Tag Archives: TeenReads

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!

 

 

 

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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

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!

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!

When Dreams Are Put on Hold

This new-adult novel deals with the challenging choices a young adult struggles with after high school. FYI: This book contains strong language and sexual scenes. Skylar I'll Meet You ThereEvans can’t wait to leave her hometown after graduation. The small town of Creek View has little to offer other than a run-down trailer park and one eccentric motel, the Paradise, where she works. Skylar has a pact with her male friend, Chris, that they will both leave Creek View and attend college. Her best friend, Dylan, has gone the route of many girls in Creek View, becoming pregnant in high school. Dylan is now raising her son, Sean.

Skylar’s father died in a car accident, and her mother is not coping well—she loses her job at Taco Bell and drinks all the time. Skylar starts to reconsider her decision to attend college, a dream she’s held for years. Someone has to take care of her mother.

Skylar’s life becomes even more complicated when she attends a party for Josh Mitchell, a Marine home from Afghanistan. Josh’s life is changed forever after he loses one leg in the war. She starts to fall for Josh, but wonders if it’s pity or real attraction drawing her to him.

The summer after graduation proves full of complications for Skylar. Her longing to study art is threatened by her mother’s downward spiral, and Skylar’s growing feelings for Josh. The night she finally admits she’s in love with Josh, he cheats on her. She’s devastated—her first love and he has betrayed her. Skylar’s life has become totally unraveled.

I’ll Meet You There tackles tough problems that can occur in a young adult’s life. The author realistically paints the pain of difficult issues while maintaining a broad stroke of hope. A person’s choices and attitude—along with a little help from friends—can overcome the worst heartbreaks and even the most dismal situations.

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Surrounded by a psychic family, Blue is the only member of her eccentric family who has no psychic ability. She does however make psychic power stronger in those who have it. Blue’s been told for years that she can’t kiss a boy because a kiss to her true love would kill him. She decides to never kiss any boy.

The first chapter draws you in, but it takes more persistence to stick with the story of the Raven boys, who attend Aglionby Academy, a nearby private school. The boys’ complicated relationships take a while to unfold, but if you stick with it, your reward will be an intriguing paranormal story. There’s Ronan, an angry boy who skips classes and gets into fights with his older brother. There’s Adam, a good-looking teen, who unlike the others, comes from a poor family and struggles to stay in the expensive school. His abusive father hates his son’s motivation to better himself and has no problem beating his son. And there’s shy Noah who remains in the background, who holds a secret that none of them could ever imagine.

Coming from a wealthy family, Gansey, the leader of the Raven Boys, has been looking into ley lines—places where spirits travel—for a long time as he searches for the grave of a Welsh king, Glendower, who legend claims will grant a reward to the one who awakens him. An instructor at Aglionby Academy is also searching for Glendower and will do anything to find it—including murder.

Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys when Adam expresses an interest in her. Though attracted to him, she worries how the relationship will develop, knowing the curse that’s connected to her. She joins their venture of locating Glendower’s grave. Later, Blue and Gansey discover a body near an ancient church. This body is of their time period. Decayed, there’s not much left to identify the corpse. Gansey finds a billfold. Inside, the driver’s license photo turns out to be someone they all know. They soon discover that danger lurks within their grand adventure, threatening each and every one of them.

This is the first title in a series of four books.

For fun check out: How to graffiti a car in just under 3.5 minutes (You Tube by Maggie Stiefvater)

 

Strong as Death

Strong as Death by M.S. Kaye

Strong As Death (Born From Death Book 1) by [Kaye, MS]Ilona is sick and tired of never leaving home without her mother by her side. Frustrated by her mother’s constant presence and overprotectiveness, seventeen-year-old Ilona escapes their apartment. She observes a woman being threatened and steps up to help. That’s when Ilona is hit by a car. Taken to the hospital, her legs miraculously heal, something that has always occurred when she’s injured. A little boy appears, crying for his mother.

When Joey runs straight through a hospital curtain, Ilona realizes the boy is a ghost. Her mother has always refused to talk about things that seem out of place, and Ilona is determined to find out about the world but, most of all, about herself. Wandering the streets in a bad neighborhood in Brooklyn, she meets Archer, a rough-looking boy, who befriends her and directs her to safety.

On her quest to uncover what her mother has always hidden from her, Ilona discovers she’s in love with Archer. But there’s a problem. How can you love someone who never gives you the hug you desire or the kiss you dream about?

This book will appeal to both male and female readers, as many of the characters are male. FYI: repetitive harsh language occurs from characters in the story who are gang members. This intriguing story takes the reader on a fast-pace journey through the alter-dimension between life and death. This is the debut of a new series, so you can look forward to more of this fascinating story!

Available at Amazon

Villians You Love to Hate

Essential for good conflict in a story, a villain is someone you hate or fear—or both. Here’s just a few:

Product DetailsQueen Levana, The Lunar Chronicle—Levana uses mind control and works to appear more beautiful than she actually is. She seeks to kill her own family making her a chilling villain.

Slagar from Mattimeo, A brutal slave trader who kidnaps children.

Product DetailsThe Eye of Sauron, Lord of the Rings A god-like eye of fire that sees everything we do—need I say more?

SCNR-Captain Hook from Peter Pan Unlike the child-friendly adaptions of this book, the original Captain Hook proved more vicious.

Lord Voldemort or Dolores Umbridge? in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Product DetailsMany people will choose the noseless Lord Voldemort as the chief villain but what is more frightening that a villain who hides behind the veil of goodness? Think pink and kittens!

Product Details

The frenemy, Nancy Wheeler, in Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret            
What’s worse than a friend who turns out to be an enemy? A BFF turned villain—pure pain!
Who’s your favorite villain and why?

 

 

 

YA, NA, Whatever!

Several award-winning novels are categorized as adult books yet have young protagonists or main characters. You might want to challenge yourself and try one of the following books.

Eleven-year-old Reuben Land was born with no air in his lungs. When his father picked him up and commanded him to breathe, Reuben’s lungs filled. Reuben has seen other strange occurrences connected to his father and believes his father is tied to the miracles. But why doesn’t his father heal Reuben from his severe asthma?

One night two kids break into their house to retaliate against his father and Reuben’s brother, Davy, shoots and kills both trespassers. Davy runs away the day of his trial forcing Reuben and his father on a long journey to find him.

 

You may have seen the movie, but remember the book is always better!                                       Fourteen-year-old Lily Owens runs away from her mean father and sets off on a journey to find out about her mother, who died when Lily was four. With only the name of a town from a honey label that was left with her mother’s things, Lily finds three eccentric black sisters who are beekeepers. Slowly Lily uncovers the mystery behind her mother’s death.

Drop me a line if you enjoyed either of these books. I’d love to hear from you!