100 Words: How It Ends

As the elderly neighbor told picture-perfect tales of her youth, Hanna never guessed how much “Grandma” Helen shielded from her. Helen, afraid Hanna will learn the truth too late and hate her, must end the pretty lies. With Hanna more interested these days in heartbreaker Seth than visiting her ailing Gran, Helen decides to write her real stories for Hanna to read… and hope for forgiveness.

Intense, tragic, inspiring. With strong female leads and realistic twists, this haunting journey explores themes of love and devotion… and how to tell if someone deserves either.

Hannahs of the world: read this book.

Learn More: How It Ends
Author: Laura Wiess
Publishing info: August 4th 2009 by MTV; ISBN 1416546634
Age Range: 14+ at least. This book requires a mature reader (and might be best enjoyed if read as a teenager and then again when older). Includes graphic descriptions of violence to humans and animals, sexual situations both beautiful and horrible, minor/recreational drug and alcohol use, some swearing, and intense emotional situations that are likely to inspire tough but important conversations.
Olivia’s Rating: 5 out of 5 smiley pumpkins

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100 Words: Princess of the Midnight Ball

Cursed, Princess Rose and her eleven sisters secretly attend the Midnight Ball. Galen, a recently returned young soldier armed with an invisibility cloak and pure cunning, is their last hope to break the spell. With three nights to uncover their secret, the mystery may plunge the kingdom back into war!

While the large cast endures little character development, Galen is a clever, easy to root for hero. This delightful, light retelling of ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ fairytale benefits from unique expansions and explorations.

Knitting fans will also enjoy a bonus feature in the back: two plot-inspired patterns! A clever touch.

Learn More: Princess of the Midnight Ball
Author: Jessica Day George
Publishing info: January 20th 2009 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens; ISBN 1599903229
Age Range: Recommended for ages 12+, but your mileage may vary! No swearing, mild fantasy/fairytale violence, negligible alcohol use (Galen drinks wine at a party), and negligible sexual situations (very chaste romance).
Olivia’s Rating: 3 out of 5 smiley pumpkins

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100 Words: The Girl in the Steel Corset

X-Men as sleuthing 1890s London teenagers. Split-personality Finely Jane plays the Wolverine role, with duke Griffin King substituting for Professor X. (Watch for Gambit, Emma Frost, Colossus, Forge, Quicksilver.)

Convenient modern tech, invented by one girl, was eye-roll worthy. Removing the steampunk veneer could strengthen the advanced technology.

Despite predictable plot twists seemingly ripped from 1990s cartoons—Finley’s family secret; power origins; The Machinist’s Diamond Jubilee scheme —the tropes are still fun.

(And Finley, dear? Bemoaning which dashing lad has you crushing harder—the gentleman or rogue—and if your wuv could ever be? Makes you vapid. Stick to ass-kicking.)

Learn More: The Girl in the Steel Corset
Author: Kady Cross
Publishing info: May 24th 2011 by Harlequin Teen; ISBN 0373210337
Age Range: Recommended for ages 13+, but your mileage may vary! Minimal swearing mostly of the Brit-kind, moderate violence, minimal alcohol use (please don’t light your absinthe’s sugar cubes on fire >.<), and moderate sexual situations.
Olivia’s Rating: 2 out of 5 smiley pumpkins

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Today in YA History: February 12, 1938 – Judy Blume born!

February 12, 1938: Beloved author Judy Blume (Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; Blubber; Forever…) born in Elizabeth, NJ!

Judy, the second child of Esther and Ralph Sussman, “spent most of [her] childhood making up stories inside of [her] head.” She briefly attended Boston University before transferring to New York University–where she met future-husband John Blume in 1959. The couple were married while Judy was entering her junior year. She graduated from NYU in 1961 with a bachelor’s in teaching. The couple had two children, Randy Lee and Lawrence Adam, before separating in 1975.

Blume met her current husband, mystery novel author George Cooper, in Vancouver. They married in 1987 and are together to this day, living in New York City.

Her first novel, The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo, was published in 1969. She began writing while her children were in pre-school and she was pursuing a teaching career of her own. In ten years, she published thirteen more books, including Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret in 1970 and Blubber in 1974. She has become a household name to young readers everywhere, especially in America. Though the subjects tackled in her novels have often been under fire or up for censorship and banning, she is especially praised by fans for “her use of real-life settings, ambivalent endings and gentle humor.”

From Wikipedia:

    [M]any of Judy Blume’s books deal with difficult issues for children, including questioning the existence of God, friendship, religion, divorce, body image, and sexuality. However, Blume has stated that she does not set out to tackle these issues when writing. She begins with a character, or sometimes a character and a situation.

From her official site:

    She is the founder and trustee of The Kids Fund, a charitable and educational foundation. She serves on the boards of the Author’s Guild; the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators; the Key West Literary Seminar; and the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Blume’s books have sold over 80 million copies and been translated into 31 languages.

Do you traverse the Twitter-sphere? Follow her @JudyBlume!

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