Is this the first YA romance featuring a protagonist with no assigned gender?  I think so.  And that is a really big deal.  When this book inevitably becomes a Hollywood blockbuster, I just hope that A remains genderless, and we don’t discover at the end that the character’s “true” form is actually Taylor Lautner. Or Selena Gomez.  Or the dog from The Artist.

And, like every David Levithan book, Every Day is dripping with descriptions of emotions and feelings that are normally impossible to put into words.  I swear that there is something on every page of his books that I want to have printed on a t-shirt so I can run out into the street and shout “This is exactly how I feel!  Don’t you ever feel like this too!?”

If the human heart had a spokesperson, if would be David Levithan.

No offense, Maya Angelou.

ALA: 7 Published Books, 7 ARCs and Some Susin Nielsen Love

In total, I brought home 14 books from ALA. Of those 14 books, 6 were published books I paid for, 1 was a free published book and 7 were ARCs.

I had heard a lot about people going wild in the exhibits, gunning for stuff like a scene out of Life As We Knew It. And there has been much buzz about that 22 minute ALA book haul video that’s floating around. Stacked has a very thorough post on the whole thing. I’ll admit to watching most of it and being overtaken with jealousy at the Gary D. Schmidt ARC.

It might just be me and my 700 square foot world, BUT WHERE DO PEOPLE PUT ALL OF THESE BOOKS? I have three very skinny, small Ikea bookcases to my name. One shelf is taken up entirely by The Series of Unfortunate Events. Another houses the complete works of Leonard Marcus. That leaves me with 2.75 teensy bookcases. Thus, I have to be extremely selective about the books I bring into my life.

Perhaps the best solution to all of the debates around people going crazy on the ALA exhibit floor is to simply ban exhibit entry to those who live somewhere with an affordable housing market. Us Vancouverites and New Yorkers would be very dainty and respectable because we barely have room to brush our teeth, let alone store an extra book or two. I kid, I kid.

For those interested, this is what I scooped up:

6 Published Books I Purchased

 

From L to R: Stay by Deb Caletti, I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, The Monster’s Monster and Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell, Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S.King, Amulet #1 by Kazu Kibuishi

Stay completely floored me in the sense that I was never able to sympathize with girls in relationships with scary dudes before reading this book. Jon Klassen is Canadian (!) and I Want My Hat Back has saved my butt zillions of occasions in storytimes with rowdy six-year-olds. Patrick McDonnell makes my heart warm. A.S. King makes complex things easy to understand. A signed Kazu Kibuishi will bring me tons o’ cred with nine-year-old male patrons for the foreseeable future.

 

1 Free Published Book

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

My pal Kay and I are apparently the only people in the world who have yet to read this book. Please don’t tell Mr. Schu. But it will get read!

6 ARCs

 

 

L to R in order of pub date: Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead, Everyday by David Levithan, Amulet #5 Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi, Drama by Raina Telgemeier, In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz, Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

 

I think these were probably on most school and youth librarian’s lists to grab, so nothing terribly original here. But I want to tell you – especially you Yankees – about this, the seventh and most blessed ARC:

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen. Tundra Books. Pubs September 11, 2012

Susin Nielsen is the next big thing. There is an episode of The Simpsons where Bart brings Santa’s Little Helper in for show-and-tell and Milhouse proudly brags “I knew the dog before it came to class!” Not to liken Susin to a cartoon dog, but this captures how most Canadian librarians feel about Susin Nielsen. We are going to feel very smug and brag alot when she gets 200 person signing lines at future ALAs.

She is a mix between Tom Angleberger, Jack Gantos and Susan Juby with just a touch of a teenaged Dav Pilkey (she isn’t afraid of some potty language). She was a screenwriter for Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High (the original series pre-Drake). Degrassi taught every Canadian born between 1979-1984 about being a teenager. She is funny, smart and somehow has access to the brain of a Grade 7 boy. If you haven’t read Word Nerd or Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom, you are missing out. My buddy Vikki has a great review of Clooney here.

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is about a thirteen-year-old boy (named Henry K. Larsen, not surprisingly). Henry’s brother shoots a classmate before shooting himself. Tough stuff? Yes. Will Susin Nielsen somehow manage to infuse this terrible tragedy with enlightening-but-sensitive humour? If her track record is any indication, yes. I will be celebrating Canada Day this weekend lounging in Saskatchewan and reading this book (right after I wrap up a Quill & Quire review of another Canadian favourite’s new YA novel). I can’t wait.

A Creative Use For Paint Chips

One of the greatest joys I find in starting a new book is the task of selecting a new bookmark.  I have developed a rather strange habit of collecting various colours of paint chips that I can then match to book covers.  It’s kind of like accessorizing.  Behold (I have also included some super articulate reviews in the captions):

A lovely use for my sea foam green chip:

I loved this book.

Dark navy goes with a lot, but this was a particularly good match:

This book was weird. You won't want to eat KFC ever again after reading this.

I knew I was going out on a bit of limb picking this stormcloud lavender but it found a good home:

This book was creemazing (creepy/amazing). I still have to remind myself that Christian isn't real and I don't have to check my closets for him before going to bed.

The best thing about this hobby is that it gives you something to do if your significant other is putzing around at Home Depot or some other ghastly place.  There is also the added fun potential of seeing if the name of the colour on the paint chip corresponds at all with the plot of the book.  Martha Stewart paint chips are the worst for this as she has really boring names for colours like “Spanish Moss” or “Azurite” (all Martha chips are displayed here).  Benjamin Moore is usually a bit more expressive.

When YA characters grow up and you gotta shelve ’em somewhere

Super articulate post title, I know.

As you’re probably aware, two very popular young adult series are getting a major epilogue treatment.  Both the Wakefield twins and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants gals have returned/are returning as adults in new books – and I’ve really been struggling with where to shelve these ladies.  With the adult fiction?  The YA fiction?  The Gimmick Aisle? (we don’t have one of those at my library, but I wish we did).  After puzzling and puzzling until my puzzler was sore, I came up with two very different solutions.

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later

Shelved as Adult Fiction

Rationale

First let me tell you that this book is unforgivably bad.  I have seriously worked with eleven-year-old ESL children who have mastered grammar and syntax better than Ms. Pascal.  I generally don’t use this blog as a forum to pan books, but I’m still angry that I read this thing.  Today I even apologized to our Adult Services Librarian for spending $10 of her budget on this sentinel of hell.  But I digress.  Here are my reasons for putting it with the adult books.

  • We don’t have any Sweet Valley High books at my library.  This may change when the movie comes out, especially since Diablo Cody is keeping it in the eighties and teens may want to pick up the original books (though they would have to be the true originals without the new millennium updates that came out a few years ago).  But since we don’t currently have any of the SVH books, I don’t think it makes sense to stick Sweet Valley Confidential all alone in YA.  There’s no context.
  • I might be wrong, but I think the vast majority of people who want to read this book are my age: 25-35 year olds who are picking it up for the nostalgia factor.  At least two dozen people on Goodreads have mentioned this, and they ain’t spring chickens.  Disclaimer: I am at the BOTTOM of that 25-35 year old age range.  And I was born three weeks early, so that gives me an unfair disadvantage.
  • Perhaps the most obvious reason, this book was published by St. Martin’s Press – not a YA/children’s publisher.
  • I don’t want it stinking up the YA section. HA!  But seriously…

You’d think I’d do the same thing with the new Traveling Pants book, hey?  Nope.

Sisterhood Everlasting

Will be Shelved as Young Adult Fiction (I think)

Rationale

First I have to say that this book doesn’t come out until June and I purposely haven’t read any reviews.  I want to experience the book completely blind; I listened to all four books on audiobook last year, am sort of a fan, and would like to be surprised at what happens.

  • Unlike Sweet Valley High, there are teens still actively checking out the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series from my library.  There is a perfect little spot next to those in the YA section for the new book.
  • I don’t think there’s really been time for much Pants nostalgia to set in yet. The first Pants book only came out eight years ago.  SVH was around thirty years ago.   Therefore I’m not sure any adult over 22 years old would really recognize the characters in the adult section.

Of course, I won’t really know until I read the book.  I’ll be more than happy to re-class it if the themes are really adult, and/or if I think it can stand on its own legs in the adult section without the context of the other four books.

If anyone has any opinions (without providing any spoilers or even basic plot information for Sisterhood Everlasting) I’m all ears.  I would also like to take this opportunity to say that if, in 2025, there is a new adult book entitled Geronimo Stilton: Whiskers of Truth detailing his sexual betrayals and new “adult” life in New York City, I will write another post about my shelving decision.


YA Covers: Can Black Not Be the New Black?

The YA collection at my library looks like it came from bottom of a coal mine.  Black.  Black.  Black.  And it’s not our fault.  With the paranormal explosion came the black/dark cover explosion..  I wonder how Jerry Spinelli is doing these days as the turquoise wonderfulness of Stargirl literally shines out from the  charcoal abyss.

Since fangy and wingy dudes are supposedly on the decline, I’m hoping that colour might come back.  Especially because colour can still be edgy.  I got to thinking about this when I saw the cover of a new Simon and Schuster book, Choked.

Despite being a dark, murder-y , mystery-y type deal, it’s pale pink.  Yes, there’s some black on there, but using it sparingly actually has the effect of making the book look darker and creepier than if the whole thing was drenched in Dracula’s favourite colour (I assume Dracula’s favourite colour would be black.  But actuallly, now that I think about it, it would probably be red, hey?  Like a deep, deep red.  Whatever. Just go with it).

Here’s hoping there are more pink (and red and turquoise) covers coming our way.

Oh, and here’s the inspiration behind this title’s blog post (at the 2:05 mark, but you should really watch the whole thing because it’s hilar).

Book Covers: Testicular Heart Cherries are to Girly YA as Silhouettes are to Evolution Kidlit

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that silhouetted book covers and evolution have been mad played out lately.  Behold, this image I constructed with Microsoft Word and a screenshot program (Photoshop is beyond me) that I posted a few months ago to illustrate what many others already know:

Sidenote: I am introducing Half Brother author Kenneth Oppel (along with some other very talented authors like Richard Newsome and Richard Scrimger) at the Vancouver International Writers Festival next month.  Lots of swooning to follow.

I snarikly tweeted some time ago that Lo Bosworth of The Hills has a book coming out that features some testicular-looking cherries on the front.  But it seems she’s not alone!  Alexandra Diaz’s Of All the Stupid Things also has the same testicular cherries, complete with matching heart stem!

Diaz’s cover was first, so Lo is officially getting sloppy seconds.  If I find a third cover like this (three cherries – very Vegas slot machine), methinks it will officially be a trend.