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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Flashback May 2007

A flashback to what I was reviewing in May 2007!

Poisoned Crown: The Sangreal Trilogy by Amanda Hemingway. Young adult. My review: “Nathan, hero of the prior two books, has a third and final treasure he has to recover, the Poisoned Crown. But what will happen when all these other-world relics are in one place and time? Does Nathan really know what is going on? . . . This is the conclusion of a trilogy; and while it works fairly well as a standalone, there is a lot going on that a reader won’t appreciate without the benefit of reading the first two books. What I really like about this trilogy is that it’s like reading one book in three parts, rather than three connected books. . . . The ending changes everything. It was so “wow” that I want to reread from the beginning with this new perspective. I’m almost hesitant to say anything more than that, because I want you to be as surprised and impressed as I was. I also liked the humor: “When you have spent half the night partying, and the other half in a potentially disastrous confrontation with the forces of evil, there is nothing like the prospect of a good breakfast.”"

Heaven Looks A Lot Like The Mall by Wendy Mass. Little Brown. 2007. Young adult novel in verse. My review: “Tessa in in gym class and sees the orange dodgeball approaching. She doesn’t duck. BAM. And she finds out that — heaven looks like the mall? The hell? . . . OK, this is NOT another one of those dead teenagers and their post-death lives books. For one thing, Tessa is not dead; not yet. She’s in a coma. Whether or not she wakes up depends on what she learns about her life so far. And how will she learn it? A trip down memory lane; or rather, a trip thru the mall. Tessa reflects on what she’s bought at the mall in her lifetime, starting with her first pair of shoes and ending with her Junior Prom dress; and her actions and choices related to each item. And by the end, we find out why, when Tessa saw that ball coming — she didn’t dodge. I like Tessa because in many ways Tessa isn’t always likable. Jealousy and the other dark things that lurk in a third grader’s heart drives her to steal her best friend’s purple gel pen — and Tessa gets away with it. It seems her life is a series of bad choices, some found out, some kept hidden. Why are these the events she is revisiting? And why does she view her life by looking at the bad? This book is about how we view our own history; what choices we make, including why we make them.”

Mama’s Saris by Pooja Makhijani; illustrated by Elena Gomez. Picture book. My review: “I enjoyed that this is a story that is both unique (the saris, with details such as “The folds and nooks of Nanima’s saris hold lots of secrets. I always find coins tied into the ends of safety pins fastened on the inside, and I smell the scent of cardamom and sandalwood soap all over“); yet universal (a child wanting to dress up in her mother’s clothes).”

Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande. 2007. Young adult. My review: ”Mena’s [former] friends are from her church. What kind of church, you may ask? The kind where you cannot read Harry Potter or watch Lord of the Rings. The kind where, when the biology teacher says “Evolution”, all her old friends turn their seats — literally, turn their seats around — and sit with their backs towards the teacher. And what Mena did has put her at outs with her church; a church her parents still attend. And let me share one of the best things about this book — yes, some of the people in the church are hypocrites. But that does not destroy Mena’s faith. Between the evolution and the exclusion, this could easily have been a “and then a teen discovers its best to have no faith, no religion, no god” type of books. Instead, Mena does not allow these individuals to shake her own faith, and her belief in and need for religion. What is even better about this book is that it is not evangelical; it’s about Mena’s journey, about her own coming of age, and there are no “are you saved” moments directed towards anyone, including Mena, other characters, or the reader.”

Half of an Elephant by Gusti. Kane/Miller. Originally published in Mexico 2006. Picture book. My review: “The plot is a mix of silly and serious as elephant (and every other animal) has to go looking for it’s other half. In a weird way, this is like an adult romance break up and get back together story: elephant has to learn to be strong on it’s own! Elephant is so desperate to be whole that it hooks up with the wrong half of an animal! And at the end, when the two halves reunite because after all, they belong together, each half retains its independence. It applies to any situation where someone “cannot live without the other person” yet find out… yes, the can.”

Dramarama by E. Lockhart. My review: “Sadye and her best friend, Demi, have been accepted to the summer drama camp at Wildewood Summer Institute. Sadye (well, technically Sarah, but Sadye is so much better, don’t you think?) knows that this will be the best summer of her life, in part because it’s getting her out of Brenton, Ohio. But things don’t turn out the way Sadye had hoped. What happens when your whole life is about pursuing a dream — and you find out that you don’t have what it takes? How much worse is it when your best friend does have what it takes?”

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

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