Reviews on our favorite and newest teen and tween books!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Are you normal!

Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Genre: YA Fiction
Published: March 2011 (Simon & Schuster)

Janie Gorman (14) is just starting high school. She has always been enthusiastic about everything, especially her family’s move to the farm five years ago (in fact that was her idea!). But now as she is starting her freshman year of high school, she sees how uncool the move really is. Her many mishaps that are caused by the farm leave her just wanting to blend in with the crowd. But she is not the type to blend in, no matter what she does.

I received this book as an ARC from Simon & Schuster. This is a really well written story, and I loved to watch how the main character grows in this short time. Great story about finding yourself and being who you are.

Absolutely loved it!!

---Posted by Kameron S.

Teen Speak

The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, #1) by Rick Riordan

Genre: Juvenile Fantasy
Published: May 2010

The Red Pyramid is the first book in Rick Riordan’s new series, the Kane Chronicles. Carter and Sadie are not the normal youths of this world. They are descendants of the Egyptian pharaohs. Despite what the general populous may say, Carter and Sadie find out that the Egyptian myths and gods are real, and magic doesn’t only belong at Hogwarts. On Christmas, Dr. Kane, Sadie and Carter’s dad, unleashes five Egyptian gods and as a result, he is dragged into the underworld. Set, the god of deserts, storms and evil, is one of the deities released from the stone and is intent on wreaking havoc on the world and causing trouble for the Kane family. Now Sadie and Carter must embark on a journey to save their father and restore order to the world.

A wonderfully charming mesh of magic, wit, and mythology, Riordan delivers another fantastic book that can charm readers of any age. I absolutely loved the characters, as all of them were well developed and by no means flat. The wit and well written dialogue made this book a pleasure to read. Riordan mixes modern day life and mythology in a way that is brilliant and believable. He breathes new life and fantastic personalities into the Egyptian gods and goddesses. I finally have all of the Egyptian gods sorted out and can remember which is which. After I read this book, I had to get the sequel, The Throne of Fire, and finished it off in no time at all. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a good adventure, mythology, or a fun read. People who loved this book would enjoy the 39 clues series and Riordan’s Percy Jackson series.

 ---Posted by Lauren G.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Teen Speak

Possession (Posession, #1) by Elana Johnson

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Genre: YA Dystopian
Published: June 2011 (Simon & Schuster)

Possession by Elana Johnson is a young adult dystopian fiction book that features action, rebellion, romance, and corrupt governments. Violet, Vi for short, is a member of the Goodlands, a place where the Goodies live. Goodies follow the rules, listen to the government recordings and do not under any circumstances oppose what the Thinkers say is right. Baddies live in the Badlands and are freethinking people that do not listen to or follow the Thinker ruled government. In complete violation of the law, Vi is caught a) walking in the park at night and b) walking with a boy. Even though Zenn is her match, Vi finds herself in serious trouble that lands her in jail with one of the Baddies, Jag. In order to get away from the government’s impending control over her mind, Vi must team up with Jag to escape her fate in jail and find a life where she can be herself. However, Vi has ties to the Goodland’s, the government is persistent, and they want Vi to join their ranks. She must find the courage to oppose the oppressive ways of the Thinkers in order to save the ones she loves. 

Possession was a very interesting read. Johnson can truly weave words to meet her needs. The style of writing was great and helped enhance the story; the emotions and sarcasm coming across without a hitch. I really love the premise of the book, though at first I thought this book was going to be predictable. Yet the plot just kept on delivering twist after twist and dragged me along for a ride that I never could have anticipated. The characters in this book had great depth. The secrets that their lives held and the ones that were shared added nice layers to the story and to the characters. I loved Jag, Zenn and for his brief appearances, Pace. Vi was a good, strong heroine, though to be honest, she was not my favorite main character. Despite that, I really did like the dialogue that featured Vi and the rest of my favorite characters. Overall, this book was good. I would recommend it to anyone looking for an action packed and surprising read. I look forward to reading book two. I received this book as an ARC from Simon & Schuster.

---Posted by Lauren G.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Zombies Are Back!

Dust & Decay (Benny Imura, #2) by Jonathan Maberry

Genre: YA Fantasy Horror
Published: August 2011 (Simon & Schuster)

In this thrilling sequel to Rot & Ruin, Benny Imura (16) and Nix Riley (15) are ready to venture out of their town and find out if there is something better to the east after seeing a rare thing: a jet flying in that direction. Benny's zombie-hunter brother, Tom, has been training Benny and his friends so that they can be prepared for the world that they now live in. Lilah (the Lost Girl) and their friend Lou Chong are going with them. The kids think that they are ready for what lies ahead, but even Tom is surprised by the enemies they encounter.

Although I haven't read the prior book, Rot & Ruin, I understood the basis of the story. This was a great read, and now I really want to read Rot & Ruin. This book is action packed with a bit of romance too. I could hardly put it down; I just wanted to know what happened next. I hope that this series will continue, because I am totally invested in the characters! They simply want to get away from their town where all people want is to close their eyes to what is going on in the world outside of their fences...but they can't expect to always keep the evil out.

Thank you Simon & Schuster for this ARC!

---Posted by Kameron S.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Teen Speak

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
Genre: YA Fiction
Published: May 2011 (Simon & Schuster)

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby is a book that follows a teen’s journey to understand her present and past. Ten years after her mother’s suicide, Anna is uprooted from the place she calls home to live with her dad in a beachside cottage that is situated in a place rooted in her family’s history. Accustomed to the beach lifestyle, Anna begins engaging in the activities that she loves: swimming, running, hanging out on the beach, and most importantly, collecting sea glass. As Anna tries to make peace with her new surroundings and its unforgettable residents, information and stories about her mother begin to surface, which brings to mind the good memories and the bad.  Teamed up with an assortment of friends that surprises even Anna herself, she must gather the courage to face her and her mother’s past.

I really enjoyed reading this book; in fact, I finished it in one day. I honestly couldn’t put it down after the first few chapters. The story from start to finish was wonderful and being a debut novel, I was impressed. Had I not known in advance, I would have bet Kirby was a well-established and widely published author with more than a couple books under her belt. The writing style was appropriate for the book and really engaging. It expressed the difficulty that people go through when dealing with grief and guilt and how they cope with situations that are deeply rooted in the past. Despite this, the overall tone of the book was not overbearing. Funny parts were mixed in effortlessly and truly made the book as enjoyable as it was. I also felt that the romantic aspect of Moonglass, which was not really the main focus of the story, was tastefully done, which I appreciated. It didn’t seem shallow like other teen books and had a believable build up. Also, I loved almost every single character! Each was so different and convincing that I was struck with the realization that I knew people just like the cast of characters from the book. The silly, genuine, and somewhat clueless Ashley was perhaps my favorite character. Although I did like Anna, I didn’t always approve of her choices. *Just so readers know, there is underage drinking in this book*. Apart from that, I highly recommend Moonglass to any person who is looking for a read that portrays reality well, has a great plot and wonderful characters! I received this book as an ARC from Simon & Schuster.

---Posted by Lauren G.

*Want to read this book? Enter our giveaway to win a copy of Moonglass from Simon & Schuster. Click here to learn how!*

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Luck for the Luckless

The Luck of the Buttons by Anne Ylvisaker

Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Published: April 2011 (Candlewick Press)

The Luck of the Buttons by Anne Ylvisaker is a story about a twelve-year-old girl, Tugs Button. Tugs is from a long line of luckless, somewhat unhappy and completely undistinguished family, who consider the eating of pie to be a sign that something is wrong. Needless to say, nobody expects much from the Button family. One day Tugs meets a young charismatic gentleman, Harvey Moore, who plans to start a newspaper to bring progress to the small town. As the town of Goodhue is swept up in the anticipation of the newspaper’s promised publication, Tugs finds a mystery and sets out to solve it. Armed with her Brownie camera that she won in a raffle and backed by several unlikely characters, Tugs will start a journey that proves that luck may just be attainable for those who look for it.

I loved this book. Not only did the cover art win me over, but the story did too. It was adorable, and I must admit that I am a sucker for cutesy stories. Tugs was such a charming and spunky character, I couldn’t help but laugh and get swept up into the plot. Although the plot was straightforward, I felt that it delivered a great young heroine, an upbeat tale, and a wonderful message: You are what you make of yourself. Despite the fact that this book is targeted to a younger audience, I feel that it can be appreciated by people outside of the intended audience, as long as the reader is not looking for anything overly profound or complex. Great characters populated the book. Most were flat, but they were likeable, especially Tugs, Granddaddy Ike, and Aggie. Although development for secondary characters was lacking, Tugs definitely was a figure that was responsive to the environment and grew throughout the book. The story does use terms and phrases that are typical for the time setting, so be ready for that when reading the book, though it didn’t detract from the story at all. In fact, I think it enhanced the authentic, rustic feel of the story line. On a more nitpicky note, some of the wording in the beginning was a bit awkward, but for the most part, that was my only real complaint. As long as the reader goes in with the expectation that this story is a quick, easy, and fun read, it will be enjoyed. I acknowledge that this book is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. I liked it but others may not. I would recommend The Luck of the Buttons to someone who is searching for a fun-loving, at times silly, but completely charming tale. This book was given as an ARC from Candlewick Press.

---Posted by Lauren G.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Teen Speak

Motorcycles, Sushi, & One Strange Book by Nancy Rue

Genre: YA Fiction
Published: April 2010 (Zondervan)

Jessie Hatcher is a fifteen-year-old girl with ADHD who lives with her bipolar mother. One day, out of the blue, Jessie’s father, who was said to be dead, suddenly calls her and comes to visit. This visit causes Jessie's mother to try to commit suicide by overdosing on pain medication. Since her mother is getting treatment at the hospital, Jessie has to stay with her dad. On the way there, she finds a book with the letters ‘RL’ on the cover. The book has bible stories in it that makes Jessie look at her life differently, as well as get through some hard times.

I really liked Motorcycles, Sushi, & One Strange Book, especially because the scriptures are written in the 'street language' of today. The cover makes it seem like the book is your typical fluffy chic-lit, but in reality it talks about some very serious and deep subjects. This book covers topics such as ADHD, mental illness, depression and alcoholism, but does it in a tasteful and thought provoking way. Thanks to Zondervan for donating this book!

---Posted by Natalie

The Summer I Lost It by Natalie Kath

Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Published: August 2011 (Stone Arch Books)

Being fourteen years old is hard enough for Kat without having to worry about being overweight. Tired of feeling badly about herself, Kat decides that this summer she is going to do something about it. When her initial plan of attending “fat camp” falls through because her parents cannot afford to send her there, Kat doesn’t let that stop her. Instead, she joins the gym and changes her eating habits. Though losing weight isn’t easy, Kat never gives up and learns some important life lessons along the way.

The Summer I Lost It is a great motivational book for pre-teen girls who may be struggling with their weight. I received this book from NetGalley as an ARC. It is a really quick read, but contains a strong message. For Kat, it’s not just about losing weight however she can so she can look like everyone else; it’s about liking who she is as a person, improving her self-esteem, and losing weight the healthy way. I would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with their weight. The Summer I Lost It is not only entertaining, but also a guide on how to lose weight the healthy way. There are even recipes at the end of the book to get you going!

---Posted by Ashley

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Princess and the Cokyri

Legacy (Legacy, #1) by Cayla Kluver

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YA Fantasy
Published: June 2011

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom called Hytanica. The people of Hytanica were of a peaceful nature, but that peace was disrupted when the evil sorcerers of Cokyri waged war with them. Forty-nine newborn boys were kidnapped from Hytanica, and forty-eight lifeless children were returned. Just as suddenly as war began with Cokyri, so did it end.

Sixteen years later, Hytanica is prospering. Enter Princess Alera, heir to the throne of Hytanica. Alera is nearing her seventeenth birthday and must choose a husband to take over the throne when her father steps down. Though it is technically her choice who she marries, the king has made it known that he wishes Alera to marry Steldor, a handsome though pompous man who sets Alera on edge. This is bad enough without the threat of another war with the Cokyri, and when Alera meets Narian, a mysterious stranger, and falls in love with him, trouble ensues.  

I received Legacy as and ARC from NetGalley. I’m not going to lie, I really wanted to like this book, and in the end, I really didn’t. I really don’t like giving bad reviews, but I just couldn’t get into this one even though the cover was so pretty and the prologue captured my interest. Unfortunately, the book dragged on from there. Taking into account the author’s age when she wrote Legacy (she was just 14), I would say this book was a good first start. Ignoring Kluver’s age, I would say it needed a lot of work. The protagonist, Princess Alera, is immature, and though she was a feisty heroine, she often acted out irrationally causing herself and others to land in some very hot water. In truth, the only character I really enjoyed was London, her bodyguard, who wasn’t even in the whole book. I also found the language to be unbelievable. It was very flowery, stilted and overly descriptive. Kluver is a strong and imaginative writer, and I think that as she matures so will her writing.

--Posted by Ashley

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Teen Speak

We’ll Always Have Summer: A Summer Novel by Jenny Han
Genre: YA Fiction
Published: April 2011

"Belly has only ever been in love with two boys, both with the last name Fisher." This from the front cover pretty much sums up what this book is about. Isobel “Belly” Conklin is just finishing up her freshman year in college and is getting ready to spend the summer working at home and hanging out with Jeremiah, her boyfriend of two years. Things seem to be going perfectly for the couple, even though Belly had previously been in a relationship with Conrad, Jeremiah’s brother, and considers him her first love.

Belly’s faith is shaken in her relationship with Jeremiah when she discovers he cheated on her while on spring break. With Jeremiah’s desperate solution being to get married, Belly is forced to decide once in for all if Jeremiah is the right Fisher for her, or if her first love should be her last.

When I picked up this book, I had no idea it was part of a series (The Summer I Turned Pretty & It’s Not Summer Without You). My bad. Even so, it worked well as a stand-alone novel, though I’m definitely going to make a point of going back and reading the others. I love how real all of the characters are. Belly matures and becomes more self-aware as the book progresses. Jenny Han did an excellent job making the characters and story believable. There were numerous times you could really sense what the characters were feeling and going through, especially the desperation of keeping a relationship going even when you know the odds are against you. If you like Sarah Dessen’s books, I would recommend this series for you. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for donating this book to us!

---Posted by Lynn

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Holy Carp, You Have Fins!

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: 2010

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                                                                                    Lily Sanderson may look like your average high school student, but she is really a mermaid and heir to the Thalassinian throne. Spending her high school years on land in biped form wasn’t what Lily had imagined when she went to visit her aunt in Florida, but neither was falling in love with Brody. To Lily, Brody is everything she could want in a mermate- he’s handsome, charming, and an excellent swimmer. Too bad he barely knows she exists.

Quince is Lily’s “bad boy” next-door neighbor whose relentless teasing is the bane of her existence. But when he hatches a plan for Lily to get some alone time with Brody so she can tell him her true feelings, Lily is willing to put aside her dislike for a chance to be with the boy she loves. Everything seems to be going as planned, until Quince shows up and kisses her. For a human girl, that’s bad enough. For a mermaid, a single kiss will bond you to the other person for the rest of your lives. Can Lily convince her father, and Quince, to break the bond before it’s too late and she loses Brody forever?

If you love Disney’s The Little Mermaid as much as I do (I watched it so much as a child I broke the VHS – yes, VHS…) then you will absolutely adore this book. The sea ‘slang’ was a lot of fun, and descriptions of Thalassinia beautiful. Lily’s character was at times childish and narrow-sighted, but she redeems herself at the end. Quince was an amusing character, and why Lily didn’t like him and instead set her sights on Brody is beyond me. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to pick up the next installment in the series, Fins Are Forever.     

---Posted by Ashley

Monday, July 18, 2011

Teen Speak

Check out what our teens had to say about some of their favorite books!

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
Genre: YA Fiction
Published: May 2011

            Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley is a book that follows the lives of two teenagers. The bulk of the story focuses on Cullen, a recent high school graduate, who lives in the small town of Lilly, Arkansas. This dull town is brought to life upon the recent sightings of the Lazarus woodpecker that was previously thought to be extinct. As the town becomes invested in the woodpecker, Cullen’s family and friends must cope with the inexplicable disappearance of Gabriel, Cullen’s younger brother, who seems to have not an enemy in the world. Benton is a missionary that has gone to Africa to do God’s work. He begins his mission work only to become confused as to what his purpose in life really is. These two characters, though unknowing of each other’s existence, start a series of events that will reshape the lives around them and those that are far away.

            Although I was unsure as to how this book was going to pan out, I must admit that I am glad to have read this story. It touched on the important and difficult aspects of life and portrayed them in a way that was real and understandable rather than being stilted and shallow. The author captured the meandering way that the mind works without detracting from the integrity of the plot. Daydreams were intermixed with reality without confusion and gave the reader a sense of how the character was feeling without being blunt and tactless. This truly displayed the inner conflict that Benton was going through and the stress and monotony that plagued Cullen. Where Things Come Back is a book that is difficult to describe, however, I must say that it is worth the time to read. As I understand the small town life, this book really hit home and made me appreciative of my place in this world. With a plot filled with sadness and hope, and a cast of characters the likes of which everyone knows, Where Things Come Back brings readers into the lives of several young adults and shows the challenges that they must overcome to simply function in a world wrought with difficulty. I received this book as an ARC from Simon & Schuster.

--- Posted by Lauren G.

Abandon by Meg Cabot
YA Paranormal Romance
Published: 2011

            The main characters of this book are Pierce and John Hayden. Pierce is a sixteen-year old girl and John is Lord of the Dead. The main character changes from hating John to understanding him by the end of the story. The book takes place in present-day Florida in Las Islas Huesos, as well as the Underworld. This story takes place because Pierce trips over her scarf and drowns in her pool. She appears in the Underworld and John Hayden, who is like Hades, falls in love with her immediately. He attempts to keep her there forever but Pierce throws tea in his face and escapes. Pierce and her mom move to Las Islas Huesos, where Pierce hopes she can finally escape John, but meets up with him again when Furies, dead people unhappy where they landed in the underworld, attempt to kill her.   
            I like how the story was similar to the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone, but I didn't like how Pierce thought she could handle stuff on her own when she actually couldn't. Because of this, sometimes Pierce annoyed me. Though the flashbacks were a little confusing, I liked the book and did not think it was predictable. If you liked Meg Cabot’s Avalon High series then you will enjoy Abandon.

 --- Posted by Natalie R.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: June 2011

Emma Conner’s life is much more difficult than that of your average sixteen year old. Both her mom and twin brother have passed away, and her stepdad nearly killed her in a car accident while driving drunk. To escape his abuse, as well as the humiliation of becoming the school’s poster child for reasons not to drink and drive, Emma decides to leave town to live with her wealthy aunt in New York City.

Living in NYC and attending Vincent Academy, an elite Upper East Side prep school, should be fun. But typical high school drama ensues in the form of Anthony, the spoiled rich boy with no respect for women, Kristin, his catty on-again, off-again girlfriend, and Brendan, the gorgeous and unapproachable guy every girl wants. It only gets worse when paranormal events start happening to Emma: lights going out overhead, dreams of past lives, and ghostly visions of her dead brother warning her to stay away from Brendan. The deeper Emma digs, the crazier things seem. Did she know Brendan in a past life? And if so, why is she being warned to stay away from him when that’s the last thing she wants to do?

For fans of Claudia Gray’s Evernight series, this book is for you. Spellbound has a good mix of humor, magic spells, high school drama, and star-crossed love. Emma is a realistic character and readers will enjoy her character growth as the story progresses. All of Emma’s experiences only serve in making her more relatable to readers - from her gritty history, to her first day of school jitters, to emotions every girl goes through with a new crush. This book is a quick and fun read that is perfect for the beach! I received this book as an advanced readers copy from NetGalley & Harlequin Teen.

---Posted by Ashley

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dystopian By Nature

Divergent (Divergent Trilogy, #1) by Veronica Roth
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Genre: YA Dystopian
Published: May 2011

The world has been able to maintain peace due to the division of people into factions based on the admirable traits of humanity: honesty, selflessness, bravery, peacefulness, and intelligence. Members of the factions focus on that trait and the use of it in their lives. At the age of sixteen, each person must choose which faction they desire to live amongst for the rest of their life. As these factions rarely interact, seeing members from other factions is limited at best.

Beatrice has just turned sixteen and is a member of Abnegation, the group devoted to selflessness. She must make a choice, stay with her family or move to another faction more suited to her personality. Following her choice, Beatrice is faced with a highly difficult faction initiation that will determine her future, but she must hide a dangerous secret that will threaten her life, but also may be her saving grace. Faced with problems that threaten her and society as a whole, Beatrice must find the courage to overcome these challenges and obtain the know-how to do it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, despite the fact that Roth seems to have jumped on the dystopian fiction bandwagon. I loved the fast-paced nature of the book and the plot. Even though the book is just shy of 500 pages (don’t be intimidated), it only took me a day and a half finish because I couldn’t put it down. There were some things that were predictable, but overall, the plot was engaging. The characters were pretty good and likeable. They did develop over time and were not perfect, which made them seem more realistic. On a more critical note, it is evident that Roth is new to writing. There were several places where the wording was awkward and at times a bit laughable, despite the serious nature of the scene. It was not perfect, but don’t make this a reason not to read the book as it was quite good.

For those who like this book, I would recommend the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Personally, I liked The Hunger Games more, but for readers that are looking for more dystopian fiction, I would give this one a try.

---Posted by Lauren G.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teen Speak

Check out what our teens had to say about some of their favorite books!

Breaking Up (Fashion High) by Aimee Friedman
Genre: YA Graphic Novel
Published: 2007

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Breaking Up is the story of four high school girls who have been best friends since they were little. There’s Chloe, the artist; Mackenzie, the drop-dead gorgeous, daring diva; Isabel, the talented self-assured type of person; and Erika, the sweetheart of the group. The story mainly takes place at Georgia O’Keeffe School of the Arts (aka Fashion High), during the girls’ junior year. The problem Chloe faces is that she is noticing that her relationship is starting to change with her three best friends.

I liked how the characters react to some of the situations that happen in the book. Chloe is a very likeable character and everything that happens in the story is easy to relate to, though I never would have guessed what was going to happen in the book. If you like this book them, I recommend Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia and Smile by Raina Telgemeier.

     --- Posted by Chandala W.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Robot Stole My Hairbrush

The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1) by Kady Cross
Genre: YA Steampunk
Published: May 2011

It may be 1897, but Finley Jayne is no Victorian miss. At sixteen, she has more to deal with than the average teenager. With her inability to hold down a job and a seriously dark alter ego that comes out unbidden whenever she’s threatened, Finley doesn’t know if she is insane or what. So when her employer, known for making untoward advances to his maids, crosses the line, Finley gladly puts him in his place. Which happens to be on the floor, unconscious, with a broken nose. Afraid she’ll be sent to Bedlam, Finley makes a run for it…right into the pathway of a velocycle.

Taking in a stranger wasn’t exactly what Griffin King, Duke of Greythorne, had in mind. But when you hit a girl with your steam-powered bike, you can’t exactly leave her lying in the road. Sadly, Grif has bigger problems to deal with - namely catching ‘the Machinist’ who nearly killed his friend and is responsible for a slew of seemingly random crimes across London. However, with a penchant for taking in strays (Emily – the brilliant inventor, Sam – the protector, and Jasper – an American cowboy), Griffin decides to help Finley learn how to control her other self.

I received this book as an ARC to review from NetGalley, and I have to say, this is my favorite YA steampunk novel to date. Finley’s Jekyll/Hyde personality really brought the book to life. The story was told from alternating perspectives (which I usually can’t stand), but Kady Cross made the transitions so smooth that you didn’t even notice. By writing in this way, the characters become so much more 3-D than if it was solely written from Finley’s perspective. The only (small!) problem I had with the book was that there wasn’t much focus on setting. I knew they were in London, but beyond that the description was fairly basic. Nevertheless, this book is fantastic and a wonderful debut for Kady Cross.

For those of you who haven’t read steampunk before, this is definitely a great book to start with. Steampunk is alternative history science fiction set in Victorian times. Kady Cross’s website says it best “History, Twisted.” The gadgets are cool, the heroes/heroines have attitude, and the clothes are awesome. If you like Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices or Frank Beddor’s Looking Glass Wars, you will love The Girl in the Steel Corset.

Check out this awesome book trailer put together by Harlequin:

Posted by Ashley D.

Monday, June 6, 2011

There's an Alien in Home Ec.

I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies, #1) by Pittacus Lore

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Genre: YA Science Fiction
Published: 2010

I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore is the first book in a science fiction series featuring teens with super powers. Following the destruction of the planet Lorien, nine teens with extraordinary abilities and their guardians are sent to earth to hide from the enemy alien race, the Mogadorians. Under the protection of a charm that makes them imperious to harm when separate from the others, the nine hide to develop their capabilities. The only catch is that if they are killed in order of their number, they can be strategically taken down. As the title suggests, the story follows the life of number four, John Smith. John and his guardian, Henri, settle in the town of Paradise, Ohio to live a normal life without attracting the attention of the Mogadorians and the human media. When John finds out that the first three of the nine have been killed, it is more important than ever to develop his powers and stay off the radar. The story follows his struggle to balance a normal life at school and his alien past. A mix of science fiction, action adventure and a touch of romance, this story is good for anyone who likes a quick, light science fiction read.

Overall, I did enjoy the book. I kept on wanting to know what was going to happen next or what happened in John’s past. I appreciated the flashbacks because it gave a greater depth to the story and helped explain past events. Unlike some books that utilize flashbacks to explain the history of the story line and generally cause confusion for the reader, these actually worked. I also liked a majority of the characters. Some were quite stereotypical, but they served their purpose. The only thing I didn’t care for was the romance aspect, which came off as stereotypical. Good looking boy meets good looking girl, they fall in love, phone calls and family dinners ensue. I felt that had the dialogue been better, the relationship between John and Sarah would have been more convincing. Upon occasion John did exhibit the usual annoying character tendencies, such as blatantly ignoring sound advice, but apart from that, John was a likeable main character.

I am not a science fiction connoisseur, but for those who like I am Number Four, I would highly recommend Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

Posted by Lauren G.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Teen Speak

Check out what our teens had to say about some of their favorite books!

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Genre: YA Dystopian
Published: 2011
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This is a book about a seventeen-year old girl named Lena whose world is controlled by the government and love is not allowed. When she falls in love, Lena starts to see the flaws in her perfect world. As she learns of a new world, she challenges the old one. Lena’s character changes from being withdrawn to standing up for what she wants. I could identify with Lena when she was grappling with the problem of breaking the rules to fight for what she believes in. The end of the book is sad and challenging in a good way. If you like this book, you will like Matched by Allyson Condie.
               --Posted by Natalie & Sabrina

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Genre: YA Fiction
Published: 2010

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One night, driving home from a party, Samantha and her friends crash her car and she dies. After her death, Samantha gets seven chances to right her wrongs before she can finally let go. If you like books about getting second chances, then you’ll like this book.


             --Posted by Natalie R.

Sabriel (Abhorsen, # 1) by Garth Nix
Genre: Juvenile Fantasy
Published: 1995

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Sabriel is a fantastic adventure through a mysterious world of old magic and necromancy. Sabriel, the daughter of Abhorsen, has kept herself away from the Old Kingdom, but now her father is missing and she is out to find him. The final showdown is amazingly well done and will leave you happy for the heroes. If you enjoy a good tale of heroism and love, then this is the book for you.


               --Posted by Brandon E.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Entwined by Heather Dixon

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YA Fantasy

Entwined is one of the many spin-offs of the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
Azalea is the eldest of twelve sisters and destined to be heir to the throne of a formerly enchanted kingdom. After her mother’s death, the king bans dancing in observance of mourning. Determined to continue to dance in a way to stay close to her late mother, Azalea and her sisters discover a secret passage to a magical pavilion where they dance every night under the observance of a mysterious gentleman named Mr. Keeper. Although the dancing allows the sisters to abandon the stiffness of mourning, it is soon made clear that Mr. Keeper has ambitions of his own that could spell trouble for Azalea and her family.

Entwined offers readers a good mix of classic fairy tale charm and the innocence of romance. First off I must say that the reason I picked up this book was due to the beautiful cover. I also must admit that after reading several renditions of this story, it was not my favorite; however, it was good in its own right. The integration of the specific dances really brought to life the desire of the sisters to dance and gave the story a sense that the author did research in order for the story to come to life. The brief interchanges between the sisters and the suitors really made the book as enjoyable as it was. All of the male characters were likeable as many of them had a sweet innocence or a witty charm that was agreeable to the reader. Although I did like the fairy tale aspect of the story, Entwined did have two main shortcomings. Even though Dixon does make an attempt to develop the characters in the books, there were just so many that she tried to build up that the characters were rather two dimensional for most of the story. Also, the immaturity of Azalea did grate on my nerves throughout the entire book.

Despite these shortcomings, the book did serve as a fun, easy read. If the reader goes in reading the book with the expectation that it is a cutesy, princess story, it will be much more enjoyable. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good princess oriented fairy tale.
For those who like Entwined I would recommend Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier and Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

--Posted by Lauren--

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Abandon (Abandon, #1) by Meg Cabot

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 Genre: YA Fantasy

At the age of 15, Pierce experienced an NDE – Near-Death Experience. As if that wasn’t bad enough, while dead she met John Hayden, death deity and ruler of the Underworld. And he wants her for his own. Though he has the brooding bad boy image down, Pierce isn’t ready to spend eternity with a stranger in what very possibly could be Hell. So with a little help from a warm beverage, Pierce makes a run for it.

Two years later, Pierce is still trying to get over ‘the event’ while navigating the wreckage her life has become. Her parents are divorced, she’s become completely disengaged from the world, and when things get really bad he shows up to help her out. So when her mom moves them to Isla de Huesos, Florida to be closer to family, Pierce sees it as the perfect opportunity to start over. That is, for the first five minutes at least. That’s about how long it takes Pierce to run into John, causing even more uncertainty and questions to rise up: Who exactly is he? What are Furies? and Why do people around her keep getting hurt?

I’ve always been a fan of Greek mythology, and the story of Persephone and Hades is a favorite of mine. I loved Meg Cabot’s 1-800-Missing & Mediator series, so when I saw she had written a mythological spin-off of Persephone’s story I just had to read it. The book takes place over a period of three days, but most of it is told in flashback so we know what happened since Pierce left the Underworld. It takes a while to find out what the ‘incident’ was that led up to Pierce having to move to Florida and why she was so traumatized by it, which was a little frustrating at times. What I really enjoyed about this book was the modern twist to the story. The original story has Mama Demeter doing most of the fighting for Persephone. In Meg Cabot’s version, Pierce is no damsel in distress. Abandon isn’t my favorite Meg Cabot book, but I will definitely be looking out for the second installment to see what mischief Pierce will manage to get herself into next time.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mercy (Mercy, #1) by Rebecca Lim

Genre: YA Fantasy

Mercy is a fallen angel – and she doesn’t know it. All she knows is that waking up inhabiting someone else’s body is an ordinary and frequent event for her. How many times has this happened? She’s lost count. But if you’re going to be stuck in someone else’s body, living someone else’s life for who knows how long, you may as well help them out. Right? At least that’s how Mercy views it.
            So when Mercy wakes up on a bus full of girls, she learns that for now she’s stuck in the body of Carmen, a gifted soprano, who is on her way to a high school choir concert in the small town of Paradise. Beyond this, she has no idea who she is, what she’s doing there, or where she’s going. The only thing she is sure of is her love for Luc, a man she only sees in her dreams, but has no way of finding.
            Arriving in Paradise, Mercy is met by the Daley’s, her host family during the trip. Two years ago, the Daley’s daughter Lauren was kidnapped from their home and never found. Though Mr. & Mrs. Daley have given up hope that Lauren is still alive, her twin brother Ryan insists she is and searches for her tirelessly. Seeing an opportunity to be of  use, Mercy offers Ryan her help in finding his sister before it’s too late.

            I received this book as an advanced reader’s copy from Net Galley to review. I really enjoyed Mercy’s strong and witty character. The premise of the book is intriguing, and there were only two aspects of the book that caused confusion for me:
A) There was no setting. I knew they were in a small town called Paradise, but I didn’t know what hemisphere they were in, let alone what country. Does this really affect the storyline though? Not so much. While I personally don’t like too much description, there were some instances where this lack of setting caused confusion.
 B) If it weren’t for the synopsis of the book, I never would have known Mercy was an angel, fallen or otherwise. At some point, there was mention that Mercy glowed in the dark, and in her true form was about seven feet tall and hovered off the ground. It wasn’t until the very, very end that you kind of get a grasp of what Mercy is.
            Nevertheless, this book was great. The mystery of the story kept me reading all the way through. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the second part to the trilogy, where I’m hoping some of the mystery will be explained.