Image

Bibliographic Info:

Title: Two Boys Kissing

Author: David Levithan

ISBN:  9780307931900

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

Copyright date: 2013

Plot Summary

Two Boys Kissing revolves are three sets of boys and two of their friends, the first Harry and Craig used to be a couple but are attempting to set the Guinness World Record for consecutive hours kissed and they must surpass 32 hours.  Peter and Neil are two young boys trying to figure out where their relationship goes next after a year of dating.  Ryan and Avery are still trying to figure out the beginnings of their relationship while trying to understand their gender identities.  Tariq is still healing mentally from a beating by a group of boys yelling gay slurs in his ears as they kicked him.  Cooper is trying to navigate the relationships with his family after they learned that he was gay.

These stories are woven together with the narration of a generation of gay men lost to AIDs, giving their experiences and encouragement to the boys paving the way after them.

Critical Evaluation

What a wonderfully written book.  Though the stories of the individuals aren’t anything new, the way in which Levithan delivers the stories is something I hadn’t seen before.  The Greek chorus of those lost to AID’s is a touching reminder that they had similar experiences, yet not quite the same.

Levithan is in the minds of the characters and really seems to understand their struggles, and I found it to be a deeply moving read.

Reader’s Annotation

The stories of young boys navigating their first homosexual relationships, told by the chorus of men who walked the path before them.  A moving and uplifting novel about coming to terms with one’s sexuality.

Who Should Read It

Anyone looking for an upbeat LGBT story, or just a story about young romance and finding your way within it.

Why I Read It

It was a find at a bookstore on a trip and was recommended by one of the workers as a great YA LGBT novel.

Author Biography

David Levithan is both an editor and a writer of young adult fiction.  His most notable works include Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Boy Meets Boy, and Wide Awake. Levithan collaborates with other writers quite often and says that he might love editing even more than writing.  Levithan’s books quite often have strong gay male characters.

Genre

*LGBT Fiction

*Young Adult Fiction

Curriculum Ties

N/A

Booktalking Ideas

*Why do you think Levithan used the Greek chorus of those that have died of aids to be the narrator?

Reading Level/Interest Age

14+

Challenge Issues

*LGBT

*Sexuality

Two Boys Kissing

Advertisements

Image

Bibliographic Info:

Title:  The Outsiders

Author:  S.E. Hinton

ISBN:  9780140385724

Publisher: Puffin Books

Copyright date: 1997

Plot Summary

Ponyboy is the younger of the Curtis brothers, all members of the gang the Greasers whose rival are the Socs, short for Socials, they’re the rich kids who like to cause trouble.   When Ponyboy comes out a movie theater and is jumped by a group of Socs, his two brothers Darrel and Sodapop along with a few other Greasers, save him.  When the next night Ponyboy and a couple friends run into two of the Soc’s girlfriends it sets off a series of events that no one quite recovers from.

When Bob, on of the Soc’s is killed the rivalry escalates Ponyboy and Johnny hide out for a few days in a church.  When the church catches on fire, the boys attempt to rescue the orphans trapped inside.  Though the boys are called heroes, Johnny back gets broken when a beam from the church falls on him; he dies a few days later.

The real struggle of the book is Ponyboy’s desire for a life beyond the Greasers and the book ends with his writing an essay for his English class about the clashes between the Greasers and the Socs.

Critical Evaluation

The Outsiders is a violent depiction of gang violence in the 1960’s where being from the other side of the tracks was enough to label you as not good enough.   Hinton’s writing is superb and she creates characters that despite their violent nature, you truly feel for them and understand their actions.

Reader’s Annotation

The Greasers and the Socs are rival games in the middle of a violent turf war, will Ponyboy be able to escape with his life or will he be another casualty of war?

Who Should Read It

The Outsiders deals with the differences in the socioeconomic lives of teenagers in the 1950’s and how they dealt with their issues.

Why I Read It

A classic coming of age novel, almost every one of my male friends read as a teenager.

Author Biography

S. E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders when she was still a teenager, publishing it in 1967, when she was just 18-years old.  In addition to her young adult novels, Hinton has written for both children and adults.  Four of her five young adult novels have been turned into feature films.

Genre

*Coming of Age

*Young Adult Fiction

Curriculum Ties

N/A

Booktalking Ideas

*Why do you think Ponyboy tried to convince himself that he was the one that killed Bob?

*Knowing Ponyboy’s character, do you think he made a life for himself away from the Greasers?

Reading Level/Interest Age

14+

Challenge Issues

*Gang Violence

*Alcohol

*Language

The Outsiders

Image

Game

Name:  Rock Band 3

Ages of Users: 12+

Type of Game: Video Game

 

Why Purchase

Rock Band 3 is an interactive video game that lets the players develop their musical skill while playing a game.  Rock Band 3 includes guitar, bass, drums, solo vocals and keyboard.  This game is one that many teens enjoy playing and is a way for them to play video games that are less violent than the average ones.

Rock Band 3

Image

Game

Name: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Ages of Users: 14+

Type of Game: Video Game

 

Why Purchase

Assassin’s Creed as a franchise has a reputation for being historically away and creating a user experiences that shows the playing what different times in history looked like.  The newest version of the game, Black Flag is based in the Caribbean where the user is a pirate with your own ship, the Jackdaw.  It is a multiplayer game and is one of the most well received by critics as well as being one of the least bloody of the big name games.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Image

Game

Name: Risk

Ages of Users: 12+

Type of Game: Board game

Why Purchase

Risk is a game of military strategy that I have found many a teenage boy playing.  The goal of the game is global domination and you begin with five armies who each have forty infantry troops, twelve cavalry, and eight artillery.  Players take turns trying to march on other countries and forcing the opposing troops out.

Risk

Image

Bibliographic Info:

Title: The Other Boleyn Girl

Author: Phillipa Gregory

ISBN:  0739427113

Publisher:  Scribner

Copyright date: 2001

Plot Summary

The Other Boleyn Girl focuses on the less famous of the Boleyn sisters, Mary who as a young teen is married to one of Henry VIII’s courtiers when he notices her and takes her as his mistress, despite the fact that she is married.  Mary gives Henry both a son and a daughter, but as Henry’s affection wans, her sister Anne is right there to pick up the pieces.

Mary feels that it is Anne’s doing that Henry no longer looks at her and as Anne’s place at court grows she becomes more and more cruel to Mary.  Anne and Henry make plans for him to divorce his Queen, Katherine of Aragon in order for him to marry Anne.  Mary retreats from court and lives a simple life with her second husband, but as things begin to go wrong for Anne, she is summoned back to court to be by her sister’s side.

As Anne is accused of horrendous acts, including incest with her brother George, the Boleyn family does nothing for her and she dies with no one truly on her side as Mary lives her simple country life.

Critical Evaluation

The Other Boleyn Girl is easy to read and entertaining, but I hope no one mistakes this for an accurate account of Mary and Anne’s lives.  With a background in English history I can tell you that there are many inaccuracies throughout the book, but was most bothersome was the black and white nature of Mary and Anne’s personalities.  I found it Anne’s cruelty to be a real concern while Mary, the first to bed the king was the innocent bystander in the who story.

Reader’s Annotation

Two sisters competing for the heart of a king.  One will live out a happy existence, and one will lose their head.

Who Should Read It

Those who are interested in the dramatic, gossipy bits of history and love a little romance will adore The Other Boleyn Girl.

Why I Read It

A lot of my friends were reading this book in our senior year of high school and I came across it recently.

Author Biography

Philippa Gregory is a British author known best for her historical novels set in England.  Gregory has written a number of books about the Tudor era including The Queen’s Fool, The Virgin’s Lover, The Constant Princess, and The Boleyn Inheritance.

Genre

*Historical Fiction

*Romance

Curriculum Ties

*History

Booktalking Ideas

*Many historians contest the fact that Anne committed adultery, why do you think Gregory ignored this?

Reading Level/Interest Age

16+

Challenge Issues

*Sex

 

The Other Boleyn Girl

Image

Bibliographic Info:

Title:  The Awakening (The Vampire Diaries, Vol. 1)

Author: L. J. Smith

ISBN:  0061963860

Publisher: HarperTeen

Copyright date: 1991

Plot Summary

When high school senior Elena Gilbert meets Stefan Salvatore, she like all the other girls at school are intrigued by him and he ignores them all and goes to class and play football.  What everyone doesn’t know is that Stefan is a vampire, born during the Renaissance in Italy.  Elena pursues Stefan and is shocked that goes out of his way to avoid being near her.  As it turns out, Elena is the exact image of Katherine, Stefan’s first love and the vampire that turned him, and consequently he has a strong urge to feed from Elena.

Elena and her friend Caroline have a competitive friendship and when Caroline goes to the homecoming dance with Stefan, she hides her hurt by leaving the dance with two other boys and heads to the cemetery with them and another girls.  After a heavy amount of drinking one of the boys assaults Elena and Stefan comes out of nowhere and hits him until he stops fighting back.  Stefan takes Elena home when they notice the girl who was with them earlier wandering around in the road, saying she was attacked by something that wasn’t human.

Damon retreats from Elena as she continues to pursue him.  Meanwhile there have been a number of bloody deaths in their small town and people begin to put together that Stefan arrived not long before they began happening.  Elena confronts Stefan and he tells her the story of how he was turned, how he loved Katherine, but she also loved his brother, Damon; Stefan continues with the tale of his brother and their mutual dislike.  When Elena leaves, Stefan summons his brother who confesses to the local murders and then turns on Stefan when he refuses to give up Elena.

The next day Elena learns that Stefan has disappeared and she attempts to summon Damon.

Critical Evaluation

The Awakening isn’t the most complicated of books but it is a fast and addicting read.  The human characters are slightly spoiled and seem much less moral than the vampire, Stefan, but not as ruthless as his brother Damon.  The tone of the book is light and there are hints of foreshadowing, as every time there is a conflict with Stefan, the character seems to die soon after.

Reader’s Annotation

Elena is used to getting whatever boy she sets her eyes on, but Stefan is different and she can’t figure out why he goes out of his way to avoid her.

Who Should Read It

The Awakening is definitely a guilty pleasure read for those who enjoy a good supernatural story.

Why I Read It

This book was a recommendation from a teen at my local library.

Author Biography

L. J. Smith resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and is most well known for writing The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle book series which have both been turned into a CW television show.

Genre

*Young Adult Fiction

*Supernatural

*Vampires

Curriculum Ties

N/A

Booktalking Ideas

*Why do you think Damon kills anyone who goes up against Stefan if their not very close?

Reading Level/Interest Age

14+

Challenge Issues

*Supernatural

*Magic

*Drinking

*Sex

The Awakening