26 August 2019

2019-2020 Teen Reader's Council Application

Thank you to our 2018-2019 TRC members! You're all shining stars.

Do you want to join the Teen Readers Council? We have open spots for the 2019-2020 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 August 25th, 2019 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:

Camille's Review of The Red Scrolls of Magic

Maddie's Review of Lovely War

Tyler's Review of White Rose

Adin's Review of Sky Without Stars

09 July 2019

Review: Wilder Girls

Wilder Girls
by Rory Power

Publisher: Delacorte
Publication Date: July 9, 2019

It's been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine from the Tox. Though it started slow, it spread quickly through the school’s population until only the students and a few teachers remained. Cut off from the rest of the world in a quarantine they are unsure will ever end, the girls must try to survive the Tox in time for the vaccine to come… that is unless the mutated woods surrounding their island school and the dangerous animals it contains kill them first. But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty risks it all and breaks quarantine to face the horrors that lie beyond the fence and save her. In doing so, Hetty discovers that there is more to their situation than she ever thought possible.

In this dark feminist story, nothing is as it seems. One of the most obvious examples of this is the disease that affects the girls of Raxter. When most readers think about disease in literature, they think about a spreading of symptoms like a sore throat, cough, and fever, that everyone shares. But with the Tox, the only thing that the victims suffer through together is the shared pain that the disease causes them. The Tox acts differently with each person, mutating each girl into a unique type of monster. One girl (Hetty) loses an eye, while another’s hand becomes sharp and covered with grey scales. I thought that this was interesting as it added meaning to both the disease and the girls it affected. Why exactly does it act differently with each girl? And what does each form of the Tox represent? Readers will surround themselves with questions like these as they not only see the girls go through it, but experience it with them.

Power didn't create a unique disease like this just to let it run its own course though. Packing her world with characters that are at times unlikeable, yes, but also filled with enough emotion to make them jump off the page, Power makes it so not a single page of WILDER GIRLS is without a carefully calculated meaning. Power also succeeds in creating a setting that matches her disease perfectly: cold and relentless. Readers will feel like they are right beside the girls as they explore the rocky green island that is home to Raxter School for Girls.

If you love gritty survival stories mixed in with mild body horror and just a tang of romance, WILDER GIRLS is the perfect book for you.

25 June 2019

Review: Wicked Fox

Wicked Fox
by Kat Cho

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin
Publication Date: June 25, 2019

Written in a fresh voice, WICKED FOX by Kat Cho is a book unlike many others in the urban fantasy genre. By combining the lushness of ancient Korean mythology with the innovation of modern Seoul, Cho spins a tale of both romance and action through Miyoung’s and Jihoon’s stories.

Miyoung would be just like any other girl… except she is a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Taking Seoul as her hunting grounds, she survives by tracking down the worst men she can find to kill every full moon. This sets her apart from other characters because even though she can be considered a “bad person” for doing this, she specifically kills vile men she knows deserve death, and relishes in it. A quality like this sets her up to be the antihero of the story, something which not many recent urban fantasy books have. Yet Cho makes readers question this judgment through Miyoung’s actions that set her far apart from the typical YA antihero.

One full moon while feeding, Miyoung finds Jihoon being attacked by a goblin in the forest. Deciding to save him from a certain death, she exposes herself to him and loses her fox bead in the process. By saving him, she breaks every rule she knows, but does it regardless. Now with her fox bead missing, the very thing that holds her gumiho soul, Miyoung must team up with Jihoon before a generation-old feud is reignited. This will interest readers because Miyoung didn’t save Jihoon and risk her life out of love, like most other fantasy characters. Without spoiling why, I found this to be a fresh aspect to the urban fantasy genre, especially since Jihoon doesn’t start the book in the most favorable way. Characterized from the start as a cocky and idiotic school boy, he is not at all what readers would typically root for. And yet, Cho is able to build both him and Miyoung up into something more than the stereotypes that people often have about characters like them.

Cho continues with the tradition of fighting urban fantasy stereotypes until the end of the book. Reestablishing what it means to be an urban fantasy writer, she gives readers a story of two people who were never meant for greatness. Though Miyoung’s stakes do sound similar to many other characters' as she must choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s, her story is much more than just that. If you are looking for a diverse modern-day urban fantasy that puts a spin on typical YA elements, WICKED FOX is the book for you.

06 June 2019

Review: I Love You So Mochi

I Love You So Mochi
by Sarah Kuhn

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Kimi Nakamura loves fashion and designing bold, beautiful outfits. But her mom has worked hard to be an successful painter and expects Kimi to follow in her footsteps as a “Great Asian American Artist.” After they have an explosive, emotional confrontation, Kimi gets a letter from her mother’s estranged parents inviting her to visit them in Kyoto and seizes the opportunity to escape for spring break. She is dazzled by Japan’s attractions, which include Akira, a part-time mochi mascot who dreams of being a doctor. By getting to know her grandparents, Kimi learns more about her mother and herself, and sees they are more alike than she thought.

I LOVE YOU SO MOCHI by Sarah Kuhn is full of personality. Kimi’s fun and creativity really come through in Kuhn’s writing, and her vivid descriptions of Japan made me want to hop on the next plane there! Kimi’s romance with Akira is adorable. I think it is a little fast-moving, but it can be forgiven considering Kimi’s limited time in Japan. The relationships in the book are well-written, especially those of Kimi, her mom, and her grandparents. I LOVE YOU SO MOCHI is an introspective yet sweet book about love for your family, your crush, and your passion.

04 June 2019

Review: Sorry For Your Loss

Sorry For Your Loss
by Jessie Ann Foley

Publisher: Harperteen
Publication Date: June 4, 2019

SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS is a poignant and endearing story about grief, family, and expression. Pup Flanagan is one of eight siblings, so he’s used to being ignored. When Patrick, his older brother, dies, Pup is left to grieve while his family tries, in their own ways, to forget their pain. Lost and flunking his photography class, he throws himself into capturing the painful and miraculous things in his life through the lens of the camera.

Foley masterfully tackles the bond between loss and creation. The reader follows Pup as he forges new relationships and watches others fall apart, all the while trying to find beauty in the dissolution and idiosyncrasies in his life. Pup’s connection with his siblings is a driving force of the plot. His family acts as a barrier, safety net, catalyst, and home for Pup as he attempts to survive high school and protect his only other brother, Luke, from himself. Despite family craziness, Pup is grounded in his photography and a sweet classmate who invites him into her own life. As Pup collects artifacts of his life through his photography, we see him learn how to navigate life and come to terms with Patrick’s passing while dealing with Luke’s self-destruction. The final pages reveal Pup’s portfolio, an expression of what he holds dear and how he sees and loves the people in his life. Art provides Pup the painful revelation and the catharsis he needs. This book was very touching and insightful. The ending, especially, was very moving and profound (it might have even drawn tears). I highly recommend this book to those looking for a wonderful realistic fiction book with a focus on grief and art.

Review: The Hound of Rowan

The Hound of Rowan
by Henry H. Neff

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 25, 2007

I’d highly recommend the HOUND OF ROWAN, the first in Henry H. Neff’s Tapestry series. The book follows Max McDaniels as magic suddenly invades his life, forcing him to go to Rowan Academy, where he and those like him learn to use their powers. However, don’t let the standard plot structure fool you, as even with my own nostalgia about the book notwithstanding, Neff intricately creates a one-of-a-kind world, unlike anything I’ve ever read. By weaving together myths and legends from all over the world with little bits of technology, Neff is sure to entertain any reader that picks up THE HOUND OF ROWAN.

Review: Leah on the Offbeat

Leah on the Offbeat
by Becky Albertalli

Publisher: Balzer & Bray / Harperteen
Publication Date: April 24, 2018

LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT by Becky Albertalli, a sequel to her bestselling book SIMON VS. THE HOMOSAPIENS AGENDA, follows Simon’s best friend Leah Burke through her senior year of high school as she navigates friendship, love, and life. Unlike her friends, Leah doesn’t come from a wealthy family, and lives only with her 35-year-old mother. She’s bisexual, though she’s only told her mom, and loves to draw, though she’s afraid to show people her art. Relationships begin to strain and tensions are high as Leah and her friends prepare for prom and college in their last semester of high school, especially as she becomes closer with one of them and realizes their feelings for each other are stronger than Leah knew.

This was a book I really enjoyed reading. There were so many lines that made me laugh out loud, along with some sweet moments. Leah’s inner (and often outer) voice is sarcastic, cynical, and very explicit. Although she could be uncomfortably blunt sometimes, I found her comments were usually funny and relatable. I liked that the teenagers actually spoke like teenagers, something that I haven’t found very often in the world of YA. There were some parts and plotlines that bothered me a bit, because they felt awkward and out of character. However, Albertalli’s writing fits the story’s tone so well, it keeps the reader moving and involved. This book doesn’t have one clear arc. Instead, it weaves through Leah’s experiences, in a very real way. Life doesn’t have a clear plot, and this book reflects that. It really captures the feeling of knowing that one stage of your life is ending, and everyone is going in different directions. For anyone looking for a coming-of-age book with queer romance and plenty of snark, LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT is for you.