Tag Archives: ya

Royals by Rachel Hawkins

RoyalsRoyals by Rachel Hawkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a review of an advance reader copy, the book is scheduled to be published May 2018.

Daisy Winters is not exactly your typical Florida teenager – sure she’s got a job at the local convenience store, boy troubles and all the standard teen drama, but she’s also got an mermaid princess hair, an ex-British rock star for a father, and oh yeah, a sister who just got engaged to the future King of Scotland.

Hawkins was clearly *thrilled* with the announcement of Meghan Markle’s engagement to Prince Harry – the timing could not have been better for her YA romance. The story follows Daisy as she heads to Scotland for the summer to meet her royal soon to be in-laws, dodging paparazzi and drunken minor royals. There were a few too many barely sketched out characters – if even Daisy can’t keep the group of friends around the prince’s younger brother straight, how is the reader supposed to? – and the main “villain,” the current Queen of Scotland, is a bit one-note. The romance ends up exactly where you think it will, but that’s perfectly fine for this sort of book. Something nice and fun to read while waiting for the real royal wedding.

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~ Ms Schoen

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Filed under Comedy, Romance

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book covers a lot of ground and it does it very well. Starr is a 16-year old African American girl living in a poor inner-city neighborhood while attending a private school for mostly white students about 45 minutes from her home. That alone could be a book as Starr describes the balancing act of straddling all her worlds — home, with her close-knit family (dad owns a grocery in the hood and mom is a RN, uncle is a cop); school, with her mostly white friends (who are sometimes inadvertently racist and often clueless), and in the neighborhood, where she tries to maintain relationships with her two oldest friends, Khalil and Kenya. Starr’s parents had enrolled her in private school after her best friend was gunned down in a drive-by shooting when they were ten. But that won’t be Starr’s only brush with violence. The bulk of the novel covers the aftermath of Khalil’s death, which Starr also witnesses. Angie Thomas has written a very balanced and well crafted story that should move to the top of your “To Read” pile. – Ms. Steiger

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Filed under Realistic Fiction

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

The Passion of DolssaThe Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Positively delightful. Historical fiction at its best — tastes like fiction, imparts knowledge like nonfiction. Dolssa, a naive, noble young mystic, barely escapes being burned for heresy in late 13th century France, and is taken in and nursed back to health by Botille and her two peasant sisters in the seaside village of Baja. First repelled by the course sisters and their unfamiliar ways, Dolssa loses her passionate connection to Jhesus and fears that he has forsaken her forever. Circumstances force Dolssa to call upon her beloved to aid villagers in need, including the kindly but strange sisters, and she discovers a mystical ability to heal others. Word of Dolssa’s miracles quickly spread to the Christian inquisitors from whose grasp Dolssa narrowly escaped, and Botille fears that her act of charity toward the young mystic will bring tragedy upon the entire village. If you’re curious about domestic Crusades in Europe, the Inquisition, and you enjoy stories about strong women facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, then you’ll love The Passion of Dolssa. ~ Ms Dimmick

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My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories, by Stephanie Perkins

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday StoriesMy True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Stephanie Perkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A perfect holiday read — stories you can chip away at during the margins of your day. Most are very sweet, heart warming romances. A few cross the border into syrupy and are almost offensive in their use of teenage romance tropes, but they’re easy to skip past in favor of the next. There’s a nice mix of contemporary realistic fiction, mystical realism and pure fantasy, and while they are holiday-themed, they do not focus exclusively in Christmas (though it does dominate). The authors, a veritable who’s who of YA fiction, seemed to genuinely enjoy crafting their contributions to this delightful collection. ~ Ms Dimmick

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Filed under Fiction, Romance, Short Stories

Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy

Dumplin'Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Willowdean is the overweight teenaged daughter of a former beauty queen living in North Texas. You might think that would give her a bit of an insecurity complex, but Dumplin’, as her disappointed mom calls her, is actually quite content, and even confident, in her own skin. It’s that confidence that draws other girls who don’t fit the typical teenage beauty standards to Willowdean for friendship and guidance. It also attracts Bo, the hot private school boy who works with her at a fast-food restaurant and surprises her with his undeterred admiration. When Willowdean and her gang of atypical friends decide to enter their small town’s beauty pageant, a series of amusing and endearing escapades ensue. This book is pleasant read filled with the predictable teenage drama that romance, friendship and high school can bring, but stamped with its own brand of uniqueness in its small town North Texas setting (I had to Google pictures of homecoming mums to see what on earth they were!), its Dolly Parton sound track, and of course, its challenge to the American ideal of female beauty. Read this if you’re looking for some light, breezy, young adult romantic fiction. This is not the book for you if you’re seeking genuine depth or high literary quality. ~ Ms Dimmick

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Filed under Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman

Challenger DeepChallenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Challenger Deep is a perfect example of why reading fiction is so valuable. Studies show that reading fiction builds empathy, and in this case a reader’s empathy is developed by inhabiting the troubled mind of Caden, a promising teenaged boy who is descending into severe mental illness. No matter how much nonfiction I read about schizophrenia and related psychotic diseases, I would never grow to appreciate the terrorizing experience of losing touch with reality, increasing paranoia and compelling hallucinations the way that I did by reading this book. The author’s son helped to illustrate the book, and provided the insight necessary to bring it to life, based on his personal experience as a teen with mental illness. This was at times difficult to read, not only due to the nature of the topic, but also because of the way in which the narrative switched sporadically between Caden’s real life and his hallucinated one. The latter was disturbing and filled with symbolic connections to reality that kept me guessing and hoping for a pathway back to normalcy. This is an important book, and I’m grateful that the author and his son had the strength to write it. ~ Ms Dimmick

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Student Review: Penelope, by Rebecca Harrington (reviewed by Katie D.)

PenelopePenelope by Rebecca Harrington

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Penelope is a humorous and amusing book written by Rebecca Harrington, about a socially awkward girl named Penelope who is starting her freshman year at Harvard. When starting her time at Harvard, Penelope is faced with the challenge of making new friends, a task which turns out to be more difficult than she had expected. When she first arrives at Harvard, Penelope discovers that she is rooming with two other girls, Emma Green and Lan Wu, and expects that the two of them will end up being her good friends. However, she could not have been more wrong. Emma is snobby and over-privileged, and admits that the only reason she managed to get into Harvard was because her New York socialite parents had ‘connections’. On the other side of the spectrum, Lan is an eccentric ‘loner’, who’s only friend is the cat that she brought with her to Harvard. Penelope does not feel any connection with either of these people, in fact, she hates Lan and is hated by Emma. The book describes Penelope’s journey through her freshman year, and her struggle fit in. What makes it even harder for Penelope to find her way, aside from her social incompetence, are the challenges that she is faced with along the way. From boy problems, lecturers who loathe her, and a mother trying to live her dreams through her daughter, Penelope faces it all. The book touches on the topic of coming of age, as we watch Penelope grow throughout her first year of college, into a more confident and self-assured character. I would really recommend this book to anyone who likes to read modern books which have topics that are relatable to them, however if you are looking for a thriller or a plot with lots of action, I would not recommend his book, as it there is not a lot of drama in it, just descriptions of Penelope’s hilarious encounters as she navigates her way around Harvard. ~ Student: Katie D.

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Filed under *Student Review, Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Student Review: Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver (reviewed by Jessica A.)

Before I FallBefore I Fall by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In term two, I read the novel, Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver. It starts off with Sam Kingston, and she is at a party with her friends, Lindsey, Ally, and Elody. During the party, Sam and her friends are particularly rude and obnoxious to Juliet Sykes, as they also bully her at school. Throughout the party, the girls eventually get everyone to turn on Juliet and they all physically and mentally harass her. As they finally decide to leave, Sam gets into a car with a drunk driver and crashes and dies. Over the course of the next seven days, Sam realizes that she is reliving the day of her death, and starts to control the situation to prevent her death. Even though Sam successfully keeps herself alive, Juliet dies instead of her. Sam then discovers that Juliet’s life connects to hers, and she attempts to save them both. I think that all students, especially in high school, will enjoy reading this book. I recommend it because it has suspense and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, especially with the shocking ending Oliver leaves us. Also, even though some parts of the novel are very unrealistic, it takes place at a high school with some very practical issues of teenagers, that we can relate to. If you like books with anticipation and excitement, then I would highly suggest this, but if you like books that get straight to the point that doesn’t drag on the story for too long, then I would avoid this book.~ Student: Jessica A.

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Student Review: Binge, by Tyler Oakley (reviewed by Clara B.)

BingeBinge by Tyler Oakley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Binge is an autobiography that reveals the life of famous youtuber, Tyler Oakley. In this collection of personal essays, he writes about small moments of his life with hilarious short stories of moments and memories that have shaped his life. He may reveal many comical mishaps that happened during his life, but also addresses serious issues that he faced. To name a few things, he struggled with his weight growing up, came out as gay to his family, friends and the internet, and wrestled with depression to name a few things. Tyler is unapologetically himself and shows this attitude in his writing. Through his experiences, Tyler teaches the readers to love themselves and to enjoy life.

I think that this book was a fun and easy read, but wasn’t always relevant to what he was trying to teach the reader. Some of the stories had nothing to do with self image or having self esteem, but were simply a funny moment in Tyler’s life. Others should read this book because Tyler’s stories are peculiar and entertaining. He promotes self pride, which is something that many people need more of. This will definitely be more interesting if you are a fan of Tyler or have watched his videos, but others might enjoy it too. Readers that don’t enjoy nonfiction and/or want a plot in their stories should not read this, because this book is snippets of Tyler’s life from different times, so there is no plot. ~ Student: Clara B.

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Filed under *Student Review, Biography/memoir, Comedy

Student Review: The Truth About Alice, by Jennifer Mathieu (reviewed by Rebekah E.)

The Truth About AliceThe Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Truth About Alice, written by Jennifer Mathieu, tells the story of a high school girl whose life gets changed forever after attending one party. Alice, a seventeen year old girl is named a slut after having sex twice in one night with two different guys, at the same party. After the night takes a negative turn Alice is blamed by her entire town for the tragedy that occurs. While coping with the constant hate and judgment from fellow classmates and families a boy, Kurt befriends Alice. Kurt helps Alice feel safe and be able to share her feelings while being treated like an outcast by her community. The book touches upon the theme of being alone and feeling like an outsider. The book is an amazing read for those who enjoy constant mystery, it is also extremely real. The situations Alice is put in and how others react are not hollywood movie style. The author, Mathieu does a superb job creating a sense of truth to the story. Those who would not like this book are people who are more sensitive to the subjects of death, loneliness, and sadness. Over all the book, The Truth About Alice is a great read for many people. ~ Student: Rebekah E.

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Filed under *Student Review, Contemporary Realistic Fiction