Category Archives: Teen Reads

Outrun the Moon

Outrun the Moon

By Stacey Lee copyright 2016

Product DetailsFifteen-year-old Mercy Wong yearns to break free of the poverty in Chinatown. Clever and determined, she strikes a deal to attend St. Clare’s School for Girls in exchange for a business deal with the president of the board. This is quite a feat since only the wealthiest white girls attend the school.

The story takes the reader through the historic San Francisco earthquake that occurred in 1906. People were forced to flee their homes and businesses after the earthquake unsettled the foundations of buildings, which either crumpled instantly or were in danger of collapse at any moment. Fires overtook the city and food and water became scarce to nonexistent.

Outrun the Moon is Stacey Lee’s second historical novel for young adults, and the genre shines under Lee’s careful handling.

Aspects of the story that I liked:

  • Mercy, the protagonist, is a strong female character that persists against the many odds that come against her. She’s smart, spunky, and determined.
  • Tom, the handsome boy she likes. Mercy is unsure whether her strong character is too much for him. Would he ever consider her in his future? (You’ll like where this relationship leads.) He is intrigued with air travel and has his own hot air balloon.
  • The author portrays how prejudice ran rampant at this point of history, but amazingly, in times of disaster people came together.
  • The portrayal of the historic earthquake was well researched, and as in all good historical fiction, the reader “experiences” a part of history.
  • Mercy is able to look beyond her own losses and help strangers in need.
  • The culture of Chinatown is vividly described, and the reader easily slips into the shoes of Mercy Wong.

Enjoy this engaging story with its theme of a young woman overcoming overwhelming difficulties. Definitely add this to your diverse fiction TBR list!

 

 

 

The Lie Tree

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Fourteen year old Faith is the “good girl,” the rock, the trustworthy daughter, and considered dull. At the turn of the 20th century, those traits fulfilled the expectations for a girl. The story begins with the family making a hasty departure from England to the island of Vane. Faith overhears a conversation and discovers her father, a minister and a renowned naturalist, has been accused of fraud. Faith doesn’t believe the rumor and doesn’t understand why anyone would attack his reputation.

Product DetailsDefinitely cover love for this title! The latest cover for the book is one of the most unique and creative covers I’ve seen. I saw an earlier cover on Amazon, which wasn’t as appealing—perhaps why the publisher changed it.

Back to the story, Faith proves to be anything but dull, and when her father is found dead, hanging on a tree beneath a cliff, his death is called a suicide. Faith begins her journey to find out who murdered her father. Before his death, she had accompanied her father to a cave where he hid a plant. This tree thrives in darkness. She begins to suspect the unusual plant is the cause of the scandal—-and the murder.

The unusual tree bears fruit only when someone whispers a lie to it. In turn,

the fruit delivers a hidden truth.

This story is a mixture of historical fiction, magical realism, and mystery.

The author’s research into the time period reveals itself in every detail. It definitely portrays how women of this time period were viewed:

  • Women didn’t need much education as their role was to run a household and raise children.
  • Women were not as intelligent as men.
  • A married woman must ask her husband for meager spending money.
  • A woman had no control of the finances unless she became a widow.

The story kept my interest, and Faith is a well-developed main character. I enjoy magical realism, but I struggled with the concept of a plant comprehending lies. The author created a twist on the biblical Tree of Life, and perhaps it’s only me, but I had trouble with the story’s scenes involving the tree. The rest of the scenes kept me involved in the story. As I said before, the research for the time period is impeccable, and the protagonist is a strong character. Overall, I would rate the book as 3.5 to 4 stars. (I couldn’t decide!)

I love creating bookstagrams. Follow me on Instagram at lucindastein.

 

 

The Sun is Also a Star

I was between books, and The Sun is Also a Star kept appearing on social media. I sun is also a starthought—why not?—until I come across a title that really appeals to me. Was I in for a surprise! This book definitely falls in the top ten YA books I’ve read in the past year.

Natasha is an undocumented immigrant, born in Jamaica, whose entire family is being deported. Natasha is chasing a slim chance of avoiding deportation by seeking a last minute lawyer.

Daniel is a U.S. citizen whose parents came from Korea. On Natasha’s last day in the country, she meets Daniel accidentally. What follows is a whirlwind romance in one day. In fact, the entire story is told in the span of twenty-four hours.

Natasha leans toward science and believes love is just the culmination of hormones and physical attraction. Daniel is a poet who believes in love at first sight. This story is about their attraction and the dilemma—-that their romance is fated to last only one day.

I’ve always known him, and we’ve only just met.”

The story gives a glimpse into what it’s like to come from another culture. Daniel’s parents try to maintain their original customs but their children strive to assimilate into America. Of course, that’s a recipe for parent/child head butting.

In contrast, Natasha’s father arrived in the U.S. with the dream of becoming a famous actor—he was ready to dive into the culture. Unfortunately, he continues to seek his dream at a high cost to his family. Living only on Natasha’s mother’s salary, the family lives in a one-bedroom apartment where Natasha has to share the living room with her brother in lieu of a bedroom. Her father has become very distant to her. This situation explains Natasha’s pessimism about love.

Daniel’s family pressures him to become a doctor and eventually marry a Korean girl. He blindly follows along with their expectations until one day (the day of the story) he decides to let the universe dictate his life. A series of coincidences leads him to meet Natasha.

The format of this book is unusual—-

Natasha and Daniel have separate chapters with their first-person point of view. Several minor characters also have separate chapters but these are in omniscient point of view (a godlike perspective.) As a writer, I found that surprising, but as I continued with the story it became clear that this format fit the story perfectly. The theme of the book is coincidence and choices versus true love. Each minor character reveals how even slight contact with people can have an impact on our lives.

The author portrays seemingly fleeting brushes with strangers with significance and power.

We may never know the influence of a brief connection.

If you’ve ever known the kindness of a stranger when you’re in a difficult place, you can relate to this idea.

I want to avoid any spoilers, so let me say that many of the coincidences in this story are amazing! You won’t put this book down for long. I can’t begin to describe the many nuances to this story.

The ending? A struggle between a box of Kleenex and a jubilant party!

A must read. Love, love, love! 5 stars

Follow me on Instagram at lucindastein. I’m an avid reader and a writer. You might jadeites-journey-final-coverwant to read my debut YA novel, Jadeite’s Journey, from Inkspell Publishing. Available now in print & e-book

Give Up or Get Tough

The Kick Ass Girls of YA Blog Hop
Give Up or Get Tough:
Strong Female Protagonists

What makes a strong female protagonist?

Product DetailsÉowyn from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers, is a shield maiden. Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games transforms into a warrior to save her sister’s life. These are obvious examples of strong female characters.

But there other less dramatic examples of strong women.

Elizabeth Darcy dared to marry for love rather than economic convenience as was the tradition at the time. Alice from Alice in Wonderland exhibits strength through perseverance, bravery, and common sense after falling into a strange, new world. Boring traits, you say? Don’t forget that Alice overcomes the ruthless Queen of Hearts!

In my YA novel, Jadeite’s Journey, my protagonist is a bit of both types.

Although she lives in a future society, Jadeite is an ordinary teen girl. She’s not prepared for the attention of a cute boy from school—her first boyfriend. As their relationship continues, Mattie reveals himself to be an egotistical bully. Soon Jadeite feels more like his “property” than a girlfriend.

She hates this guy, absolutely hates him!

Life is perfect in 2616. Jadeite lives in an advanced society that has eliminated disease, war, and poverty. But after she discovers her father has been leading a double life, Jadeite realizes her “perfect” life is riddled with secrets and deception.

. . .her father’s frequent trips away from home. . .the Dark Ridge.
And was it possible—was her father a Ridge Runner?

When she breaks up with Mattie, she soon learns his father is a powerful government official. Mattie has Jadeite’s best friend institutionalized.

“Did they hurt you?” Jadeite asks.
“The shock treatments were horrible,” Electra said. “That’s why
I conform and pretend I’m completely reformed.”

Filled with obsessive jealousy, Mattie refuses to accept the end of their relationship. He also threatens Jadeite’s family.

She has a choice: give up and submit

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Jadeite meets Orion, a boy who is everything Mattie is not.

to Mattie’s power, or get tough and do whatever needed to protect her family. Similar to Katniss risking her life to save her sister, Jadeite steps into an uncomfortable role—a dangerous one—in order to save her family.

 

I believe the best heroines are not characters without fears or weaknesses, but characters who rise above their limitations and tackle overwhelming problems.

New from Inkspell Publishing

Jadeite’s Journey is available in paperback & e-book on Amazon

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Magonia

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

The beautiful cover (I have a real case of cover love!) drew me to this book.

Product DetailsSixteen-year-old Aza suffers from a mysterious disease that doctors have been unable to diagnose. She’s thin, has trouble breathing, and knows her way inside and out of a hospital room. She says, “I think I wasn’t meant to be human.” Her only friend is Jason, a boy with OCD. They’ve known each other since they were five.

I quickly fell in love with quirky, obsessive Jason because he is a true and faithful friend to Aza. He will do anything for her.

Aza glimpses things in the sky, like trading ships and people descending on ropes. Only Jason believes what she sees is real. Aza sometimes hears disembodied voices calling her name that no one else hears.

When Aza is rushed by ambulance because of another medical emergency, Jason rides with her. She dies before they arrive at the hospital. At the cemetery he hears her voice from the sky. Thus begins his obsessive search into legends of people who navigate the skies in ships. Jason is a computer geek and manages to get into databases illegally. That’s how he tracks a storm that he connects to Aza’s travels in the skies above. You see, he believes she’s still alive.

Aza awakens in another world with a different body. This body is strong and healthy but her skin is blue. She learns that she was originally from the world of Magonia, a people in the sky who travel by trade ships. In this world, she has power. But Aza realizes she’s still in love with Jason. “Broken bonds are serious things.” She must find him again.

Magonia gives a realistic glimpse into the world of a teen with a serious, life-threatening disease. But it also sends the reader into a fantastical world of hybrid bird creatures and true adventure!

Magonia is a wonderful mix of fantasy, scifi, and dystopian. Read and enjoy!

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Here’s a pic of Magonia I created. Follow me on Instagram at: lucindastein

 

Play List for Jadeite’s Journey

Check out my playlist for Jadeite’s Journey!

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams- How Jadeite feels when she first meets Mattie, a hot boy from school…

img_20161214_113803“She Sets the City on Fire” by Gavin DeGraw –When Mattie’s character begins to look questionable, and the perfect world of United Society slowly reveals its deadly flaws…

“Lyin’ Eyes” by the Eagles-Mattie turns into a bully.

“Beat it” by Michael Jackson-When Jadeite breaks up with Mattie…

“Hotel California” by the Eagles-Mattie’s father is a powerful government official. Mattie uses his father’s influence against Jadeite’s friends and family to force her to stay with him. She observes a frightening transformation and discovers deadly secrets hover in the halls of his family’s home.

“Stand by You” by Rachel Platen-Jadeite risks her life to save her younger brother.

“Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson-Danger deepens as Jadeite journeys over the Dark Ridge, and she must call upon her inner strength.

jadeites-journey-final-cover

“Invincible” by Kelly Clarkson-After Jadeite’s father is arrested, she takes his place as an illegal Ridge Runner and risks her life to save her family.

 

Find Jadeite’s Journey  on:

Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

 

 

 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Leslye Walton’s magical realism novel promises to take you on a unique journey into the magical and the ordinary, an elixir of both.

How many of us can relate to this line in the story: Love makes us such fools? But the story moves on to show sometimes it’s a matter of opening our eyes.

The women in Ava Lavender’s family have been anything but lucky in love. It has affected everyone down to sixteen-year-old Ava who is born with the wings of a bird and her twin brother, Henry, who is mute. Because they are different, their mother keeps them sheltered at home away from the town’s critical eyes.

Ava’s grandmother, Emilienne, throws herself into her work at the bakery, believing love is something to be warded off.

Ava’s mother, Viviane remains heartbroken over her first love, ignoring the love that appears right before her.

Teenage Ava dreams about being a normal girl, not a creature with wings that makes people think she is everything from a freak to an angel. Then one day, Ava makes a friend who talks her into coming out to the reservoir, the place teens congregate at night. Her life will never be the same.

But it is Henry, who speaks only when it is of utmost importance, who warns the family of the tragedy to come. Will they listen before it’s too late?

Guideline only: School Library Journal rates this book Grade 9 and up.

Follow me on Instagram at lucindastein.  Check out the picture I created for this book!

A Peculiar Story

I picked this book up, not knowing what to expect except this story would be unusual. Peculiar is a perfect word for it! Sixteen-year-old Jacob has heard weird stories from his grandfather for years. When Jacob was little, he believed in these strange characters–children with special abilities, but as he grew older, he realized the tales were mere fairy tales.

When Jacob finds his grandfather gravely injured outside in the dark, he also sees a monster in the shadows. Or does he? Jacob’s parents send him to a psychologist, thinking he’s having trouble with his grandfather’s death.

But Jacob remembers his grandfather’s dying words, as strange and coded as his many stories, and Jacob is determined to go to the remote island where his grandfather lived as a boy–Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. There he finds the ruins of the building, walls crumbled from an air attack during WWII. But soon he realizes the house is not abandoned!

You’ll enjoy the many real–strange–photographs in the book. The author, Ransom Riggs, perused through vintage photos in flea markets and antique stores, which he used in writing the story. I found myself intrigued with the book, turning page after page. Read the book before you see the movie! If you like series, two sequels to this book are already available: Hollow City and Library of Souls.

Follow me on Instagram at lucindastein. Check out my bookstagram pic for this book!

Jadeite’s Journey

When romance turns deadly…

Jadeite’s world comes crashing down on her. In futuristicjadeites-journey-final-cover United Society, her only problem has been how to act around the cute boy on the air shuttle. But Jadeite’s life changes when she comes across a man who looks alarmingly like her father. Clones were declared illegal years ago. When she sees her father, a robotic engineer, headed to the Dark Edge of United Society, she follows him and uncovers her father’s secret life.

Jadeite shadows her father past the boundary of United Society and into a primitive world of canyons and high deserts. She learns her father is a Ridge Runner passing between the two worlds. Even more alarming, she discovers her younger brother, Malachite, is sick and requires medicine only available from over the Ridge. After her father is arrested, Jadeite takes his place in order to save her brother’s life.

But her world turns even more precarious after she breaks up with her obsessive boyfriend, Mattie. Jadeite soon learns his threats are more than words—and her life is in jeopardy.

Lucinda Stein is the award-winning author of several adult novels and short stories. Jadeite’s Journey is her first YA novel.

Available:

amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

KOBO

Send me a pic of you reading Jadeite’s Journey and I’ll post it! (send to lucinda@lucindastein.com) Follow me on Twitter at @lucindakstein and on Facebook.

I hope you enjoy Jadeite’s Journey!

Happy reading,

Lucinda

 

 

Butterfly Bones

Butterfly Bones: The Metamorphosis Series Book #1 by Rebecca Carpenter

Be prepared for a story unlike any you’ve ever read. Fifteen-year-old Bethany suffers from a rare bone disorder and looks years younger than other kids her age. She’s often mistaken for an Butterfly Bones Cover Ebookelementary student. Her only friend is a handsome boy who’s the star quarterback at Springs High School. Bethany has a big crush on Jeremiah, but she realizes the sexy teen only views her as someone to rescue. Despite reality, she daydreams about her first kiss with Jeremiah.

When a new student, beautiful Zoey, mistakes her for a lost little girl, Bethany is afraid to correct the well-meaning teen. Later when Zoey discovers the truth and becomes the laughing stock on social media, she’s out to make Bethany’s life miserable. Like a true bully, Zoey takes great enjoyment at making others laugh at her victim. Though weak on physical strength, Bethany has no shortage of witty comebacks. This only provokes Zoey to further torture Bethany in and out of school. Life is difficult enough as a teen, but it’s intolerable when you’re considered a freak.

Bethany never knew her mother, who died when Bethany was only a toddler. Her father is an obsessed scientist who is working on a cure for her bone disorder. He uses B. selene3 hormone made from Boloria selene butterflies to keep the disease under control. Unexplainably, the butterflies appear to have a strange connection to Bethany and surface at the most unexpected times in her life.

When her father uses accelerated doses of the hormone, the results spin out of control, placing Bethany’s life in danger. Like the mice in his home laboratory, she realizes her own father has used her as a test subject. He warns her that her body will soon enter into metamorphosis and a chrysalis will form around her body. She will fall unconscious and plunge into a coma. Even worse, her father admits Bethany might not survive this unprecedented procedure. She may never live to be sixteen or experience Jeremiah’s kiss.

This SciFi novel has it all: suspense, gore, death, romance, and secrets. This debut book in the Metamorphosis Series from Lakewater Press is available at Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble. A must read!