Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She’s just moved from New York City to Farbook, New Jersey, and is anxious to fit in with her new friends—Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie. When they form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret is happy to belong.

But none of them can believe Margaret doesn’t have religion, and that she isn’t going to the Y or the Jewish Community Center. What they don’t know is Margaret has her own very special relationship with God. She can talk to God about everything—family, friends, even Moose Freed, her secret crush.

Margaret is funny and real, and her thoughts and feelings are oh-so-relatable—you’ll feel like she’s talking right to you, sharing her secrets with a friend.

Thoughts:

My sister was such a fan of Judy Blume when she was younger, and she is still, to be honest. Let’s not mention her fan-girl behaviour when she met her at YALC a few years back! (Ha!) I was happy to read another book by Judy. It was a re-read for me as I remember reading this book when I was younger. It’s still as heart-warming as it was back then. Judy Blume was writing before Young Adult was really a thing and this book is a little more than middle grade but not quite young adult.

It centres around Margaret who has moved to New York and joined a secret club with some new friends. Margaret and her friends love talking about personal subjects privately with one another. They talk about boys, bras and periods. Margaret doesn’t have a religion and her friends find this hard to believe or understand. What they don’t know is that Margaret privately speaks to God and that’s enough for her.

I absolutely loved this book because I could see a lot of Margaret in my young self. I didn’t talk to God but I was desperate to ‘grow up.’ I think having an older sister definitely made me want to be more like her. I knew I was longing to have my period and then when it arrived I was excited… until the cramps started! Ha. Margaret is such a relatable character to many young girls. I really don’t think this book has aged much at all. Obviously, there’s more choice for sanitary products, but aside from that it’s still very relevant. I’m reading it decade on from its release and it doesn’t seem dated at all. True testament for superb writing from Judy Blume!

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge (February):
The BFG- Roald Dahl

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Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Number The Stars

Number the Stars

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It’s now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are “relocated,” Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen’s life.

Thoughts:

I absolutely adore historical fiction based in World War II. I don’t know why, but I just seem to have a fascination with stories based in that time period. It’s not that they excite me, I don’t mean that. I’m just always utterly compelled by that era. I’m always horrified by the things that happened. 😦 I think it’s really important that children/young adults learn about this time period too which is why I’m thrilled that Number The Stars exists.

Number The Stars centres around the Danish family of Annemarie Johansen. Annemarie and her family helped hide their Jewish friends. This story focuses on how the Danish helped smuggle the Jewish people into Sweden which was a free country, thus saving them from an almost certain death.

This book is just long enough to keep the attention of middle graders. It also has the perfect amount of historical detail. A book aimed at middle grade/teenagers doesn’t need to be bogged down with historical detail. That could potentially turn a lot of readers off. This has the right mix in my opinion. It’s also got some very likeable characters within its pages. Our main protagonist Annemarie is a sweetheart and I loved her friendship with Ellen. I absolutely adored how strong and brave the Danish were and how they looked after their neighbours.

I have to admit, that I didn’t know much about Denmark during World War II, so it was a really educative experience to read this book, even as an adult. I think there’s so much to be enjoyed in this short book. I really did enjoy it!

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her review HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (December):
Time Travelling With A Hamster- Ross Welford

Banned Books #40- ttyl

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read TTYL by Lauren Myracle.

ttyl (Internet Girls, #1)

Synopsis:

Audacious author Lauren Myracle accomplishes something of a literary miracle in her second young-adult novel, ttyl (Internet instant messaging shorthand for “talk to you later”), as she crafts an epistolary novel entirely out of IM transcripts between three high-school girls.

Far from being precious, the format proves perfect for accurately capturing the sweet histrionics and intimate intricacies of teenage girls. Grownups (and even teenage boys) might feel as if they’ve intercepted a raw feed from Girl Secret Headquarters, as the book’s three protagonists–identified by their screen names “SnowAngel,” “zoegirl,” and “mad maddie”–tough their way through a rough-and-tumble time in high school. Conversations range from the predictable (clothes, the delicate high-school popularity ecosystem, boys, boys in French class, boys in Old Navy commercials, etc.) to the the jarringly explicit (the girls discuss female ejaculation: “some girls really do, tho. i read it in our bodies, ourselves”) and the unintentionally hilarious (Maddie’s IM reduction of the Christian poem “Footprints”–“oh, no, my son. no, no, no. i was carrying u, don’t u c?”).

But Myracle’s triumph in ttyl comes in leveraging the language-stretching idiom of e-mail, text messaging, and IM. Reaching to express themselves, the girls communicate almost as much through punctuation and syntactical quirks as with words: “SnowAngel: ‘cuz–drumroll, please–ROB TYLER is in my french class!!! *breathes deeply, with hand to throbbing bosom* on friday we have to do “une dialogue” together. i get to ask for a bite of his hot dog.'”

Myracle already proved her command of teenage girl-ness with Kissing Kate, but the self-imposed convention of ttyl allows a subtlety that is even more brilliant. Parents might like reading the book just to quantify how out of touch they are, but teens will love the winning, satisfyingly dramatic tale of this tumultuous trio. 

First published: 2004
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2011 (source)
Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: If you’ve been following our Banned Books series for a while now, you might remember that I don’t see any reason for a book to be banned outright. Handled delicately in certain situations – yes, of course but banned? Never! Then there’s the other books that pop up on our list where I can see no reason on earth why they should be banned/challenged and ttyl is one of those cases. I don’t remember there being much offensive language to be honest, but if there was it wasn’t overly offensive to me if I didn’t even notice it. Certainly, it’s no worse than what teenagers would hear on a daily basis – at school, on the streets, on the television…need I go on? And excuse me, we are challenging a book for having a religious viewpoint now?! I’m not particularly religious myself but I quite enjoy reading about different religions (especially if it’s done in a non preachy type way) so I could never accept this as a reason for preventing access to a book.

CHRISSI: I don’t agree with any of the reasons for this book being challenged at all. To me, it just read like a realistic conversation between three teenage girls. Challenging it doesn’t sit well with me because it’s completely sending the wrong message. Why should normal teenage conversation be censored? It’s not a surprise to me that teenagers discuss sex and swear a little. As for the religious viewpoint, that’s ridiculous. Religion isn’t a strong topic within this book!

How about now?

BETH: It’s been thirteen years since ttyl was first published and I don’t think attitudes have changed extraordinarily in that time. When I first came to this book I thought the reasons for challenging it would be entirely different and I was surprised to read what they were. I guess because this book is written as a series of messages between a group of friends and a small portion of it is written in “text-speak” or acronyms like ttyl (talk to you later), I assumed that the main complaint would be that it encourages poor communication between teenagers! Imagine my surprise when instead they quote sexual explicitness and inappropriate for age group reasons! I don’t believe that you’re going to find anything in this book that is shocking or not what normal, healthy fifteen year old girls talk about with their close friends.

CHRISSI: No. This book should not be challenged in my opinion. Like Beth, I could understand if there was a problem with communication/text speak as that’s something that does annoy me (not enough to challenge the book!) I actually wondered if it might be about internet safety and that something terrible might have happened (even then those books have a place, an educative place!) but no… it was normal teenagers speaking about normal things in their lives as they grow up.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I have to say, I approached this book with slight trepidation – I wasn’t sure I would enjoy an entire novel written in message format and I definitely wasn’t the target audience for this book! It’s not really for me, to be honest but I can see why teenage girls would love it and I really appreciate the strong female friendships that the author wrote about which are so important in the turbulent time of adolescence.

CHRISSI: I wasn’t a fan of this book. It took me a while to get through and I found it a little bit tedious in places. Remember though, I’m not the target audience for this book. I can totally see why teenagers would enjoy this book though. I love that the characters have such strong friendships. So whilst it wasn’t for me, I’m sure others would love it!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI: Yes! (to teenagers)

Lola Offline

Lola Offline

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Hatchette Books

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Love And Other Man-Made Disasters

Synopsis:

Delilah Hoover has gone dark.

She’s left school, changed her name and moved to Paris. It’s not what she planned but there’s no other choice, because she did something bad. Something nobody will forget. It made her trend on Twitter, and it’s the first thing that comes up when you google her.

Paris is a new start, with new friends – like socially inept geek Ben, keyboard warrior Vee, and the impossibly perfect Tariq, but could the City of Lights offer more? Awkward dates, accidental afternoon drunkness and a perfect kiss; Delilah’s life as a normal teenager is seemingly back on track, or is it?

Sometimes learning to be happy with yourself is the hardest lesson of all.

Thoughts:

Sometimes I love to read books that I know won’t take me long and they’ll be enjoyable. I thought this would be the case with Lola Offline and it really was. Lola Offline was a quick and easy to read book which will be perfect for fans of teenage fiction, especially those into social media.

It centres around Delilah. Delilah makes a stupid mistake online (like so many of her age and beyond!) she jokes about something and it is taken seriously. Delilah is labelled a racist and shunned by her peers. Delilah decides that she wants to start afresh somewhere. She moves to Paris. A fresh start. Delilah now goes by the name of Lola, leaving her past behind so that her new friends can’t google her and find out about her past that shames her. Lola meets some new friends and falls in love with Paris. However, Lola’s life isn’t back on track as it doesn’t take long for the truth to come out. Lola’s new peers react in different ways. Lola (Delilah) really has to learn about herself and how she can be move on from her past and be genuinely happy once more.

I thought this was a decent read which highlighted the issues around social media. It’s not just social media, sometimes words can be completely taken out of context even when they’re vocalised.I think this is such an important read for the modern day teenager who can quite often spend a lot of their time on social media. It’s about the perils of social media and how one comment can go viral easily and affect your life.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

It’s a story about how words can hurt more than just yourself. 

This One Summer

This One Summer

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age — a story of renewal and revelation.

Thoughts:

I am steadily getting into graphic novels and This One Summer is one that kept on popping up when I mentioned a growing love of graphic novels. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I thought it was going to be a cutesy read, but it wasn’t. It had much more depth than I had anticipated.

This One Summer is about a summer friendship. Rose and Windy only really see each other in the summer. They have grown apart over time. Windy is a little younger and still wants to have a lot of fun, whereas Rose is maturing and wouldn’t mind talking about guys she likes. Despite them changing, they’re determined to stay friends. They hang out together and watch some scary films. Rose is dealing with some family issues and this makes her holiday destination not as special as it used to be.

I enjoyed how This One Summer deals with issues that so many teens and adults are going through. There’s sexuality, miscarriage, body image and adoption to name a few. As you can see from some of the topics, it really wasn’t the summer read you might expect from the title.

I enjoyed the illustrations and devoured this book. It may not be my favourite graphic novel that I’ve read but it was a fantastic read nevertheless.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A deeper than you might expect graphic novel!

Head Over Heels (Geek Girl #5)

Head Over Heels (Geek Girl, #5)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Harriet Manners knows almost every fact there is.

She knows duck-billed platypuses don’t have stomachs.
She knows that fourteen squirrels were once detained as spies.
She knows only one flag in the world features a building.

And for once, Harriet knows exactly how her life should go. She’s got it ALL planned out. So when love is in the air, Harriet is determined to Make Things Happen!
If only everyone else would stick to the script…

Has GEEK GIRL overstepped the mark, and is following the rules going to break hearts all over again?

Thoughts:

There’s something about the Geek Girl books that just makes me happy. I absolutely love Harriet as our main protagonist. She’s such a lovable character even if she can be infuriating at times. Head Over Heels is a wonderful addition to the series. I loved stepping back into Harriet’s world.

As ever, we begin the story with Harriet giving us a recap of what she’s been up to. One of the things that I love about this series is that I’m getting so familiar with the characters. I even have love for Toby, Harriet’s ‘stalker’. Harriet isn’t modeling as much as she used to be, so she’s putting all of her time and energy into organising her group of friends. As we know, Harriet is super organised. She wants to plan an amazing sleepover. She’s even got an itinerary. Harriet fails to realise what her friends are going through which makes it really hard to agree on a date. Wilbur, makes a reappearance. When Harriet overhears a conversation, she gets stuck on the idea that she has to take modeling seriously to help Wilbur out of a sticky financial situation. Once Harriet gets stuck on an idea, she goes through with her plans even if it does involve a little meddling along the way.

I absolutely love this series. I find it so addictive and easy to read. The characters, as I mentioned, seem so familiar, it’s like catching up with friends! I love that Harriet has now got a core group of friends. She’s found it difficult in the past to make friends and whilst it isn’t plain sailing for Harriet, it’s wonderful to read about their group dynamics. I read this book in no time at all. It’s so fun and heart-warming to read.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Another great instalment of the Geek Girl series. This fun and heart-warming series should be on your radar if you love cute and funny reads!

Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit- Maggot Moon

Maggot Moon

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

When his best friend Hector is suddenly taken away, Standish Treadwell realises that it is up to him, his grandfather and a small band of rebels to confront and defeat the ever-present oppressive forces of The Motherland.

Thoughts:

I’m pretty sure that I’d heard of this book before Beth decided to pick it as part of our challenge. I mean Maggot Moon is a memorable title, you’d have to admit! I wasn’t sure what I was going into though when I picked up this story. I thought it was highly engaging and very easy to read. Maggot Moon has such short chapters its easy to make your way through and I believe would encourage some more reluctant readers!

Maggot Moon is a dystopian tale which follows a dyslexic protagonist Standish. Standish lives in an alternate univeerse where the Motherland has taken control of England. In this reality, surveillance and capital punishment are totally normal. It’s a horrible existence for everyone in society. Standish is singled out from his peers because of his dyslexia, vivid imagination and his one blue and one brown eye. It makes him a target for bullies and for the awful society in which he lives in. Standish lives with his grandfather as his family has been taken by the Motherland. However, there is a secret hidden below Standish’s house which could destroy the Motherland.

I loved the short chapters in this book, because they kept me utterly gripped. I went into this book thinking that it might be suitable for younger children but I don’t think it is. There are some incredibly violent moments. Maggot Moon is a well written book which I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. It’s about friendship, loyalty and being different to the rest.

For Beth’s wonderful review, check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (August):
Looking for JJ- Anne Cassidy