The Compulsive Reader: Reading Rants: Don't Overlook These Books

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reading Rants: Don't Overlook These Books

I've been reading YA for quite a few years now, and each year more and more YA books are published, leaving a gigantic selection of excellent books. There are a great many of books that I adore, but unfortunately, not all of them seem to be as popular as they were five or six years ago, and some of them have been pretty much overlooked since they came out. This means that most people have no idea what I'm talking about when I start to rave about my favorite book from 2004 and this makes me feel very sad and tad bit old.

So if you are feeling brave and want to try something a little unknown, a little different, or even just a series that may be a few years old, then here's a list of books that I think are totally awesome, but sadly overlooked:

The Alice books by Susan Juby:

This hilarious trilogy, written by Canadian author Susan Juby, is about Alice MacLeod, an eccentric and witty teen girl, previously home-schooled, attempting to make her way into the world despite the setbacks that her insane family provides. The books are told in a diary format, and I guarantee you that you will not stop laughing. If you like your characters a little wacky and sarcastic, then pick up the first book, Alice, I Think. The second is Miss Smithers, and the final book is Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last. Fun fact: these books were actually made into a TV show that aired in Canada!

Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee

I first read this book in 2009, and it totally blew me away. I think that if you are a fan of Justina Chen Headley's North of Beautiful, you'll be attracted to this one. It's about Shawna, how she struggles to deal with her overbearing father after her mother's unexpected death, and comes to terms with the secrets her mother kept. It's an emotional book that deals head on with lots of complicated issues, and I raced through it.

The Guardians of Time trilogy by Marianne Curley

This absorbing time-travel trilogy is from Australia and was published in the US in 2002. It begins with The Named, in which we are introduced to a small group of teens, the Named, whose job it is to protect the events of the past from being altered by the members of The Order of Chaos. In The Dark and The Key, they find that nearly everyone in their small town has some role in the drama and the imminent battle for control over the present, and that there is a traitor in their midst. I love time travel books, and these are some of the best--the scenes and the eras that are visited are just spectacular, and you won't believe the ending of this trilogy! (And while you're at it, check out Marianne's other book, Old Magic, a completely different sort of time travel book, but just as awesome!)

The Snowball Effect by Holly Nicole Hoxter

Unfortunately, this is one book that suffers from a truly horrible cover, which I believe is why it is so overlooked. But, do what that old adage says and try not to judge this one by the cover, and pick it up. It's about Lainey and her struggle to come to terms with her mother's suicide just days after her high school graduation. Now she has to decide what she wants to do with her life: become independent, or stay at home with her younger brother and an older sister she's only just met. I think Hoxter does such an excellent job with  the roller coaster of emotions and anger that Lainey deals with, and her feelings of being stuck and not knowing what to do with her life after graduation. It will resonate with a lot of readers.

The Mediator series by Meg Cabot

Okay guys, this series totally kicks butt, so how come more people aren't reading it? The series starts with Shadowland, where we're introduced to Suze Simon, a New Yorker with the ability to see ghosts. When her mother remarries and moves her across the country to Carmel, CA, Suze is less than enthused, and part of that has to do with the fact that every building in Carmel seems to have its own ghost, including her new house, where her bedroom is haunted by super-hot ghost Jesse. Only now that she's living in CA, Suze won't be able to hide her abilities or ignore them. This series is pretty kick-butt, and if you are a Buffy fan, you'll see a lot of great elements from the show in these books. They're awesome, quick reads, and you will enjoy them immensely, I promise. The books are as follows: Shadowland, Ninth Key, Reunion, Darkest Hour, Haunted, and Twilight.

Plus, if you own an e-reader, they're pretty cheap--only $3.99 each! Sweet!

Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher

Books like Bright Young Things and Vixen are making the drama and excitement of "making it" in the big city in the early twentieth century popular. Ten Cents a Dance is set in 1940's Chicago, where teenage Ruby is trying to support her family on meager wages. She's daring and independent, and begins working as a dance-hall girl for the glamour, jazz, and better pay. But before she knows it, Ruby finds herself in over her head with the mob. Definitely pick this one up if you enjoyed Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen!

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper

This is a whimsical, eccentric, and completely charming book about a tiny fictional kingdom on an island in Europe and its small and impoverished royal family. Narrated by Princess Sophia, niece of the king, this account is set during the beginning days of World War II. When Nazis make a visit to their tiny country, interested in the Royal Library, Sophia, her siblings, and her cousin must face a decision that will change their country forever.

There you have it! I sincerely hope that you all will check out some of these books. Many of them are very near to my heart, and they are all fantastic reads. Let me know if you want further recommendations or have any questions about the books!


Brittany said...

Thanks for this list. I never even realized there were more Alice books! I'll have to check some of these other ones out. Thanks!

Elizabeth said...

I LOVE the Mediator series. And I hear it's getting re-released with super cool new covers in early 2011, too!

The Compulsive Reader said...

Elizabeth: Yep! I found the new Shadowland cover, but not any of the others. It reminded me a lot of the old Jenny Carroll covers.

Literature for Lunch said...

Thanks for the great recommendations. I absolutely loved Justina Chen Headley's North of Beautiful and plan to check out Say the Word based on your recommend. I love finding books that have been overlooked - there are so many good ones out there!

La Coccinelle said...

I've been wanting to read The Guardians of Time trilogy... There are too many books I want to read! Argh!

I started the Mediator series years ago. I don't think I got very far. It wasn't that the books weren't good; I think it was that I couldn't easily get them from the library!

Unknown said...

Isn't it amazing how many awesome books get overlooked? But thanks for the list-I'm adding them to my TBR pile. Yippee!!

The Book Swarm

Annette Mills said...

I'll add my whole-hearted support for Ten Cents a Dance. I thought that was a great book - interesting and a slice of American history that is worth reading about. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Susan Juby's Alice, I Think is a hilarious read! I haven't read the next two - but this one was fantastic!!!

Michelle from Pinepples & Pyjamas

Paige said...

I've read the Alice series and I thought those were so cute, and The Snowball Effect is on my Must Read list, so this is great encouragement to read it!

Emmagirl said...

I absolutely adore A Brief History!!! It's such a charming book, and such wonderful characters!! And if you're looking for lost and forgotten books I have one for you-- The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forrester. Its sort of a cross between Little House on The Prairie and X-Men. Though its in the children section its a really unique, fun book and I love it!!

Small Review said...

I've taken Old Magic out twice from the library, but still haven't gotten around to reading it. I have that one and the series you mentioned on my TBR. Looks like I'll have to move them up the list!

I *love* The Mediator series. Everyone's always talking about Princess Diaries, but Mediator is by far my favorite Meg Cabot. Suze is a great character and Jesse....mmm I like Jesse!

The Compulsive Reader said...

I know, right? I never understood why there were so many huge Team Jesse and Team Paul debates. Paul is clearly a psycho and Jesse is perfect.

Anonymous said...

Mediator is awesome!!

And you're totally right, we shouldn't forget the gems of the past! Like the Bard Academy series by Cara Lockwood, so under-rated, but such a good series :)

And so many other books like that.

Small Review said...

Whaaat? People actually debate Team Paul versus Team Jesse?! Pfft. There's no question and you are totally right. Paul is nuts. Jesse is amazing. There is no contest.

Sarah Valenzuela said...

I agree with you. The mediator series is totally awesome!
and yeah i don't know hy the pleople read it yet, Susanna is supper funny i'm pretty sure you'll get more of a laught (:
And Jesse OMG!♥ i'm in loooove with this boy
Seriously, i recommended this series!

Lauren said...

I read Say the Word after the Story Siren's GLBTQ week, and it is SO GOOD.

And I lurve the Mediator series; I own half of them and am working on getting the rest right now!
No. No Team Paul. *shudder* Jesse rocks.