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Mount TBR: Some Deeper Analysis

Speaking of that old list of books-to-read I found on my computer -- each title has reactionary comments beside it, indicating I was running down a long list of options for possible hits and meant to look up the best-sounding ones in detail later. Based on the initial lack of title capitalization, I’m pretty sure I got it by putting some kind of search parameters into my local library catalogue of YA novels, which is excellent news because it means I can go get any of them whenever I want.

And now we’re going to look them up & run them down in detail together! a.k.a. come find out how my mind works re: the book selection process in incredibly overblown detail.
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1. Before We Go Extinct / Karen Rivers
Reaction comment: ooh, solid grief and a healing girl
Summary: J.C., who goes by the nickname Sharky, has been having a hard time ever since his best friend died in front of him in what might or might not have been an accident. Shell-shocked, Sharky spends countless hours holed up in his room, obsessively watching documentaries about sharks and climate change—and texting his dead friend. Hoping a change of location will help, Sharky’s mom sends him to visit his dad on a remote island in Canada. There, Sharky meets a girl who just may show him how to live—and love—again.

Current Mood: What I like about this is that it pings my "quality male teen protagonist" radar, a sector that is always, always underpopulated and hungry for options, because even most of the ones I find underperform.

2. Even When You Lie to Me / Jessica Alcott
Reaction comment: TEACHER/STUDENT
Relevant summary: everything changes when she meets her new English teacher. Mr. Drummond is smart. Irreverent. Funny. Hot. Everyone loves him. And Charlie thinks he's the only one who gets her. She also thinks she might not be the only one with a crush.

Current Mood: The reviews are not great -- and my most similar Goodreads friend gave it only 1 star -- but it's hard to tell with teacher/student because some people are mad if isn't "steamy," some people are mad if it doesn't deliver a stern moral trouncing, and basically I am the only one who can evaluate if a teacher/student novel will work for me, because I have such specific rules for how I need it to play out in order to be good. I have a suspicion it will not meet my demands for intellectual connection + fully clothed-ness, but I'm hoping it can pretend otherwise long enough for me to get some satisfaction. Maybe 3 stars?


3. The Masked Truth / Kelley Armstrong
Reaction comment: HOSTAGESSSSSS! Murderers killing teens!
Relevant summary: The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage. The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.

Current Mood: SIGN ME UP FOR THIS CRIMINAL MINDS THRILLER YESTERDAY.

4. All the Major Constellations / Pratima Cranse
Reaction comment: boy who lost his only friends to an accident! girl in a cult! ..."explores questions of identity and sexuality"?
Summary: Laura Lettel is the most beautiful girl in the world…and Andrew’s not-so-secret infatuation. Now he’s leaving high school behind and looking ahead to a fresh start at college and distance from his obsessive crush. But when a terrible accident leaves him without the companionship of his two best friends, Andrew is cast adrift and alone—until Laura unexpectedly offers him comfort, friendship, and the support of a youth group of true believers, fundamentalist Christians with problems and secrets of their own. Andrew is curiously drawn to their consuming beliefs, but why? Is it only to get closer to Laura? And is Laura genuinely interested in Andrew, or is she just trying to convert him? This provocative and compelling debut novel will resonate deeply with readers as it explores questions of identity, sexuality, and spirituality.

Current Mood: I really prefer to avoid books where sexuality is a question rather than obvious fact, but I don't see it being tagged on LGBT shelves, and oh -- maybe there's not actually a cult; someone just said "one of the better portrayals of Christians in YA books" and that's kind of a unicorn. Maybe? NOPE JUST KIDDING. Someone else says "Rated R for foul language and behavior, sexual activity, drug and alcohol use," and there is nothing compelling-sounding enough about this to outweigh that standard dealbreaker.

5. We Were Never Here / Jennifer Gilmore
Reaction comment: EEEEEEEEEEEH (re: entire summary)
Summary: For sixteen-year-old Lizzie Stoller that moment is when she collapses, out of the blue. The next thing she knows she’s in a hospital with an illness she’s never heard of. But that isn’t the only life-changing moment for Lizzie. The other is when Connor and his dog, Verlaine, walk into her hospital room. Lizzie has never connected with anyone the way she does with the handsome, teenage volunteer. However, the more time she spends with him, and the deeper in love she falls, the more she realizes that Connor has secrets and a deep pain of his own . . . and that while being with him has the power to make Lizzie forget about her illness, being with her might tear Connor apart.

Current Mood: HOSPITAL. PHYSICAL HURT/COMFORT. DOG. EMOTIONAL HURT/COMFORT. SOLD. ...except the average Goodreads rating is low at 3.18, and I'm getting a lot of "Connor is a jerk" and "this is not the romance you think it is" vibes.

6. The Boy Most Likely To / Huntley Fitzpatrick
Reaction comment: [missing]
Summary: Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To: find the liquor cabinet blindfolded / need a liver transplant / drive his car into a house. Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To: well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters. For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard. Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have. And Alice is caught in the middle.

Current Mood: I have not read My Life Next Door, which is this book's companion, despite its general visual appeal, because it's long and the Sara Bareilles of YA. As in, it looks exactly like my standard/target fare, but something isn't clicking. This looks like I meant to cast a bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold in it, but I'm not sure who because I have so few of those options on standby, especially if the girl needs to be even a little older, and anyway I should probably read the other book first.

7. The House / Christina Lauren
Reaction comment: GHOSTS!
Relevant Summary: Gavin has always lived in the strange house: an odd building isolated in a stand of trees where the town gives in to mild wilderness. The house is an irresistible lure for Delilah, but the tall fence surrounding it exists for good reason, and Gavin urges Delilah to be careful. Whatever lives with him there isn’t human, and isn’t afraid of hurting her to keep her away.

Current Mood: OK, is it ghosts or demons/other supernatural monster? Because one of those is cool and the other is lame. Or is it a straight up House of Usher evil house? Because that falls slightly more on the "cool" side. Maybe save for Halloween.

8. Not After Everything / Michelle Levy
Reaction comment: Sad boy whose mom killed herself! Violent dad! ...weird girlfriend?
Summary: Tyler has a football scholarship to Stanford, a hot girlfriend, and a reliable army of friends to party with. Then his mom kills herself. And Tyler lets it all go. Now he needs to dodge what his dad is offering (verbal tirades and abuse) and earn what his dad isn’t (money). Tyler finds a job that crashes him into Jordyn, his former childhood friend turned angry-loner goth-girl. She brings Tyler an unexpected reprieve from the never-ending pity party his life has become. How could he not fall for her? But with his dad more brutally unpredictable than ever, Tyler knows he can’t risk bringing Jordyn too deeply into the chaos. So when violence rocks his world again, will it be Jordyn who shows him the way to a hopeful future? Or after everything, will Tyler have to find it in himself?

Current Mood: what I like about the story is the part where the teen has to fend for himself financially, and is worrying about the girl/friend's safety. What I don't like is the angry-loner-goth-girl aspect. I think this one's success is gonna depend on initial casting. What kind of people did I...OH! DID I MEAN FOR THIS TO BE A GLEE AU WITH SAM/TINA? BECAUSE I CAN SEE IT AND I LIKE IT (despite the entirely different family background for him). Especially if Quinn is the hot ex-girlfriend, just in case she comes back into play. Also it says "A gritty but hopeful love story about two struggling teens— great for fans of The Spectacular Now, Willow, and Eleanor and Park," and I liked all of those.

9. Damage Done / Amanda Panitch
Reaction comment: THRILLER?
Relevant Summary: Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend. After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.


Current Mood: Yep, that sure does look like a thriller (also, I like this "hot guy who will do anything to protect her" mention later in the summary). Think I'll give it a whirl at some point.

10. Has to Be Love / Jolene Perry
Reaction comment: student teacher, running from scars, ahhhhh yay!
Summary: Years ago, Clara survived a vicious bear attack. She's used to getting sympathetic looks around town, but meeting strangers is a different story. Yet her dreams go far beyond Knik, Alaska, and now she's got a secret that's both thrilling and terrifying--an acceptance letter from Columbia University. But it turns out her scars aren't as fixable as she hoped, and when her boyfriend begins to press for a forever commitment, she has second thoughts about New York. Then Rhodes, a student teacher in her English class, forces her to acknowledge her writing talent, and everything becomes even more confusing--especially with the feelings she's starting to have about him. Now all Clara wants to do is hide from the tough choices she has to make. When her world comes crashing down around her, Clara has to confront her problems and find her way to a decision. Will she choose the life of her dreams or the life that someone she loves has chosen? Which choice is scarier?

Current Mood: HSDFAHSDFKAHKL. I'm sorry, Alaskan citizen? A girl with physical scars people need to look past? Caring/impressed/encouraging/possibly attracted teacher (but student teacher! so less bad and more wiggle room for romance!), my favorite? Even if I have a love triangle, the other option is a boy who wants a "forever commitment" a.k.a. my other favorite?? And just, this whole cover looks and sound so cool and like such a solid, quality hunk of YA literature that even if she ends up flying solo at the end I think I could live with it. Definitely the current leader of the pack.

11. Cut Both Ways/ Carrie Mesrobian
Reaction comment: I mean I guess, but...dubious.
Summary: Will Caynes never has been good with girls. At seventeen, he’s still waiting for his first kiss. He’s certainly not expecting it to happen in a drunken make-out session with his best friend, Angus. But it does and now Will’s conflicted—he knows he likes girls, but he didn’t exactly hate kissing a guy. Then Will meets Brandy, a cute and easy-to-talk-to sophomore. He’s totally into her too—which proves, for sure, that he’s not gay. So why does he keep hooking up with Angus on the sly? Will knows he can’t keep seeing both of them, but besides his new job in a diner, being with Brandy and Angus are the best parts of his whole messed-up life.

Current Mood: "I mean I guess" if I am desperate for Blaine/Rachel/Sam (so much pretty!), or perhaps Blaine/Marley/Sam, this could be my answer, despite my normal ban on "questioning" teens. There are very few scenarios where I can sell Sam/Blaine to myself, and this kind of uncertainty is one way it works. But the cheating thing is, uh, pretty dubious. So is the name "Angus," which calls to mind cows, a cartoonish Scotsman akin to Groundskeeper Willie, or an unpleasant word very similar in spelling, none of which are really want you want to mix into romance.


12. Truest / Jackie Lea Sommers.
Reaction comment: looks right, smells off -- look for "readers also enjoyed" on Goodreads?
Summary: Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck's small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He's curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening-- and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister-- and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.

Current Mood: I actually flipped through this at the library, and I think the writing was definitely solid but there was some dumbass sexual content that pretty well soured me when I was already skeptical about it possibly highlighting cheating -- and/or I somehow figured that she chose the wrong side of the love triangle -- so I'm gonna stick with my reaction comment. "It Has to Be Love" is on that list, it turns out.

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