I’ll admit it—I do judge a book by its cover! (At least, initially.) Physically, The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is a definite beauty-contest contestant. From the gold and silver on the black cover to the beautiful end papers to the black and white illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, booklovers will appreciate this book.
Now let’s talk about the story! Alice Proserpine, 17, and her mother are always on the road. They move like some people hit coffee shops, often living with acquaintances for short periods of time. Alice’s grandmother is a famous, reclusive writer, but someone Alice has never met. Her mother avoids her at all costs.
The story really gets going when Alice’s mother is abducted by someone who claims to have come from the supernatural world of her grandmother’s stories. Alice and her friend, Ellery Finch, set out to find her mother and head to where her grandmother lives on an estate. They go to the very place her mother warned her against: Stay away from the Hazel Wood.
Alice discovers everything in her grandmother’s stories actually exists, and she encounters all kinds of strange people and creatures in the Hinterland. I thoroughly enjoyed this unique story but found the ending a let down. I’d love to hear what you think of the ending—drop me a note! (leave a comment)
Lucinda Stein, author of Jadeite’s Journey
She never knew a handsome face could hold so much darkness. . .
Then she meets Orion, who’s strong and genuine. But is it too late?
In a future world of secrets, romance can turn deadly!
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I just finished Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and I loved it. The subject of angels and demons in itself is fascinating, but Taylor brings her own vision of these creatures into a full-bodied story.
The book opens with a seemingly ordinary teen girl—despite her long peacock-blue hair—named Karou. Her wrists hold tattoos with the words true and story. An art student, her sketchbook is filled with strange, otherworldly creatures. Magic enters the picture when Karou handles a cheating boyfriend with some hilarious effects. No spoilers, you have to read it! Soon we learn Karou has another life when she enters a portal where the strange creatures of her sketchbook come to life. These creatures called chimaera contain parts of various animals. Some creatures have horns, some with human faces but animal legs and hooves. Some with wolf faces and claws, you get the idea. Humans would call them devils.
Brimstone, the creature that took her in as a child, has human arms and torso but the haunches of a lion and the clawed feet of a lizard or dragon. He has horns and the eyes of a crocodile. Strange indeed! Even stranger is the mystery of why Brimstone collects teeth.
Black handprints begin appearing on doorways across the world, and angel sighting are reported over the globe.
Karou has an encounter with a magnificent angel who asks her who is she? What is she? This is a question that has plagued Karou for years. She has never felt completely whole. Karou finds herself attracted to the angel, but little does she know that an otherworldly war is about to being and she will be caught in the middle!
Taylor artfully introduces the character of Karou, just an ordinary girl (or so we think), and slowly draws the reader into her spectacular world building. At 418 pages, the book keeps the reader intrigued to the end. 5 stars to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone!
For another “otherworldly” story, you might enjoy, Jadeite’s Journey! Available at Amazon
Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! My name is Lucinda Stein and I’m your hostess for this leg of the tour.
On this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 120 hours!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the PINK TEAM–but there is also a red team, a gold team, a green team, a purple team, and a pink team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!
If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.
SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
USA Today Best Selling Author currently hovering near the human city of Philadelphia. Eater of chocolate, chaser of aliens, writer of words.
Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about the author’s book here!
I’m Jennifer M. Eaton the author of the Fire in the Woods series. Today I’d like to take a moment to send you into the mind of a girl willing to risk her life to save a boy from another planet. I originally wrote this as part of Jess’s character study. It has changed very little since I first wrote down these words, and they ended up being nearly the exact copy used for the Fire in the Woods Book trailer (Below if you want to take a look). Enjoy!
Until I could live my dream
Everything was in place.
Plans were made
Until I found a boy in the woods
Now I am running for my life
Through the woods
With a boy I barely know
With the entire U.S. Army…
and Dad chasing us
This is so not how I expected to spend the last week of summer vacation.
But if I don’t save him,
Seventeen-year-old Jess’s dream is to graduate High School and get away from her dull military-brat existence. But racing for her life across New Jersey with a boy she hardly knows is not quite what she had in mind.
David is alone, injured, and lost in the woods. When a young girl stumbles across him, he places his trust, and his life, in her hands. Will she lead him to safety, or right into the hands of the men he is hiding from?
Young adult contemporary science fiction (Because you can’t get enough contemporary or science in your fiction)
Available wherever books are sold
About the Author
While not traipsing through the galaxy looking for specimens for her space moth collection, she lives with her wonderfully supportive husband and three energetic offspring. (And a poodle who runs the spaceport when she’s not around.)
During infrequent excursions to her home planet of Earth, Jennifer enjoys long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but great adventures are always a short shuttle ride away.
And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Lucinda Stein, Jennifer M. Eaton, and many more!
To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 3. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the PINK team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!
CONTINUE THE HUNT
Thanks for entering the contest & good luck!
Lucinda Stein, author
A Shine That Defies the Dark by Jodi L. Gallegos
“I didn’t go lookin’ for Remy Granger that night,” begins a tale that promises danger and romance. Set in the Louisiana bayou during the Depression, A Shine That Defies the Dark reveals the struggles of Ophelia Breaux and her widowed mother during this hard economic time.
Ophelia meets up with Remy Granger at a party one night. She finds herself attracted to him despite his family’s reputation for trouble. Ophelia warns herself to stay clear of Remy. But when she sees her mother compromising herself with Judge Trudeau just to pay the rent, Ophelia decides to join the notorious Granger gang. It’s the only way she can make enough money to free her mother from the judge’s control.
Ophelia becomes entangled in the Granger’s bootlegging. The illegal business of moonshine brings big money. It also draws revenuers and prohibition agents, along with prison sentences—if the bootlegger survives a rain of bullets. Rival bootleggers also pose a deadly threat.
Along the journey, she discovers Remy is more intoxicating than the “shine” they’re running and falls madly in love. But will either of them live to fully experience that romance? Gallegos infuses the story with rich description of the Louisiana bayou, uncovers the secret world of the bootlegger, and pulls the reader into an exciting journey through history. This page-turning novel will keep you in suspense!
Interview with the Author
How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing, in some form or another, for as long as I can remember. I’ve always expressed myself best through the written word (anyone who has had an actual conversation with me can attest to that, lol!). I decided in 2001 that I’d like to pursue publication. From that point I focused on learning about the business of writing as well as the craft so that I’d have a better understanding of every aspect of what it means to become a writer.
What are your favorite genres to read? I read almost anything. My choices are based on how effectively the book description grabs my attention. That said, I do have a fondness for Young Adult (YA) and for psychological thrillers.
What advice do you have for beginning writers? 1) Take every opportunity to learn more about the business as well as your craft. 2) Start to establish your platform/online presence now. 3) Engage other writers/aspiring writers and build your “tribe”. It’s so important to have a group that can support and assist each other. 4) No matter how defeated you may feel, don’t give up. You’re a writer because you write, not because you’re published.
Links for Jodi’s Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook
“At the time I first realized I might be fictional…”
What an intriguing first line to this novel. Much later in the story, the connection to this statement will be revealed.
I had heard this book was about a girl with OCD, which would be interesting in itself, but John Green weaves in so much more into this story.
Sixteen-year-old Aza struggles with thought spirals, compulsive thoughts that wind themselves deeper until she can’t think of anything else. When a 100,000 dollar reward is offered for the whereabouts of a fugitive billionaire, Aza and her hacking friend, Daisy, decide to investigate. In their favor, Aza was once friends with the billionaire’s son, Davis.
The reader gains insights into Aza’s problem and comes away with a new compassion for those who struggle with such disorders. We experience Aza’s world of OCD through her experiences.
But another storyline is just as compelling.
We glimpse the suffering of Davis and his younger brother. They live in a mansion with everything material wise they could ever desire. Not only have lost their dad, but they have never had a healthy relationship with their always distant father. As Davis says, “…he really disappeared a long time ago.”
One part of the story bothered me. Davis refers to booze, money, God, and fame as rotting people from the inside. In a real relationship with God comes strength, hope, and love. I didn’t like God being thrown in with the problems related to booze, money, and fame.
Aza and Davis find themselves attracted to each other. Aza’s compulsive thoughts affect their relationship and drive them apart at times. Davis, in his loneliness, remains compassionate, but is troubled with the thought that Aza may only be after the reward. He comes up with a solution to the problem in order to determine if Aza truly likes him.
When Aza reads Daisy’s online stories, she recognizes herself in one of the fictional characters. Aza realizes that her disorder makes her irritating to anyone she is in a relationship with. Her friendship with Daisy is tested.
Aza’s problems intensify, and she lands in the hospital. Without giving away any spoilers, I’ll just say her disorder leads her to some very strange actions.
Davis writes poetry online under an assumed name and also comments on other poets. His poetry is powerful.
John Green writes a moving, compassionate story in Turtles All The Way Down. Highly recommend!
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Have you ever read a book and knew you wanted to read it again? Bone Gap by Laura Ruby was one of my favorite reads in 2017. The story introduced me to the genre, magic realism, and I was hooked. I had checked the book out from the library and knew I liked the story enough to buy a hardcover copy! The book arrived with a Printz gold medal and a National Book Award finalist seal. Perhaps I read the book too quickly the first time, maybe the story is so unique, but as I read it a second time, I appreciated the book even more. You’ll find Ruby’s writing as surprising, rich, and fascinating as her plot.
People call Finn: Spaceman, Sidetrack, Moonface, Loner. Everyone in Bone Gap knows Finn is odd. He’s different. Finn and his older brother, Sean, live alone after their mother left them to marry a man out of state. But when a stranger arrives in their barn one night, their lives change. Beautiful Roza doesn’t tell them why she’s on the run or who hurt her. They take her into their home, and their loneliness fades as Roza becomes part of their life. Sean falls in love with her.
But when a strange man kidnaps Roza at a county fair, Finn blames himself. He was the one who saw the stranger, but at the time, he thought Roza wanted to leave them, just like their mother did. Only when Roza looked back from the SUV, did Finn realize something was terribly wrong. Sean and Finn report her disappearance to the local law enforcement. But when Finn is unable to give physical details of the abductor, the townspeople wonder if Roza was truly kidnapped. Or worse, did Finn have something to do with her disappearance.
Finn not only lost Roza that day, he lost his brother. Heartbroken, Sean withdraws into his work and ignores his younger brother. Finn’s guilt and loneliness makes him miserable until he starts spending time with Petey, a girl most people in town consider homely.
That’s a brief summary of the story, but it’s the theme that makes this a great book. The theme is about people being “seen,” really seen for who they are inside.
Rosa has drawn attention from men her entire life. But they only see her outward beauty and want her for their own selfish desires. Her Polish grandmother told her, “There will be boys who tell you you’re beautiful, but only a few will see you.”
Petey knows how the people of Bone Gap talk about her. How can she be so homely when her mother is pretty? Only Finn really “sees” her.
Finn falls in love with Petey because she sees him for who he is, not the odd boy everyone else knows.
Sean falls in love with Roza but not just for her beauty. When he looks into her eyes, his gaze demands nothing, unlike the other men she’s known. It’s what’s inside her that draws him to her.
Hints of magic scatter through the beginning of the story. It emerges further as Roza describes her captivity. The reader soon learns this is no ordinary man who has kidnapped her. The stranger is otherworldly. Magic also surfaces when a black horse appears in Finn’s barn. He takes Petey for rides late at night, and they travel through forests that don’t exist in Bone Gap and fly over cliffs that are not part of the natural terrain.
You might wonder how the title of the book, Bone Gap, fits into the story. Hint: gaps in the world, places to lose yourself, slip into, retreat to. I won’t give any spoilers, but know that the ending blossoms into a powerful culmination of the theme. Ruby proves to be a fantastic writer and storyteller! A must read for young adults and adults.
School Library Journal: Grades 10 and up
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This book cover is one of the top ten eye-catching covers from 2017. From Leigh Bardugo, author of The Six of Crows, comes an illustrated book of fairy/folk tales. These types of stories require illustrations, don’t they? At least, from childhood we’ve come to expect that. Don’t misunderstand me, these are definitely stories for young adults to adults. The beautiful illustrations will appeal to readers of graphic novels.
At first, the reader will think she is reading an ordinary fairy tale, those old stories told to children for decades. But the endings will leave you both surprised and charmed!
Sara Kipin’s vivid illustrations enliven this book. There’s not much more I can say about this title. The Language of Thorns demands to be read and seen!
Check out my bookstagram pic for this book on Instagram @lucindastein
School Library Journal suggested reading: Grades 9+up
Seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine lives in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The story takes place in 1950. Although she’s the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie was taken in years before by a local bookseller. She works in the bookstore after school and sleeps in an upstairs room in the shop.
Though Josie also works part time cleaning at the brothel, she wants a different life from her mother’s. Josie yearns to attend college but worries about how she can afford to attend. One afternoon, a customer comes into the store and discusses books with Josie. He encourages her to go to college. Josie, who has no idea who her father is, sees this educated, kind man as the dream father she’s always wanted. When he turns up dead a few days later, the mysterious death begins to point to her mother and her shady boyfriend.
Josie is drawn to two young men, Patrick, the bookstore owner’s literary-loving son, and Jesse, a good-looking boy from the lower side of town who also strives for a better life. When her dream of higher education looks out of reach, a man offers her big money if she’ll follow in her mother’s footsteps.
This book gives an intriguing insight to life in the New Orleans underworld of the 1950s and a young woman’s struggle to find a better life against all odds.
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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
School Library Journal: Grades 9 and Up
Based on German folklore, Wintersong is a fantasy twist on the beauty and the beast theme. This is an ambitious tale—436 pages—full of secrets, danger, and romance with a strong female protagonist.
Liesel has heard stories about the Goblin King since early childhood. Dreams about the Goblin King. Warnings from her grandmother. Liesel’s grandmother, Constanze, firmly believes in the Goblin King though the rest of the family thinks she’s just a crazy old woman.
Musical talent pervades Liesel’s family from her father down to her younger brother, Josef. Liesel loves to compose music for her talented brother, but long ago, her father discouraged her talent. She needed to be the dutiful daughter. Her skills couldn’t compare with Josef’s promising career as a violinist.
One day in the village, she finds her sister, Käthe, staring—enchanted—by a tall stranger, strangely handsome and ugly at the same time. His beauty hurt. Liesel recognizes his face—Der Erlkönig, the Goblin King. She also finds herself strangely attracted to him but knows this is dangerous. She rescues her sister from the spell…but only temporarily.
Later in the Goblin Grove, a place where Liesel has played with her sister and brother since they were children, Liesel comes face to face with the Goblin King—the Lord of Mischief and the Underground, the punisher of misdeeds, and the abductor of maidens. Memories flood back. Little Liesel dancing with the Goblin King, playing childhood games. When Käthe is taken to the Underground, Liesel must win a new game to bring her sister back. But Liesel recalls Constanze’s warnings: “There is no winning with Der Erlkönig. Or losing. There is only sacrifice.”
Liesel finds Käthe in the Underground, but her sister is obviously confused to who she is and why she is there. A trickle of blood, her sister’s nose bleeds. Liesel realizes time is limited if she is to bring her sister back alive.
Liesel learns that the Goblin King’s abduction of brides affects the seasons above the earth. Without a bride, spring would not arrive and every trace of green would disappear on the earth. A bargain is made: Käthe’s life in exchange for Liesel. She must become his bride.
Although the Goblin King was once a human, the goblins in the Underground prove to be spooky creatures. Black pupil-less eyes, claw-like hands, and a hunger for human life. Changelings and the Lorelei—beautiful feminine creatures—both dangerous, also live in the Underground.
The Goblin King encourages Liesel, now his bride, to pursue her music. Also a musician, he recognizes her talent. Soon she realizes he not only loves her music, he loves her. Liesel discovers she is also in love with him.
One day, a goblin informs Liesel that she will live only as long as people above ground love her. She will die once they forget her. Liesel realizes she misses her family. She wants to live. But can she escape the Goblin King and the Underground? Even worse, can she live without him?
See my picture of Wintersong @lucindakstein on Instagram!
Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
The setting of this story is a bookworm’s dream. Henry’s family has run a second-hand bookstore, the Howling Books, for over twenty years. Eighteen years old, he loves everything about the store. Besides the book-loving regulars and the monthly book clubs, the best part of the store is the Letter Library, a room where patrons can write notes in their favorite books. Sometimes even letters are left between pages.
Rachel and Henry were best friends for years. The day before she moved away, Rachel tucked a love letter in Henry’s favorite book in the Letter Library. But Henry never discovered the letter, and Rachel resigned herself to the fact that Henry was in love with Amy.
Years later, Rachel returns and works in the bookstore. Everyone sees a difference in Rachel. What they don’t know is that her younger brother, Cal, drowned in the ocean. She keeps the tragedy a secret as she renews her friendship with Henry.
Henry has been in love with Amy for years. She breaks up with him only to return when her latest relationship doesn’t work out. Henry finds his life falling apart. Once again, Amy dumps him, and his divorced parents are talking about selling the Howling Books.
As Henry and Rachel work together in the bookstore, Henry remembers what he liked about his best friend, Rachel, even as she continues to deal inwardly with the loss of her brother.
The Letter Library slowly reveals its secrets of love and loss. If you love books, bookstores, and relationships, you’ll like this story.
I love the setting—who wouldn’t like living above and working in a bookstore? The depiction of Henry’s obsession with a girl who uses him like a revolving door is believable, and the author sensitively portrays Rachel’s grief. I found the repetitive use of the F word distracting from an otherwise strong story. Be sure to see my bookstagram picture for Words In Deep Blue on Instagram: @lucindastein
Publishers Weekly guideline: Ages 14-up