Archive for the ‘Young Adult’ Category
The Sinclair family owns their own private island off of Martha’s Vineyard. The entire family spends their summers on the island. The teenage narrator, Cadence, is suffering from amnesia after a terrible accident she can’t remember.
It’s hard to talk about the details of We Were Liars without ruining the surprise. Let’s just say when Cadence returns to the island, struggling with her amnesia, she deals with a dark family secret while finding out what happened to her.
E. Lockhart is, simply, a great writer. She’s already achieved acclaim and popularity with YA titles such as The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banksand The Boyfriend List, plus her novels aimed for the adult market. I enjoyed We Were Liars, especially the quality of the writing, although I figured out the plot twist within the first fifty pages. I never warmed to Cadence and struggled to see most of her family as anything more than shadowy cutouts versus strong, rounded characters. But the blurry feeling of the supporting cast adds to the Brothers Grimm and King Lear feel of the novel, making them stand-in for classic tropes.
This is a great novel for teens who love suspenseful novels with stellar writing.
Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Date Read: May 2014
Source: ARC given to me by a friend
Looking for gift ideas this Christmas? How about giving a book? Here’s some gift recommendations based on books or series we read during 2011.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
About: Effortless novel from one of our favorites.
Best for: Fans of The Virgin Suicides or Middlesex; people who enjoy character studies; Fans of Jane Austen, and also of Victorian writers.
Also consider: Game of Secrets by Dawn Tripp or The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.
Short Story Collection
20 Under 40: Stories from the New Yorker
About: Sampling of the hottest short-story authors under 40 years old. Great way to find your favorite new literary author.
Great for: fans of short stories, literary fiction.
Also consider: St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell, Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman.
Adult Dystopian, Sci-Fi, or Fantasy
Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
About: Game of Thrones is a layered high-fantasy novel with high stakes.
Great for: fans of high fantasy, people who like epic sagas.
Also consider: Greywalker by Cat Richardson
Ghost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite.
Why: Five different female narrators tell the story of Nellie’s unfortunate marriage to Hobbs Pritchard.
Great for: fans of Southern gothic novels, literary ghost stories.
Also consider: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Soulless by Gail Carriger
About: Victorian steampunk with supernatural creatures. Mixes romance and humor with a mystery. Absolutely brillant fun read.
Best for: readers with a sense of humor.
Also consider: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Young Adult Dystopian, Sci-Fi, or Fantasy
Feed by M. T. Anderson
About: Ecological and technology issues, sci-fi, and dystopian blend in this YA novel perfect for boys and girls. Also has one of the best first lines ever: “We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”
Best for: fans of dystopian or sci-fi.
Also consider: Divergent by Veronica Roth, Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Daughter of Smoke and Bones by Laini Taylor, and Witchlanders by Lena Coakley.
Young Adult, Contemporary
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
About: Vera’s journey as grieving high school student with broken family has heart, and her journey rings true.
Best for: YA contemporary fiction.
Also consider: Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
About: excellent analysis and insight into the “girly-girl” culture invading US society. Go check out the pink toy aisle at your local Target if you don’t believe me.
Good for: parents of daughters, people who deal with children, anyone concerned with the way girls are taught to value themselves.
Also Consider: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
On Writing by Stephen King
About: Great advice and insight into King’s journey.
Best for: writers.
Also consider: Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder
A friend is publishing her series of YA novels, and BDR thought it’d be nice to add a post about the second book in the series, released today.
Getting Sideways: Book 2 in the Full Throttle Series
Getting shipped off to live with his uncle Race was the best thing that ever happened to fifteen-year-old Cody. Then a wreck at the speedway nearly ruined everything. Cody’s making every effort to get his life back on track—writing for the school paper, searching for the perfect girlfriend, and counting the days until he gets his drivers’ license—but there’s no escaping the nightmares that haunt him.
A chance to build his own car seems like the perfect distraction. Until Cody realizes he’ll have to live up to Race’s legendary status. But that’s the least of his worries, considering he doesn’t have his dad’s permission. All he has to do is the impossible: keep Race from discovering his lie until he can convince his dad that racing’s safe.
Yeah, sure. That’ll be easy.
Haven’t read the first book? Running Wide Open is on sale now for 99 cents.
Running Wide Open: Book 1 in the Full Throttle Series
Cody Everett has a temper as hot as the flashpoint of racing fuel, and it’s landed him at his uncle’s trailer, a last-chance home before military school. But how can he take the guy seriously when he calls himself Race, eats Twinkies for breakfast, and pals around with rednecks who drive in circles every Saturday night?
What Cody doesn’t expect is for the arrangement to work. Or for Race to become the friend and mentor he’s been looking for all his life. But just as Cody begins to settle in and get a handle on his supercharged temper, a crisis sends his life spinning out of control. Everything he’s come to care about is threatened, and he has to choose between falling back on his old, familiar anger or stepping up to prove his loyalty to the only person he’s ever dared to trust.
Praise for Running Wide Open:
“It doesn’t matter if you are a racing fan or not, Running Wide Open will captivate you and capture your heart.” – Cari J, Amazon reviewer
“The roar of engines practically explodes off the page in this compelling, heart-thumping debut. Cody Everett is a straight-shooter with attitude, smarts, and whip-cracking wit; he doesn’t pull any punches, and neither does author Lisa Nowak. The collision of Cody and the world of stock car racing makes for a great story, one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Running Wide Open is a book not to be missed.” – Christine Fletcher, author of Tallulah Falls and Ten Cents a Dance
“The racing is easy to understand and does not get in the way of a rattling good story. I still couldn’t put it down on a re-read.” – Elisabeth Miles, Amazon reviewer
“We race stock cars during the summer and even though this is a recommended read for Young Adults, we are seniors and enjoyed every page. We can hardly wait for the sequel to come out. MUST READING!” – Maxci Jermann, Barnes and Noble reviewer
“I say read this book, it’s fun, it’s beautiful, it’s a very cool read that will give you a feel-good state of mind. Awesome read.” – L.E.Olteano, Butterfly-o-meter Books
In addition to being a YA author, Lisa Nowak is a retired amateur stock car racer, an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smartass. She writes coming-of-age books about kids in hard luck situations who learn to appreciate their own value after finding mentors who love them for who they are. She enjoys dark chocolate and stout beer and constantly works toward employing wei wu wei in her life, all the while realizing that the struggle itself is an oxymoron.
Lisa has no spare time, but if she did she’d use it to tend to her expansive perennial garden, watch medical dramas, take long walks after dark, and teach her cats to play poker. For those of you who might be wondering, she is not, and has never been, a diaper-wearing astronaut. She lives in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her husband, four feline companions, and two giant sequoias.
Connect with Lisa online:
So far, really the only thing the show has in common with the books is:
1. The protagonist is named Cassie Blake
2. She returns to town to complete a coven
3. Some of the parents of her fellow teenage witches are dead due to something mysterious, even if its been explained away by a simple reason (boat fire versus died in hurricane).
4. Cassie and Adam are attracted to each other, but he has a girlfriend.
The TV Cassie is a confident character with a strong sense of right and wrong. She’s instantly likable. Over the course of the novels, Cassie grows from shy and mousy to a confident leader. Sometimes, her timidity, like when she’s being blackmailed, is annoying. Her mother is still alive in the books, although I can see why she was killed off. In the books, she’s barely there and even mousier than Cassie. Plus she spends the third book in a catatonic state. Killing her off is easier, and it sets a dark tone from the beginning and shows the stakes are high, e.g. life and death. Given how strong Cassie is in the TV show, she’s going to take action when she finds out her mother didn’t die in an accident.
The book parents are virtually uninvolved. We briefly see Diana’s father once, and the only parental-type characters are Cassie’s grandmother, who dies, and two more grandmothers and a great aunt. They are good (as opposed to evil) characters and add a little to the coven’s knowledge of past events, but they don’t take action on their own. All we know of the book parents is that the ones still alive were cowards.
I’m curious where the TV show writers are going with the parents’ plotline, as they’re evil and manipulative from the beginning since they killed Cassie’s mom to ensure Cassie returns to town. Somehow, Cassie’s presence gives them power they crave.
There are fewer characters in the TV show, but that makes sense since a coven of twelve people is a lot of characters to keep track of. The casting on the TV show seems good. Britt Robertson is a great Cassie, and the rest of the cast is believable. Faye is more unstable on the TV show, but just as power hungry as her book counterpart. Melissa is a new character who might be a combination of several book characters but is probably a creation of the writing staff. Nick is nothing like his book counterpart, and he’s wonderfully creepy. We’ll see how Adam and Diana develop, but so far they’re similar to the books.
There’s a strong sense of destiny in Cassie and Adam’s book relationship, and the show has eluded to that by having Adam’s father talk about how the two are destined to be together. We’ll see how this plays out in the TV show—it worked in the book.
The change in setting surprised me, as I liked the faux-historical context of the book setting. Really? Long-standing witch tradition in Washington? Not exactly what I would have chosen, and I’m a sucker for TV shows set in the Pacific Northwest. Plus the history of the books added to the overall story arc; we’ll see if that’s a factor in the TV show.
And what’s up with the the coven binding together? This also differs from the novels. In the books, the full coven can accomplish more together, but each person has individual talents and skills. (In the books, Faye and Cassie seem the most powerful and are able to light stuff on fire, etc.)
So far, I enjoy the TV show and I think my fifteen-year-old self would have approved. (Although she might have been annoyed by the changes because she was liked her adaptation literal.) The novels have a definite arc over three novels, and I’ll be curious to see if the show has a large arc they complete, or how they create long-term conflict.
Previous: summary of the novels.
After her mother dies in a fire, Cassie moves in her grandmother in Chance Harbor, Washington. She quickly meets Faye, Nick, Melissa, and Adam, and almost dies with Faye lights her car on fire.
Diana explains to Cassie that they are all witches, and Cassie’s return to town has made them all more powerful. Cassie doesn’t believe her and runs off, but Adam shows her it’s the truth when they combine to do some lovely magic with water drops. With Cassie, they have a full coven of six and need to bind themselves together so they can control themselves.
Cassie isn’t interested, but steps in to stop a monsoon that Faye starts. Faye isn’t willing to let things go, and wants to experiment with her power. During a chemistry class, she makes Cassie’s beaker bubble despite not being on heat, and it explodes. Cassie turns around and makes Faye’s beaker explode, complete with flames.
Cassie freaks out over her growing uncontrolled powers, and agrees to bind the circle after Faye almost kills a classmate, Sally. (Technically, she did kill Sally, but magic brought her back to life. More on that later.)
Also of note: while Adam is dating Diana, he and Cassie clearly feel attracted to each other, and almost kiss several times.
Meanwhile, the parents have their own motives. Diana’s father is responsible for the death of Cassie’s mom, and he and Faye’s mother clearly have nefarious plans. Diana’s father threatens Adam’s drunk father, and Faye’s grandfather comes to town in response. The parents aren’t supposed to be able to do magic since his coven somehow stopped them from being able to after the big accident that killed several people (Faye’s father, Adam’s mother, etc.) Faye’s mother responds by using a crystal to force her father-in-law to have a heart attack. Presumably she kills him, which was interesting moral question hanging over her character since she saved Sally earlier that day. Although it’s safe to say the parents are generally evil.
The six teenagers meet on the beach to bind their coven, and that’s the end of the second episode.
When I was a teenager, I loved The Secret Circle trilogy by L.J. Smith. When I saw the show was being turned into a TV show, I was intrigued. Would I still love these book? Would my teenage self have approved of the adaptation?
Let me start by talking summarizing the plot of the books:
<b>Warning: massive spoilers ahead! Do NOT read if you plan to read the books!</b>
The story opens with sixteen-year old Cassie vacationing on Cape Cod. It’s a long way from her home in California. She saves a boy and his dog from four college age students with a gun, and she thinks she sees a silver cord connecting her to the boy she saves. He gives her good luck charm crystal, kisses her hand, and leaves. She never asks his name.
Cassie expects to go home to California, but instead her mother tells her they’re moving in with her grandmother in New Salem, Massachusetts. It’s a small town on an island, and Cassie is dismayed by the move for several reasons: she’s shy, and starting a new high school is daunting. Her grandmother’s house on Crow haven road is old and rundown, and on the first night she hears her mother and grandmother talking about a “sacrifice”.
On her first day of school, Cassie runs afoul of the queen mean girl in school, Faye, resulting in mean-spirited pranks like her locker being filled with raw meat. The principal doesn’t help her, and tells her the kids from Crowhaven road need to solve their problems amongst themselves.
The bullying comes to a head when Faye lures Cassie into the abandoned science building and holds a piece of burning paper to her face. Diana comes to her rescue, saving Cassie from Faye and becoming her friend in the process. Diana and Cassie feel drawn together, and decide to become adopted sisters.
Meanwhile, Cassie has learned the teenagers of Crowhaven road have a club, and she’s not invited to join. There’s going to be an initiation ceremony for Kori and Cassie swallows her jealousy and helps Diana prepare for Kori’s birthday. But then Cassie finds Kori on the bottom of some stairs at school, and she’s dead.
That night, Cassie is ‘kidnapped’ from her bedroom, and taken the beach. She’s initiated into the “club” in place of Kori since they need a twelfth member to finish their coven. Cassie finally finds out the truth: she’s from a long-line of witches. Her ancestors moved from Salem to form New Salem after the witch trials. Their parents aren’t that interested in witchcraft, but the teens have found several families “Book of Shadows” and are practicing magic.
As Cassie finds out the truth, the twelfth member of the club shows up after a long absence (he’s missed the first few weeks of school). It’s Diana’s boyfriend, Adam . . . and also the boy Cassie saved on the beach. Cassie pretends she’s never met him, and Adam plays along. Adam has big news: he’s found a powerful crystal skull that had belonged the original coven.
Within the coven, there’s a power struggled between Diana and Faye. Diana is currently the leader, but it’s only temporary until a permanent leadership vote will be called in November. Faye wants the coven to investigate the crystal skull right away, but Diana wants to take a slower, more measured approach. Diana ends up bowing to Faye’s pressure, and schedules a time for the coven to scry the skull.
When the cover scrys the skull, it releases a dark energy. Cassie has one of the strongest connections to the skull, able to see a door inside it and a grinning face. The next day, they find out their high school principal was crushed by a giant rock on the beach.
Adam escorts Cassie home after the coven scrys the skull, and makes him tell her why she’s been avoiding him. She tells him the truth: she loves him, but she knows it’s wrong because he belongs to Diana. Adam realizes he loves Cassie and they kiss for a while. They end up vowing they won’t show their attraction to each other and won’t betray Diana’s trust. They say good-bye.
The next day, Cassie gets a phone call from Faye and she goes to visit. Faye knows about what happened between Cassie and Adam, and blackmails Cassie. Cassie does what Faye demands, and finds the crystal skull. She decides she can’t give the skull to Faye, but the other girl has followed Cassie and takes the skull from her. They investigate the skull, releasing more dark energy.
Meanwhile, Adam ends up escorting Cassie to a school dance because Diana’s sick. They realize this is a terrible idea after their attraction to each other is too much and they kiss on the dance floor.
Cassie turns into the belle of the ball, but the night turns dark: she finds the school quarterback, who had been flirting with her earlier, strung up on a pipe in the school boiler room. He’s dead.
After a brief freakout, Cassie gets several coven members—Adam, Debrorah, and Nick—to trace the dark energy with her since she knows Jeffrey didn’t commit suicide. They track dark energy to the local graveyard, and see a dark shadowy shape. It rushes them and disappears. Cassie feels guilty because she knows the dark energy she and Faye secretly released are responsible for Jeffrey’s death.
Faye has continued blackmailing Cassie, and she forces Cassie to vote for Fay in the coven leadership vote. Once Faye is leader, she has Cassie get the skull from its hiding spot, and she casts a circle of the four elements (wind, water, fire, earth) and calls upon the skull. They fully release the dark energy, and the skull disappears. Several other things happen: a mound in the graveyard explodes; a dark sludgy type figure threatens Cassie’s mother and grandmother, leaving her mother in a catatonic state and triggering her grandmother to have a heart attack. As her grandmother dies, she tells Cassie that she alone has the power to defeat Black John, the shadowy figure, since their family was always the most powerful and had the clearest sight. Black John had managed to return to life in 1976, and formed a new coven of the current parents of Crowhaven road. They realized he was evil, and part of the coven fought against him. They managed to kill Black John, but everyone that fought him died in the process. She tries to tell Cassie something more, but she’s very weak and Cassie can’t make out what she says. She dies.
Cassie decides to stand up to Faye and stop being blackmailed. Faye tells Diana and the rest of the coven about Cassie and Adam, and about some of the things Cassie did while being blackmailed. She partly tells the truth, but strongly distorts the story.
Adam comes to Cassie’s rescue and tells the truth. He’s furious that Faye blackmailed Cassie, and makes everyone see the truth. Cassie mentions the silver cord. Diana forgives Cassie, and she’s about to say something about Cassie and Adam when Cassie interrupts. She begs Diana to give her a chance to show she can trust her. Diana agrees, and they two are back to being close friends.
Meanwhile, Black John has come back to life, and he’s their new school principal. Faye has gone to his side. He breaks the power of the club over the high school by creating hall monitors. School isn’t nearly as much for the students of Crowhaven road, and when Cassie gets in trouble, she realizes where the crystal skull has gone: it’s in Black John’s head. She also finds out that Black John is her father from when he came back to life in 1976.
They discover that Black John plans to act against them during a lunar eclipse. Even though the coven is united, they put on a disorganized front to Faye. Meanwhile, Cassie has found the coven’s “master tools”. The original coven hid the master tools from Black John since they’re very powerful.
The coven elect Cassie leader as they get ready to fight Black John. Cassie is ready to nominate Diana, but the fellow members of her coven talk about how Cassie is the strongest, and it’s true. Overtime, Cassie has become more confident and shows a lot of leadership skills.
Cassie leads them in their fight against Black John, and she figures out how to defeat him forever. Faye comes back to their side in the end.
After their victory, Diana tells Cassie that she knows Adam and Cassie are soul mates; the silver cord is legendary. She would have told them earlier except Cassie wanted to show Diana she could be trusted, and Diana thought it would be good for Cassie.
The book ends with the coven deciding what they should do in the future, and Cassie and Adam holding hands.
When I re-read this last week, I saw plot holes and such that I missed as a teen. But this is still fun escapist literature, especially if you ignore the lack of character depth in most of the characters. (For example, Diana is too perfect.)
Next up: summary of the TV show so far.
In September, I was on quite possibly the most miserable flight of my life. The one-week-shy of two years old child who sat on his mother’s lap next to me kicked me at least once every thirty seconds. (He also tried to steal my food and book.) Their dog escaped from his kennel partway through his flight and I ended up holding it on my lap for a couple of hours. The flight attendant spilt apple juice on my three times.
(Seriously—who only buys one seat when she’s traveling with both a two year old and dog? And who doesn’t bring food for a child on a six+-hour flight? Okay, rant over.)
Luckily I had something to escape to while flying—Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. The book begins as we meet Karou, an art student in Prague with an interesting home life. Karou was raised by a chimera, Brimstone. She doesn’t know where she came from or who her parents are. She runs errands for Brimstone and his companions, going into the human world in exchange for receiving beads that allow her to make wishes.
While on a mission, Karou comes across an angel. This meeting turns her entire world upside down. I won’t say anymore since I don’t want to spoil the plot. The very wonderful, engaging plot with interesting characters. The sort of novel that whisks you away into its own world and you’re sad to leave when you come to the final pages.
Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Source: Gift from Friend
Read: August 2011
Sixteen-year old Pearl is the youngest vampire in a powerful family. When she’s getting a “snack” at the local Dairy Hut, she sees a unicorn. Which is a surprise to her, since unicorns don’t exist. She doesn’t take the unicorn seriously, a bad miscalculation since the unicorn stakes her in the back.
Pearl awakes the next day in the not-so-loving arms of her family. Instead of dying, Pearl can now walk in the daylight and more shockingly – she develops a conscience. Of course, she ends up going to high school, and a high-stakes adventure ensues.
Drink Slay Love is campy, kitschy, funny . . . in short, a great summer read. It made me laugh out loud, like when Pearl sarcastically says that unicorns poop rainbows. It pokes fun at other YA vampire novels. Durst adds lots of amusing details, like vampires learning about high school by watching John Hughes movies, and Pearl’s analysis of high school based on hunting and war theories.
Title: Drink Slay Love
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Source: Publisher E-Galley
Read: August 2011
Modelland, which comes out in September, is the first novel penned by Tyra Banks. Though it is likely the success of this book will determine if we’ll see more Modelliterature from Tyra, the book will see strong distribution and predictably decent sales its first week.
Barnes and Noble posted a sample chapter from the novel, providing eager readers with a glimpse of what’s to come. Though it’s difficult to make sense of the world from this single chapter (it’s worth nothing this isn’t the book’s first chapter) you can get a sense of style and prose. So while this review is somewhat of a stunted “pre-review” we thought we’d opine on what America’s Next Top Author (yes, debatable) has to offer the world of books.
The novel follows Tookie De La Crème as she enters the world of Modelland. In the chapter posted by B&N, Tookie attends a runway walk-off/audition to support her sister Myrracle (yes, that’s Myrracle) only to end up being chosen herself. What, exactly, is she chosen for? Although based on the book’s overview and fairly chaotic chapter it’s difficult to tell, it seems each model is hoping to become an Intoxibella: a superstar model that is worshiped by society, ushered into the limelight, and arguable magical. The preview chapter hints that the book does have some fantastic elements and the overview predicts some sinister plot developments, all which could be promising. That does, however, depend on whether or not you can get through the writing, that while unique in style, has some distracting tendencies.
The jury is still out on whether or not we’ll review the book in full when it comes out, but we welcome comments on the preview chapter. For those of you brave enough to read the full text, please, let us know what you think.
Click here for the sample chapter!