Category Archives: YALit

The Hazel Wood

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 JourneyJadeite's Journey final cover

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!

Check out my bookstagrams on Instagram !

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Daughter of Smoke & Bone

daughter of smoke BoneI 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!

Jadeite's Journey final coverFor another “otherworldly” story, you might enjoy, Jadeite’s Journey! Available at Amazon

YA Scavenger Hunt

YA_ScavengerHunt_WebBannerJadeite's Journey final coverWelcome 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 Team Pinkto 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

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the PINK team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 7th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

SCAVENGER HUNT POST

Today, I am hosting Jennifer M. Eaton on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt! In her book, Fire in the Woods, her main character, Jess is:

 

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!

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

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!

Only one more school year

Until I could live my dream

My dream

Not his

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…

dogs…

helicopters…

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,

who will?

_____________________________________________________

Fire in the Woods Revised CoverSeventeen-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

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks | IndiBound | Google Play

About the Author

jennifer-eaton-portrait-1-img_4000 Jennifer M. Eaton hails from the eastern shore of the North American Continent on planet Earth. Yes, regrettably, she is human, but please don’t hold that against her.

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

 To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author!

Kristy Centeno

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22674815-fire-in-the-woods?ac=1

TWEET   #YASH

Thanks for entering the contest & good luck!

Lucinda Stein, author 

pink 2018

Bone Gap Revisited

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

Check out my bookstagram on Instagram @lucindastein

The Language of Thorns

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

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

 

 

 

 

WINTERSONG

Product Details

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

New Adult

School Library Journal: Grades 9 and Up

Genre: Fantasy

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

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Product DetailsThe 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 storyBe sure to see my bookstagram picture for Words In Deep Blue on Instagram: @lucindastein

Publishers Weekly guideline: Ages 14-up

 

 

 

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