Colasanti, Susane. Waiting for You.

NY: Viking, 2009.

Young adult novels about high school romance — about boy-girl relationships of all kinds really — tend to follow a pattern. That’s okay, it’s what the readers want and expect, and the best writers add various fillips to make their story different from all the others. Colasanti sticks to the pattern but her characters have a lot of originality to them and the writing itself is well above average.


Published in: on 29 June 2018 at 6:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Perry, Thomas. The Bomb Maker.

NY: Mysterious Press, 2018.

Perry has written some two dozen books, most of them thrillers of one variety or another — but not “mysteries,” because you always know whodunit from the beginning. It’s more a matter of witnessing what the Bad Guys do, how that affects those around them, and how their assorted nemeses attempt to stop them. (And they don’t always succeed.) This one involves a nameless killer with no political or other outside motivation who is very, very good at building bombs. Why? He wants to lure in and kill off the LAPD bomb squad, and he manages to get appalling close to his goal.


Mina, Denise (adaped). The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

2v. NY: Vertigo 2012.

I read a lot of graphic fiction, and I’ve also read and enjoyed Larsson’s original novel twice now, so I was surprised to find I had somehow missed this graphic adaptation of it by Denise Mina — a mystery/thriller author whose books I have also enjoyed.


Armentrout, Jennifer L & Dhonielle Clayton. Meet Cute.

NY: Houghton Mifflin, 2018.

This is an anthology of fourteen YA short stories on the theme of how young couples meet and embark on relationships. (The terrible title was probably the bright idea of someone in marketing. Just ignore it.)


Albertalli, Becky. The Upside of Unrequited.

NY: HarperCollins, 2017.

I’m a retired big-city public librarian, and I started reading YA books back in the ’60s, simply as part of my job. (I sort of skipped that whole genre, what there was of it, when I actually was a young adult.) I’ve followed the evolution of the field, the shifts in topics and assumptions about the changing world teenagers inhabit, because every decade of young readers over the past half-century has been rather different from the previous decade. Changes have accelerated substantially since I was that age. And this book simply couldn’t have been written, much less published, as little as thirty years ago.


Smith, Jennifer E. Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between.

NY: Little, Brown, 2015.

A century ago, when going to college was the exception and not the rule, even for the middle class, it wasn’t that unusual for high school sweethearts to marry and raise a family. (All my grandparents did it.) These days, though, high school romances almost never survive the couple going off to separate schools, with a whole new world filled with new people, waiting for each of them to explore. More mature high school seniors know this, and break-ups shortly after graduation are common.


Campbell, Joseph. The Power of Myth.

Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1988.

More than fifty years ago, a professor in Greek and Roman History my sophomore year in college introduced me to Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and I became fascinated by the concept of sociohistorical archetypes. I spent more of my student budget than I should have on Campbell’s four-volume Masks of God, which was still being published then. I try to avoid having academic “heroes,” but Campbell comes close.


Jemisin, N. K. The Obelisk Gate.

NY: Orbit Books, 2016.

This isn’t a sequel to The Fifth Season so much as the middle section of a continuous epic narrative, and it’s easily as good as the first volume. And, like the first volume, it also won the Hugo and was nominated for the Nebula. Essun (who once was Damaya and then was Syenite) is a very powerful orogene, a manipulator of the geology of the Earth (which, one begins to suspect for various reasons, is actually our Earth, perhaps in the far future), has found sanctuary in a community that includes many others of her kind — which amazes her, since people like her are universally feared and frequently killed as children, as soon as they begin to show their abilities.


Bui, Thi. The Best We Could Do.

NY: Abrams, 2017.

This is one of most affecting graphic novels I’ve read in some time. It’s actually a memoir (the library classifies it in U.S. history), detailing the author/artist’s birth in Vietnam three months before the end of the American war there and her flight with her family as one of the Boat People in 1978.


Lovesey, Peter. Beau Death.

NY: SohoPress, 2017.

This series about Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond of the Bath CID has been generally pretty good. The first couple of volumes were problematic, frankly, but then the author got a handle on his characters and now he’s up to adventure no. 17. Diamond runs into oddball situations in nearly every book, and this one is no different.