Best of 2013: Our Favorite Young Adult Titles

Once again we have done the tough job of reading scads of YA novels published this year and culling them down to our favorites. Just kidding…it’s not a tough job. We love it! We each have selected five of (in our opinions) the top YA books published this year. In no particular order, this is our list of the best Slatebreaking books of 2013! Continue reading

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Best of 2013: Our Favorite Middle Grade Titles

Compiling our favorite books of the year has become one of our favorite things that we do on the blog. It’s a great opportunity to look through last year’s reviews and see what stuck with us. This list of ten Slatebreaking books from 2013 is by no means comprehensive, and it’s not in any order. But we loved these books, and before we move into 2014, we totally recommend you check them out.  Continue reading

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Holiday Gift Guide Roundup

In the past, we have compiled a Slatebreakers holiday gift guide. But why reinvent the wheel when other smart people around the Internet are already putting together neat gift guides? Here’s a sampling of a few gift guides that fans of Slatebreaking books may find helpful when doing their holiday shopping.

A Mighty Girl is a site dedicated to offering toys, books, and games that will foster the development of smart and courageous girls. Their gift guide is a great place to start if you are looking for gift ideas for the young girls on your shopping list.

I love making stuff, and I love reading. So I also love this Martha Stewart collection of tutorials for DIY gifts for book lovers. If someone made custom linen dust shields for my bookshelves, I would swoon.

This list of clever gifts for book lovers has a few gems and a few duds. But the gems are worth checking out. A personal library kit with a date stamp? Nice.

Still looking for ideas? You could always buy someone a book.

What kinds of gifts are you giving to the readers in your life this season?

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Review: The Panopticon by Jenni Fagon

The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan. Hogarth, 2012. Currently Available.

Genre: Speculative Fiction. Or Not. This is one of those books that blurs the lines between realism and the total opposite.

16071761Face Value: I love this striking cover. It kind of reminds me of Hitchcock posters, and it has that sharp, frenzied look. Seeing Anias in the keyhole is a great metaphor for the trapped situation she is in.

Does it Break the Slate? Absolutely and without question. This book, while being a piece of speculative fiction, shines a hard light on the systematic oppression faced by young people in the system, and what an individual young woman can do to break free of those systems and survive. It’s not a hopeful book, but it is absolutely a Slatebreaking one. Continue reading

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Review: Losing It by Cora Carmack

Losing It by Cora Carmack. Self-published ebook, 2012. Currently available.

Age Level & Genre: New Adult contemporary realistic fiction

16034964Face Value:
Well, there’s no question about it: this book is going to talk about sex. The cover leaves nothing to the imagination regarding the subject matter. I’m shocked at how young Garrick looks on the cover. I imagined him as a more mature looking man, especially because he is several years older than Bliss. He looks like a young adolescent in this picture. That’s weird.

Does it break the slate? Nope. Not even a little. I had hoped for some level of sex positive discourse and confidence in body image because this book is supposedly about a woman taking charge of her sex life. Unfortunately, none of that emerged. This book glorifies an exceptionally unprofessional relationship. It also exemplifies marriage as the ideal state for a relationship, and that’s just not something that works for everyone.

Who would we give it to? This isn’t really a book that I would recommend to others. However, if pressed to identify someone who may enjoy reading the book, I’d give it to a theatre major who enjoys romance novels. Continue reading

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Review: To Be Perfectly Honest by Sonya Sones

To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story by Sonya Sones. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013.

Genre: Novel in Verse, Contemporary Realistic Fiction

17305095Face Value: Eh. It’s a big face of a pretty white girl staring out at us. While I’m glad at the very least that it’s not a disembodied figure, I could not care less about this cover.

Does it Break the Slate? Getting there. Colette is on her way to being a Slatebreaker, and while she makes some not great choices along the way we see her really starting to come into her own by the end of the novel.

Who would we give it to? Colette’s mother is a movie star and I think that fans of the Fug Girls Spoiled and Messy will enjoy this one and Sones previous novel One of those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies. Also the fact that this is a novel in verse, means plenty of white space on pages, meaning that this book could have real interest for struggling teen readers who don’t want to read a book targeted for a younger audience. Continue reading

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Review: Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding

Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding. Entangled Teen, 2013. Available December 3.

Age Level & Genre: YA realistic fiction.

17343437Face Value: I haven’t seen the published cover yet, but the cover image available online is pretty good (despite the partially beheaded girl).  I love the tattooed title on the girl’s bicep. The significance of the placement of the tattoo comes up in the book as something meaningful for Kellie, so it’s nice to see that reflected in the cover image.

Does it break the slate? Absolutely. Kellie, her mother, and her sister are all Slatebreakers. Kellie’s mom quit her tedious job as a paralegal and became a tattoo artist who co-owns her own shop. Kellie and her sister are both smart and fiercely independent young women. And the whole novel has a sex positive tone, which is rare and wonderful.

Who would we give it to? This book will comfort anyone experiencing family drama – and around this time of year, isn’t that everyone? If you will be facing a relative who constantly gets on your nerves, reading about Kellie’s family negotiations may inspire you to be diplomatic during family holiday interactions. Continue reading

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Review: The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason. Chronicle Books, 2013. Currently Available

Genre: Historical Fiction / Steampunk / Alternative Fiction / Time Travel17084242

Face Value: Oh HEY Twilight hands! It’s not that it isn’t a good concept – I’ve gone on record saying that I actually think the cover of Twilight is really well done. It’s just that by now it’s so recognizable that it’s become its own kind of cliché. But aside from that lazy choice, I like the cover. The scarab is the focal point, and intriguing, and it nicely reflects both the historical and steampunk content while still feeling contemporary.

Does it Break the Slate? The niece of Sherlock Holmes and the sister of Bram Stoker team up to fight crime? Of course it breaks the slate! Both of our protagonists are Slatebreakers in their own way, and this alternative history gives us a nice glimpse into a way that young women might have taken control of their own lives despite a repressive era.

Who would we give it to? Steampunk fans, mystery fans. While no particularly groundbreaking territory is covered in this book it is a sincerely enjoyable piece of storytelling. Continue reading

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Review: When We Wake by Karen Healey

When We Wake by Karen Healey. Little, Brown and Company, 2013. Currently Available.

Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopia

11544476Face Value: Oh. Another giant girl’s face looking creepily and vacantly out at the readers. Sure. I mean, the protagonis was cryogenically frozen after she died and was then brought back to life, so I suppose a frozen dead-eyed girl is not an inaccurate cover image. But it’s not a particularly exciting or interesting or unique one either.

Does it Break the Slate? Yes, absolutely. Karen Healey is a writer who makes very specific, conscientiously Slatebreaking choices in her writing. Tegan is a tough, smart protagonist who has to actively confront her privilege at multiple points in the narrative and, as in all of Healey’s books, the supporting characters represent a wide range of diversity in terms of race, class, religion and sexuality.

Who would we give it to? This is a totally solid addition to the recent Dystopian canon, and if you know readers who are looking to continue reading once they’ve exhausted the more well known books out there, this one is solidly worth recommending. It’s also to be commended for the commitment to a diverse cast of characters, which will certainly lend some reader appeal. Continue reading

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Pack Your Bags: A Slatebreaking Reading List

My sister recently decided to do something bold. She planned a solo weekend trip to a city in another country. I am in awe of her independence. We’re both introverts, so I respect how much she has to put herself out there in order to complete this journey.

I have travelled on my own en route to many places, always to have someone waiting for me at my destination. I would love to take my own solo trip some day. No one waiting for me at the end – just me and any interesting people I may encounter along the way. All of this pondering about being a woman traveling the world inspired me to build this list of travel novels featuring Slatebreaking characters. In these stories, young women tackle travel adventures (some planned, and some unplanned) and show that they can face the unknown with confidence. Continue reading

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