Category Archives: YA book clubs

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

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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

Follow me on Instagram at lucindastein

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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

 

 

 

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!

The Weight of Feathers

Musing Mondays is hosted by MizB every Monday. This is a weekly meme where participants have to answer one of the pre-set questions plus a random question.

AM CURRENTLY READING…

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore. One of the reasons I am enjoying feathers-coverthis book is the fact the story comes as a refreshing change from the paranormal and fantasy novels I’ve been reading and reviewing. The storyline is definitely unique. Two gypsy-like families, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have feuded for years. Both family acts travel throughout the countryside, the Palomas dressing like mermaids and performing in the lake; the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, presenting escapades in tall trees.

That in itself creates a unique story, but both families also possess fantastical traits. The Palomas are born with escamas, dime-sized scales that shine like abalone (fits the mermaid aspect, doesn’t it?). The Corbeaus have black feathers that grow beneath their hair. When these feathers loosen and float on the breeze, the Palomas consider it part of the Corbeaus’ black magic.

Fate brings Lace, a Paloma girl, and Cluck, a Corbeaus, together when a tragedy at the local chemical plant sifts a cloud of chemicals over the small town where both families are performing. Not understanding the danger, Lace is caught outdoors, the chemicals blazing through her skin when Cluck comes upon her. He understands full well the dangers of the chemicals because his grandfather used to work at the plant. Cluck tears at her clothes, knowing the chemical has a violent reaction to cotton material. He brings Lace, severely burned, to the local hospital.

One of the burns forms in the shape of a feather, leaving Lace to think she was cursed by Cluck. She believes the only way to erase the curse is to seek out the Corbeaus who touched her. He is unaware that she is a Paloma and gives her a job applying makeup for the Corbeaus girls before their performance.

Another wonderful aspect of the book is the often lyrical and literary language. Here’s an example from page 158:

“His own words hovered in the air like dragonflies. Even when he went out the back door to hang up his shirt, he could hear the humming of their wings.”

By page 163, where I am currently in the book, romance is heating up between the two rivals. At this point of the story, I have no idea how this can turn out. After all, the families remain fierce rivals and enemies. I’m looking forward to discovering how the story progresses. Even though I’m only a little over halfway through the story, I highly recommend this magical-realism book.

RANDOM QUESTION:

If you were a character, which author would you trust with your life (to write your story)?

I would trust author, Bonnie Jo Campbell, to tell my story. Campbell has a true talent to get into a character’s mind and soul. But what I especially appreciate is the once-upon-a-riverunderlying empathy she holds for all her characters, shallow to complex, good to bad, Campbell will reveal how that character’s life experiences have molded him or her. She would pull out things from my character that I may not be conscious of and would probably surprise even me. Her literary style is, at the risk of an old cliché, the cherry placed on top of her whipped-cream writing. If you haven’t read her work yet, I recommend Once Upon a River and Q Road.

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Nineteen-year-old Feyre resides in a village with two sisters and a crippled father at the edge of a magical land called Prythian—a land of faeries. Living in poverty after her father lost his fortune, Feyre hunts for their food, keeping the family from starving. While out hunting one day, she kills a wolf.

Later a fearsome creature breaks into their cottage, seeking revenge for the death of one of its own kind. The wolf Feyre killed turns out to be a shapeshifter who was actually a faerie. The creature called Tamlin drags Feyre away and across the border to Prythian. At his estate, Tamlin allows her free access of his mansion and estate grounds. Instead of killing her, she’s allowed to live according to the regulations of an ancient treaty. However, she can never return to her family. Ever.

Feyre panics over her family’s survival, but Tamlin assures her he has taken care of her family. Over time, she realizes Tamlin truly means her no harm and slowly finds herself attracted to the lethal, immortal High Fae.

She learns that a blight across Prythian endangers the High Fae and has lessened his magical powers. Tamlin’s estate and even his life is in danger. To protect Feyre’s life, he sends her home. But Feyre’s love for Tamlin leads her back to incredible danger and deeper into the secrets of Prythian.

In an intriguing version of Beauty and the Beast, Sarah Maas leads the reader through a story of magic, war, and fated love. Well written, the book contains plenty of conflict and mystery. Due to scenes of sexual and violent nature, I recommend this book for New Adult or older YA readers.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, ©2015, Bloomsbury

 

 

Under a Painted Sky

Fifteen-year-old Samantha kills someone. She wonders if killing the man who tried to rape her counts as murder. All she knows is: it was him against her. Samantha finds herself alone after her father’s dry-goods business is destroyed and her father dies in the suspicious fire, leaving Samantha alone on the streets of St. Joseph, Missouri.

“Still the black snow fell,

bits of my life flaking down on me.”

Now the law is looking for Samantha, a young Chinese girl, who murdered the unscrupulous businessman. She escapes with another girl, Annamae, a slave to the same man. The two girls dress as boys, hide in the back of a covered wagon, and head for the Oregon Trail, hoping they can escape the reward put up for finding the two escapees. The girls refer to themselves as Sammy and Andy and must learn how to talk, walk, and act like boys.

They join up with an unlikely group of young cowboys. Sammy likes the boy called West, but of course, she must maintain the secret of being a girl, not an easy thing to do when she’s falling in love with the handsome cowboy.

“And West, with light from the campfire dancing around his face,

who will never know how much I love him.”

Sammy’s dream of becoming a musician is at risk. Her adventure heading West in 1849 is filled with hazards—outlaws who break people’s hands, that is, if they don’t kill them first, snakes, horrible diseases, and people who are quick to hang an escaped black slave or a Chinese girl accused of murder. Under a Painted Sky reveals how dangerous the frontier was during this period while at the same, portrays the awesome courage of people who struggled for a better life against all odds.

Under a Painted Sky is not your old-fashioned historical YA novel. Author, Stacey Lee, writes with turn-the-page action, genuine teen emotion, and beautiful writing at the same time. I highly recommend this book!