A Study in Charlotte

index.aspxI have to admit, the title of this YA mystery and the front cover attracted my attention, so I checked it out. It turned out to be a Holmes and Watson novel, only the author is Brittany Cavallaro, and the main characters are Charlotte Holmes and James Watson, the great-great-great grandchildren of the famous detectives. Charlotte is being framed for a murder she didn’t commit, and James is determined to aid her in proving her innocence. A murderer is on the loose, using original cases of Sherlock Holmes to plot his victims’ deaths, while Charlotte and James are racing the clock to find him/her before someone else dies. I found it very enjoyable, but would recommend it for teens in grades 9 and up.

The Evolution of YA fiction

In the 1930s, the American Library Association (ALA) created the Young People’s Reading Roundtable and a list of suggested children’s and adult novels.  This was the first time that literature was marketed directly to teens.  About thirty years later, in 1958, the term “young adult” came into being.

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In 1967, S.E.Hinton’s “The Outsiders” changed the direction of YA literature and kicked off the first golden age of this genre.  Plots, characters, and settings would become more adult.  Since its publication, more than 15 million copies of “The Outsiders” have been sold.  Judy Blume and Robert Cormier tackled tough teen issues in the 70s.  “The Chocolate War” was about bullying and “Forever” and “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” dealt with growing up.

In the 1980s Francine Pascal created the “Sweet Valley High” series.  With its publication the age of YA franchising is born.  A TV show, a board game, and nine books are spun off from the series.  The second golden age of YA  literature comes about with the publication of the Harry Potter series.  In 2005, Stephanie Meyer’s vampire romances find a huge fan base.  9780440422648_p0_v1_s118x1849780545790352_p0_v24_s118x184

Diane Roback, a children’s book editor, says that kids are finding the Next Big Thing on their own.  Whatever is on the horizon for YA literature will be dictated by the world teens live and the experiences they want to read about.

“Falling in Love”

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Donna Leon is an American who has lived in Venice for more than thirty years.  This makes her an expert in the life and culture of this unique city.  As an award-winning mystery writer, her Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries combine murder, mayhem, and the workings of the Questura against the background of Venice.

Her latest Brunetti mystery is “Falling in Love” and, very atypically of her novels, does not deal with a murder.  Set in the opera world, Brunetti and his team investigate the stalking of a star of La Fenice, Venice’s opera house.  Flavia Petrelli, an opera star, is Brunetti’s old friend.  She has been the recipient of dozens of roses that arrive mysteriously in her dressing room, as well as, being thrown in appreciation of her performance during curtain calls.  At first, she thinks they are the actions of an avid fan, but when others are harmed because of their association with her, Brunetti suspects that she is being stalked.

Leon’s novels usual have involved plots.  Often the mystery involves a social issue:  pollution, illegal immigration, child trafficing, police and governmental corruption.  “Falling in Love” is an exception.  The plot is one dimensional.  There are no social issues tackled.  A sub-plot dealing with Brunetti’s  fellow worker at the Questura, Signorina Elettra, is actually more interesting than the stalking of Petrelli.  Hopefully, Leon’s next novel will recapture the magic of her earlier works and the beauty of Venice.

Fracture by Megan Miranda

Delaney Maxwell falls through the ice on the local lake and is underwater for eleven minutes before her best friend, Decker Phillips, pulls her out. The doctors all say that Delaney is in a coma, brain damaged, and will never recover. Six days later, Delaney wakes up perfectly normal except for her highly abnormal MRI. Everyone wants her to be her old self: her parents, her friends, especially Decker, but something is different about Delaney because she now knows when someone is going to die.

This YA fiction novel will suck you right under the it’s icy surface into Delaney’s world. Check it out!