Tag Archives: Teen Fiction

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Book Reviews
September 16, 2012 posted by Nikki

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Josh and Emma are about to discover themselves–fifteen years in the future

It’s 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They’ve been best friends almost as long–at least, up until last November, when everything changed. Things have been awkward ever since, but when Josh’s family gets a free AOL CD-ROM in the mail, his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they’re automatically logged onto Facebook . . . but Facebook hasn’t been invented yet. Josh and Emma are looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

Their spouses, careers, homes, and status updates–it’s all there. And every time they refresh their pages, their futures change. As they grapple with the ups and downs of what their lives hold, they’re forced to confront what they’re doing right–and wrong–in the present.

In Josh and Emma’s world, the Internet is just taking off. Email and instant messenger is all the rage, and no one has even heard of Facebook. When Emma’s dad gets her a computer, Josh brings over a CD-ROM to install the Internet, and their lives are changed forever. When Emma boots up the CD, this thing called Facebook pops up. It seems to be some kind of Internet page dedicated to their lives in the future.

Josh is married to the hottest girl in school, and Emma, well, Emma’s life changes every few minutes. She goes through several husbands, finds herself living in places she’d never dream of living, and finds things out about friends that she doesn’t really want to know. And then it becomes clear … the things they do in their daily lives now are affecting the lives that exist in the future on this Facebook page. Even the tiniest little thing completely alters their future.

This novel is narrated through a dual perspective. Both Josh and Emma have a voice, which is cool. I really liked Josh, and I feel that teenagers will really relate to him. He’s that average kid that gets overlooked all the time; he’s the nice guy that finishes last; he’s pretty, well, normal. Emma, on the other hand, is less enjoyable to read. She’s selfish, incredibly shallow, and everything always has to be about her. As I read, there were several points in the story where I really wanted to slap some sense into her. Josh is so patient with her and he’s far too good to her. She doesn’t deserve his kindness, especially after the way she continually abuses their relationship.

This story is written so well that it’s impossible to tell it was penned by two different people.  I’ve always been a big fan of both Jay and Carolyn, so I was excited to see how well they worked together, and it gives me great pleasure to say that they’re an amazing team!

This one is an easy read, folks.

Pages: 356

Publication Date: 2011

Publisher: Razorbill

Rating:: ★★★★½

Teaser quote: I have a computer in my car? Josh is going to freak out when he hears this.

Contests
August 10, 2012 posted by Nikki

Indie Author of the Month Giveaway

Ella James is our fabulous Indie Author of the Month for August and she has kindly donated two awesome prize packs for your enjoyment.

Pack 1 includes a copy of her novels Stained, Stolen, and Chosen. She’s also thrown in some cool earrings as well.

Pack 2 includes a copy of her novels Here, and Stained. She’s also offering a $5 Amazon gift card with this pack.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here by Ella James
Book Reviews
August 4, 2012 posted by Nikki

Here by Ella James

 After her dad died, Milo took over his hobby of tagging and tracking deer. She wasn’t really supposed to continue his endeavors but it helps her stay ‘close’ to him, if that makes sense. One afternoon, she finds the fawn she’s been looking for. She aims her tranquilizer gun, takes the shot, but then something very strange happens. Instead of the deer simply falling, as it should have, a flash of golden light radiated through the trees. It was a few moments before the initial shock wore off, but when it did, Milo was astounded by what she saw. Instead of the baby deer, laying on the ground in its place was a boy.

She tranquilized a boy! But where did the deer go, and where the freaking heck did this boy come from? Understandably, Milo panics. As the boy comes to, it becomes apparent that he doesn’t remember anything about whom he is, or where he came from, which does absolutely nothing to ease Milo’s fear and guilt over shooting the kid. She does what anyone would do in such a situation – she takes him home and patches him up.

Then, strange things start happening. The power goes out in the entire area, the TV somehow works without the use of a generator, and the boy – who Milo decided to call Nick – starts having very weird and creepy moments. Nick knows something isn’t right. He can’t remember a single thing about who he is but he can remember all kinds of crazy scientific details. He can fix things without knowing how, and recall all the details in all his textbooks, even though he has no memory of ever learning it. Milo begins to realize that whoever Nick is, she needs to keep his identity – his new identity a secret.

Then the Department of Defense shows up and all hell breaks loose. Chaos ensues, drama erupts, motorbike chases are had, and in the moments of life and death, declarations are made. All the ingredients of a good old action packed paranormal romance.

So WHO is exactly is Nick? Well I’m not going to tell you that, but I will say that my first suspicions were incorrect. My second hunch was also a miss, but I got it on the third, and let me tell you, I was pretty excited by the whole thing. It’s been a while since I’ve read anything involving THESE kinds of creatures.

Milo is one of those characters that is easy to read. Being inside her head is simple because she’s a pretty ordinary girl. She makes irrational choices occasionally and fusses a lot of over Nick – but I think that can be pretty typical of girls her age. She doubts herself sometimes, which is also typical of girls her age, and I wanted to smack her once or twice, but that makes her all the more believable.

Nick acts in the interest of self-preservation a lot, which I loved! While it’s clear there’s definitely an emotional connection between himself and Milo, and he also acts to make sure Milo is safe, he gets himself out of the sticky situations and makes sure HE is safe too. So many YA heroes and heroines these days are completely self sacrificing of their own safety and needs in order to ‘protect’ the one they love. There aren’t too many REAL sixteen-year-olds that I know that wouldn’t try and save themselves first in the face of danger.

Here was a great start to what I’m expecting to be a compelling series. Ella James, bring on installment number two!

Pages: 176

Publisher: Independent release

Publication date: February 15, 2012

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: Jerky like a wind-up doll, I leaned over his body and splayed my palm across his cheek. It was creamy—not pale or flushed—and to me it looked unnaturally perfect. He didn‟t have a single blemish. Not even a freckle. I wiggled my fingers, tap-tapping on his cheek below his eye. “Hey… c‟mon. Talk to me!”

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
yaFlicks
November 24, 2011 posted by Nikki

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1

For those that have been living under a rock, Breaking Dawn Part 1 is the fourth movie in the Twilight Saga. This chapter opens with Bella and Edward taking their vows and walking down the isle. Viewers are invited to join Bella and Edward on their honeymoon where they enjoy each other’s company as a married-forever-and-eternity couple. While vacationing on a tropical island off the coast of Brazil, Bella and Edward finally give themselves over to each other – with catastrophic consequences. There’s a vampire baby growing inside of her, and it’s killing her from the inside out.

We’re sure that almost everyone on the planet knows the general gist of the storyline by now, so as far as plot summary goes, we think what we’ve provided you is sufficient enough.

I just got home from watching the film a second time and I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you. Most everyone who follows our site, or posts on the forum, knows that I was less than pleased with how the novel played out. There were just so many things I disliked about the storyline, the way the characters changed (especially Bella), and frankly, injecting a baby into the Bella and Edward fairytale just irritated me. I read it only once, and haven’t been able to bring myself to read it again.

I’ve also been a pretty big critic of the films thus far, and I’ve been very vocal on the issue.  With the exception of Eclipse (which I think passed by the very skin of its teeth), the Twilight Saga film franchise has been a huge disappointment, to say the least.

Until now.

Because of the intense dislike I developed for the book, I went into this movie wanting to hate it so badly.

I couldn’t.

From the very first scene, I was reeled in by its brilliance. Firstly, it seems that the actors have finally encompassed the characters that we all fell in love with in the novels. For the first time on screen, Bella and Edward were Bella and Edward. Robert Pattinson owned the role of Edward in this film. I don’t think I could have asked for a better performance from anyone. And Kristen…. Well lord knows I haven’t been a very big supporter of her as Bella but I think its finally time I ate my words. Kristen Stewart took Bella to the exact right place. Gone were the two emo kids that sulked their way around Forks. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s performances as Bella and Edward in this movie embody my very definition of perfection.

Here’s what I loved the most:

 

  1. The speeches at the wedding. I don’t think Anna Kendrik could do a better job playing Jessica if she tried. And Charlie? We should all be so lucky to have a father like that…

 

  1. The honeymoon, more specifically the parts where Bella is trying to seduce Edward. There was something really cute and intimate about those moments that made me smile. A lot.

 

  1. The chess game. I love that they integrated that in.

 

  1. The use of all the music they’d used in previous Twilight films. Especially the use of Flightless Bird at the wedding. The moment that song started I was instantly transported back to the pergola scene at the prom in Twilight. I was reminded (as I’m sure was the intention) of just how far Bella and Edward have come from the early stages of their relationship.

 

  1. The birth scene/the death of Bella. The desperation Edward and Jacob felt at losing the one person in the world they loved the most was conveyed so well. I was very worried that they’d completely ruin this scene. I was (thankfully) wrong.

 

Here’s what I didn’t love so much:

 

  1. Stephenie Meyer appearing at the wedding. I know, I know. I get it and I understand why she was there, but I just thought it was a little corny.

That’s it. I loved and adored absolutely everything else.

I am dying to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. I ask almost everyone I come into contact with if they’ve seen the film, just so I can talk about it. I’m definitely on a Breaking Dawn high right now, and I think making us wait another twelve months for the last film is just plain torture.

Join us on the forum to have your say, or leave a comment.

Breaking Dawn Part 1

Author Interviews
March 14, 2011 posted by Christina

Interview with Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Lorraine Zago Rosenthal is the author of the incredible new novel, Other Words For Love. If you haven’t already got a copy, you must, must check it out. Lorraine was nice enough to let us steal some of her time for an interview (as well a great guest post which you can read here).

———-

You have a B.A. in Psychology, (which is very impressive!) what made you opt to take up writing as opposed to a career in that field?

Thank you! I began writing at a young age and had initially planned to major in English in college, but instead chose to study psychology because it was also a subject that interested me. I really enjoyed studying psychology, and this knowledge assists in fiction writing. To create believable characters, you have to consider their background, experiences, and everything else that affects them emotionally. I never planned to work in the field of psychology, and I later went on to earn graduate degrees in education and English. Throughout my education I was always writing and hoped to become an author.

Other Words For Love is incredibly heartbreaking but also moving and a story a lot of people can learn from and relate to – what inspired you to write it?

I’m a character-driven writer, and the characters were what came to me first. Ari and her family were in my mind for quite a while before I fully understood Ari’s story and began to write it. When that story crystallized, I just wanted to tell it and to share it with readers. Ari was my inspiration all along.

Most reviews I’ve read for OWFL have been incredibly positive, many with a 5 star rating, were you surprised by the response?

I was hoping for a good response but because fiction is so subjective, I knew that not all readers would give my novel five stars. I have therefore been pleasantly surprised and very grateful for the immensely positive response.

It was so interesting reading a book set in the 80s which has barely been touched on in YA Fiction, why that decade?

There are a few reasons why I chose to set the story during the 1980s. As you mentioned, the 1980s are a neglected era in YA fiction. The only other YA novel I know of that is set during this decade is The Carrie Diaries. There is YA fiction set in the 1800s, 1920s, etc., so why not the 1980s? This decade is as valid historically as any other, and I believe that no time period should be restricted from the YA genre. There are stories to tell from the viewpoint of young people in every era.

I thought that if teens could identify with historical fiction—time periods with cultures and values so different from now—then they could easily relate to a time period that they didn’t live through but wasn’t all that long ago. The ideals of the 1980s weren’t exactly the same as today, but they weren’t completely different, either. I also thought that adults who read YA fiction and lived through the 1980s might connect with the story.

But the main reason I set Other Words for Love in the 1980s is that the story wouldn’t work in the present day. As I mentioned, culture and values weren’t radically different then, but they weren’t exactly the same as today. For example—in the novel, Ari’s sister has a baby when she is seventeen years old, and although teen pregnancy isn’t encouraged now, I think it has less of a social stigma than it had during the 80s. There was no “Teen Mom” on MTV back then! Ari is more embarrassed about her sister having been a teen mother than she might be today, and Evelyn’s choices are extremely disappointing to her parents.

Also, the issue of AIDS is prevalent throughout the novel. Although AIDS unfortunately still exists, it is better understood than it was during the 80s, when it was new and many people didn’t fully comprehend how it could be contracted. There was an undercurrent of hysteria when AIDS first appeared, and this is present in Other Words for Love.

Finally, although Ari is intelligent and mature, she’s also more innocent than most girls her age would be today—for various reasons. For example, the internet didn’t exist during the 1980s, so teens didn’t have as much access to information as they do now. The 1980s were more conservative than the present time—just take a look at how teens were represented in the media back then as opposed to now.

What’s your favorite thing about the 80s?

I would say my favorite thing about the 1980s is the music. There was a lot of great music back then, especially from English artists who had a very distinctive sound.

——

Thanks Lorraine!  You can follow Lorraine on twitter – @lorrainezr

Check out our review of Other Words For Love here.

Other Words For Love is available in store in the U.S. and online via Amazon or Book Depository for international readers.

Book Reviews
February 21, 2011 posted by Christina

Other Words For Love – Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

“Ari Mitchell feels invisible at her Brooklyn high school. Her hair is too flat, her style too preppy, and her personality too quiet. And outside school, Ari feels outshined by her beautiful, confident best friend, Summer. Their friendship is as complex and confusing as Ari’s relationship with her troubled older sister, Evelyn, a former teenage mom whose handsome firefighter husband fills Ari’s head with guilty fantasies.

When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York – and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn’t think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship.

Ari’s  family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future. Meanwhile, Summer warns her that what she feels for Blake is just an infatuation. No real love. But Ari’s world is awash with new colors, filled with a freshness and an excitement she hasn’t felt in years.”

———–

For this review, we’re doing things a little differently. Never has a debut novel been so sought after by almost every member of the yaReads team and had us all in a flutter, so it seems fitting that we bring you a joint review of Lorraine Zago Rosenthal’s Other Words For Love.

Ivy: Holy Guacamole!  Two days after, I’m still thinking about Other Words for Love.  It was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  For an urban fantasy lover like me, it’s a breath of fresh air to have read something as real and believable as this book.  It could be your sister, friend, or neighbor’s story.

This is an easy 5 stars.  Outstanding debut Ms. Rosenthal!

Rating: : ★★★★★

Kiona: Other Words for Love is an emotional roller-coaster. Throughout the book, my opinion of Ariadne was ever-changing. In the beginning, I like her. She’s the relatable underdog: a pretty girl often overlooked due to the beauty of her best friend. She’s a hard worker, gets good grades, and is passionate about art. She also pretty much takes care of her out-of-control older sister’s son, which is very altruistic of her considering her sister, Evelyn, treats her like crap. I admire Ari’s inner-strength and ability to look past others’ flaws.

But then she meets Blake and he essentially eclipses the sun of Ari’s world. To me, Blake is a decent enough guy, but I was annoyed by his constant use of the word, “ nice” Anytime she considers doing something he doesn’t like, he makes her feel guilty by saying, “That wouldn’t be nice”. And while Ari is blinded by love, it’s easy to see how much control Blake’s father has over Blake’s life, which just shows how weak Blake is. I understand that that’s the point Rosenthal is trying to convey – that Blake isn’t actually the picture-perfect guy Ari thinks he is. Love interests don’t have to be likable for a story to be likable. But I was disappointed in Ari – who is such a smart girl – for not being able to recognize the signs of Blake’s imperfection and weakness. So halfway through the book, I began liking her less and less.

The middle is also when the story stops being relatable. I lost all respect for Ari when she dropped her friends and focused her entire world around Blake. I know first loves can be all-consuming, but Ari doesn’t have a particularly thriving social life. Yet she still drops Summer, a friend since childhood, and Leigh, a girl who could really use a friend, and she never really repairs these friendships. When Blake dumps her, Ari stops caring about school, her appearance, her nephews, SATs, and even considers suicide. While I’ll admit this happens to some girls, I definitely don’t feel like that it’s the norm. I had to put this book down several times so I could collect my emotions. While I admire that the author can illicit such emotions, I think she did so at the cost of alienating the reader from the protagonist. The ending makes me feel slightly better, but it’s not enough to redeem Ariadne in my eyes.

That being said, I think the writing is superb and Rosenthal clearly knows New York City very well. The descriptions of the city sound genuine and really ground Other Words for Love in the specific time period Rosenthal chose (1980s). I really enjoyed the detailed glimpse in the city and Rosenthal’s exploration of a dysfunctional family is very intriguing. I definitely enjoyed the psychological aspects of this novel, but while I think this is an interesting take on first love, I don’t think it’s a story many girls will be able to relate to.

Rating: : ★★★☆☆

Christina:  There are so many different ways to promote books these days. The one way that I completely trust is when everyone (with nothing to gain for doing so) is buzzing about a book as enthusiastically as they were for Other Words For Love. So I’m with Ivy on this one – I completely loved it.

The characters in this book were incredible. Each character was unique, so well fleshed out and had these realistic personalities with both virtues and flaws. Some characters you’ll completely hate and others you’ll grow to understand. Some of them were even quite cruel at times like Evelyn and Summer, who would say certain things that would make me go – GAAAAAASPPPPPPPPPPP! OHHHHH, she did not just say that!  I wanted to dive into the pages, step beside Ari and serve them a swift kick to head for how they acted. This just goes to show how invested you become in these characters and Ari’s story.

What really hit me was just how authentic I felt the emotions expressed in the book were. Everything Ari felt, from her elation at being with Blake, to her eventual heartbreak just felt so so real. Her feelings in the end might seem dramatic but if you’ve ever been heartbroken that’s exactly what it’s like – the colors fade to gray, food seems pointless and you’re stuck in a rut you don’t bother to get out of. I loved how the way Ari felt meant that she perceived the statue of Saint Anne differently – it was very clever and so true.

The part that particular struck me the most me while Ari’s world was falling apart, she felt like all the hard work she’d done up to that point, not just in school but in life, had counted for nothing because of a slip up right at the finish line. For me that was the part where I raised my hand and said “Oh I have been there” Which I think a lot of girls will feel the same about quite a few sections of the book.

If there was a flaw in this book I can only say it was the blurb – it gives too much away. I’ve omitted the last paragraph of the blurb in this review because it basically gives half the story away and I was able to have a good guess about what would happen in the rest. BUT! Despite that, the story’s execution was superb and even though I’d already been told what would happen it didn’t make it any less interesting or heartbreaking or amazing, which proves just how great this book is.

Ari’s life in New York in the 1980s was completely fascinating to read about, in particular to note what has changed and what is still the same. Even after finishing it I couldn’t stop thinking about this story for days after. I was so proud of Ari and what she managed to accomplish in the end, her experiences made her so much stronger. Sign me up for every thing Lorraine Zago Rosenthal writes next. Highly, highly, highly, recommend it.

Rating: : ★★★★★

Two out of the three of us loved it, the other, not quite feeling it. Which side of the fence are you on?

Pages: 354
Publication Date: January 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Challenge: Historical Fiction/Debut Author
Average Rating: : ★★★★½

Teaser Quote: “I was looking out the window, checking for neighbors and hoping to give them something to see, when I felt Blake’s hand on my chin. I looked at him, at his straight nose and his perfectly carved lips, and felt his finger move back and forth on my skin. Don’t ask me, I thought. Just do it.”

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.”