Tag Archives: Straight to the Favorites Pile
From the summary: Learning to live is more than just choosing not to die, as sixteen-year-old Ryan discovers in the year following his suicide attempt. Despite his mother’s anxious hovering and the rumors at school, he’s trying to forget the darkness from which he has escaped. But it doesn’t help that he’s still hiding guilty secrets, or that he longs for a girl who may not return his feelings. Then he befriends Nicki, who is using psychics to seek contact with her dead father. This unlikely friendship thaws Ryan to the point where he can face the worst in himself. He and Nicki confide in one another the things they never thought they’d tell anyone—but their confessions are trickier than they seem, and the fallout tests the bounds of friendship and forgiveness.
Christina: I should start by saying that TRY NOT TO BREATHE is not technically a swoony read. There’s no hero that will leave you draped across a fainting couch, no kiss that will have you clutching your pearls (there’s kissing but ykwim). The subject matter is pretty dark, but it’s a book that will make you feel, the kind you want to talk about and remember long after you turn the last page.Read More »
From the book jacket: Jill MacSweeney just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she’s been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends—everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she’s somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.
Mandy Kalinowski understands what it’s like to grow up unwanted—to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she’s sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It’s harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?
As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy—or as difficult—as it seems.
Lo says: I could probably write a review for this that just says, “You guys, you have to read this. Please please read this.” And you would, and would agree with me that this book is amazing, and that Sara Zarr should be crowned Queen of All of the Things.Read More »
From the summary: It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.
Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.
Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.
Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.Read More »
From the summary: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.Read More »
From the summary: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now. Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
*SEMI-SORT-OF-BUT-NOT-REALLY-SPOILER-ALERT* TFiOS was just released last week, and the author himself has asked that readers not spoil the book for those that haven’t read. And of course, we agree. So as usual, we will gush and squeal and have flailypants while giving away as few of the delicious spoilery details as possible. Deal? Deal.
From Goodreads: “Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers.”
It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.
His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.
Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.
But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.Read More »
As you know, Alison did a Swoony Boy Alert on Prince Po from Graceling not too long ago. I was totally convinced by her post (and by the enthusiasm from Leiah) to finally read Graceling.
I don’t need to do a full-blown review here – we’ve already pimped this book on the site – but there were a couple of things that have just completely stuck with me since finishing it last night and I have to unload my love here. For anyone out there who is on the fence about whether to read this book, honestly, it has been added to my favorites pile forever and ever.
It’s true that Po is seriously swoony. And, believe me, there were lines in the book that Alison could have included but didn’t because she didn’t want to spoil the impact. He sees Katsa for who she is at her best, worships her strength, and actually loves that she’ll always beat him in a fight. Po is a wonderful feminist.Read More »
Both titles available at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore Website
White Cat: Cassel comes from a family of curse workers—people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, all by the slightest touch of their hands. Since curse work is illegal, they’re all criminals. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider—the straight kid in a crooked family—as long as you ignore one small detail: He killed his best friend, Lila. Now he is sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat. He also notices that his brothers are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of one huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the con-men.
Red Glove: Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe’s world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else. That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s now been cursed to love him. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.
When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help solve the crime. But the mob is after him too—they know how valuable he could be. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone—least of all, himself?
From the book jacket: Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life – and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.
Lo sputters: I don’t even really know where to begin. I’ve literally just closed the back cover, heaved out the most satisfied of sighs, and then leaped up, sprinted to the computer, and started furiously typing. This book is, simply put, breathtaking.
I was nervous about reading it, and even though many people whose Book Opinions I put above all others told me I MUST READ IT NOW – still, I hesitated. My brother died in a car accident when I was fifteen, only days before his twenty first birthday. Now, I have a living sister whose life I treasure with this kind of terrified, adoring cling, and sibling death books haunt me. There are some lines in this book that felt so perfectly crafted that I almost hated them.
-I don’t have a clue what to do with my face or body or smashed up heart.
-My sister dies over and over again, all day long.
-I can’t shove the dark out of my way.
-When I introduced Bailey, I felt like I was presenting the world’s most badass work of art.
It’s hard to be reminded that there is someone who is gone before they made all of the wonderful memories of a lifetime truly lived, or that the memories that were made have been completely erased from the world’s Library of Memories. And this is the opening subject of the book; admittedly, it could hit a reader with a spiked mace of painful WHOMP.
But somehow, like Gayle Foreman with If I Stay and Where She Went, Jandy Nelson manages to convey grief without writing a book that feels repellingly leaden with its sadness. What’s more, without even one awkward seam, Nelson weaves in all of the other things that are happening at seventeen: fears, sexuality, longing, loneliness, inconsistency, confusion, misunderstanding, discovery, mistakes, lust.Read More »
It seems fitting that we start this post with Stephanie Perkin’s Amazon review. Perkins is, of course, one of our favorite writers of swoon, and yet here we are recommending a very hard, very non-swoony book. It’s perfect to us because it shows the depth and breadth of the literature available to adults and young adults. In a wonderfully concise review, Perkins has captured the brilliance that is Forbidden.
Tabitha Suzuma has crafted a harrowing, sexy, heart wrenching, and heartbreaking masterwork about one of our last remaining taboos. Lochan and Maya are the oldest children of an alcoholic, absentee mother. The burden of raising their three younger siblings has fallen upon them, and they have been forced to mature into parents. As their friendship is strengthened, and as they become dependent upon one another for survival, their parental relationship develops into a new stage: romantic love.
An alternating first-person narration immerses the reader deep inside the hearts of the characters. Suzuma takes great care to help us understand how such a situation could arise and allows us to be sympathetic for it–even root for it–though we know, just as Lochan and Maya know, that the future of a Happily Ever After is unlikely.
This is a powerful novel about love in all of its forms. About teenagers forced to become adults, and about children forced to acknowledge new parents. Particularly stressful is the second oldest boy, Kit, whose every appearance carries an impending sense of disaster.
Forbidden never let me set it down. It never let me stop worrying. And it never let me stop hoping for the best. –Stephanie Perkins
As you can see, Forbidden isn’t a book that is appropriate for our Swoony Recs page. The characters may be any number of wonderful things, but the categories we save for this site—our fun zone—don’t fit this book at all. Lochan is truly wonderful but it feels shallow to call him swoony. Maya is amazing, but ‘badass’ feels much too light-hearted. And although we’ve both gone back and reread particularly powerful passages, we probably couldn’t handle a complete re-read in any near future. However, for both of us, Forbidden goes straight to the top of the favorites pile.
The problem is that we can’t in good conscience really recommend Forbidden to anyone. It’s like telling someone to go watch Ponette or La Vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful). Wonderful, sure. But it hurts, and it’s hard, and here the subject matter is both devastating and a little cringey.
Still, it’s hard to not recommend it, to want to share it with everyone we know, discuss and then relish the heartache together. Even though it didn’t fit our usual campy content, this book has hit us so hard and so fiercely it felt weird to not bring it to this site. Forbidden is beautifully crafted and executed. We both read it in a single, sleepless night, and then sobbed together the following day.
We are so hammered by our love for this book and so many of our expectations were dissolved away when we read. The characters are deeply, richly drawn, so intimate and real, that we hurt when they hurt. We hope hope hope for them so acutely, even when a part of us feels like we can’t, or shouldn’t.
There are very few situations in which this book would work. Few authors could craft a story that would make us understand incest, let alone support Lochan and Maya’s decisions the way we did while reading. And although we both love happily ever afters, the truth is that sometimes the perfect ending isn’t the characters dancing off together to the singing of birds and the rustling of fallen leaves. Sometimes, the only way a story can end is with heartbreak and triumph and hope and devastation and redemption and surrender. The world that Suzuma built is a real one, and a hard one, and one that neither of us wants to let go of quite yet.
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