Tag Archives: YALit

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!

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

 

 

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!

 

Six of Crows

six-of-crows-coverSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

The chatter on Twitter had me curious about the fantasy book, Six of Crows. It’s an ambitious book at 462 pages and packed with adventure, violence, and intrigue. A motley group of six outcasts attempts an impossible heist to abduct a prisoner from the impenetrable Ice Court. By the second chapter, a confrontation between two gangs erupts, and the high action of this story is on!

If you find the sheer number of characters confusing, hang in there and the story will soon come together.

Kaz is the leader of this group of young criminals and outcasts. Some say he’s a devil, others call him Dirty Hands. As an orphan, he came from the streets and worked his way up to be a gang leader. He also runs the Crow Club. He’s known for being cold and ruthless.

Inej is call the Wraith for her exceptional power to move undetected. She works as a spy for Kaz.

Nina is a beautiful Grisha Heartrender, who has the supernatural power to burst the heart in your chest, steal your breath, and rupture your cells. She escaped a slave ship and now works for Kaz.

Matthias is a drüskelle, a member of the military who abduct and kill Nina’s kind. He calls Nina a witch.

Jesper is a lanky teen who loves his pearl-handled revolvers. He has a compulsion for gambling to the point that he’s in hock up to his neck.

Wylan is the son of a powerful mercher. He had all the privileges of the wealthy but chose to run away from home.

Kaz’s crew attempts the heist of the century, knowing full well the odds are against them. If they succeed, they will all be very rich. Violence is a way of life in the Barrel where poverty nips the heels of those trying to survive and make money at any cost. To add to the intrigue, Kaz who is known for being coldhearted, has feelings for Inej but refuses to act on them. Sparks fly between Nina and Matthias, who are mortal enemies.

It isn’t just for the money that Kaz accepts the challenge of the Ice Court heist. A thirst for revenge for wrongs done in his past motivates him to risk all their lives. Some say he has claws, but the real reason Kaz always wears gloves is even stranger! The ending of this story opens the door for the upcoming sequel. I can definitely see this becoming a movie. Read Six of Crows for yourself and see what all the talk is about!

 

 

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)