More Summer Reads: Music, Aliens, and Beauty.

After my last post I went on quite the reading rampage, so I have six more summer reads to write about in this post.

1.  Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick.  I wanted to read this one because it won the Printz award (outstanding YA lit), and a copy came in right at the end of the school year.  This book is different than most novels in that it doesn’t tell one story.  Instead, it tells seven stories that involve two characters over a vast stretch of time.  In each story, which takes place in a different lifetime, the characters interact.  The way they interact is always different (sometimes they are parent/child, sometimes they share a romantic love, sometimes they are siblings), but the common theme from story to story is love and sacrifice.  It’s beautifully written and will make you think, but if you like action-packed, plot-driven books, this may not be for you.

2.  Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills.  Another award nominee (Stonewall–outstanding YA lit with a GLBTQ theme), Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is the story of Gabe (originally Elizabeth) and the struggle to be the person you really are.  The title comes from Gabe’s late night show on a local radio station, where he learns to string songs together like stories and is able to share his true identity with the world.  At school and at home, he is forced to be Elizabeth; although his parents know who he is, they are having a difficult time accepting the changes in their child.   This book is fantastic.  Not only do you get interesting characters with very real struggles, but you also get the benefit of Gabe’s extensive knowledge of music and the playlists he creates.  Pick up a copy if you’ve ever felt like you couldn’t be your true self around others.

3.  the perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.  This one has been on the shelves for a while, and I noticed it was pretty popular, so I thought I’d try it out.  Charlie, the protagonist in this book, also likes music, so I was happy to see references to great songs throughout the book.  Unlike most books, this one takes the form of letters Charlie writes to an unnamed person.  Written throughout his freshman year, Charlie tells the person (whom he has never met) about his friends, his family, and what is going on inside his head.  While I found Charlie’s writing to be a little stilted, he kind of grows on you, and by the end you really like him.  He’s also funny–this book literally made me laugh out loud.

4.  This Song will Save Your Life by Leila Sales.  I loved this book, which tells the story Elise Dembowski, a total misfit.  Elise goes so far as to spend the entire summer between her 9th and 10th grade year studying how to be cool–which of course fails miserably.  Just when she’s given up hope of ever having friends or anything resembling a “normal” life, she stumbles upon an underground club and discovers her talent for DJing.  Like Gabe in Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, Elise begins to live a double life–nerdy loner Elise at school, and cool DJ Elise at the club.  When the two worlds collide, Elise fears she could lose everything.  As a bonus, the author includes a “playlist” of some of the music mentioned in the book.  Another read for those who feel like outsiders or those who love music.

5.  I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.  John Smith arrives in Paradise, Ohio with a secret–he’s an alien developing special powers to help him fight the Mogadorians (another alien race who invaded his home planet, Lorien). The Mogadorians are hunting John and others like him, who can only be killed in a certain order. 1-3 have been killed, so John knows he is next. His entire life has been spent on the move, avoiding attention, so when he suddenly finds himself faced with a new love interest, he has to choose–his life or his love. This book was a good read. So good that I suggested the movie for a “date night” with my husband. I do not, however, recommend the movie. 😦

6. Belle Epoque, by Elizabeth Ross. I wanted to read this after Ms. Ashworth suggested it (see her review). This book is historical fiction, with an emphasis on the fiction. Maude Pichon runs away from a small provincial town to Paris, trying to escape an arranged marriaged. She quickly learns that life in Paris is much more difficult than she anticipated, so to make a living she joins The Durandea Agency, which wealthy socialites use to hire “repoussoirs,” ugly women who, by comparison, will make them appear more beautiful. Maude isn’t exactly ugly, just plain, and her plainness is just what the Countess Dubern wants to help her daughter make a good match. Her daughter, Isabelle, however, has no idea that Maude is hired–she just thinks Maude is a new friend, the niece of a family acquaintance. As their friendship grows, Maude has more and more difficulty keeping the secret (and helping the Countess achieve her goals, which do not allow Isabelle to be her true self). I really enjoyed the story and the struggle Maude felt throughout the book–plus it’s a fun glimpse into the lives of French aristocracy.

You can find all these books and more on the shelves of the Lynbrook Library. Come by and check one out!