Staff Review: “Heartless” by Marissa Meyer

Posted on Friday, November 10, 2017 by Jerilyn

What It’s About: Did you ever wonder why the Queen of Hearts in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” is such an unpleasant person? Well, Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles, imagines her as a young woman named Catherine with a dream of opening a bakery and becoming famous for her original, mouthwatering treats. Her parents, however, dream of her marrying the King of Hearts and becoming queen. Complicating things even more is the Court Jester who steals Catherine’s heart.

What I Liked About It: Meyer does a wonderful job of weaving into her tale well-known characters from Lewis Carroll’s stories such as the Jabberwock, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit and the maid, Mary Ann. Even though you know it doesn’t end well, you can’t help rooting for our protagonist. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed the movie “Maleficent” or the book “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire which inspired the Broadway musical.

Similar Titles: “Dorothy Must Die” by Danielle Paige, “Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas and “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard.

Staff Review: “The Sun Is Also A Star” by Nicola Yoon

Posted on Saturday, July 1, 2017 by Corey

What It’s About: “The Sun Is Also A Star” is a story about love and leaving. Natasha is desperate to find a way to keep herself and family from being deported back to Jamaica. Daniel has the biggest meeting of his life, an entrance interview for an Ivy League college that he doesn’t want to attend. Fate puts these two in each other’s path again and again on the day Natasha is scheduled to be deported.  At first Natasha doesn’t believe in love, but as her feelings for Daniel grow it becomes too difficult for her to deny. Here’s the conflict: If she admits she is falling in love with him, how can she say goodbye to him in less than 24 hours?

What I liked about it: I liked that the story is told from both Natasha’s and Daniel’s viewpoints. During most of the book, Natasha is a very cynical young woman who cares more about facts and numbers than art and love. Daniel, a poet, is her exact opposite. At times it felt like this opposition was a bit contrived. Honestly, I didn’t like Natasha until the very end. However, the story is very good and the ending was my favorite part.

Similar Titles: If you like realistic fiction about love or multicultural relationships, here are a few books you should check out: “Something In Between” by Melissa De La Cruz, “Like No Other” by Una LaMarche, “The Orange Houses” by Paul Griffen and “You in Five Acts” also by Una LaMarche.

YA Book Trends: Sandy Stories

Posted on Monday, March 27, 2017 by Kristy

Have you noticed that a lot of the YA novels being published these days are retellings of well-known classic fairy tales? Books like “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer, “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas and “The Shadow Queen” by C. J. Redwine are great examples of books that have made it big because of our fondness for fairy tales.

An interesting new subgenre that has recently emerged from this fairy tale trend is Arabian folktale retellings. These stories are set in scorching deserts and are full of brilliant, ancient magic. They’re a breath of fresh air, providing us with a nice reprieve from all of the dystopian fiction that still saturates teen literature.

Intrigued by this small but mighty subgenre? Then check out the books below. Continue reading “YA Book Trends: Sandy Stories”

Staff Review: “If I Was Your Girl” by Meredith Russo

Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2017 by Corey

What It’s About:If I Was Your Girl” by Meredith Russo is about a transgender teen named Amanda who has just moved from Atlanta to Tennessee to live with her Dad after being brutally beaten for entering a female dressing room at the mall. As Amanda acclimates to her new life, she starts making friends while capturing the romantic attention of her classmate, Grant. It isn’t long before the two become inseparable. But, how does Amanda tell Grant about her past? Her struggle escalates when a would-be friend outs Amanda in front of the entire school.

What I Liked About It: I was interested in understanding the perspective of a transgender teen. The main character in this story is so honest with the reader, though she keeps secrets from everyone else. 

Similar Titles: “If I Was Your Girl” is currently the only book by Meredith Russo, but you might check out “Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit,” “Almost Perfect,” “The Art of Being Normal” and “Rethinking Normal.”

Staff Review: “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo

Posted on Monday, March 28, 2016 by Kelsey Simon

Six of crowsWhy I Checked It Out: Leigh Bardugo is known for her popular Grisha series: “Shadow and Bone,” “Siege and Storm” and “Ruin and Rising.” “Six of Crows” is the start of her latest series.

What It’s About: “Six of Crows” is an intense narrative following a group of teen criminals. Kaz, the master mind. Inej, the stealthy Wraith. Jasper, the sharpshooter. Nina, the Heartrender. Wylan, the runaway. And Matthias, the Druskelle ex-prisoner.

I warn readers, the narrative alternates between characters. Personally, I thought the change in point-of-view was amazingly well-done. Each chapter successfully builds a different character’s history while expanding the story of the giant and clever con they’re trying to pull. This story is one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

Imagine “The Italian Job” or “Ocean’s 11” as a young adult fantasy. That’s this book. Continue reading “Staff Review: “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo”

Staff Review: “Walk on Earth a Stranger” by Rae Carson

Posted on Thursday, January 14, 2016 by Kelsey Simon

Walk on Earth a StrangerWhy I Checked It Out: “Walk on Earth a Stranger” is by Rae Carson! That’s why! I mean, I loved her “Fire and Thorn” series, so that was really the only reason I needed to put this on hold and excitedly wait for its release.

What It’s About: I didn’t know the book was a historical fantasy until I got it in my hands and started reading. It’s set during the great California gold rush, and follows Lee Westfall, a young girl with the ability to magically sense gold. Can you already see the complications that might cause? A gold rush and a girl who can sense gold? The book focuses on her struggle to cross the country and keep her secret safe.

What I liked About It: It’s a very unique idea. It’s not a knock-off, or a combination of two different stories already published. It is fresh and different. It also covers a historical time period that YA books have yet to really focus on. Continue reading “Staff Review: “Walk on Earth a Stranger” by Rae Carson”

Staff Review: “An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir

Posted on Friday, October 9, 2015 by Kelsey Simon

An Ember in the AshesWhy I Checked It Out: An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir showed up as a highly suggested upcoming YA fantasy release on a variety of different blogs I visit. A lot of authors I respect also tweeted about it, and that was enough for me. If an author I loved said it was good, I had to have it. I put a copy on reserve before it even came out.

What It’s About:  “An Ember in the Ashes” is told in alternating points of view between Laia, a Scholar, and Elias, a Mask. They live a city that once belonged to the Scholars, but was taken over by the Empire–a force that respects loyalty and brutality above all else. Laia wants to avenge her family and free her brother from the Empire. Elias wants to escape the horrors of being a Mask, an assassin-like fighter that is created to follow the Empire’s orders. As the two attempt to solve their problems, their worlds start to intertwine. Continue reading “Staff Review: “An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir”