Tag Archives: Teen Books

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Book Reviews
September 5, 2012 posted by Nikki

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

Hazel has cancer. The bad kind that just won’t go away. No one is sugar coating anything for her – it is inevitable, just a matter of time. She hasn’t been to school in three years, which means her list of friends can be counted on one hand. She hauls herself up in the house reading the same novel over and over and subjecting her parents to re-runs of bad reality TV programming. Hazel’s mom thinks she’s depressed and forces her to go to a local support group for kids like her. She protests, of course, but even cancer can’t get you out of some things.

Enter Augustus Waters. Cancer survivor, amputee, life optimist, cancer support group resident hot guy. And he’s looking at Hazel like that. By the end of the meeting Augustus has managed to convince Hazel to go back to his place and watch a movie with him, and just like that Hazel’s terminally ill cancer life changes to terminally-ill-but-now-she-gets-to-live-a-little-too.

Here’s what you need to know about this book: YOU WILL NEED LOTS AND LOTS OF KLEENEX.

This is a story about kids with cancer, so I think the plot probably speaks for itself, but what I did find utterly astonishing was just how funny it was. John Green has somehow managed to spin the situation Augustus and Hazel find themselves in so that it’s completely and totally hilarious without discrediting the seriousness of a disease like cancer. In fact, the first time I picked up a tissue was to wipe the laughter from my eyes.

You will fall hopelessly head over heels in love with Augustus and Hazel. By the end of the first chapter, I wanted to wrap Hazel in bubble wrap and hug away all the badness she’d endured throughout her life. Then Augustus came along and I realized he wanted to be the one that did all that for her, so I stepped off.

Regardless of the humor, regardless of how much I laughed out loud while reading, Augustus and Hazel’s story is heart crushingly, soul destroyingly sad. Perhaps that’s what makes this book the shining diamond that it is: it’s ability to be both brilliant and horrifying all in one.

There’s not much else that needs to be said about The Fault In Our Stars, except that this is, without a doubt, the best book I’ve read in any genre for a really, really long time. And not because it’s about cancer, but because it’s about people, love, and making it count.

Five stars isn’t a high enough rating for this masterpiece. If I could give it more, I would.

John Green, thanks for your brilliance. The Fault In Our Stars will change lives.

 

Pages: 313

Publication date: January, 2012

Publisher Dutton Books

Rating:: ★★★★★

Teaser Quote: “I bet you say that to all the boys who finance your international travel.”

 

The Unwritten Rule – Elizabeth Scott
Book Reviews
September 11, 2010 posted by Nikki

The Unwritten Rule – Elizabeth Scott

He’s looking at me like – well, like he wants to look at me. Like he likes what he sees, and he’s smiling and his eyes are so blue, even in the faint glow of the porch light they shine, and I nod dumbly, blindly, then grope for the door handle, telling myself to look away and not yet able to do it.

“Sarah,” he says, softly, almost hesitantly, and my heart slam bangs, beating hard, and this is what it’s like to want someone you can’t have. To want someone you shouldn’t even be looking at.

Sarah is in quite the predicament. She’s riding that rollercoaster of first love – the pain, the exhilaration, the ups and downs. Only problem is, she’s doing it solo – unrequited style. She’s been in love with Ryan since the eighth grade, but now he’s dating her emotionally stunted best friend, Brianna, and Sarah is forced to stumble through each day, the pain of seeing them together pulling at her insides with every second that passes.

Brianna has crappy parents who clearly don’t want her around, and Ryan seems to make Brianna feel like she matters to someone. At least, that’s how it looks to Sarah, which is why Sarah is so hell bent on keeping her feelings completely and totally to herself. How could she take Ryan away from Brianna, when she has so little to start with?

Besides, there’s no way Sarah could compete with the sassy, sexiness that is Brianna – and Brianna makes sure Sarah knows it every single day. Brianna might have crappy parents, but that’s no excuse for the way she treats those around her. Its obvious to the reader that Ryan is nothing more than a self-esteem booster for Brianna, and while she might actually love Sarah, she doesn’t know how to show it. I couldn’t help but wonder if Brianna only kept Sarah around to make herself feel better.

But then, it seems, Ryan sees through Brianna’s dance, and decides to take his affections elsewhere – right into the garden of Sarah! Turns out, Ryan has kind of been in love with Sarah for ages, but got all caught up in the whirlwind that is Brianna and time just got away. But he wont stand for that anymore. He wants Sarah, and nothing – nothing – will stand in his way.

Not even Brianna, when she walks in on Ryan and Sarah lying curled up together in Sarah’s bed.

The Unwritten Rule is interesting exploration through the rules of dating and friendship. Were Ryan and Sarah wrong to pursue each other when Brianna was still so clearly caught in the middle. Did they consider her feelings enough? With the way Brianna was treating the pair of them, should they have considered her feelings at all? When is it okay to break the rules of friendship for matters of the heart? These are all questions I asked myself repeatedly throughout this story.

Sarah and Ryan are both likable characters, but I found Brianna to be shallow, callous and difficult to read. She’s clearly got some emotional issues, but the way she treats those around her makes my stomach squirm. You’d think, with her home life being so terrible and all, she’d value the love of her friends a little more.

The Unwritten Rule is a home run for Elizabeth Scott. This is a great, contemporary chick lit read!

Publication date: 2010

Pages: 210

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: “I wasn’t happy with you? Brianna says. “Almost eight weeks, Ryan. And then you go and – ” she glares at me. “Is this my anniversary present? You could have at least picked someone decent. Someone I’d believe you want and not just who you used to make yourself feel better.”

Delcroix Academy: The Candidates – Inara Scott
Book Reviews
September 4, 2010 posted by Nikki

Delcroix Academy: The Candidates – Inara Scott

Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that’s not just because of her average grades or her less-than-glamorous wardrobe. In fact, Dancia’s mediocrity is a welcome cover for her secret: whenever she sees a person threatening someone she cares about, things just…happen. Cars skid. Structures collapse. Usually someone gets hurt.  So Dancia does everything possible to avoid getting close to anyone, belieiving this way she can supress her powers and keep them hidden.

But when recruiters from the prestigious Delcroix Academy show up in her living room to offer her a full scholarship, Dancia’s days of living under the radar may be over. Only, Delcroix is a school for diplomats’ kids and child geniuses–not B students with uncontrollable telekinetic tendencies.  So why are they treating Dancia like she’s special? Even the hottest guy on campus seems to be going out of his way to make Dancia feel welcome.

And then there’s her mysterious new friend Jack, who can’t stay out of trouble. He suspects something dangerous is going on at the Academy and wants Dancia to help him figure out what.  But Dancia isn’t convinced. She hopes that maybe the recruiters know more about her “gift” than they’re letting on. Maybe they can help her understand how to use it…But not even Dancia could have imagined what awaits her behind the gates of Delcroix Academy.

From the onset, it’s pretty clear that Dancia is supposed to be an average, run of the mill character that teenage girls everywhere should be able to relate to. With her average, grades, average appearance, less than impressive wardrobe, and no money or classy possessions to show off, Dancia has pretty much resigned herself to a life less lived. Except, although she seems unwilling to admit it, there is something exceptional about her. She has an odd kind of power and can make things happen with her mind. She doesn’t understand it, she can’t really control it, but whenever she ends up using it, bad things happen. Dancia chooses to ignore her power and enters the big fat land of denial.

The Delcroix Academy recruits her. She doesn’t understand why – Delcroix is supposed to be for talented people, and talent is something she’s seriously lacking. Still, there is no possible way they could know about her abilities, right? That couldn’t really be why they want her, could it?

Jack seems to think so. He’s another recruit, just like Dancia. No special, obvious talents (unless you count a juvie record and a bunch of failed efforts under his belt). But Dancia senses something special about Jack immediately. Something special, in her kind of way. Just when Dancia starts getting close to Jack, Cam puts himself in her line of vision. Dancia doesn’t understand his newfound interest in her – he is the most attractive guy in school after all – but when his attention seems unrelenting, Dancia allows herself to roll with it.  Suddenly, she finds herself caught in the middle of a love triangle. Has the world gone completely mad?

Except, she doesn’t like Jack. Honest. She likes Cam. Smart, funny, handsome. Jack is nothing but a troublemaker. So why, if she feels nothing for Jack, does the world stop spinning when he kisses her?

Then the truth comes out about why she was really recruited to Declroix, and all hell breaks loose.

I found Dancia’s naivety completely and utterly frustrating, but if I’m honest with myself, the way she behaved is completely and utterly believable. It’s every girl’s dream come true to have the school hearth throb chasing after you. Unfortunately, I don’t buy it. Even though Cam does seem genuinely interested in Dancia, I refused to let myself believe its true. I can’t pin point it exactly, but there’s just something about it that makes my stomach turn – and not in a good way.

Jack, on the other hand, is totally nuts about Dancia, but I’m not entirely sure it’s for the right reasons. Is he interested in her because of her power, or does he really like her for who she is? I can’t tell yet, but I’m really hoping it’s the latter. In case you didn’t already figure it out, I’m Team Jack.

Delcroix Academy: The Candidates starts off a little slowly, but once the action gets going, it becomes one of those novels that you just can’t put down. It’s Inara Scott’s first novel, and I’m definitely going to be watching to see how this story pans out.

Pages: 293

Publication Date: August 28, 2010

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: Jack leaned against the porch rail, his body once again a relaxed slouch. his voice was soft, coaxing. “How can you say that? I’m no bully.”

The Life of a Teenage Body Snatcher – Doug MacLeod
Book Reviews
August 21, 2010 posted by Christina

The Life of a Teenage Body Snatcher – Doug MacLeod

“Thomas Timewell is sixteen and a gentleman. When he meets a body-snatcher called Plentitude, his whole life changes. He is pursued by cutthroats, a tattooed gypsy with a meat cleaver, and even the Grim Reaper. More disturbing still, Thomas has to spend an evening with the worst novelist in the world.”

The Life of a Teenage Body Snatcher is a black comedy set in England in 1828 and is the 12th book written by Doug MacLeod. We meet sixteen-year-old protagonist, Thomas Timewell, on the evening of his grandfather’s funeral. Thomas’ Grandfather’s dying wish was for his body to be donated to science to help in the advancement of the medical and scientific fields. Like in many cases, those wishes were ignored and he was buried anyway. So, as you do, Thomas takes matters into his own hands and digs up the grave to take the body where it rightfully belongs, as per his Grandfather’s wishes.

As he digs, we meet Plentitude – a body snatcher. An uneasy alliance is made between the two as Plentitude shows Thomas the tricks of the body snatching trade and delivers the body to the desired destination. From there Plentitude convinces Thomas to continue fulfilling the final wishes of the recently deceased.

Body snatching is not a simple game though – there’s competition. Disgruntled former partners of Plentitude’s want the bodies (and the payment that comes with their sale) for themselves. That, plus a gypsy with a taste for throwing meat cleavers, a teacher who ritually tortures his best friend and a mother in a constant opium daze, Thomas’s life gets really bizarre, really fast. Not to mention the lovely Victoria, who he can’t keep from offending every time their paths cross.

As some of you may know, I spend most of my day studying fashion and trends, but I’m picking up on a book trend here –  more stories being set during the Georgian and Victorian eras (18th and 19th century) – and I have to say I’m really liking it. Think Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, and Emily Bronte, but teen friendly. Now don’t get me wrong, these authors and many others of that period were very talented and have written some of the best loved classic literature of all time. I’ve read a fair few books from the period either for study or by choice but try as I might I just don’t know what they’re saying. Since times and social customs have changed you need to read between the lines, and understand the contextual history to know why it’s so scandalous for a girl to leave the house without a hat and gloves. This, plus the language itself means the message of those books are unfortunately lost on me, it just feels like a chore to read. I don’t doubt they’re still valuable and the themes and issues they express are important and still relevant today (and should still be read and studied)….but they’re just not fun for me.

What I’m trying to get at here, is that books such as The Life of a Teenage Body Snatcher and others that are coming out recently, are quite faithful to the period and allow you to enjoy a story set in the age of gentlemen in top hats and ladies in corsets without getting lost in the writing of classic literature.

There was a great plot here, quite different to things I’ve read lately – very dark and gruesome at times but also with a sense of sarcasm and humor that kept it light. I loved the surprise ending, as well as the reference to Sweeney Todd, and to the issues of women who had to pose as males to be taken seriously as authors and the extend of opium use of the time.

The characters were a delight and I loved the witty interaction between them. Particularly between Thomas and his adopted younger brother John, who at fourteen has moved out into his deceased grandfather’s mansion and considers himself an important adult, high power business man. I also liked that body snatchers (or resurrectionists) never revealed their names; each one had a unique name chosen by them.

The Life of a Teenage Body Snatcher is a great period novel that was witty and engaging, that gives a dark insight to an unusual occupation.

Pages:304
Publication Date: June 2010
Rating: : ★★★½☆

Teaser Quote: “You must think it strange that I’m digging up my grandfather.”
“Not at all. I’m sure many men dig up their grandfathers.”

Author Interview with Simone Elkeles
Author Interviews
August 15, 2010 posted by Nikki

Author Interview with Simone Elkeles

As you all know, to celebrate the release of her new novel, Return to Paradise, we’re celebrating all things Simone Elkeles this month. Everyone here at yaReads has Elkeles Fever and were stoked when she sat down for an interview with us. If you’ve been following any of Simone’s stories, chances are you’re going to love this interview! Strap yourselves in, folks. This one is too awesome for words.

Return to Paradise gives readers a bit of closure. Is this it for Maggie and Caleb, or will we be treated to another novel?

The story is finished after Return to Paradise.  However, I want to tell my fans that they will feel much better about the ending I have in store for Maggie and Caleb this time!

I know what my favorite moment is, but I’m dying to know what your fave Caleb and Maggie moment in Return to Paradise is…

I would have to say when Maggie and Caleb are kissing in the lake.  Things really heat up and I think my fans are going to be surprised by what Maggie does next.  I’m just so proud of her!  She’s so much stronger than she was in Leaving Paradise.

Will we ever learn what Maggie and Caleb got up to during the year they spent apart?

I think the most important thing that happened while they were apart is that they learned what’s most important in life:  being with the ones you love.  I know many of my fans were upset with the ending of Leaving Paradise, but I didn’t think Maggie and Caleb were ready to be with each other yet.  However, after a year apart. . .

I’m curious to learn what happens to Leah next – will we ever find out?

Everyone has a lot of healing to do, but Leah more than anyone.  I think Leah has a rough road ahead of her, but I have no doubt that she will prevail.

Of all the characters you’ve created, Caleb is definitely my fave. Who is your fave?

I get asked that question a lot, but there’s no way to pick!  (It would be like having to choose my favorite out of my children.)  I love Caleb because he is so strong in most areas of his life, but he needs Maggie to be complete.  I love Maggie for the way she forgives Caleb and Leah even though she’ll have scars forever.  Of course, I love Alex and Carlos for pushing the envelope, but still being very caring.  I respect Brittany and Kiara for not giving up on the guys they love, even when the boys make things very challenging!  See what I mean?  I could never pick!

Of all the characters you’ve created, which did you find the most challenging to write, and why?

All of my characters were challenging in different ways.  I had to do quite a bit of research to write about Alex and Carlos and their gang affiliations as well as Hispanic culture.  I talked to kids in Juvenile Detention facilities, met with police officers who work in tough neighborhoods, and even went on a “ride-along” and got to wear a bullet-proof vest!

You seem to have quite an affiliation with bad boys being reformed by good, wholesome girls. Why is that?

I love bad boys.  They’re my weakness.  Find me a hot and sexy bad boy and I melt.  I think it’s my “female gene” that makes me want to fix those bad boys.  If I can fix a bad boy, I can fix anything! (females are natural people-fixers, in my opinion)  Alex and Carlos and Caleb are a mixture of a bunch of boys I know or did know throughout my life… I’m totally sarcastic and “get” guys like that.  And just like behind a good man you’ll find a good woman, behind most bad boys you’ll find a good heart.  (Not all bad boys are redeemable in real life, but I write fiction and my bad boys are ‘curable!’)

How do you go about choosing your character’s names?

I get asked that question all the time.  Listen, if you were obnoxious in high school your name is somehow connected to the rude girls in my books, ha ha.  My friends laugh when I say to beware of pissing me off because you just might find yourself in one of my books (although Darlene was a great friend of mine in school and she’s the mean girl in Perfect Chemistry and Madison is the daughter of my best friend and the mean girl in Rules of Attraction). I’m a girl scout leader, so I use a lot of my girls’ names in my books.  I use last names of people I know most of the time or I make them up.  I will also go to baby name websites and find names that I like.  Sometimes I even use names from my fan mail.  My fans have some very cool names!

What’s in your TBR pile at the moment?

My “to read” pile is enormous because I can’t remember the last time I felt like I had enough time to read!  But, I definitely want to make time to read Mockingjay when it comes out.  I loved The Hunger Games!

For you, what are the best and worse things about being a writer?

There are so many things I love about being a writer!  I love the satisfying feeling of writing “The End” when I finish a book.  I love my RITA award I just won at the Romance Writers of America conference!  (seriously, she’s so pretty. . . I can’t stop looking at her!)  But, most of all, I LOVE MY FANS!  The wonderful comments I get on my Facebook, myspace, and twitter really keep me going when I’m feeling down or frustrated.

Can you tell us what you’re working on next?

I’m currently working on Chain Reaction, the third book in the Perfect Chemistry series.  This one is about Luis, the youngest Fuentes brother.  He’s such a good guy who doesn’t live with the angst that his big brothers have always lived with.  Luis is smart, funny, and has big dreams.  When he falls for the wrong girl, Luis enters a dark world he’s never known to try and save her from herself.  Just when he thinks he’s got life all figured out, Luis learns some disturbing news about his family that destroys his positive outlook on life.  Will that Fuentes bad boy streak come out with a vengeance and lure Luis to live on the edge like his new girlfriend and his own father?

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
Book Reviews
August 12, 2010 posted by Morgan

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

Natalie Sterling wants to be in control. She wants her friends to be loyal. She wants her classmates to elect her student council president. She wants to find the right guy, not the usual jerk her school has to offer. She wants a good reputation, because she believes that will lead to good things. But life is messy, and it’s very hard to be in control of it. Not when there are freshman girls running around in a pack, trying to get senior guys to sleep with them. Not when your friends have secrets they’re no longer comfortable sharing. Not when the boy you once dismissed ends up being the boy you want to sleep with yourself – but only in secret, with nobody ever finding out. Slut or saint? Winner or loser? Natalie is getting tired of these forced choices – and is now going to find a way to live life in the sometimes messy, sometimes wonderful in-between.

Painting people into camps is really easy to do: either they’re good or bad, respected or mocked, smart or silly. For Natalie, high school – and life – is a pretty simple game of either-or. And she knows what she is: she’s a senior. She’s student council president. She’s going places. There’s no room for the other side, and definitely no room for the myriad shades of gray that make up the vast middle. Not That Kind of Girl opens up with Natalie recounting a story that’s become legend at her private school, Ross Academy.

It’s a story about a freshman girl who started dating a senior boy, and when she wasn’t ready for anything too physical, he ruined her reputation, and changed her life. Natalie uses that true story as one of the reasons why she has chosen to just opt out completely. After all, if she doesn’t play the game, there’s no chance at losing it. And she’s got her eye on the future – even if that means missing out on some of the present. Natalie’s steadfast resolve is threatened by the new crop of freshmen girls, though, who are led by her former babysitting charge. Spencer is brazen, overtly sexual, and totally in charge of her life. But when her antics get her in trouble, Natalie decides to take her under her wing and show her – and the rest of the so-called Rosstitutes – what self respect means. Natalie was sure she was going to teach the freshman girls a thing or two about how to thrive at Ross Academy, and how to rise above the misogyny and sexism that run rampant through the hallways. But instead, they start teaching her lessons – the hard way.

Throw in a deep attraction to one of the very boys Natalie is railing against, and you’ve got yourself a classic high school story with a feminist twist. I loved this book. Siobhan Vivian is a master at the contemporary high school scene (see her other works, like Same Difference, to understand) and this latest release – due out in September – further demonstrates her skills at depicting the ins and outs, the blacks, whites, and grays of teenage life. I’ve been Natalie – in both the good and the bad ways – and I was pleasantly surprised to see how she grew and changed throughout the story. Her thinking about high school relationships feels simplistic but is actually quite nuanced, and the differences between her and Spencer, and her and her best friend, illustrate how complicated male-female dynamics are, especially in a contemporary high school, where the playing field is never level and the responses are never entirely fair.

The supporting cast of characters feel like they were hand-picked from my own high school memories: the entitled, demeaning jock; the young teacher eager to leave her mark; the best friend who turns out to be different from what you thought. And I found myself gripped by the fast-moving plot, which spanned a year in the life of Ross Academy. There are no mermaids or sirens, vampires or ghosts in this book. What there is is a striking, gorgeous high school reality – straight up and dirty. Embrace it.

Pages: 304

Publication date: September 1, 2010

Rating: : ★★★★☆

Teaser quote: “I had expected Mike Domski to retaliate for Friday’s pizza incident, of course. I knew he’d want to embarrass me like I’d embarrassed him. But his attack was worse than any grease stain. It was degrading.”

Contests
August 11, 2010 posted by Nikki

Return to Paradise Giveaway – Simone Elkeles

Did you read Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles? Can’t wait to get your hands on the sequel, Return to Paradise? Then you’re going to just love this…

That’s right, as part of our Book of the Month promotion for the very awesome Simone Elkeles and her new novel, Return to Paradise, we’re excited to be giving a bunch of them away.

We’ve got three signed copies of the book to giveaway, and folks, we’re opening this one up for worldwide participation.

All you have to do is leave your details in the fields below. Get cracking, folks – this book is definitely one that you wont want to miss!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Simply fill out the form below with your name, email, and mailing address.  We randomly draw the winners using random.org.
  • Giveaway is open worldwide.
  • Ends on August 31, 2010.