18 July 2017

Summer Roundup: Fandom Finds

Couldn't score that San Diego Comic-Con ticket this year? We're right there with you. But you can still celebrate the awesomeness of fandom by picking up one of these great YAs featuring fans like you!

It's no Hall H wristband, but we hope it helps.

Rachel loved this "beautifully written" story of a teenage webcomic author whose real life gets complicated when the new boy at school turns out to be her comic's #1 fanfic author.

Scarlett is an avid fanfiction writer for her favorite tv show, so when it's canceled, she's obviously devastated. In an effort to stop her message board friends from leaving to write fanfic about other shows, Scarlett starts an original story...and they love it! Unfortunately, Scarlett's story is entirely based on the other kids at school, so it's only a matter of time before her online and IRL worlds collide.

Anna reviewed this coming-of-age, road trip novel by a real-life superstar! When four teens obsessed with the TV show Wiz Kids invite its star actor to go on a cross-country road trip with them, they don't expect him to respond, much less actually accept. But the five teens find themselves on a vacation they'll never forget!

No one is more motivated than high school senior Desi Lee. She's top of every class and on the varsity soccer team, and she works hard to be there. But she's no good at romance: too much spontaneity, not enough guidelines. Until she starts really watching the Korean dramas that her dad is obsessed with, and realizes that they use a highly effective formula for romance... One that she can use in her own life. After that it's enter cute boy, and cue awkward Desi theme music.
We can pretty much guarantee that by the time you finish this book, you'll obsess over Korean dramas as much as Desi does (although maybe you'll be a little smarter about romance). Luckily, the author includes a handy Korean drama guide at the end.

Elle is counting on using her obsession with Starfield to win ExcelsiCon's costume contest and use the winnings to escape her horrible stepmother and stepsisters. Darien is the new teen hearthrob slated to star in the Starfield reboot, who genuinely loves the fandom, but is only seen as an empty-headed pretty-boy. When they meet, it's a "feel-good" summer read that reviewer Camille says has "the true essence of a fandom book".

Graham's friendship with Roxy started when they were two Harry Potter-obsessed eight year olds and now that they're sixteen they share years of history and a love of comic books. When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic is going to be at New York Comic Con, he's sure that this is the perfect grand gesture to show Roxy that he wants to be more than friends. However, things don't always go according to plan, especially when everyone is pretending to be someone they're not. If you're looking for that immersive, comic-con experience in book form, this is the one for you.

When it comes to fandom writing, Rainbow Rowell's books shine with the power of 100 lightsabers and are as sincere as any Hufflepuff.

Cath is the titular FANGIRL, obsessed with the Simon Snow series about teenage wizards at a magic boarding school. Her twin sister has moved on from writing fanfiction, now that they're starting college, but Cath just feels safer immersed in her fanfic than dealing with their dad's breakdown, a friendly roommate, or a cute boy. CARRY ON is a companion book to FANGIRL. It's basically a mix of Cath's most epic Simon Snow slash fanfic and the actual Simon Snow series, and it is delightful.

KINDRED SPIRITS chronicles the drama and boredom of camping out for a movie (in this case, Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

27 June 2017

Review: Into the Hurricane

Into the Hurricane
by Neil Connelly

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication Date: June 27, 2017

INTO THE HURRICANE is pretty much about what you’d expect it to be about: two kids getting trapped in a city while a category 5 hurricane passes right through it. Eli, one of the protagonists, is a depressed teenager who witnessed his older sister die. While Eli has some extreme views on life, he is a very relatable character due to his interests. Max, on the other hand, initially seems to be the complete opposite of Eli, but throughout the book, we see that they really have more and more in common than either they or we realized. As expected, a relationship forms between Eli and Max, but I really liked that it was formed appropriately over time, and never even started until the end of the book. I really liked this because it portrays a sense of realism, and does not distract anyone from the real threat. The main antagonist in this book is not the rifle wielding, car stealing, cult-like family they encounter, but Hurricane Celeste, which threatens everyone on the island.

This book really reminded me of THE MARTIAN, due to its “man vs. nature” theme. They both have their environments try to destroy their protagonists. The characters somehow find a way to escape, only to have another disaster sent to them. There is some death caused by the hurricane, but in my opinion, there was not enough. While unfortunate, I feel it would have been more realistic if at least one more character died due to the hurricane.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and while I had some minor problems with it, it was not enough to detract from my enjoyment of reading it. INTO THE HURRICANE is a bit shorter that I would have liked for this plot, but Connelly has still done a great job for the length that it is. This thriller really allows you to relate to its nicely developed characters, while still telling a great story. 

Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
by Mackenzi Lee

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: June 27, 2017

THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE is by Mackenzi Lee and follows the story of Monty, Percy, and Felicity. Monty lives in 18th century England, and is now getting ready for his tour of the Continent with his best friend Percy and his sister Felicity. Monty is a young bisexual lord, and while he hopes to spend his tour flirting with Percy, his father hopes that the tour will set him on the right path. But, what should have been a regular tour of France turns deadly when they are attacked by highwaymen. So begins their adventure through many of the great European cities to escape the highwaymen and figure out why exactly they are being chased.

One of my favorite parts about this book was how diverse it was. The characters all had something unique about them, from having a disability to being an amazing feminist voice. The author is also able to really show us the various struggles that these characters would have faced during this time. We are able to experience the poor treatment of women and Africans from a point of view not from now, but from the 18th century. Another part of this book that I enjoyed was the main character. Monty is not your typical lord with charming manners and swoon-worthy philosophical quotes. He is a bit of an alcoholic with a serious attitude problem. But that is what makes it more real. Instead we get to see his character development as he learns and matures throughout the book. Another part of the book that I enjoyed was the setting. Throughout the whole book we are traveling and experiencing new places. We get to see what various cities were like during this time.

If you are looking for a book that will take you across Europe that has adventure, romance, and a bit of magic, you should definitely check this out!

22 June 2017

Teen Readers Council Application 2017-2018

Thank you to all of our 2016-2017 TRC members!! You're all shining stars.

Do you want to join the Teen Readers Council? We have open spots for the 2017-2018 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 20th, 2017.) You can also get hard copies of the application at Children's Book World.

Check out the application HERE

Need some inspiration for your application? Take a look at the TRC reviews of some popular books from 2016-2017!

Nick's review of BECK

Mariko's Review of ONCE AND FOR ALL

Layla's Review of THE HATE U GIVE

Juliette's Review of SCYTHE

Isaac's Review of BANG

20 June 2017

Review: Such a Good Girl

Such a Good Girl
by Amanda K. Morgan

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: June 20, 2017

SUCH A GOOD GIRL by Amanda K. Morgan is about a high school senior named Riley Stone. She is perfect. Riley gets straight A's and has never done anything bad in her life. She accidentally falls in love with her French teacher and she suspects he loves her back. The decision they will have to make will change their lives forever. She has to figure out the best course of action. I really enjoyed this book. The plot was very interesting and it was set up nicely. The book was concise. There is a really crazy and surprising ending.

13 June 2017

Review: An Uninterrupted View of the Sky

An Uninterrupted View of the Sky
by Melanie Crowder

Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: June 13, 2017

AN UNINTERRUPTED VIEW OF THE SKY is a poignant novel that offers a glimpse into Bolivia's corrupt judicial system. When protagonist Francisco's father is wrongly accused of drug production and sent to prison without a trial, Francisco and his eight-year old sister, Pilar, are forced to move into the jail with their father. When Francisco and his sister receive an invitation to live with their grandparents in rural Bolivia, Francisco must decide whether to leave his father in the prison or keep the family together under increasingly dangerous conditions. 

Initially, I thought that the plot was a bit far-fetched, but an author's note in the back explains that the novel is based in fact and contains a list of sources that readers can consult for further information. One section of the novel that I found particularly eye-opening was a conversation between Francisco and a police officer which reveals that the law that imprisoned his father, called the 1008, is actually a result of the US incentivizing Bolivia to make drug-related arrests. The author did an excellent job crafting characters that felt real while still accurately portraying the far-reaching impacts of American foreign policy. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is passionate about human rights. 


12 June 2017

Review: More of Me

More of Me
by Kathryn Evans

Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: June 13, 2017

MORE OF ME tells the story of Teva… and her multiple other selves. Every year on her birthday, she splits into two and the newest version of herself takes over her life. As her 17th birthday is coming up, she decides that she’s had enough so she does everything she can to keep her future as she battles with her relationship with her mother, boyfriend, and friends. I loved this book and thought it was very clever and written well with beautiful language. It was a very unique spin on a typical high school story.

07 June 2017

Review: Once and for All

Once and for All
by Sarah Dessen

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 6, 2017

Does true love only happen once? Sarah Dessen is back with ONCE AND FOR ALL, another well-crafted, heart-touching novel that seeks to answer just this question. Louna’s family has been in the wedding planning business for as long as she can remember, and somehow the romance of getting married just isn’t captivating when you’re the wizard behind the curtain. Plus, Louna is still recovering from the losing Ethan, the unquestionable love of her life. She thinks her story is over until Ambrose- a hyperactive, polysyllabic playboy- tries to convince her otherwise.

While the synopsis sounds cheesy, this book is anything but. The writing is beautifully exquisite, the characters rich and deeper than expected for a summer romance novel. The detail in the setting and plot is impeccable, and it’s impossible not to be drawn into Dessen’s world. Dessen does a unique job of addressing a stage of loss not often talked about: not grieving, but moving on.


06 June 2017

Review: Words in Deep Blue

Words in Deep Blue
by Cath Crowley

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 6, 2017

WORDS IN DEEP BLUE by Cath Crowley is a delightfully John Green-esque narrative exploring the relationship between two recently reunited teenagers, Rachel and Henry, and the world surrounding them and the Howling Books bookstore. Once close childhood friends, a misunderstanding led them to lose touch when Rachel moved away. However, a personal tragedy causes her to return to the city, and to Henry as well. As both Henry and Rachel struggle with the chaos happening in their lives, their friendship slowly begins to piece back together, reigniting some long lost feelings and conflicts.

This book was a great read to kick off the summer, finding a perfect balance between lighthearted fluff and deep raw emotions, packed with genuine surprises and developed characters. Some of the best moments were not between Henry and Rachel, and actually came from side characters like Henry's sister and father. The story was realistic enough to not seem like a cheesy fairytale, but with just enough idealism to avoid becoming bleak. Crowley's tale is a refreshing jaunt from the stale YA romance hallmarks that are becoming cliche and boring, and was such a delight to read. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a new take on classic YA storylines, or anyone who just wants a good book to enjoy.


30 May 2017

Review: When It's Real

When It's Real
by Erin Watt

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: May 30, 2017

WHEN IT'S REAL, written by Jen Frederick and Elle Kennedy under the pseudonym Erin Watt, is a light, fun romance, perfect for a casual summer read. The story alternates between the perspectives of Vaughn Bennett, a completely normal teenage girl trying to make ends meet, and Oakley Ford, a privileged teenage megastar. Normally, their paths wouldn’t cross, but when Oakley’s illegal antics get him landed in tabloids again and again, his press team decides that he needs to rehabilitate his image. So they hire Vaughn as his fake girlfriend and the two are thrust into an elaborate charade. As they spend more time together, they begin to realize that they have a lot more in common than they’d initially thought. For me, this book was definitely a guilty pleasure read. It has very little literary value, but it is thoroughly entertaining and the budding romance between the two characters is very charming. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun beach read, but if you’re seeking a more substantial novel, look elsewhere.

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters
by Francesca Zappia

Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: May 30, 2017

High school senior Eliza Mirk is quiet and reserved. She rarely speaks at school and spends most of her time drawing in her sketchbook. What most people don’t know, however, is that inside of that sketchbook is a world that Eliza created – the online comic Monstrous Sea. Eliza runs her fandom of millions of followers anonymously under the screen name LadyConstellation, but this anonymity is threatened when Wallace Warland, the number one MS fanfiction writer, arrives at her school and makes Eliza wonder if she can have a life both on- and offline.

ELIZA AND HER MONSTERS was a beautifully written book. Both Eliza and Wallace deal with personal and familial struggles, but through their shared loved of Monstrous Sea they connect with one another and develop a profound relationship. I thought that Zappia did an excellent job of writing about introversion, creativity, and mental health. Between chapters, she included sections of Eliza’s webcomic, Monstrous Sea, which was an equally captivating story and added to my perception of Eliza’s growth as a character while I read. The book also contained one other story, THE CHILDREN OF HYPNOS, which Zappia has released on her Wattpad page and which I cannot wait to read.

23 May 2017

Review: Queer, There, and Everywhere

Queer, There, and Everywhere
by Sarah Prager

Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: May 23, 2017

While there has been amazing progress in the both publicity and support for the LGBTQ+ community, it is still considered a “minority” group, outside of the norm. The best gift that QUEER, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE gives everyone, regardless of their identity, is the normalization of being LGBTQ+. Exploring twenty-three figures throughout history, this fascinating and easy-to-read set of biographies reveals just how diverse our world is. From First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (lesbian) to an ancient Roman transgender empress, QUEER, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE forces us to confront our own assumptions about history that we may not even realize we have.

I found this to be both fascinating and humbling. The breadth and depth of the LGBTQ+ community is rarely explored in conventional history classes, and this book helped me see the world through an entirely new lens. The writing is very accessible and fun, though the author tries a little too hard to be “hip”—the attempted use of slang can be a little cringe-worthy at times. Overall, however, I think this book isn’t just a good read, but a necessary one, giving LGBTQ+ folks amazing examples of influential world-changers with struggles and triumphs to identify with, and helping allies better understand how we need to view the world in order to be compassionate, understanding, and supportive.

17 May 2017

Review: Zenn Diagram

Zenn Diagram
by Wendy Brant

Publisher: Hachette
Publication Date: April 4, 2017

ZENN DIAGRAM by Wendy Brant follows 17-year-old Eva through her senior year of high school, but she's not an ordinary girl. Everything she touches gives her an overwhelming flood of all the owner's deepest fears and secrets, making it hard for her to be normal. So, being a math genius, she sticks to tutoring and only touching people's calculators to know what they're struggling with... That is, until she meets handsome Zenn with a dark past. Will she be able to resist touching him and getting his whole life's story? 
This book is definitely a page turner and is a look into the struggles of any teenage girl who is starting a new life in a different city. I loved the writing style and how much it shows what a look into the teenage brain is like.

16 May 2017

Review: Antisocial

by Jillian Blake

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: May 16, 2017

ANTISOCIAL by Jillian Blake is about a senior named Anna Soler who gets dumped by her boyfriend and finds herself without any friends. One day an anonymous hacker starts hacking all of the most popular people's phones and exposes their darkest secrets. Anna must save the people she cares about from getting exposed. I really enjoyed the book. It was a little confusing because of the texting but it became clear after a while. I enjoyed how the characters were portrayed and I felt connected to them. I liked the plot and the writing style. It is a solid debut novel. 

Review: A Million Junes

A Million Junes
by Emily Henry

Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: May 16, 2017

A MILLION JUNES by Emily Henry offers a stunning imaginary world and a story with so many layers it's almost hard to keep track. June has always been interested in the Angerts. Ever since she was little her father’s only rules were “stay away from the Falls” and “stay away from the Angerts”. But now that her father is dead she’s determined to hate them- heeding her dad’s wishes. But when she meets Saul Angert, no matter how hard she tries, there's something that draws them together. As they spend more time together, Saul and June begin to learn more about each other’s pasts and the curse between their two families. As they piece the mystery together they realize they are in danger too and have to stop the curse before it's too late.

Emily Henry has managed to bring together mystery, love, and fantasy gracefully into one story. I felt the author’s writing style allows for the readers to imagine the beautifully described scenery clearly which is something that some other books don’t do as well. Her characters are well developed and the interactions they have over the course of the book impact who they are by the end of it. The love story holds the rest of the plot aloft and is very sweet and honest. The book visits the past of June’s family often which is a bit confusing because her father, grandfather, and great grandfather are all named Jack. The author still manages to differentiate them, it is just a bit disorienting. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to kids who like fantasy elements and a pure love story.

09 May 2017

Review: It's Not Like It's a Secret

It's Not Like It's a Secret
by Misa Sugiura

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: May 9, 2017

11th-grader Sana Kiyohara has only recently moved from her small Midwestern town to California, but she’s already acquired her fair share of secrets. Her mother’s constant criticism is wearing her down, her father’s probably having an affair…oh, and she’s got a huge crush on a gorgeous girl at her new school.

This sweet, funny, captivating coming-of-age novel is a fantastic read. The author’s lively, conversational style grabs your attention and doesn’t let it go; I read the entire book in one afternoon. The characters are honest and sympathetic. Readers will find themselves cheering Sana on as she navigates high school life.

02 May 2017

Review: Dreamfall

by Amy Plum

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: May 2, 2017

DREAMFALL is the newest book by Amy Plum, a psychological thriller filled with science and monsters. Seven subjects, all who suffer from lack of sleep from nightmares, are put through a new test to help get rid of their nightmares and help them sleep. The test is highly experimental, so when it goes wrong because of an earthquake, the seven subjects are thrust into a nightmare world called DREAMFALL. There, they must survive each others' worst nightmare, or face being killed both in the dream and in real life.

One of the things that I really liked about this book was the diversity of the characters: everyone seemed to come from different places. All the characters also had their own psychological issues, and while some authors completely over-play this, the characters' issues weren't just thrust into the reader's face. I also enjoyed the mystery behind all the characters. The reader is given little bits of their background stories through reports read by a student who is watching the test with the doctors in the real world. This helped to add dimension to the characters which might have otherwise been lacking. The dreams were very suspenseful, mainly because of the fact that they were really nightmares, but also because the reader is experiencing them at the same time as the characters.

I recommend this book for anyone looking for their next suspenseful read. Some of the “dreams” might be a little intense for some younger readers, but this book is worth it for those psychological thriller fans. The ending of this book is also very good, and will leave readers desperately waiting for the next book.

Review: Deep Water

Deep Water
by Katherine Nichols

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Based on a true story, DEEP WATER depicts the drug smuggling journey of Eddie Otero over the span of about ten years. Eddie starts his operation by swimming across the ocean, eventually moving up to trucks and boats loaded with millions of dollars of marijuana. Eddie and his friends from school and work escalate from a two-man team in Coronado to an international smuggling operation. The main story is sporadically interrupted by interludes of the police trying to catch them, but not in a way that creates two major storylines. The police are like a secondary story that runs parallel to, but does not overwhelm, the main plot.

I really liked this book, and found it very interesting, especially because it really happened. Every few chapters cover one to three years, which helps portray the amount of time passed very well. This book is very gripping and usually builds great suspense right before, during, and right after each shipment. I found it interesting how the dynamics of the group worked, how they interacted with larger drug lords, and why they continued their illegal business.

Review: Windfall

by Jennifer E. Smith

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: May 2, 2017

WINDFALL by Jennifer E. Smith is a story about luck and the rearranging of one’s life after a “windfall.” When Alice buys her best friend and first love, Teddy McAvoy, a lottery ticket when he turns eighteen, she has no idea of the repercussions that will follow. When Teddy wins big, Alice is wary of the choices he will make now that he has more money than he could ever have imagined.

This novel is essentially about acceptance. Alice is trying to accept herself after both of her parents have died, and trying to accept her friends into her life rather than keeping them at a distance. I enjoyed this book because of the struggle Alice has with herself and those around her, attempting to heal a wound that seems impossible to mend. Despite the premise, the story is quite upbeat and fun. Throughout the book, there isn’t really an antagonist: each character has ups and downs and they sometimes take it out on those around them, but it's clear they all love each other. I especially enjoyed the ending, which was satisfying and gave closure to the story. This is a good book to read if you're looking for a light-hearted, romantic story.