This creative retelling of Beauty and the Beast incorporates other folktales like that of the firebird and the setting is an alternate fantasy versionThis creative retelling of Beauty and the Beast incorporates other folktales like that of the firebird and the setting is an alternate fantasy version of Russia. It features a heroine that is skilled in hunting and prefers spending time outdoors rather than life at court. Yeva doesn't fit in at court though she has captured the eye of Solmir, a future baron. Her oldest sister is engaged but her middle sister is in love with Solmir herself though she knows her injured foot will likely not lead to any suitors offering for her hand. Their father had given up the life of a hunter that he loved for the sake of their mother and instead he became a successful merchant. Unfortunately disaster happens when their caravans are attacked and they lose everything. While her father heads back to the woods to make money by trapping and hunting, Yeva looks after her sisters but when he fails to return one day, she decides to go after him.
The Beast is interested in Yeva because he sees her gifts in hunting as his ticket to freedom. He takes her prisoner and forces her to practice her hunting skills. She hates him and secretly plans to kill him when given the chance. Gradually she realizes that he is under an enchantment and cannot tell her why he needs her skills or what he needs her to hunt. All Yeva cares about is getting back to her family but as she explores the castle she starts to see that there is more to her situation and more to the Beast than she previously thought.
The romance is very gradual because of some major obstacles and the fact that Yeva understandably hates the Beast for much of the book. He is initially more beast than man but as they spend time together he starts to become more humanized. There are no enchanted singing tea pots, etc. like in the Disney version though the Beast has some magical abilities from the curse.
The different take on a familiar fairy tale is interesting. The romance was not very heavy which is good. Yeva doesn't immediately fall in love with the Beast which makes complete sense under the circumstances. I liked Yeva and her strength and determination to survive and get back to her sisters. She is devoted to them and they are devoted to her as well. I also liked how both Yeva and the Beast had to learn some important lessons about themselves. In the Disney version, Belle is pretty much perfect as is and it is only the Beast that needs to make changes in his life. There are some other differences I appreciated as well. Overall I enjoyed this retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I think fans of fairy tales retold would like it too....more
I am a fan of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie (though I've also watched the later films) and I've enjoyed some of the other YA3.5 to 4 stars
I am a fan of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie (though I've also watched the later films) and I've enjoyed some of the other YA pirate fiction I've read so I was eager to give this a try and it didn't disappoint.
Alosa is the daughter of the self proclaimed "pirate king" but she is a pirate in her own right with her own ship and a nearly all-female crew of trusted friends. When her dad gives her the task of infiltrating a rival pirate's ship to get a piece of a treasure map, she lets herself get caught so she can find the map. She figures it will be an easy task though she has to hide her real skills from her captors. What she wasn't planning on is Riden, the first mate and loyal younger brother of the captain, who suspects she is up to something.
Alosa is intelligent and brave and a good leader. She is also perhaps a little too loyal to her father who doesn't sound like the greatest dad. Alosa is a confident and skilled pirate but she struggles with her heritage and she wants to prove herself to her dad. Riden is also a capable but unusually kind pirate (he doesn't enjoy killing) and more than a match for Alosa's antics. I liked the development of their relationship as the story progressed. The secondary characters are also interesting though I wanted to know more about Alosa's crew than the glimpses that we got. I think that will change in the second book.
Daughter of the Pirate King is a fun historical fantasy/adventure novel on the high seas. I think fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and pirate fiction would enjoy this. It is a page turner with humor, romance, a little bit of fantasy and some unexpected twists. I am eagerly looking forward to the sequel....more
Abby has had a difficult year in the wake of her parents' divorce. Her dad fell apart and the burden of taking care of him and the house fell to her.Abby has had a difficult year in the wake of her parents' divorce. Her dad fell apart and the burden of taking care of him and the house fell to her. It's also been tough because her best friend Riya moved to Germany and they got into a major fight. Now she is in Europe on a trip with Riya (paid for by Riya's wealthy grandmother) where they hopefully will mend their broken relationship. When Abby first sees Riya again she realizes how much Riya has changed. She dresses like a sophisticated European and Riya is also keeping a big secret from Abby that could destroy their friendship for good.
Riya comes across as flighty and irresponsible and a little spoiled at times. She does care a lot about Abby and wants to be a good friend but she definitely has some growing up to do. I think Abby is more mature in a way because of what she's been through with her family. Riya seems like a younger, boy crazy idealistic dreamer in comparison. Of course Abby also likes their small town and doesn't want things to change while Riya is growing away from that and wants to see and experience the world. For Abby, their small hometown represents stability and for Riya she feels it is holding her back. She doesn't want to have the same exact life that everyone else is living. I think this is something teens can easily relate to as they prepare to graduate and possibly leave home for college or career. It is a time when friendships change and people sometimes do grow apart because they want different things.
Abby and Riya are not alone on their trip as they are chaperoned by Riya's older cousin Neel who is in college. Neel is British and can be a stick in the mud in Riya's view but he and Abby get along really well (cue the romantic sparks). Abby is really into history and the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, something she and Neel have in common. As someone who has loved history since I was a kid, I liked how Abby kind of geeked out on it. I love reading books about travel (especially set in Europe) so that appealed to me about this book and I enjoyed reading about the different places they visited.
While there is some romance the book really does focus on the friendship of Abby and Riya which I appreciated. The resolution of that part of the story felt realistic. I also liked how supportive Riya's parents and grandmother and Abby's dad are. It is nice to see positive portrayals of adults in teen fiction. I mostly enjoyed this novel, especially the travel aspect and the growth of the protagonists. It would be a great book to pack in your beach bag this summer....more
The Sun is Also a Star has been compared to Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and while there are some similarities and they are both excellent booThe Sun is Also a Star has been compared to Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and while there are some similarities and they are both excellent books, I think this book is not quite as dark as that one which dealt with abuse.
Natasha meets Daniel on the worst day of her life--her last day in America. Her family are undocumented immigrants and thanks to her dad's bad decisions, they are being deported. Natasha was just a child when she arrived in the U.S. To her it is home more than Jamaica and she is feeling fear and worry about going back to a place that feels like a stranger. She also has to give up her college dreams to study science and become a data scientist.
Daniel is on his way to an interview with a Yale alumnus to help him with the college application process. His future is laid out before him: Yale, medical school, becoming a doctor, marrying an appropriate Korean girl. His brother was on the path but screwed up by getting sent home from Harvard. Now his parents are putting the pressure on him instead. Daniel isn't sure what he wants to do with his life but he doesn't think it involves being a doctor. He loves writing poetry but his dad doesn't approve.
When Daniel first sees Natasha on the street, he is fascinated by this pretty girl who is so into her music. Natasha finds Daniel attractive but in spite of his friendliness and attempts at flirtation, she doesn't want to give him false hope since she is leaving. She is too busy trying to find a last minute miracle to stay. Daniel however is convinced they are meant to be.
The Sun is Also a Star is about falling in love but it is also about having dreams and what happens when those dreams may not become a reality. The book looks at heavy issues like illegal immigration and parental pressure to succeed. It may seem like Natasha and Daniel may not have anything in common but they do--they are both the product of immigrant parents and both families have dreams of making it in America. In Daniel's case, his parents expect him and his brother to have amazing lives and accomplish more than they were able to. Coming to America meant giving their kids a brighter future. For Natasha's parents, her mom dreams of a bigger home with actual bedrooms for her kids. Her father wants to make it as an actor, the reason he is in the States in the first place. While they love their children, the kids' dreams seem to be secondary to survival and in their dad's case, he doesn't seem to notice them much anymore in the face of his own disappointments.
The story is told through the viewpoints of Natasha and Daniel but in between chapters we also get the perspective of Natasha's dad, Charlie's mean older brother and various other characters. This helps to round out the characters and the narrative. Both science and poetry are woven throughout the story, matching the viewpoints of Natasha and Daniel.
When I finished this novel, I could see why it received so much praise. It is certainly worthy of it and to be honest, I liked it much more than Yoon's debut, Everything, Everything. It made me think and I cared about the characters and their situation. While Everything, Everything has been made into a movie I hope this one will be too. It is almost like Serendipity (the romantic comedy film) meets Eleanor & Park. If I had read this last year, it would have made my list of 2016 favorites but I am sure it will be making my list of favorites this year....more
In this alternate fantasy version of London, magic is off limits to women so Henrietta has to keep her abilities a secret lest she be killed as a witcIn this alternate fantasy version of London, magic is off limits to women so Henrietta has to keep her abilities a secret lest she be killed as a witch. When her friend Rook is in danger, she uses her ability with fire to save his life but she is seen by the sorcerer Agrippa. Henrietta is sure this is the end for her but Agrippa believes she is not a witch but the sorceress that is prophesied to save them. Instead of death, Henrietta has the opportunity to train in magic. She loves her newfound freedom and the ability to learn though things don't come to her as easily as they should. Unfortunately Henrietta discovers she isn't a sorceress but a magician, something anathema and illegal. She has to keep this a secret but everyone is depending on her to save them from the Ancients.
Prior to reading this book I read some mixed reviews. Some people loved it while others derided it as derivative of other YA fantasy novels or disliked all the "love interests". I was hesitant about reading it but decided to give the book a try anyway and I'm so glad I did. I like that the author chose to write a character that wasn't the "chosen one" and to show the challenges she faced not only in trying to live up to expectations but also because she wanted to do her part to stop the Ancients. While there are some hints of romance (one character claims to be in love with her while she seems to have feelings for another), I didn't really see a "love triangle".
A Shadow Bright and Burning reminded me of The Burning Sky and other books in the Elemental Magic series by Sherry Thomas. I loved The Burning Sky so that is high praise from me. I thought the world that Jessica Cluess created was interesting and I hope to learn more in the next book. I would suggest this book to fans of The Burning Sky and other similar YA fantasy....more
Lucy's life changes on prom night when she inadvertently finds out that her mom's cancer is back. On top of that, she has to spend the summer as a couLucy's life changes on prom night when she inadvertently finds out that her mom's cancer is back. On top of that, she has to spend the summer as a counselor at a "hippie" camp that is very different from the comforting familiar Bible camp she has worked at in past summers. Lucy doesn't want to leave her mom while she is sick and she is dreading her new job but then she realizes that there is more to the camp than she thought and maybe it's exactly where she needs to be.
I wasn't sure what to expect from a book with a Christian teen protagonist but I thought it worked. Lucy reminded me a little of myself as a teen as I grew up in an evangelical conservative Christian family. I also liked the portrayal of Lucy's struggle with her faith. I do think Lucy's parents were way more understanding and open minded than the adults around me during my teen years.
I was glad to see Lucy grow and change through her experience at Camp Daybreak. She was naive and a little judgmental (but not as judgmental as I thought she'd be) and I think being at this camp challenged her in many ways. I think it helped her to interact with kids from difficult home situations or who had many struggles in their young lives. Lucy becomes a more confident person and she is able to help the kids in her cabin.
There was a lot going on in this book. Aside from Lucy's story line there are also the various issues with some of the campers and Lucy's fellow counselors such as teen pregnancy, abuse and bullying. I did like the secondary characters, especially Anna who is a great new friend for Lucy. There is also some romance between Lucy and Jones, another counselor. Jones is a great guy and I liked how their relationship grew.
I did have a few small issues with the book. I felt like there wasn't closure at the end--I wanted to know what happened. Also I thought the big secret wasn't really wrapped up well because other things took precedence. Overall I liked this book. Emery Lord is one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. I like how her stories are about so much more than teen romance. It is story about faith and family and relationships. I also liked that the characters were more diverse and I loved the relationship Lucy has with her parents. ...more
Bailey and her family have been through a lot. Her parents are divorced and her mom has remarried but she and Bailey's stepdad have been fighting a loBailey and her family have been through a lot. Her parents are divorced and her mom has remarried but she and Bailey's stepdad have been fighting a lot so Bailey decides for her own peace of mind to move to California to live with her dad instead. Another bonus is that her dad happens to live in the same town as "Alex", a guy she knows through an online group for film fanatics. Bailey is thrilled but also scared to be so near to where Alex is. She decides she will try to find him using clues from his posts. If he seems like a decent guy in real life, then she'll introduce herself. In the meantime, Bailey gets a job at The Cave, a local museum where she makes a new friend, Grace and makes a sort of enemy in Porter. They start off on the wrong foot but Bailey starts to feel differently about Porter as she gets to know him.
I love You've Got Mail so I was immediately intrigued by the premise of this book. I like that Bailey is into classic movies and that she has her own vintage sense of style. Bailey describes herself as an "Artful Dodger" and "evader". She doesn't like confrontation and she likes relationships to be uncomplicated. Unfortunately for her, life doesn't work that way and she finds herself challenged to grow beyond that. Bailey has something dark in her past that she has to work through as well.
At first I didn't think I'd like Porter because he comes across as a bit of a jerk but I know that is because of the "You've Got Mail retelling" aspect of the story. Like Bailey, Porter has his own issues to deal with involving a broken friendship and his complicated relationship with surfing. I liked how his relationship with Bailey develops first online and then in person while they don't know about their online connection.
I also liked the other relationships in the book, namely the friendship between Bailey and Grace and the positive relationship between Bailey and her dad. They are very close and that is nice to see considering the difficult relationship Bailey has with her mom. Grace is a fun character and she challenges Bailey to come out of her shell. The setting is fun too. I liked learning a little bit about surfing and the beach community. The museum sounds like an interesting place to work though I'd hate to work in a hot cramped ticket booth all summer!
Overall I thought this was an enjoyable contemporary romance, perfect for summer reading. I'd suggest this to fans of You've Got Mail as well as readers who like Sarah Dessen, Emery Lord and similar authors....more
Mana is a spunky cheerleader with a somewhat normal life and an obsession with penguins. She is tiny and people have a tendency to be overprotective oMana is a spunky cheerleader with a somewhat normal life and an obsession with penguins. She is tiny and people have a tendency to be overprotective of her, including her two best friends, Lyle and September (Seppie). Mana's life changes the night she goes to a game only to see Dakota Dunham get "kidnapped" only to realize that Dakota isn't a normal teen but an alien who can spit acid. Later that night she goes home to find her mom is missing and there is an alien in her house. When her mom's alien hunting partner China shows up, it's about all Mana can take. She is determined to find her mom but she isn't sure who she can trust outside of Lyle and Seppie. She also isn't sure about these strange new powers she has. Could she be an alien too?
I liked Mana. She is an interesting contradiction of a strong heroine who at the same time can be a little babyish because of the way she was raised and overprotected by her mom. I enjoyed seeing her find her own strength. I was glad that she had good friends in her life who were there for her when she needed them but she did need to stand on her own two feet and I think she learns how to do that by the end of the book.
Lyle is a caring best friend and Mana is seriously falling for him though she tried to use a crush on Dakota Dunham to keep her feelings for Lyle from ruining their friendship in case he didn't feel the same about her. Seppie sort of disappears from the story for awhile as Mana and Lyle go on the run but she shows up when Mana needs her and she is pretty awesome too.
The book has a lot of action and humor. It reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as Cassandra Clare's City of Bones (but with a lighter touch and without all the angst and emotional drama) and Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen. Overall I thought it was fun and a quick read, perfect for a rainy afternoon. There are some questions left unanswered that I hope will be explained in the sequel. I think readers who liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Men in Black or the Alienated series by Melissa Landers should give this a try....more