Reviews on our favorite and newest teen and tween books!

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.