Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – a Review

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

April 7, 2015 from Balzer & Bray

Paperback to be released June 7, 2016

Winner of the 2016 Morris Award

Purchase a copy here


An incredibly authentic and heartfelt debut.

Simon Spiers is a little bit of a mess. What is a boy to do when a complete stranger discovers the emails you wrote to your secret, anonymous, online boyfriend? Try to deal with the blackmail, and generally mess up your life – sounds like a great plan. SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA is an incredibly authentic and heartfelt debut novel that follows Simon through his junior year of high school. Romance, parties, angst, drama club, and many conversations in a Waffle House are in store for readers.

I loved Simon’s friends. He actually has far more than the four friends he claims, and they all absolutely adore Simon. Garret and Bram, the soccer dudes, while infrequently mentioned, are well-defined and interesting characters. Leah and Nick, the bffs since childhood, have surprising nuances and develop quite a lot over the course of the story. Abby is a powerhouse of a best friend, but even she isn’t infallible and makes some mistakes.

Simon’s family is fascinating. They’re nothing like the typical YA contemporary romance novel family. And this is a romance, make no mistake. Simon’s parents are just the right mix of strict and quirky. His sisters have their own lives, completely separate from Simon’s world, and we discover their secrets and watch them change at the same time Simon does. Even Simon’s golden retriever is an interesting character that adds to the overall aesthetic of his family’s world.

The romance between Simon and his email boyfriend, Blue, is heartache wrapped up with a shiny red bow. I just couldn’t get enough of their pining, angst-driven, honest feelings. Simon and all of his friends are incredibly authentic and real. The author simply nails Simon’s voice, like she were a teenage boy herself. Simon’s interactions with his friends brought back the best memories from my own high school experiences, and that was completely unexpected. While Simon and his friends, especially Leah, so fight sometimes, it’s totally natural and they work through it in the end. Albertalli is one badass debut author, who kicks ass at writing completely natural and authentic teenage characters.

However, I wanted more emails, in a more authentic style. I was disappointed with the emails between Simon (code-name: Jaques) and Blue. They were too short, without enough feeling, and there weren’t enough of them included in the story. Sure, there was a sense that the reader wasn’t privy to all of the emails Simon sent, but it sure felt like there wasn’t much more going on. I remember from being a teenager how emails I sent to friends (especially friends I had crushes on) would be long, rambling accounts of my internal struggles and feelings about pretty much everything and everyone. There just wasn’t enough obvious feeling in the writing of the emails, there wasn’t enough angst, and so they felt inauthentic. Regardless, the emails created an interesting format and added a lot of depth to the novel.

The verdict: Simon Spier’s junior year of high school is a fantastic and funny adventure reminiscent of Andrew Smith’s WINGER. Highly recommended for readers looking for a heartfelt slice-of-life romance.

THE FIX by Natasha Sinel

The Fix

The Fix by Natasha Sinel

September 1, 2015 from Sky Pony Press

Purchase a copy here


At the same time devastating and hopeful, THE FIX tells the story of sometimes bad-girl Macy Lyons and her journey of self-discovery and awakening, friendship and honesty.

Macy meets the mysterious Sebastian at a party, and the next day he disappears. When Macy finds out Sebastian has been checked into the Behavioral Health center at the local hospital, she decides to visit – and neither teen’s life will ever be the same. An undeniable connection forms between them, one that neither teen can ignore despite the whirlwind of change happening to each of them. They help each other face their fears, their faults, and the deep truths that no one ever wants to share, and in the end, they find a fix – together.

With authentic writing and a solid plot, THE FIX is a strong debut novel from a great new voice in YA. The characters are complex and likable, and their stories will keep you turning the pages and wanting to know more. Keep a box of tissues handy, as this is definitely a tearjerker – in the worst and best kinds of ways.

The verdict: A strong contemporary debut about truth, love, and finding your own fixes when life gets rough.

A Superb Thriller: HOLDING SMOKE by Elle Cosimano

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Elle Cosimano once again blows it out of the water with her latest paranormal mystery, HOLDING SMOKE. John “Smoke” Conlan was accused of two murders – one of which he didn’t commit. Still a criminal doing time at a juvenile detention center known as the “Y”, Smoke is trying to recover from being murdered by his father.

That’s right, John Smoke Conlan was murdered. Six minutes later, he came back to life. Ever since then, Smoke has been able to travel outside his body, and he uses this new ability to gather information on his prison-mates to trade for favors. This leads Smoke to meet “Pink”, a tough girl working night shift at a bar, the only person who can see his ghostly form. When new evidence comes to light that might help clear Smoke’s name, he enlists Pink’s help, and they become entwined in a web of secrets and danger.

A masterfully crafted thriller that will keep you guessing until literally the very last page, Smoke’s story is thrilling, raw, and gritty. The paranormal twist gives HOLDING SMOKE a unique edge all its own, and Cosimano’s superb writing will keep readers turning the pages long into the night. The author really knows her topic, due to her own background and a ton of research and reading. The work she put into the story really shows in the details, the accuracy, and the depth of the characters. This is a fantastic book that readers will simply not be able to put down! 


GIVEAWAY TIME! You can enter to win a pre-ordered hardcover of HOLDING SMOKE and a swag bag from Elle Cosimano.

Visit the Rafflecopter HERE to enter! 


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Elle Cosimano grew up in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, the daughter of a maximum security prison warden and an elementary school teacher who rode a Harley. As a teen, she spent summers working on a fishing boat in the Chesapeake Bay. A failed student of the hard sciences, she discovered her true calling in social and behavioral studies while majoring in psychology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Fifteen years later, Elle set aside a successful real-estate career to pursue writing. Her debut novel, NEARLY GONE, was an Edgar Award finalist, winner of the International Thriller Writers’ Best Young Adult Novel Award, and winner of the inaugural Mathical Book Award recognizing mathematics in children’s literature. Elle lives with her husband and two sons in Mexico, somewhere between the jungle and the sea.


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Favorite Picture Books of 2015

I love reading picture books. I especially love strange, quirky, slightly adult picture books that really make you think. These are my favorite picture books that I read in 2015; most of them were published this year as well. All of them are just strange enough to read out loud to teens during story time, which is one of my favorite things to do at teen programs.

The Whisper 22747854 Jampires 23846164 I Will Fight Monsters for You  This Is Sadie

The Queen's Shadow: A Story about How Animals See Please, Mr. Panda

Favorite Fiction of 2015

I somehow narrowed my list down to just 10 favorite YA Fiction of 2015! There is a large variety here – stand-alones, books in a series, an anthology, some short novels and some that are very long, some super popular and a few that flew under the radar this year. I hope this helps some people discover new books to read!

Book covers link to my public library’s catalog, because you should be getting books from the library!

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Favorite Manga of 2015

Welcome to the first blog post I’ve made in soooooo many months! And of course it’s about manga! Here are my Top 10 Manga from 2015, featured in no particular order.

If you’re a manga lover I highly recommend reading all of these series, and if you’re a librarian you should definitely have them all in your library! Akame ga Kill, Attack on Titan: No Regrets, and Citrus should probably be in the adult GN section, but everything else can go in YA!

My Little Monster, Vol. 1 by Robico    

Servamp Vol. 1 by Strike Tanaka    Citrus, Vol. 1 by Saburo Uta