Pure by Terra Elan McVoy

Tabitha and her 4 best friends all made a promise to each other when they were 12, to stay virgins until marriage and they all have purity rings to solidify their commitment. However, that was before high school and before boys. Now 15, the girls are still just as committed to each other and their vows. But when Tabitha gets a new boyfriend things start to change for the group. Morgan, Tab’s best friend is not supportive and secrets within the group begin to grow. When one of the girls does the unthinkable, Tabitha finds herself having to decide not only between her best friends but between what she thought was right and wrong.

Pure is a mixture of a lot of things. To begin, it is a light-hearted novel about struggles between best friends and standing up for what you believe in. It is about coming of age and finding yourself. It is also about beliefs and religion. While I do not typically like novels that have religion as a central feature as I often find them preachy, the religion aspect did not overpower the story.  The characters could have been a little bit more developed, and the plot was a little slow. However, I really enjoyed Tabitha’s struggle and found her to be a completely relatable character. It addressed real issues, and I appreciated the many viewpoints on premarital sex and an introduction to the idea of purity rings which is kind of popular right now. I am not sure how appealing this will be to a wide audience, but I enjoyed it.

You might like Pure if you enjoy books with: a light and uplifting feel, multiple main characters but with single person narration, a coming of age realistic feel.

Other books by Terra Elan McVoy: After the Kiss

If you enjoyed Pure you might also like:  The V Club by Kate Brian, Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson and Lost it by Kristen Tracy.

For more information on purity rings click here.

Rating: 3Q 3P MJ

Other Covers:

Review of a Professional Journal – School Library Journal

Things I liked about it:

  • Seemed to have a lot of relevant articles about things that relate to YA.  For example, one of the articles was about 3-D virtualization in a high school as a way to promote virtual learning and whether a library should have a social media policy.
  •  Has a regular feature called “the Buzz” that looked at new technologies. This is super important to keep up to date with the technologies that teens might be using.
  •  It addressed relevant issues that are concerning to both children and YA school librarians, such as whether or not school libraries are still relevant and the changes that need to be made to ensure they are.
  • Articles all seemed well researched and professional in nature.
  •  Many of the signature pieces were substantial in length which is better than some of the other journals that just use one small single page article and cover topics in a less in-depth manner.
  • Introduced new books with quality reviews (in theme section). Many of the books are being covered in online book blogs, which speaks towards popularity.
  • There was a multimedia review as a regular feature – quite hefty (14 pages) and includes a lot of different multimedia formats (some of them seemed more education based and perhaps not something teens themselves would take out. Although this was not always the case).
  • The main book reviews were organized by grades.
  • There was a little section called “Introducing Point of View,” which featured 5 books that are already released that are about difficult topics (Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson). It then introduced two new books that are similar.
  •  Seemed to be a wide variety of contributors.

Things I did not like:

  • Was not specifically for teens, included a lot of information about children as well.
  • Also focuses on school libraries, which is not always applicable to YA librarians working in a public library setting.
  •  It lumped YA reviews in a category with grades 5 and up, not very specific and you would have to search through the pages to find ones applicable to actual teens, but there was a lot of books reviewed ( 30 pages in total in this grouping).

I think that Library School Journal is really well rounded, including information on everything from new technologies, important issues, new books, videos, etc. I think the information was really relevant and helpful. While not specifically for teens, as it did included information on children, it was a great starting point for any librarian. This would be especially helpful for a school librarian or a librarian in a small library that worked with both teens and children. Overall, I thought it was a very useful professional resource (the amount of reviews being the most appealing feature).

For the responses to the interviews I did with the book bloggers please check out my Interview tab above!!

Coming Soon to a Library Near You (3)

Coming Soon to a Library Near You is a weekly feature inspired by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that looks at upcoming books.

This week’s book: By the Time you Read This, I’ll be Dead

Author: Julie Anne Peters

Release Date: January 5, 2010

From Amazon:

Daelyn Rice is broken beyond repair, and after a string of botched suicide attempts, she is determined to get her death right. She starts visiting a website for “completers”. While she’s on the site, Daelyn blogs about her life, uncovering a history of bullying that goes back to kindergarten. When she’s not on the web, Daelyn is at her private school where she is known as the freak who doesn’t talk. Then, a boy named Santana begins to sit with her after school while she’s waiting for her parents to pick her up. Even though she’s made it clear that she wants to be left alone, Santana won’t give up. And it’s too late for Daelyn to be letting people into her life, isn’t it? National Book Award finalist Julie Anne Peters shines a light on how bullying can push young people to the very edge.

Twilight Abuse

At first I thought I was the only one in the world who thought that Twilight promoted some questionable relationship behaviors. However, with New Moon coming out, I’m finding increasingly more blogs and articles written by professionals in the library field and teens themselves who agree with me.

This is from the YALSA blog and a school librarian.

I never thought I was going to have such a serious problem with a popular book that I almost didn’t put it on the shelves. I’m a cool, gay, sex-positive, pro-teen agency guy, I thought to myself when I was getting my MLIS, the parents may have problems with my selections, but too bad! I’m here to advocate for the students. And then I read Twilight.

I almost didn’t buy the Twilight books for my 7-8 school library. I don’t hate them because I’m a guy, or because of the excruciatingly bad prose, or the corruption of vampire mythology without acknowledging or commenting on the original, or even because Bella is such a waste of space. I hate them because of the sexual messaging they impart to teens, especially teen girls, robbing them of agency and normalizing stalking and abusive behavior.

Even if I hadn’t purchased the series (or is it a saga now?) for the library, it seems like every third girl in the school has her own copies, right down to the developmentally delayed girls who came in today toting matching copies of The Host. So I have to engage with it, and I’ve been trying to casually counteract the normalization when girls talk to me about their favorite book and movie of all time. (I am saying girls for a reason: Twilight seems to be universally reviled by the boys in my school, most of whom have not read it.) I don’t talk about hating the book, I just say I’m not a fan, and usually cite Edward’s stalking behavior as creepy. Sort of along the lines of this anti-text message harassment PSA. What Edward does is just not cool.

But a good (non-librarian) friend sent me this LiveJournal commentary on the movie adaptation of New Moon. The post has some NSFW language, but goes over the abusive red flags in Bella and Edward’s relationship, as laid out by the National Domestic Violence Hotline. It’s the first time I’ve seen it put so baldly, and it is shocking.

I no longer feel my casual, conversational undoing is enough. I’ve brainstormed with a Twilight-loving teacher about how to approach doing this anti-domestic violence education in a more formal way. I’ve got a call in to the dean of my school to see if I can link this in with the sexual assault education they get from the District Attorney later in the year. I couldn’t keep the books out of their hands even if I thought it was ethical to, but I also can’t sit by while a book with near-universal market penetration negatively shapes the social and sexual agency of the girls in my school.

Also Check out The Neverending Shelf’s post and comments.

You might not agree, but it is at least something to think about.

Luna by Julie Anne Peters

“As I heard her slog across the floor toward my desk – where she unveiled her makeup caddy in all it’s glory – a sigh of resignation escaped my lips. Yeah, I loved her. I couldn’t help it. She was my brother.”

Regan’s brother can’t stand who he is during the day – Liam the boy. However, at night, with the help of Regan’s makeup and mirror, he is able to transform into the person he truly feels he is – Luna the girl. Tired of hiding who he is, Liam has decided to start to transition, with or without his family’s support. Faced with difficult decisions, both Regan and Liam/Luna will have to choose between their own personal interests and their love for each other. This is a compelling story of self identity, acceptance and unconditional love.

Luna is a breathtaking story about what it’s like for someone whose loved one is transgendered.  The writing is beautiful and contains the rich sarcasm and whit that one comes to expect from Julie Anne Peters. I thought the characters were well constructed, especially that of Regan, and I appreciated that there was a bit of romance for her. Julie Anne Peters did a great job of bringing these characters to reality, making them identifiable, even if the reader is not in a similar situation. Anyone who has a loved one struggling through something can identify with this novel.  I don’t think this should be a controversial book, Peters handles what can be a sensitive topic with delicacy and honesty. I’m really glad I read this as it opened my eyes to the struggle of an entire community I was not all that familiar with. This book should DEFINITELY be included in a library collection, as it is both a mirror and a window.

Other books by Julie Anne Peters: Define “Normal“, Between Mom and Jo and Far from Xanadu

Other books about the GBLT community: Geography Club by Brent Hartinger, Freak Show by James St. James, Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger

Gender Identity Clinic in Toronto website

Rating:  5Q 3 or 4P S

Other Covers:

Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Mary lives in a type of post apocalyptic world where the Unconsecrated (Zombies or infected people) are always a threat. Her isolated village is surrounded by a fence and ruled by the Sisterhood , who claim to always know what’s best.  However, as Mary continues to lose the ones she loves to the Unconsecrated and sees someone from outside the village she begins to question the Sisterhood and the limitations they set. When there is a breach in the fence, she takes the opportunity to escape the village and head down an unknown path leading away from the village in the hopes of finding some answers. As she travels down the path with those who escaped she’ll be forced to make decisions between the safety of the group and her dreams and between the one she loves and the one who loves her.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a very fast paced, suspense filled novel. It is somewhat similar to The Village by M.N Shyamalan, but with a lot more action as the characters fight against the flesh eating Zombies! The writing was good, but there were some problems with pacing. A few areas were a little drawn out while others were incredibly fast. While a style that is often really effective, it’s not one that I personally like. The characters were well written and the love story incredibly frustrating (which I liked). You know you’re engaged in a book when you’re physically yelling at the characters! For those who are interested in zombies or like fast paced supernatural-esque romances, this is a great book.

Other books by Carrie Ryan: The Dead-Tossed Waves

Other zombie books: Generation Dead by Dan Walters, Zombie Blondes by Brian James, Kiss of Life by Dan Walters, The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan and Soulless by Christopher Golden 

Rating: 4Q 5P MJS

Other Covers:

*this is the first book in a series of three. The second book, The Dead-Tossed Waves, is set to come out March 9 2010.

**There is a buzz that The Forest of Hands and Teeth movie will be made, although author Carrie Ryan says it’s still too early to tell.