Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy & Oliver manages to combine the contentment of best-friends-falling-in-love with the passion of strangers-falling-in-love.  How?  By having Oliver kidnapped by his dad at age seven and returned to Emmy’s life ten years later.  It’s a little ridiculous, their lifelong love enduring through such chaos, but I loved it!

Although this is an unapologetically romantic book, I loved the psychological details revolving around Oliver’s conflicted feelings toward his dad and the overprotective reactions of Emmy’s parents.  In fact, I really liked her realistic relationship with her parents as they struggled to let her grow up.  I also loved her friendship with Caro and Drew, especially as they worked through the changes Oliver’s return makes in their relationships.

But mostly it’s a romance!  And a really good one.  Emmy and Oliver are so sweet with each other, weird and supportive and healthy in a way that YA novels often ignore.  More stories where romance begins with friendship…and continues to be a friendship, even when the kissing starts!  Continue reading

Book Pages: UPDATE

For those who haven’t explored my site thoroughly (shame on you, what are you doing with your life?), you may not know that when you let your mouse hover over the “Books” page at the top of the site, four more options appear.

The first two, “Title Archive” and “Author Archive,” are self-explanatory and remain unchanged.

The third, “Illinois Awards,” is a great place to go if you want recommendations on Middle Grade or Young Adult books.  Each year, librarians and teachers in Illinois compile a list of around twenty books for middle and high school students to vote on to determine the states’ favorite.  I just added the Lincoln Award list (for 9th-12th graders), and it has several of my favorite books on it!  I added links to my reviews, and I hope to add more as I make my way through the lists.

The fourth, “Recommended,” is my one-stop-shop for your book-related needs.  Rather than creating lists based upon genre or age level, I decided to sort my recommendations by type of Reading Need.  For instance, my “Give Me a Series So Engrossing I’ll Start Thinking It’s Real Life” is perfect for the summer, when you have a lot of time on your hands and you want to trick your brain into believing that elves live just beyond your vacation cabin in the woods.  I’ve just updated this page to include the books I’ve read most recently.  Check it out, and let me know if you agree or find something intriguing!

On Reading Books Meant for Children

In On Three Ways of Writing for Children, C. S. Lewis says:

When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

I’ve gone through the same cycle.  I loved kid’s books when I was in elementary school.  But then I became known as a “reader,” which for some reason felt like I needed to step up my game.  I read The Three Musketeers in sixth grade, and I got hooked on the classics.  I read Austen, Brontë, Shakespeare, Fitzgerald.  I became a bit of a book snob (the Harry Potter series excepted), and I spent all of my time in book stores and libraries scanning the “Literature” section.  I took great pride in being a teenager not in “Young Adult” section.  Continue reading