Archive for ‘Young Adult’

January 30th, 2014

Two Looks at Typhoid Mary

by Gwen

Fever  Deadly

In October, I read Fever by Mary Beth Keane and then earlier this month, I got my hands on Deadly by Julie Chibbaro. Both deal with Typhoid Mary in very different styles and from extremely different angles.  Also, it must be pointed out that Deadly is considered Young Adult, even won the National Jewish Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, while Fever is geared towards adult historical fiction.

Since Deadly is more fresh in my mind I will tackle that one first.  Prudence is a young lady slightly ahead of her time. Her losses, a brother to some disease and her father MIA in the Spanish-American War, have led her to be obsessed with what makes the body tick and what makes it stop ticking. Luckily she lands a job in the fairly new Health Department and this feeds her need for knowledge and leads her on the hunt for what turns out to be Typhoid Mary alongside her boss, George Soper.

Now Deadly, is a great book for young adults. It shows that women had to fight for their place in the world (especially the sciences), to be taken seriously, and to be sexually harassed while doing so at the beginning of the 20th century. However, it really didn’t focus one bit on the Typhoid Mary other than a few inner conflicts that Prudence felt about her treatment. The focus of Prudence’s strife could have been set in any backdrop at that time period, say a woman that wants to be a clerk as opposed to a shirt waste maker or any other field/area that women had yet to really enter at the time. At it’s heart, it is a story of a young girl with dreams  that are “above her station” and trying to achieve them. A great story until I compare it to Fever.

Fever was for adults and told from the viewpoint of Typhoid Mary herself, Mary Mallon. Imagine yourself, an Irish woman, never been sick a day in your life that you can remember, immigrating to the United States by yourself and working hard enough to become a well-known for hire cook in some of the more respected households. You live a fairly moral life, except for the fact that you have never married the man that you live with. It is the the early 20th century, so fevers and other often deadly illnesses are still common among all classes.  You, Mary the cook, pitch in when fevers hit a household that you are working in; preparing cold compresses, ice baths, and the like.

Suddenly, in 1906, some man named George Soper from the Health Department starts chasing you down telling you that you are the one responsible for all of those illnesses and deaths.  (Insert my great-great-grandmother’s Irish brogue here saying, “Are ye daft man? I’ve never been sick a day of me life, hows could I be making these people sick? ‘Tis crazy) She ran off from the man, multiple times and from job to job.

No matter, eventually Soper captures our dear Mary Mallon by force and quarantines her on North Brother Island in a hospital usually used for Small Pox victims. She is still healthy as a horse, but all told, spends 26 years living in a wee house on that island, not sick, but not allowed to leave.

Obviously, Mary’s travails griped me in Fever in a way that Deadly couldn’t and wasn’t meant to. The injustice, the loneliness, the longing, the sheer uncertainty of life and science at that point left me wanting to find the  grave of Mary Mallon and apologize for what we did to her.

So if you want a light young adult overview of Typhoid Mary, pick Deadly. If you want to feel her pain and really dealve into the story of Mary Mallon, read Fever.  And….if you ever find yourself wandering around Saint Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx, doff your hat to her for me.

Fever: A Novel by Mary Beth Keane

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (March 12, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1451693419
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451693416

Deadly by Julie Chibarro

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (February 21, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 068985739X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689857393


July 14th, 2012

Shorts on Saturday

by Gwen



Since getting a Kindle, I have gotten in the habit of reading short stories, novellas, and a fair amount of books for kids to sort of cleanse my palate in between larger books. Most of them are pretty good, but I can’t see writing a full post review of a short story.

So, here is the idea. I will do mini reviews on Saturday of the Shorts. Will I keep it up? History says no, but have to start somewhere.



For Kids-

Gnit-Wit Gnipper and the Perilous Plague by T.J. Lantz

The little Gnome, Gnipper Tallhat, just can’t seem to catch a break. Every experiment she tries ends up in a disaster and all she really just wants to show people how smart she can be.

Cute story. Great moral. Short read at 42 pages.






For Non-Fiction and Erik Larson Lovers-Psychopath

Psychopath by Katherine Ramsland

Was H. H. Holmes a psychopath? At the time of his dirty deeds, science was still looking for malformations in the brain to find the root of psychopathology. Holmes foiled the plot to let his brain be examined after his execution. Luckily, we don’t need to look at the brain to answer that question anymore.

69 pages. Interesting for armchair Psychologists. Nice way to kill time while waiting for the Devil in the White City to be released.


(If you have a Kindle or Kindle app and would like to borrow either of these, shoot me an note or comment. They are both lendable)




Keeping it short and sweet today while trying this out.








August 22nd, 2010

YA Shout Out ~ The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

by Gwen

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Oh, the Young Adult genre, how we turn up our noses at you and your readers. You are too brief, slim on plot, deal with problems that we adults no longer face, tend to focus on sparkly vampires or attractively attired werewolves, or the basically undead and/or freakishly paranormal. You know you have had similar thoughts at one time or another. People feel the hate so much so that they need to write posts defending their reading of the genre.

I am here today to change your mind. Well, to tell you to read The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller and she will change your mind.

NEVER has a book had me so glued to its pages. A bomb could have gone off and I could not have put the darn thing down. Dinner? Let them eat leftovers! Laundry? Tomorrow is another day. Shower? Who needs a stinkin’ shower?

Haven Moore is a 17 year old misfit in a small town in Tennessee. She has visions and the whole town thinks she is possessed by a demon. Let me hear ya say Amen. The thing is, these visions are not of death and destruction. They are visions of another life, another time, a fatal fire, and a love so strong that Haven just has to unravel the mystery before she goes batty. They just don’t talk about things like reincarnation in the backwoods of Tennessee, heck, even the snake handlers are outsiders. If she starts talking about past lives, they are going to lock her up in the looney bin.

Her search for the truth behind the visions leads this small town girl to the bright lights of New York, gray men, true love, murder, and a whole cast of seemingly normal, but no where near normal characters.

Is Ethan, her true love? Her murderer? Is he trying to save her or trying to kill her all over again? Who murdered Constance Whitman and are they trying to kill Haven Moore before she learns the truth?

This is Young Adult on steroids with deep characters, a thrilling and ever changing mystery and poses some interesting questions. Is there such a thing as reincarnation? Does love at first sight really exist?

I will give you a passage that hit me in a way that no other ever book has. I have issues with faith and religion and was surprised to be so touched by a piece of dialogue from a fictional snake handling preacher.

The problems come when it’s time to put our faith in things other than the Lord. There’s no doubt that other people can be tricky. But once again, it’s all about listening to your heart. That don’t mean you should ignore what your head’s telling you. But your heart will do a much better job of helping you figure out who’s good and who ain’t. Who deserves your faith, and who doesn’t. If you judge solely by evidence, you could wind up making some big mistakes.

Love and faith go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. And as we all know, taking that leap of faith ain’t always safe. Sometimes you judge poorly, and you land right on your face. But unless you make the jump, you’ll never know what’s on the other side. You just gotta find the guts to do it.”

I am a big believer in following my heart and jumping, maybe it is time we stop judging and jump into the vast pool that is the Young Adult genre. I know I will and trust me, with writers like Kirsten Miller leading the change, we won’t regret it.

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Hardcover: 416 pages

Publisher: Razorbill (August 10, 2010)

ISBN-10: 1595143084

ISBN-13: 978-1595143082


Have you read a book that knocked your socks off lately?


August 2nd, 2010

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway

by Gwen

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The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway

This is Young Adult and therefore not in my usual genre, but let me tell you what a great change it was. There are times that I just need to read something that isn’t packing tons of factual information into my brain like nonfiction does and last week was one of those times.

April, May, and June are sisters going through many changes, some normal and well, some are not so normal. Due to their parent’s divorce, they just moved to a new home with their mom and are therefore entering a new high school as well. Not only is there the pressure of a new school and home life, they suddenly have what you might call super powers. One can see the future, one can disappear, and the youngest can read minds.

Before you go thinking that any of these things would be really good to have had in high school, you need to read this and remember something. With great power comes great responsibility. The girls have to learn a lot of about life and their powers before they really can find their place in the world and come to terms with it.

What I really enjoyed about The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June was the relationship between the three sisters. I don’t have any siblings, so I am often drawn toward reading about strong sibling relationships. Call it craving what I can never have or a dream left unfulfilled, it just fills my heart with happiness. The sisters have their tiffs, their vastly different personalities and their different life plans, yet at the end of the day, they pull together and their caring shows.

Thank you Robin Benway for the escape that was The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June. Benway has also written,

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Shop Indie Bookstores

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March 17th, 2010

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

by Gwen

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: Book Cover

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
My first YA book! (YA stands for Young Adult, in case you don’t know)

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

The book is heartbreaking and really enlightening. Every seemingly small gesture or action by another person in Hannah’s life led to her suicide. While the ultimate subject, suicide, is depressing, there is a lot to learn from this book. The offhanded jokes, comments and labels that we throw out so thoughtlessly can snowball into a huge mess and we need to realize the power we have in each other’s lives. What is that phrase? “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” We need to stand up when we see wrongs and we need to take the risk & reach out when we see people in pain.
I loved the book because of its message and am really glad that it was geared toward teens. They need to get that message more than any other age group that I can think of.
Strange story on how this book ended up in my hands: I heard about this book months ago because of my other job. I work for an SMS answer service called ChaCha. People, mostly teens, text in their questions and I text back the answers that I find online. Don’t even remember what the question was, but the book stuck out in my mind.
Then I started seeing reviews and mentions on some of the book blogs that I read. Still, I don’t read YA, so I didn’t actively put it on my list.
Last week, I finally paid off my 2 year old, $4 library fine and went in to look around. Thirteen Reasons Why stood out like a beacon on the 7 day checkout shelf. Turns out, the author, Jay Asher, is a local and we both went to Cuesta College and Cal Poly. Dude! It is like we are related!
I read the book and now my goal is to legally stalk the poor guy until I get him to do an interview for Chew & Digest. Jay Asher, if you are reading this….how about coffee at Linnaea’s? I will buy.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Razorbill; 1st edition (October 18, 2007)
ISBN-10: 1595141715
ISBN-13: 978-1595141712

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We are wearing the green, eating corned beef  & cabbage, and dreaming of wee people.