Friday, January 28, 2011

Short and Sweet

some of my favorite books under 200 pages.

So sometimes you really want to read a book to sort of cleanse your palette. A brief story can be just the thing when you have a few hours to read and don't want to get heavily vested in a huge read. So here are  fifteen my favorite YA novels that are just right.

Psyche in a Dress - Francesca Lia Block
Honestly I could have picked almost any one of Francesca's books because they are all quite brief, but this is one of my favorites.
But this is what I could not give up:
I could not give up myself

Psyche has known Love—scented with jasmine and tasting of fresh oranges. Yet he is fleeting and fragile, lost to her too quickly. Punished by self-doubt, Psyche yearns to be transformed, like the beautiful and brutal figures in the myths her lover once spoke of. Attempting to uncover beauty in the darkness, she is challenged, tested, and changed by the gods and demons who tempt her. Her faith must be found again, for if she is to love, she must never look back.

Godless - Pete Hautman
See also: Invisible and How to Steal a Car. (my review)
"Why mess around with Catholicism when you can have your own customized religion?"
Fed up with his parents' boring old religion, agnostic-going-on-atheist Jason Bock invents a new god — the town's water tower. He recruits an unlikely group of worshippers: his snail-farming best friend, Shin, cute-as-a-button (whatever that means) Magda Price, and the violent and unpredictable Henry Stagg. As their religion grows, it takes on a life of its own. While Jason struggles to keep the faith pure, Shin obsesses over writing their bible, and the explosive Henry schemes to make the new faith even more exciting — and dangerous.
When the Chutengodians hold their first ceremony high atop the dome of the water tower, things quickly go from merely dangerous to terrifying and deadly. Jason soon realizes that inventing a religion is a lot easier than controlling it, but control it he must, before his creation destroys both his friends and himself.

Green Angel - Alice Hoffman (my review)
See also: Green Witch (my review)
In lyrical words that "unfold like white flowers, petal by petal, each in its own time and season," Hoffman introduces us to Green, a gentle teen whose name reveals her connection to the earth and a peaceful beauty that contrasts with her sunny sister, Aurora. Yet when Aurora and her parents perish in tragic, fiery events in town, a solitary Green transforms herself into Ash: hard and closed, cropped hair, thorns on her sweater, with ink roses and ravens drawn on her skin. Facing an apocalyptic future of looters visiting her garden and suspicious looks from townsfolk, Green has only the family dog to keep her company. But when a ghostly greyhound and a hooded boy suddenly appear for companionship, she slowly realizes that "Ash" is only temporary, while "Green" is her soul, her life, healing all this time inside, waiting to be reborn.

Boy Meets Boy - David Levithan
This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.
When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
Since the beginning of the school year, high school freshman Melinda has found that it's been getting harder and harder for her to speak out loud: "My throat is always sore, my lips raw.... Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze.... It's like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis." What could have caused Melinda to suddenly fall mute? Could it be due to the fact that no one at school is speaking to her because she called the cops and got everyone busted at the seniors' big end-of-summer party? Or maybe it's because her parents' only form of communication is Post-It notes written on their way out the door to their nine-to-whenever jobs. While Melinda is bothered by these things, deep down she knows the real reason why she's been struck mute...

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who's just walked in to his band's show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City;and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.
This he said/she said romance told by YA stars Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is a sexy, funny roller coaster of a story about one date over one very long night, with two teenagers, both recovering from broken hearts, who are just trying to figure out who they want to be;and where the next great band is playing.
Told in alternating chapters, teeming with music references, humor, angst, and endearing side characters, this is a love story you'll wish were your very own. Working together for the first time, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have combined forces to create a book that is sure to grab readers of all ages and never let them go.

The House of Dead Maids - Clare B. Dunkle (my review)
Young Tabby Aykroyd has been brought to the dusty mansion of Seldom House to be nursemaid to a foundling boy. He is a savage little creature, but the Yorkshire moors harbor far worse, as Tabby soon discovers. The ghost of the last maid will not leave Tabby in peace, yet this spirit is only one of many. Why do scores of dead maids and masters haunt Seldom House with a jealous devotion that extends beyond the grave?
As Tabby struggles to escape the evil forces rising out of the land, she watches her young charge choose a different path. He is determined to keep Seldom House as his own. Though Tabby tries to befriend the uncouth urchin, her kindness cannot alter his fate. Long before he reaches the old farmhouse of Wuthering Heights, the boy who will become Heathcliff has doomed himself and any who try to befriend him.

Living Dead Girl - Elizabeth Scott
See also: Grace (my review)
Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.
Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.
When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.
Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.
This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.

Her and Me and You - Lauren Strasnick (my review)
I met Fred first. Fred: Hot. Enigmatic. Alex’s first friend in her lonely new town. Maybe her first…everything.
I met Adina the following Monday. Adina: Fred’s twin sister. Cold. Troubled. Trouble.
I kissed him. She pressed her mouth to my mouth.People warn Alex to steer clear of the twins, but Alex is drawn to them. She wants to be part of their crazy world…no matter the consequences.

Heart's Delight - Per Nilsson
Before Heart's Delight, I was a boy, he thinks.Before Heart's Delight, I was a child
When he first saw Ann-Katrin on the bus, he was mesmerized, captivated, consumed.

But that was before.
Now he sits alone in his room, a sixteen-year-old boy, waiting for her to call. Wishing for her to tell him it was real. It was as perfect as he imagined.
But the phone sits silently.
The boy continues to wait, systematically destroying all of the objects from their short-lived relationship. He rips up the bus pass from their first meeting.
The phone is quiet.
He throws the pot of lemon balm she gave him over the edge of the balcony.
No phone call.
He tosses the black Frisbee and the Swiss Army knife over too.
Still the phone stays silent.
As he plays their relationship over in his mind like a movie, he wonders:
What if his heart's delight doesn't call? Will life be worth living then?

The Ghosts of Kerfol - Deborah Noyes
In her classic ghost story “Kerfol,” Edith Wharton tells the tale of Anne de Barrigan, a young 

Frenchwoman convicted of murdering her husband, the jealous Yves de Cornault. The elderly lord was found dead on the stairs, apparently savaged by a pack of dogs, though there were no dogs  —  no live dogs  —  at Kerfol that day. In this remarkable collection of intertwining short stories, Deborah Noyes takes us back to the haunted manor to tell Anne de Barrigan’s story through the sympathetic eyes of her servant girl. Four more tales slip forward in time, peering in on a young artist, a hard-drinking party girl, a young American couple, and a deaf gardener who now tends the Kerfol estate. All of these souls are haunted by the ghosts of Kerfol  —  the dead dogs, the sensual yet uneasy relationships, and the bitter taste of revenge. 

Cut - Patricia McCormick
Fifteen-year old Callie is so withdrawn that she's not speaking to anyone 

including her therapist at the residential treatment facility where her parents and doctor send her after discovering that she cuts 
herself. Her story unfolds primarily through dramatic monologues, gradually revealing the family turmoil that led to her self-destructive behavior. Her little brother, Sam, is ill he nearly died in her care. Since Sam's illness, Callie's mother has become so worried and fragile that she rarely leaves the house. Her father has responded to the psychological and financial stress of Sam's illness by disappearing into his work, 
and when that doesn't work, into his drinking.
Callie's efforts to understand herself and her family illuminate her process of recovery honestly and with hope. Cut provides an insightful look at the psychology of cutting a form of self-abuse an estimated 2 million teenage girls inflict on themselves.

 Get Well Soon - Julie Halpern
Anna Bloom is depressed so depressed that her parents have committed her to a mental hospital with a bunch of other messed-up teens. Here she meets a roommate with a secret (and a plastic baby), a doctor who focuses way too much on her weight, and a cute, shy boy who just might like her.
But wait! Being trapped in a loony bin isn t supposed to be about making friends, losing weight, and having a crush, is it?

How I Live Now - Meg Rossoff
Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.
As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

The Espressologist - Kristina Springer (my review)
What’s your drink of choice? Is it a small pumpkin spice latte? Then you’re lots of fun and a bit sassy. 

Or a medium americano? You prefer simplicity in life. Or perhaps it’s a small decaf soy sugar-free hazelnut caffe latte? Some might call you a yuppie. Seventeen-year-old barista Jane Turner has this theory that you can tell a lot about a person by their regular coffee drink. She scribbles it all down in a notebook and calls it Espressology. So it’s not a totally crazy idea when Jane starts hooking up some of her friends based on their coffee orders. Like her best friend, Em, a medium hot chocolate, and Cam, a toffee nut latte. But when her boss, Derek, gets wind of Jane’s Espressology, he makes it an in-store holiday promotion, promising customers their perfect matches for the price of their favorite coffee. Things are going better than Derek could ever have hoped, so why is Jane so freaked out? Does it have anything to do with Em dating Cam? She’s the one who set them up! She should be happy for them, right?

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