Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

A Little Summer Lovin’

Ah, Summer. There is something about summer that makes me want to read some summer flings. While during the rest of the year I am drawn towards dark and edgy, there is something about the summer sun shining brightly that makes me want to pick up those books with light, airy covers that suggest we can all have our own summer love story. So here are 10 titles whose covers suggest these might be some great summer reads. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any meat in between the covers. Also, I haven’t read some of these yet (I add notes!), their covers just speak to me and whisper: we would make a great summer beach reads display.

The Bridge from Me to You by Lisa Schroeder

“Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place.” – from the publisher (Scholastic Point, July, 9780545646017)

Things You Should Know:
There is some poetry in this book.
My God-daughter, a Tween and avid reader, is a HUGE Lisa Schroeder fan and highly recommends them all. All of them.

#Scandal by Sarah Ockler

“Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.” – from the Publisher (Simon Pulse, June,
9781481401241)

Things You Should Know:
Our MC is an online video gamer who loves to shred zombies. And she’s a girl. I love this.
Also, Ockler is a very dependable author that I enjoy so I am looking forward to this one.

Through to You by Lauren Barnholdt

Opposites attract—and then complicate—in this romantic, relatable novel from the author of Two-way Street and Sometimes It Happens.” – from the publisher (Simon Pulse, July, 9781442434639)

Things You Should Know:
I have started this and am enjoying it.

The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt

“Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there’s a wedding chapel to save.” – from the publisher (Bloomsbury, May, 9781599907888)

Things You Should Know:
I enjoyed Leavitt’s previous title Going Vintage very much and am looking forward to this.

The Superlatives: Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

“Tia and Will’s lives get flipped upside down when they’re voted Yearbook’s Biggest Flirts in this sassy novel from the author of Endless Summer and The One That I Want.” – from the publisher (Simon Pulse, May, 9781442474451)

Things You Should Know:
Fun series are always a great go to.
Echols is another author I recommend.

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

“A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers.” – from the publisher (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, May, 9780374382674) 

Things You Should Know:
This is Peter Pan based.
It gets lost some along the way and has some very mixed reviews, but it is an interesting concept and definitely has that summer vibe.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

“What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.” – from the publisher (Simon and Schuster, April, 9781442426702)

Things You Should Know:
This book is a really great read. It was recently nominated as a Best Fiction for Young Adult title
This is the first book, there is at least one more to come.
This is one of the few titles I have received that really has any diversity.

How to Meet Boys by Catherine Clark

Find out what happens when you fall for your best friend’s worst enemy in this timeless and hilarious story of a forbidden first love and forever friendship.” – from the publisher (HarperTeen, May,
9780062264510)

Things You Should Know:
Clark has crafted a couple of other really great beach read favorites so this should be a good one.

The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik

“Anna Eliot is tired of worrying about what other people think. After all, that was how she lost the only guy she ever really liked, Finn Westbrook. Now, three years after she broke his heart, the one who got away is back in her life.” – from the publisher (HarperTeen, April, 9780062252289)

The Last Forever by Deb Caletti

Endings and beginnings sit so close to each other that it’s sometimes impossible to tell which is which.

Nothing lasts forever, and no one gets that more than Tessa. After her mother died, it’s all she can do to keep her friends, her boyfriend, her happiness from slipping away. And then there’s her dad. He’s stuck in his own daze, and it’s so hard to feel like a family when their house no longer seems like a home.

Her father’s solution? An impromptu road trip that lands them in a small coastal town at Tessa’s grandmother’s.” – from the publisher (Simon Pulse, April, 9781442450004)

Things You Should Know:
Caletti writes amazing and beautiful love stories and you should read them all. 

And don’t forget Morgan Matson! Great summer reads. 

MG Book Review: Frosting and Friendship by Lisa Schroeder (reviewed by Tween reviewer Ceci)

A review of Frosting and Friendship by Lisa Schroeder from tween reviewer Ceci

But first how I got an advanced reader copy of this book.
My class had an assignment to write a letter to a famous person. I chose Lisa Schroeder because I loved her books, It’s Raining Cupcakes and Sprinkles and Secrets. I GOT A LETTER BACK!!!!! Lisa Schroeder wrote back to me! That was REALLY exciting, the letter came to my school. Then I started to review books for TLT and asked my Auntie Karen if she could get an ARC from Lisa Schroeder and she could! A few days after talking to her a package came to my house with a ARC of Frosting and Friendship, a letter, and bookmarks to share with my friends! OH MY GOSH! I can’t even tell you how excited I was. I screamed, I was sooooooooo happy!(Karen’s note: She did scream. They sent video footage. It was awesome that Lisa helped me make this moment happen for Ceci.)


Well here’s the review! You’ll have to wait until September to read the book though!


This book is about a girl named Lily who makes too many plans. Yikes! She joins a club called the Baking Book Worms. But Lily doesn’t know how to cook. And the club has a rule: bake the snacks, don’t buy. 

Then Isabel, one of Lily’s friends, wants to plan a surprise party for Sophie who is turning 13. YAY! But she is already in a band with Zola and Abigail trying out for the spring fling against other bands. And she is trying to learn how to cook! But she says YES!

Everyone is in way over their heads.

Read the book, in September, to find out what happens next. Also read It’s Raining Cupcakes and Sprinkles and Secrets.


Love and Peace
Ceci

Goodreads Synopsis for Frosting and Friendship: Has Lily bitten off more than she can bake? A sweet treat from the author of It’s Raining Cupcakes and Sprinkles and Secrets.

On a scale of zero to ten, twelve-year-old Lily Hubbard is a zero when it comes to baking. Her cookies turn out salty, her cakes tend to lean, and things are always overcooked.

When Lily is invited to be a part of a mother-daughter book club called The Baking Bookworms, she is excited—and terrified. It seems like she’s the only one who didn’t inherit the baking gene.

But she does have the music gene, which is why she’s forming a band that will audition for their school’s annual Spring Fling. If, that is, Lily can balance her priorities. Because Isabel, one of the Baking Bookworms, has asked Lily to help plan a surprise party for their mutual friend Sophie. And the task is…creating a showstopping, mouthwatering, thirteenth-birthday-party-worthy dessert. Uh. Oh.

Soon, Lily finds herself knee-deep in sugar and sheet music as she tries to juggle her responsibility to her bandmates AND give her friend the best party ever.

Aladinn, 2013. ISBN: 9781442473967

Girl Meets Boy, Boy Stalks Girl (Book Review: Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder)

This will not be your ordinary book review, because I need to talk to you about not only my thoughts as a librarian, but as a reader.  Read the whole review, because this was quite the reading journey and my initial reaction changed drastically as I read on.

If you follow me on Twitter (@tlt16), you know that I initially wanted to throw this book across the room and walk away.  You see, Falling for You is the story of Rae.  Rae comes from an extremely dysfunctional home but is presented as a strong, though guarded, young woman.  Then she meets Nathan, the new boy in school.  Nathan is intense, alarming. From day 1, Nathan sends alarm signals to those in the know; getting into a relationship with Nathan is a really bad idea – and Rae seems too smart for that (edited to add: please see the great discussion in the comments where I clarify this statement).  This was my initial Tweet:

The very next day, Nathan and Rae are eating pizza.  “A supreme?”, he asks.  But no, Rae doesn’t like onions.  “You can just pick them off,” Nathan replies.  He dominates the conversation.  He kisses. A lot.  He suggests she deletes all the other guys out of her cell phone.  He pressures her, often, to have sex in ways that are emotionally manipulative and sometimes terrifying.  I hated Nathan, but then you’re supposed to.  But more importantly, it didn’t seem like Rae was the type of girl to fall into this trap.  It seemed like really inconsistent character writing.

So, I was torn.  But then Heather, who is reviewing this title for Booklist so look for her review, told me to keep reading it.  I respect Heather, her opinion, so read on I did. And I AM SO GLAD THAT I LISTENED TO HER. Why?

See, Rae tells her friends that she is worried by Nathan’s behavior.  And, as it devolves into scary stalker soon to be abusive territory, her friends see it too and back her up.  For once, we have a strong though flawed teenage girl noticing the signs of an abusive relationship and trying to get herself out of the situation.  What a powerful message to girls, you can get out.  We know that statistically most girls will leave something like 7 times before they leave for the last time, Rae does slip at one point.  We also know that leaving an abusive relationship is one of the most dangerous times for women because these types of men don’t like losing control.  But that particular fact isn’t really shown in Rae’s relationship with Nathan, but in her mom’s relationship with her stepfather Dean.  An entirely different plot point, an equally heartbreaking.  Rae’s mom makes a revealation that very realistically depicts domestic violence.

A Rae of Sunshine

Although the cover sells it that way, Falling for You is not really simply a book about obsessive love.  Falling for You is really the story of Rae, a young girl trying to find herself and find happiness in a world that has definitely dealt her a crappy hand.  Rae is a realistic teenage girl; she is me, she is the girl you pass in the hallways at school. Even while her mother ignores her and her stepfather spirals out of control, there are people in her life that genuinely love and support her.  In fact, one of the closing themes of Falling for You is the idea of family: 

As I took it all in, three pairs of eyes reached out to me. And what I saw in my friends’ faces surprised me. . . And in that moment, I realized family isn’t necessarily who you live with. (page 339)

A Kindness Revolution with a Dab of Poetry

I won’t get into the details, but another significant part of the story are some random acts of kindness that an anonymous person sends Rae on through her job at a florist.  While making deliveries, Rae meets various strangers who touch her life in a variety of ways.  At the same time, Rae begins sharing her poetry in the school newspaper.  Although she does so at first anonymously, she eventually chooses to put her name on her poems and encourages her fellow students to be open about who they really are.  There is some great discussion here about how the social expectation has come to be that we must always be “on”, and in those moments of dishonesty, we rob ourselves of the chance to truly connect with one another.  The message is sometimes preachy, but it is spot on and important.

In the End, I Shed Tears

Falling for You turned out to be such an uplifting story, inspiring.  What at first seemed like inconsistent character issues turned out to be a compelling arc of a young woman coming into her own.  And I was thankful for those moments of insight that Rae shared, those moments where she recognized her neediness and questioned what she was doing.  Rae was strong but flawed, a very realistic depiction.  Rae is relateable.  Rae is real.

The Storytelling

I want to take a moment to share one other element that I think made this a strong story; because, although at the times the story gets preachy, it has a strong storytelling style that keeps you invested.  We begin with a very vague scene in the hospital, where you realize that something has happened to someone, something horrible and tragic.  Then the book itself is divided into sections: 5 months before, 4 months before, 3 months before, 1 month before, the day before.  In between each section is another ominous hospital scene.  You know something bad has happened, but you have no idea what.  At the same time, you see the elements of both Rae’s relationship with Nathan and her stepfather spiraling out of control.  Either one of them is a candidate for having done something to Rae, and you want to know what happened and who did it.  It is a very taut stortytelling mechanism, it keeps readers turning the page.

And Then There Was Leo

There are several rays of light in Rae’s life, but one of my favorites is her friend Leo.  Leo is, simply stated, a good guy.  He’s the type of guy you want your teens to date (if they must date – can’t they wait until they’re 30 LOL).  He isn’t shiny and dazzling and perfect.  He is real. A lot of times the boys in teen fiction are “hot” and “swoony”, setting some unrealistic expectations in readers and setting up guy readers to make unrealistic self comparisons.  I wonder often how these depictions of guys must make readers feel about themselves just like I wonder how some of the covers make girls feel about themselves.  And then there was Leo, the perfect guy not because he is in fact perfect, but because he is perfectly real and perfectly nice.

This was my final Tweet:

There are a lot of elements to this book, and in the end they come together to inspire.  I am pretty sure at the end my heart grew 3 sizes, Grinchlike.  And on a personal note, I loved Rae’s obsession with the Foo Fighters (who rock!), her love of poetry (there are poems scattered throughout), and the fact that books and libraries are mentioned in positive ways.  Falling for You is not perfect, but in the end it is perfectly heartwarming.  In the midst of the pages there is also a simply wonderful love story, it’s just a bumpy road for Rae to get there.  People online seem to be having very mixed and strong reactions, as I definitely did in the beginning, but your teens will LOVE this book.  I think this is a really important, inspiring books that we need in our collections.  And the cover rocks, teens will check it out. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder. Published in January 2013 by Simon Pulse. ISBN: 978-1-4424-6121-5.