The end of this book felt like the abrupt cliffhanger of some Disney Family teen show, confusing and not very satisfying. I'll have think a bit more b...moreThe end of this book felt like the abrupt cliffhanger of some Disney Family teen show, confusing and not very satisfying. I'll have think a bit more before I review this book because I'm such a huge fan of Jenny Han.
Not as funny as I had hoped it would be, and I'm not sure who the intended audience was other than girls with a penchant for lovable losers. For teens...moreNot as funny as I had hoped it would be, and I'm not sure who the intended audience was other than girls with a penchant for lovable losers. For teens 14 and up.(less)
Deb Caletti has written perhaps one of the most important YA books of 2011 with the emotional powerhouse "Stay." In an honest teenage voice, Caletti g...moreDeb Caletti has written perhaps one of the most important YA books of 2011 with the emotional powerhouse "Stay." In an honest teenage voice, Caletti gives life to brokenhearted Clara, a young woman in search of true and lasting love, and instead finds sadness and fear in her "nice" boyfriend Christian. This gripping novel on emotional abuse should be required reading for all teenagers, a road map of warning signs to look out for in a questionable and uneven relationship.
Clara is looking back on her short young life, wondering how she could have missed all the small and big clues of her doomed romance with Christian, the boy who by all intents and purposes should have been THE ONE. Clara relaxes the reader in her casual, comforting voice, asking them to proceed and read her cautionary tale of true love gone very wrong, and the need to purge a secret from your soul so that you may resume living and stop hiding from yourself.
Her gentle narrative has alternating chapters, where you bounce between the present - her living in hiding with her dad away from Christian - to the recent past, from when Clara first spots Christian and falls for him to when she is trying to run desperately away from him. Clara and her dad slowly find redemption in the secrets they have buried in their hearts, and love finds them when they least expect it, or think they least deserve it. In between it all, you feel that danger lurking in every corner, every shadow, and every startling ring of the cell phone, wondering if Christian will ever find Clara, and the frightening wonder of what he'll do when he does.
Highly recommended for teens ages fourteen and up.
This latest novel by author Alex Sanchez tackles one of the thornier issues facing gay teens today: what does it mean to be bisexual and gaining accep...moreThis latest novel by author Alex Sanchez tackles one of the thornier issues facing gay teens today: what does it mean to be bisexual and gaining acceptance for dual sexual orientation? As tumultuous as teen life can already be without the added difficulties of coming out as gay, it is even harder to reveal to friends and love interests that being bisexual isn't indecisiveness or weighing your options, it's who you are. But for Sergio, our central bisexual character in the book, it is not an easy road to navigate.
I wholeheartedly liked the three other characters central to this story: Lance, who is gay but still a virgin in search of a meaningful and loving relationship with Sergio; Lance's best friend Allie who has a great boyfriend but is sexually confused; and sweet Kimiko, a boyish lesbian who writes love poems, is Sergio's best friend, and pines for her first kiss and love with Allie. What goes on between the girls is a slowly developing friendship that becomes the foundation for something more as they further their friendship through their honest talks with each other. You don't worry too much about them, as they are level-headed and take their time getting to know each other. But Lance and Sergio?
Sergio is nursing a broken from a recent breakup with a girl he loved when he begins to date Lance, which is an instant recipe for disaster. Lance is a novice in all things romantic and sexual and wants to take the old-fashioned route of commitment and love before giving himself to a boy, whereas Sergio just wants to have a good time with no strings attached. Sergio hopped on his soap box just one too many times for me in the name of bisexuality, which I think he used to deflect Lance's desire for a real relationship and put down Lance's wish to wait until his was ready to give up his virginity. But I must applaud the author for giving Lance the courage to stop dating Sergio after his ultimatum of commit or else was met with a defiant no by Sergio. Lance was veering dangerously into caving in to what Sergio wanted just so he could hold on to him, and I'm glad he faced heartache head-on instead of regret later. I was also pleased that Sergio had to reflect on why he was so defensive with Lance in order to know what he had lost and what he had to do to get Lance back.
This is a recommended read for teens fourteen and up, with some sexual references.(less)
It has been several years since Belly gave her heart and love to Conrad Fisher, and no matter how much they have shared – laughter, loss and heartache...moreIt has been several years since Belly gave her heart and love to Conrad Fisher, and no matter how much they have shared – laughter, loss and heartache – Conrad cannot commit, and Belly gives herself to younger brother Jeremiah Fisher, believing in now and forever.
For fans of the first two fantastic books, you are acutely aware of the Fisher Brothers rivalry for Belly’s affections, one botching up his chance, and the other sweeping in to restore Belly’s broken heart. Jeremiah courts Belly and soon enough, we are shown they are a fun-loving couple that everyone admires and envies. Jenny Han purposely shows you an idyllic scene between the happy pair, intruding upon a sweet moment where you are convinced that Belly chose wisely, that Jeremiah will always love her, always treat her right and never break her heart. Wrong.
Clues are strewn about that sweet Jeremiah has a hidden immature nature, but Belly ignores the signs, as she is certain that love conquers all, even nagging fears and doubts about the man you love. They are days away from concluding their school year at the college they attend, and Belly agrees to party at Jeremiah’s frat house, although you suspect she isn’t crazy about his friends, the same buddies that went with Jeremiah to Mexico during their week long breakup.
Needless to say, Belly isn’t the best judge in character as she tells her boyfriend what a great gal one of his sorority sisters is, then overhears the same girl regale her friends with tales of sexual conquest during her spring break in Mexico with the one boy she couldn't have - Jeremiah. What ensues is a nasty, bitter breakup with Jeremiah crying and begging for forgiveness and another chance, and Belly turning her back on him - temporarily. Of course, shared memories of a life they have had leads Belly to hastily accept Jeremiah's offer of marriage, and they set off to their childhood summer home in Cousins to plan the whirlwind ceremony.
I will not tell you which brother prevails, if at all, in atoning for his sins and truly proving his devotion and love for her, as I too wavered between Team Conrad and Team Jeremiah throughout the three books, but I think your heart and mind will accept the tidy and sweet ending.
Highly recommended for teens fourteen and up, with some language and sexual references.
Lauren Myracle leaps with both feet into serious and dark YA territory with the gripping novel "Shine" which begins immediately with a gut-wrenching f...moreLauren Myracle leaps with both feet into serious and dark YA territory with the gripping novel "Shine" which begins immediately with a gut-wrenching first chapter that tells you this tale isn't for the faint of heart. Myracle displays her talent for her descriptive narrative, and giving life to characters you come to care about. "Shine" will haunt you for a long time to come, a story that will stick with you.
Cat and Patrick are lifelong friends, kindred spirits in the truest sense, and act as surrogate siblings for one another in a lonely town where they don't quite fit in to or belong. In their tween years, Patrick reveals to Cat that he is gay, which she digests for a moment then accepts this new facet of her best friend. Sadly, something terrible happens to Cat, but she keeps this bad episode a deeply hidden secret. Soon after, she cuts everyone out of her life, and with quiet decisiveness, stops talking to Patrick all together, ending their friendship with cruel abruptness.
Patrick mourns the loss of his dear friend, not knowing what he could have said or done to have deserve such treatment, but he gives his kind friendship to their other "friends," friends that are mean and nasty but allow him to tag along. It's not until Patrick is hospitalized and in a coma that Cat valiantly attempts to be by his side, with both kids now seventeen years old and in bad shape. Cat takes it upon herself to solve the mystery of the violent hate crime that Patrick was victim to, and finds out things about her family, friends and sleepy little town, giving new, sinister meaning to, "let sleeping dogs lie."
Highly recommended for teenagers, ages sixteen and up.(less)
An easy and light reading that took less than 2 hours to enjoy. It's not often I come across a teen book that is this squeaky clean, and yet fun to re...moreAn easy and light reading that took less than 2 hours to enjoy. It's not often I come across a teen book that is this squeaky clean, and yet fun to read. This is definitely a recommended title for younger fans of Jane Austen fan fiction, providing a reinvented Lizzie Bennet we can cheer on through her trials and tribulations, her triumphs and her occasional stumbles through the first throes of an awkward yet blossoming romance. As to the supporting cast of characters, some of the names are recognizable, but the traditional family, friends and frenemies of Pride and Prejudice aren't anywhere to be found. Nontheless, Lizzie and Will Darcy are developed enough, and their painfully slow but evolving relationship is believable, and you root for them to find a way to be together.(less)
Unbelievable. Unrelenting. Shocking. This book blew me away.
Warning: make time to read this straight through because you can't put it down once you s...moreUnbelievable. Unrelenting. Shocking. This book blew me away.
Warning: make time to read this straight through because you can't put it down once you start.
Who do you love? Who do you trust? Who are you? Are you a fighter? Are you a killer? Are you a friend? Are you a lover? How far are you willing to go in the name of justice and peace? And once it's all over and you're still breathing, will you ever be the same again? Would you rather die on your feet than live on your knees? Welcome to another chilling round of the "Hunger Games."
This book is non-stop in action, with Katniss waking up in District 13, her beloved District 12 a charred and obliterated memory. Peeta is the hostage of the Capitol, and Gale now assumes the mantel of protector and friend of Katniss. But our intrepid heroine learns District 13 is not an ideal utopia, and everyone is trying to manipulate her for their own agendas, so no one can be trusted. The only person she's confident isn't out to get her is Finnick, who is deemed mentally unfit. Propaganda against the Capitol is being orchestrated by President Coin, leader of the rebels, and by former Gameskeeper, Plutarch. At the center of it all is Katniss who has reluctantly agreed to be the Mockingjay, to rouse and lead the rebellion to victory. Under new and ever-changing orders, Katniss begins to wonder if Coin is just a self-righteous version of Snow, ands believes her life is in danger once more. The most visceral and agonizing moments are when Katniss and Peeta are reunited, and she learns the boy she admired and loved is no more, courtesy of Snow. This propels the story into a rapid fire pace of mayhem, plotting, descending upon the Capitol and submitting to new heights of madness in the throes of loss, death, revealed secrets and devastating betrayal. But the pressing romantic question is does she choose Peeta or Gale? Or do these two men and their actions make the decision for her?
This was a really good historical fiction title that delved into the working conditions for young people during the Industrial Revolution in America....moreThis was a really good historical fiction title that delved into the working conditions for young people during the Industrial Revolution in America. Annie Steele is one of two teenage siblings who have a hard-working mother and an irresponsible father who spends money he doesn't have, plunging his family into debt, and risks losing the family farm for junk he has to have. Pa's latest purchase is a clock, and in order to pay it off, he signs up his fifteen year old daughter for six-month contract at the wool mills to clear up his eight dollar clock debt. Annie has no choice but to give up her dreams of becoming a schoolteacher and have to work hard and long hours due to her father's inability to provide for his family and racking up mounting debts that continually get him in trouble. To Annie's comfort, she does get to work with her best friend Hetty and her would be beau, Robert. Robert can't work his family's farm due to an accident that has left his ankle crippled, so he handles the numbers at the mill. Robert discloses a mill secret to Annie, that the evil mill manager is stealing wool, and instead of leaving it be, Annie is determined to gather evidence that Mr. Hoggart is a thieving man. In the meantime, she tries to avoid his attention, but he sexually harasses her and other young girls, telling them if they're "nice" he'll give them better jobs, and if not, he'll make life hard for Annie and Robert. Things progressively worse until a tragedy occurs that spurs Annie into action, despite knowing her life could be in danger, too.
Recommended for students studying the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. and for historical fiction buffs, ages 12 and up.(less)
**spoiler alert** This will probably be the most powerful, gut-wrenching YA story of this decade, hands down. "Forbidden" breaks your heart and makes...more**spoiler alert** This will probably be the most powerful, gut-wrenching YA story of this decade, hands down. "Forbidden" breaks your heart and makes you weep for the Whitely children who were robbed and denied a loving upbringing by their hideous parents, and you ache for the burden the eldest children had to carry.
Lochan and Maya are the oldest siblings in a family of five children. Their well-educated father who divorced their unbearable alcoholic mother abandoned them altogether, to start a new life with a new wife and a child on the way, in Australia. Their mother is never home, and therefore never tends to any of her children's needs because she's too busy squandering her money on liquor, bad men, and lost nights. Lochan and Maya are only 12 and 11 respectively when they take on the arduous task of raising children and running a household, becoming responsible adults overnight. Add to this, they have to attend school too, get good grades, and do the shopping for daily necessities. They are more husband and wife, viewing their siblings as their own children, sheltering and protecting them from the evils that is their neglectful, hateful mother. It is no wonder that this partnership in bringing up a young family led Lochan and Maya to evolve their solid union into a permanent and adult relationship. Trouble is, there is no one to prevent this tragedy from happening, no teacher, neighbor, doctor, detective, relative or social worker to throw a lifeline to these desperate teens that would much rather drown together in their love for each other than be torn apart.
This is a tragic love story, a cautionary tale of doomed lovers, of a system that failed them miserably. I like other readers didn't condemn these flawed children, children that needed parents, caring adults, and a positive social system to rescue them from their adult responsibilities, rescue them from themselves. I wept for the circumstances that inevitably unfolded in the last four chapters, for the consequences that Lochan and Maya had to pay for their love, and the aftermath of having to soldier on in a society that still turns a blind eye to the suffering and ordeals of the Whitely children.
"Forbidden" is published by Random House U.K., and will not be hitting the States until June 2012. Please note that this book is for mature readers only, as it does cover the subject of incest in the second half of the book. Recommended for ages 18 and up.(less)
I tried, I really tried to love this book as it so richly deserved. Beautifully written prose: check. Two doomed teen lovers: check. Life changing mom...moreI tried, I really tried to love this book as it so richly deserved. Beautifully written prose: check. Two doomed teen lovers: check. Life changing moment: check. Flashback to "simpler" time: check. So what the heck happened with this book?
For starters, this novella was marketed as a YA title. Other than there are two teenagers in an illicit love affair, that's where the YA connection ends. This reads like an adult book, semiautobiographical in nature, with tenuous appeal for teens who will have a difficult time wrapping their minds around this slim narrative. First, it's vaguely set in the seventies, with Yonkers as the backdrop for a by-gone era when siblings lived in the same town, on the same block, on the same street, with their homes clustered together. One big happy amalgamation of extended family - or so you think. But let's cut to the heart of the matter, the elephant in the room: we have two first cousins engaged in incest. And not just kissing cousins; they are born on the same day, and their dads are identical twins. Genetically, they are half-siblings. Maddy and Rogen have been inseparable ever since, but they take their love for each other to new heights by having sex on a regular basis in a hidden attic. The strange thing is, everyone in the Tierney clan know or have a sickening suspicion that these kids are intimately involved, yet no one is stepping in to stop this tragedy. Only during a showdown when Maddy is about to be shipped off to London do Rogen's parents decide to finally do an intervention, but it's violent and ends all ties between the damaged Rogen and Maddy.
You get to know this clan through Maddy, their 100+ year history that dates back to their great-grandmother, an ingenue of the theater, a gift that died with her. You think that Maddy and Rogen will break free from their suburban stranglehold, will be Broadway bound and will never return home, and be together, encouraging their artistic talents. Even though it's wrong, you want them to prevail as a couple. But it never happens. You get the feeling the wrong kid was sent to London to become a great actor, and the one with promise and skills was purposefully left behind to rot as punishment for his sins. They meet up 31 years later, both with varying degrees of a failed life in show business, with only the faint memories of their love that lives on in the attic.
I dunno. Like I said, I wanted to really like this book. If you are a fan of Elizabeth Hand, perhaps this is the story for you. Otherwise, I recommend this books for adults.(less)
Reading this book was akin to slowly savoring a simple yet complex warm meal. At first glance, the dish appears to be ordinary, and at first bite, you...moreReading this book was akin to slowly savoring a simple yet complex warm meal. At first glance, the dish appears to be ordinary, and at first bite, you cannot imagine what the hoopla was about. But as you continue to tuck into this meal, you find so many layers of flavors that you didn't appreciate initially, and this unpretentious dish becomes a feast of the senses, and you cannot wait to have it again. That my friends is how I would describe "Shiver" by Maggie Stiefvater.
To say that "Shiver" is merely a written exercise with riffs of "Twilight" is to sell this story short. Sure, there is an ordinary girl - Grace - having survived an extraordinary circumstance - being bitten by werewolves. Sure Grace is a pretty girl with a handful of friends and is a good girl and has goofy parents, yet she doesn't fit in to her everyday world, and yearns for another life, a life in the woods with wolves. And of course you have your quiet, smoldering, intelligent but pained hero, Sam, a young man who has loved Grace for six years from afar. Sam is living on borrowed time as a human, and makes each moment count with his lady love, wishing he could stay with her, or she could come with him to his world. So, yes, there is the odd girl and her odd boy, and neither are quite normal, and they are fighting the forces of evil, be it time, humans, or crazy werewolves out to get them.
The alternating narrative is nothing new to YA, but it definitely works with this book, something I yearned for in "Twilight", but only got from reading the partially completed "Midnight Sun". It is refreshing to get Sam's perspective of what is going on and how he is feeling, whether in his wolf or human form. Although Grace's friends sound initially bratty, you do care for them, especially for the brooding Olivia who becomes a believer of Grace's wolf world through sad circumstances. Rachel is loud and obnoxious, but she's the true friend who sticks with Grace. There are other characters that join the motley crew of would-be misfits, but it's Beck I wished I could have gotten to know better, and I would have really liked to have had a full back story on Sam's demented parents. Grace's parents are hard to hate despite their neglectful and negligent upbringing of their only child. Sam described them aptly - as college students who found a baby and tried to care for it, but carried on with their selfish lives, unaltered.
"Shiver" is the first of three books planned. "Linger" just came out July 13, 2010, and "Forever" is slated to be the last installment next year. Highly recommended for fans of the paranormal and supernatural, high school and up.(less)
A masterpiece from Russell Freedman, who has brought to life the tragic and often ignored Great War - World War I. This is a definitive volume on "The...moreA masterpiece from Russell Freedman, who has brought to life the tragic and often ignored Great War - World War I. This is a definitive volume on "The War to End All Wars", written with great depth, and the vivid photographs displaying the carnage of millions who lost their lives in 20th century warfare. This is an excellent non-fiction book for middle and high school students who want to supplement their textbook education on World War I.(less)
This was a roller coaster story that immediately picks up eight months later from when Caleb disappeared from Maggie's life, never once contacting her...moreThis was a roller coaster story that immediately picks up eight months later from when Caleb disappeared from Maggie's life, never once contacting her, his family or friends in all that time. And now - he's back.
Caleb is barely living his life legally in Chicago, holding down a menial job by day, and sleeping in a drug den by night, not able to sleep and chase away his personal demons, and he cannot get Maggie out of his mind. Although Caleb has nothing to do with his roommates illegal activities, he is taken to the police station when the house is raided. The next thing Caleb knows, he can either face charges, or lean on his former counselor, hard-as-nails Damon. Suddenly, Caleb is on Damon's time, and has to enter a one-month program to stay out of jail, and special program that throws victims and perpetrators of reckless and drunken driving together. Their collective purpose? To take a tour of different facilities and warn at-risk youth to not go down the path they did, or to witness the consequences of rash actions. Of course, Maggie is in this program in order to secure her one-year scholarship to Spain, and she is a stronger and more resilient woman who will not leave just because her wannabe boyfriend showed up out of nowhere. What makes this book more human are the salty cast of misfits that are thrown together for the month, kids who are so messed up for a variety of reasons, and slowly share their harrowing stories with each other, putting Caleb and Maggie's sordid problems into perspective. But the elephant in the room is truth and honesty, something these two have a hard time dabbling in. We already know that Caleb is innocent and it was his twin sister Leah, Maggie's best friend, that crippled Maggie in that drunken accident. But Maggie won't tell Caleb she knows the truth, and Caleb is tormenting himself with telling Maggie what really happened, wondering if his promise to Leah to take this dark secret to his grave is worth all he has lost and is poised to lose if he doesn't come clean.
Needless to say, I enjoyed the book thoroughly, and I highly recommend it for teens 9th grade and up. Although there is still no sex (sorry Caleb fans!), there are sexual situations. (less)