Carry on My Wayward Teens: If You Love Supernatural, You Must Read “Unbreakable” by Kami Garcia

Unbreakable Kami GarciaUnbreakable (The Legion: Book 1) by Kami Garcia
Genre
: YA fiction, supernatural, Supernatural, mystery, adventure, paranormal scavenger hunt
Rating: 4.13 out of 5 stars

Summary: Kennedy’s an incredible artist with a photographic memory who lives with her mom after her father abandons them. The worst thing going on in her life is that things didn’t work out with her boyfriend….until her mother is murdered and Kennedy is suddenly under attack by vengeance spirits and poltergeists set on killing her too. She runs for it with a van full of teens claiming to be members of The Legion – a centuries old group whose paranormal fighting powers are passed down from generation to generation. They also tell Kennedy that she’s one of them, the missing fifth member. Jared and Lukas are twins and grew up learning to fight ghosts with their father and uncle. Alara was raised by her voodoo loving grandmother and Priest is an actual genius who learned everything he knows from his grandfather. But Kennedy didn’t even know ghosts and demons existed until one killed her mother. As she struggles to fit in and learn as much as she can as fast as she can, she must also battle with herself over this possible new identity. Could she really be special? Or is she just a mistake like her father said before he left? Most importantly, can she be brave enough to help stop a demon and save the world?

So believe it or not, I was directed to this book by Buzzfeed. (And to a lesser extent our book release list.) I didn’t even really need to read this whole list – a YA book recommendation for people who love the TV Show Supernatural? I’m obviously in. This book is pretty much exactly Supernatural except with an actual Scooby gang and with actual girls! With personalities and everything! The book is in first person, told from the point of view of Kennedy who thought she was a mostly normal girl living in a totally normal world – until her mother is killed and all of a sudden her house is being ripped apart by a poltergeist. Luckily, two hot, gun-filled-with-salt-rounds-wielding brothers burst in to save her just in time. Jared (yes, Jared) and Lukas are twins and were raised to be hunters – you know, the family business. Okay except it’s a bit more complicated because actually they are members of a secret society formed hundreds of years ago to stop the Illuminati. The Legion always has five members and the position is passed down from generation to generation.

The first group of Legion-ers made the classic mistake of trying to raise a demon to do their bidding. The inevitable happens where they lose control and that demon – Andras – has been hunting them ever since. Usually they operate in secret, each member only knowing how to contact one other member to keep the demon from finding them. That worked until now – Andras killed all five members at the same time, leaving our group of teens in charge of destroying him and saving the world from evil.

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“Two Boys Kissing” Makes You Feel Your Feelings

Two Boys Kissing David LevithanTwo Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Genre
: YA, LGBT, human experience, love
Rating: 4.94 out of 5 stars

Summary: Two Boys Kissing presents several stories from the lives of various gay teenagers centered around Harry and Craig who are attempting to beat the world record for longest kiss by kissing for over 32 hours straight. Harry and Craig are relying on each other and their incredible bond of friendship and love. Avery and Ryan just met for the first time and are experiencing that amazing giddiness that comes with first dates. Neil and Peter have been dating a year and are still in love, but dealing with parents and potential boredom. And Cooper…. Cooper feels completely alone. The story is narrated by a Greek chorus of gay men who died during the AIDS epidemic and who act as silent ghosts watching over the world and these boys as they live their lives. They represent a perspective of those who came before and show us how some things have changed, and how some things will always be the same.

First, some congratulations! Two Boys Kissing was just announced this week as a finalist on the longlist of National Book Award nominees in the Young People’s Literature category! Now is a great time to jump on board and read this fantastic book if you haven’t already! (Also check out the other nominees at www.nationalbook.org.)

Once again, David Levithan shows that he is an expert at making me FEEL MY FEELINGS. Two Boys Kissing is so very real, despite the chorus of ghosts telling the story, and just so moving. I am a girl and I cannot begin to imagine the struggle that so many people have gone through and are still struggling through today despite the years that have gone by. This book made me ache with sadness, burn with anger, shake with fear, and smile with delight. It was such a great read and I would definitely recommend this to all gay boys because it is part of their story and it is told so beautifully. And I would recommend this to everyone because this is a story of PEOPLE and we are all people and we should read everything. As humans we share struggles. We all experience struggle and heartache and joy and love. Some people, gay or straight, have more or different or more difficult struggles than others, but we all feel these things and we can all reach out and help.

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Stephanie is Fine with Not Seeing “Doon” for a Hundred Years

DoonDoon by Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon
Genre
: YA fiction, fantasy, romance, Twilight
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Summary: Veronica’s life pretty much sucks. Her dad abandoned her when she was 12, her mom is dating a lecherous slob, and her boyfriend just cheated on her. Luckily, her musical theatre obsessed best friend Mackenna makes plans to whisk them both off on a fantastic summer long vacation to Scotland where she has inherited a cottage from her great aunt. Before they leave, Veronica begins having strange visions and dreams about a handsome, blond boy in a kilt who is reaching out to her and calling her name. The visions only increase and grow stronger when they make it across the pond. Kenna thinks Veronica has lost it, until they find a set of magic rings, left to Kenna by her aunt, that transport them across the enchanted Brig into Doon – a magical kingdom straight out of the middle ages. Veronica knows she’ll find her destiny here and with a land full of handsome princes, gorgeous sweeping landscapes and incredible castles, what could go wrong? But Doon is not as perfect as it seems – a cursed witch is out to destroy the kingdom and Veronica and Kenna are suspected of being in league with her. Can they prove their innocence, find true love, and save an entire kingdom from destruction?

Brigadoon as a YA novel sounds amazing, doesn’t it? My mother has always hated the musical – “Why does the village only appear once every hundred years? That’s stupid.” I dozed through it once in high school and I have seen the movie at least one time and it is a little dull. And long. With the 20 minute long dance breaks that were so popular during that time period. So I thought this would be perfect – a modernized novel where teenagers fall into Brigadoon. Except it didn’t work out the way that I wanted, in that I wanted it to be good and it was pretty terrible.

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Stephanie Reviews “White Cat” by Holly Black

White Cat by Holly Black
Genre: YA, fantasy, supernatural, crime
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary: Cassel Sharpe is a thief, a con man, and a murderer. He’s also a student at Wallingford boarding school, trying to blend in and have a normal life. His mother is in jail for “working” and his brothers both work for a famous crime boss. They are curse workers – people with magical powers they utilize just by touching someone else with their bare hand. Curse workers can grant people luck, change their memories, or even kill them with a single touch. All working is illegal. Cassel is the only non-worker in his family, but he is plagued by odd dreams, fits of sleepwalking, and holes in his memory. Who is he really? And how can he live with himself after everything he’s done?

I bought this book for like $2 during the final days of Borders and finally picked it up for more Leakycon prep – since Holly Black will be there and I had not read anything she’s written. My friends have disliked Holly’s books so I was kind of wary, but White Cat ending up being a pretty cool book that I would totally recommend.

The world is built very nicely on top of our own – lots of little historical and political details that allow curse workers to slide right into the reality we already know. Our narrator is Cassel Sharpe – I like him much more than I like that ridiculous name. We watch him struggle to fit in at a normal school – try to have friends, a girlfriend, and basically try to pretend he’s normal. But he’s not – his family is deeply entrenched with the famous Zacharov crime family of curse workers. Curse workers have magical powers that they use on others by touching them with their hands. There are different kinds of curse workers – some affect dreams or memory, others can give people good or bad luck, some can kill people with just a touch. Everyone in this world wears gloves. Cassel’s not a worker himself, but he’s been highly trained by his mother as a thief and a con man – giving him habits he constantly has to hide from the other kids at school. Even worse than that – he’s a murderer. When he was 14, he killed the girl he loved and he doesn’t even remember doing it. Just that his family covered it up.

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Bizarro Blursday: Stephanie Loves “More Stories about Spaceships and Cancer” by Casper Kelly

More Stories about Spaceships and Cancer by Casper Kelly (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, short stories, social commentary in a fun, absurd way
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary: “More Stories about Spaceships and Cancer” is a collection of absurd short stories. Using several “hosts” including a skeleton, a super hot dead chick, and a werewolf who works in a fast food place, “you” the reader are guided through a bizarre world of stories that are anything but ordinary. There is no pretending to be something they’re not – these stories are 100% smart with intelligent things to say – the cave-like vaginas, large breasted ninjas, and universe-ending ejaculations are unapologetically awesome and necessary. This book will make you think about your place in the world and contemplate what’s really important in life. But mostly you’ll just laugh a lot.

Casper Kelly has written for Harvey Birdman, Squidbillies, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and more. He’s won an award for his work on “Scooby Doo.” He also asked us if we would review his book – I AM SO GLAD HE DID. More Stories about Spaceships and Cancer was absolutely awesome. It reminded me of buying a book or a DVD of Stephen Colbert’s – it’s immediately funny before you even get to the actual content. I was dying laughing at the Table of Contents which featured things like “These are not Short Story Titles” and “Go Ahead. Tap it. The Links Don’t Even Correspond to Anything.” Turns out it’s a story of its own, but I won’t spoil the ending. The dedication then reads, “For You.” For me? I’m so stoked before I even start reading!

Moving on to the Introduction, the book is in second person and a skeleton bursts out of my e-reader and introduces himself as host, Professor Badbones who along with assistant Snervley try to convince me that I do in fact want to read this book. Badbones compares a collection of short stories to “a hodgepodge of one night stands.” They’re not really long enough to want to develop a real relationship and usually they don’t really go together or connect. He continues with a bunch of commentary about the standard story and what we’ve come to expect from it and how even if it isn’t good, we still appreciate the symbolism or whatever. After that, we dive into the first story – where a duck is sad about his divorce and just when you think things are too normal, a guy gets sucked into a giant TARDIS vagina. (It’s so much bigger on the inside.)

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Bizarro Blursday: Stephanie Reviews “Island of the Super People” by Kevin Shamel

Island of the Super People by Kevin Shamel (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, superheroes, star-crossed love, action/adventure
Rating: 3.98 out of 5 stars

Summary: Trent along with two fellow students, Jen and Martin, accompany Professor Topper and Natalie the TA on an anthropology expedition to the Island of the Super People. This is a protected island with a very primitive, indigenous population of heroes and villains. The students are there to study and learn about the super people and their customs. They live in huts, have no modern technology, and do not even have any vocal speech – they communicate exclusively through speech bubbles that come from their mouths to spell out what they have to say. The anthropology team is meant to be alone on the island to quietly observe, but they soon run into trouble with a military group apparently stationed on the island, led by the sinister Colonel Shank. They claim they are there to investigate a radioactive spill, but Trent and the others soon learn they have very different motives to being on the island. Super heroes and villains will have to learn to put aside their differences and work together to keep their people from going extinct.

Island of the Super People is the first Bizarro novel that I’ve ever read. From what I’ve heard from Cujo (Cassie-la), an avid reader of Bizarro as you will have seen from her reviews, I was preparing myself to be absolutely disgusted with gore and ridiculous sexual things I’ve never thought about before and all kinds of ridiculous things like that. I was totally ready for that. But then Island of the Super People was not that at all. At first I was confused – wait, the author is setting up complex characters that I will care about and a creative, interesting plot? What? Things were a little strange from the beginning, but don’t worry – this book is plenty weird! Like…so weird. But in a great way.

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Stephanie Loves “I Am Legend”

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Genre: Horror/Developmental Zombies/Post-Apocalypse/Science Fiction
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars

Summary: A strange disease has taken over and left the world full of blood-thirsty killers and empty of humans. Except for one. Robert Neville is somehow immune and must battle vampires, terrible isolation, and despair on a journey of survival. But maybe just surviving isn’t enough. While he longs for companionship, he dedicates himself to finding the cause of the disease and hopefully an antidote that can save those who are still left alive.

I Am Legend is a fantastic read. I am super into zombies right now and after John Green listed this book as number one in his top five favorite zombie apocalypses, I figured it was a must read. Also, I’ve never seen the movie of this same name with Will Smith so I can’t give any opinion on comparing the two – although I can’t imagine that movie is like the book very much at all.

Having had very limited knowledge of this story, it did surprise me that the book was actually not about zombies at all, but rather vampires. It definitely has all the qualities of a zombie apocalypse, but yeah…vampire apocalypse! Weird right? Because usually vampires don’t take over the world and cause the collapse of society, but it’s cool. Vampires are just zombies with good press, right?

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