14 July 2018

Review: Notes From My Captivity

Notes From My Captivity
by Kathy Parks

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: July 10, 2018

In Kathy Parks’ NOTES FROM MY CAPTIVITY, aspiring journalist Adrienne Cahill embarks on a journey into the Siberian wilderness with her stepfather Dan to search for the Osinovs: a family of Russian hermits Dan has been researching for years. Adrienne and the rest of the world believe Dan has made up this family, and she sets out on the trip with the goal of proving him wrong in an article that will earn her a scholarship to Emory’s journalism program. However, when she finds herself being held hostage in the Osinovs' home, she is forced to give in to Dan’s theories and use her skills as a journalist to find her way home. Adrienne’s voice as a storyteller and reporter was both snarky and sincere, and Parks seamlessly transitioned between suspense and humor throughout the story. The best parts of the novel were the elements of magical realism woven throughout, which heightened my experience of Adrienne’s story and surprisingly beautiful relationship with the Osinovs. Ultimately, this novel is not only about the power our experiences have in shaping our stories, but also our own roles in the way we choose to tell those stories. In short: NOTES FROM MY CAPTIVITY’s unique plot and style make it a worthwhile read.

10 July 2018

Review: The Year of Living Awkwardly

The Year of Living Awkwardly: Sophomore Year
by Emma Chastain

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: July 10, 2018

THE YEAR OF LIVING AWKWARDLY: SOPHOMORE YEAR by Emma Chastain follows Chloe as she navigates her sophomore year of high school. Over the summer she works as a lifeguard with Grady, an incoming freshman, who she finds to be stupid and silly, not at all boyfriend material even though he has a massive crush on her. But when the school year begins and she’s trying to figure out her place, from theater to friends to boys, she starts to realize her cheating ex, Mac, maybe isn’t what she deserves. Throughout this relatable and hilarious novel, we see the importance of family and acceptance, the value of always sticking by your friends, and many more lessons. I thought this book was well written and a good easy light read. Written from Chloe's perspective, it feels like the reader is right there with her, making it fun!

09 July 2018

Review: Invisible Ghosts

Invisible Ghosts
by Robyn Schneider

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: June 5, 2018

INVISIBLE GHOSTS by Robyn Schneider is another cutesy high school romance starring your typical insecure relatable quirky teen and the hot boy who understands her, but this time, with ghosts! Rose spends her school days with girls she doesn't really like and her afternoons watching TV and hanging out with her older brother Logan, who coincidentally, died five years earlier. This has been her life for years, but when her childhood friend (and now a super cute guy) Jamie moves back to town, her world as she knows it changes. As her relationship with Jamie blossoms, she finds that the memory and ghost of Logan is holding her back. 

I loved Schneider's first book and have been eagerly awaiting this one. Though some plot points felt a bit rushed or not fully fleshed out, the concept was fresh and the characters felt real and supportable. This was a perfect combination of both cheesy romance and paranormal mystery, both managing to compliment without overshadowing the other. The story was consistent and believable throughout and never felt overdramatic or unrealistic. I would highly recommend this for high school fans of magical realism or those wanting to dip their toes into the paranormal waters.

02 July 2018

Application 2018-2019

Thank you to all of our 2017-2018 TRC members!! You're all shining stars.

Do you want to join the Teen Readers Council? We have an open spot for the 2018-2019 school year! You too could read and review new teen novels before they're released!

All you need to do is download and fill out an application and then email or snail-mail it back to us! (By September 1st, 2018 at 11:59pm. See the application for where to email or snail-mail.) You can also get hard copies of the application at Children's Book World.

Check out the application HERE

Not sure what we mean when we ask for a YA review on the application? Take a look at these TRC reviews for some great examples!

26 June 2018

Review: The Fragile Ordinary

The Fragile Ordinary
by Samantha Young

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: June 26, 2018

When I picked up THE FRAGILE ORDINARY by Samantha Young, I expected to read a light, fluffy romance without much substance (I'm definitely a sucker for those). But I was wrong. Though I probably would have been satisfied with a plot where main characters had met, fallen instantly in love, and then lived happily ever after, after finishing the novel, I appreciated that Young took a more thoughtful, realistic tone. Though the novel is first and foremost a romance, it also deals with heavier topics such as neglect, gang culture, and privilege. Even after I put the book down, I continued to think about the complicated relationships between characters. The one thing that felt a little off about the novel was the pacing; a consequential event happens in the last 30 pages in the novel and I wish that Young had spent more time unpacking it. Despite this, I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a romance that will make them think. Because of sexual content and substance abuse, this book is probably best suited to older teens.

15 June 2018

Review: Mariam Sharma Hits the Road

Mariam Sharma Hits the Road
by Sheba Karim

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: June 5, 2018

MARIAM SHARMA HITS THE ROAD by Sheba Karim is a profound, thoughtful, and above all, fun trek through the American south as three Pakistani-American teenagers go on the road trip of a lifetime. One is a passionate environmentalist trying to make peace with a father who abandoned her, one is a devout Muslim struggling to accept his own homosexuality, and one is an atheist thrown out of her house by Muslim parents after a scandalous photo of her makes its way to Times Square. Together, they are three emotionally messed up teenagers who are coming to terms with their lives and choices, all while on an often hilarious, always exciting trip from New Jersey to New Orleans. At its heart, MARIAM SHARMA HITS THE ROAD is a book addressing important issues such as Islamophobia, homophobia, parents, growing up, and being grateful for what you have.

12 June 2018

Review: Tell Me No Lies

Tell Me No Lies
by Adele Griffin

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: June 12, 2018

TELL ME NO LIES is a story about a girl, uncertain about her future and unable to talk about her past. It’s Lizzy’s senior year and she’s set her sights on Princeton but her plans are derailed when she meets Claire, a mysterious transfer student with a secret of her own. As she gets more deeply entangled in Claire’s life and meets new people, each with their own burden to bear, Lizzy feels more and more lost. In order to connect to her new friends and to herself she must reveal her deepest secret.

Griffin does an good job of utilizing her setting: the book was set in the eighties, and many of the problems or experiences the characters have are very oriented to the time period (AIDS, Keith Haring etc.). Also, the ending, I thought, was very fitting for the story. Overall this book was a nice, moderately light read and I’d recommend it!