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Quick-paced, Quasi-Fantasy, Can't-put-down Teen Read

Status: Bookseller Picks

Suzanne Collins combines the hot genre of teen fantasy with trendy reality TV. In a maybe-not-so-distant future, teenagers enter a lottery for the chance to participate in the Hunger Games, a competition broadcast on all channels where the winner takes fame and glory back to their home.

 

What I liked most about the book was that even for people who aren't fans of fantasy writing, The Hunger Games works just fine. The setting may be the future and the United States may not be recognizable, but enough current elements exist in the world Collins created that anyone will enjoy it. Of course I could expound on the universal themes of love and family and independence, but those are just side effects of the novel.

 

It's one of those books that I couldn't put down. In fact, it didn't even take a long time to get into it, like many books I've been reading lately. It started off quick-paced. It stayed quick-paced. Surprises lurked around every corner. The characters are real. I can compare them to my friends in real life. I want them to be my friends. I care about what happens to them and hope for the best. Those are some of the things I look for in a great young adult read. And The Hunger Games pretty much holds all of them.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Status: Bookseller Picks

I've never read a book that moved me the way The Book Thief did.  Narrated by Death, it tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a young girl who spends her childhood living with a foster family in Germany during World War II.  Naturally, a book with that setting has its fair share of tragedy, and though this one does have one of the saddest endings I've ever seen, at the same time, it is also one of the most uplifting books I've ever read.  The characters are what makes this book so special; each one has traits that are likeable and detestable.  They are among the most human characters that I've ever seen, and I came to care about what happened to each and every one of them.  By the time I reached the climax of the book, I was so emotionally invested in the characters, that I couldn't keep from crying, and yet I still can't think of a book that I've read recently that I enjoyed more than this one.

 

This is a wonderful book.  I can't recommend it highly enough.

The Hunger Games & Catching Fire

Status: Bookseller Picks

Whenever someone asks me what the best book I've read this year is, I answer with The Hunger Games. In Katniss Everdeen's world, which is set in a not-so-different future, America has come to be run by a totalitarian government, and has simply been divided into thirteen districts. The people of Katniss's District 12 live mostly in poverty, thanks to the legend of District 13. The story goes that District 13 tried to rebel against the government, which then nuked the entire district. In order to keep the remaining twelve districts from trying anything similar, the government came up with the Hunger Games.

 

Every year, all children from the ages of 12-18 must enter their name in the Reaping. One boy and one girl from each district are selected at random to participate as tributes in the Hunger Games, in which all twenty-four children must fight to the death in a diabolical stadium. The Games are all broadcast live, and they don't end until there is only one child left alive. The prize for winning? Food, wealth, and a sturdy home for the winner and their family for the rest of their life. Poor children can enter their names into the Reaping more than once for an extra rations of food, making their chances of being picked even greater -- but the risk is worth it, since the government controls the trade of food between districts so tightly. The Games are a symbol of the government's power to the people of the districts, but to those who live in the Capitol (a place of great wealth, vanity, and frivolity), the Games are pure entertainment. It's a twisted mess of survival and reality television where drama and danger can earn you helpful gifts from your sponsors based on how much the Capitol viewers like you.

 

16-year-old Katniss, of course, ends up as a tribute in the Hunger Games. Katniss is a born fighter -- she alone has provided food for her family since her father died. She relies only on herself, and is very clever and stubborn. She has a real chance of winning the games and coming home like she promised her little sister she would. She steels herself to be ready to do what's necessary to get home, but when the Games begin, she finds that she has more trouble with the concept of killing the other tributes than she realized. This compassion, and the subsequent anger and frustration at the world she lives in, is part of what makes Katniss such a relatable narrator. She is forced to become a person she doesn't like (which includes killing and participating in a fake romance to garner sympathy from viewers) in order to survive.

 

Once you pick up The Hunger Games, you won't be able to put it down. It's definitely a thrill ride, with Katniss facing inevitable death with every turn of the page, but it's also got plenty of heart, as Katniss struggles to remain herself through this horrible ordeal. The series is classified as Teen, but it has widespread appeal, and adults will love it, too.

 

And once you've devoured The Hunger Games, you can pick up the second book in the trology, Catching Fire, which was just released. Catching Fire is just as terrifyingly good as the first book, but it delves even more into the history and politics of the Capitol and the Districts, and you'll discover the lengths the Capitol is willing to go to in order to crush any sign of a rebellion.

 

I recently read this series and I would definitely recommend it to any fan of the Twilight series. It has vampires in it, albeit they don't play a huge part, but they are present. The book is about 15 year old Clary Fray and she is trying to find her place in the world when her mother suddenly disappears. Who is this new guy she's met, Jace Wayland and his friends?

 

This book has action, romance, vampires, werewolves, and the main species which is Shadowhunters. Great series, maybe a little bit more for the mid/older teens than the younger ones. :smileyhappy:

 

PS: this book has 2 more, making it a trilogy. Easy reads, the level is not to difficult making it enjoyable.

Categories: teens

Grace was attacked by wolves when she was eleven years old. Given her young age and the traumatic nature of it, her memories of the event are sketchy. But she knows there was a single wolf who saved her life that day. What she has always remembered is this: his yellow eyes. I thought I'd never see them again.

 

The wolf has also never forgotten seeing members of his pack tearing the life out of her while she just held his gaze, letting the other wolves mutilate her. I thought she was the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen, a tiny, bloody angel in the snow, and they were going to destroy her. So he stopped it.

 

Six years have passed, and Grace still feels a connection with her wolf. She watches him at the edge of the woods every winter when the earth is bitter with cold. She spends her summers mourning his absence. However, this peaceful seasonal pattern is interrupted when the wolves attack and kill a human. The community now feels threatened and a hunt ensues. When Grace realizes this, she does everything she can to stop it, lest her harmless wolf be slaughtered. She knows she may too late, though, as she's already heard many shots fired followed by the painful howls of wolves. A police officer forces her to go home that evening, and she is shocked by what she finds on her deck: her wolf, twisted and bloody...and human.

 

Here's the part where I must curb my compulsion to tell you every heartrending detail of this book (and there are so many!). But I will say that what follows is an exquisitely written story of discovery, love, and loss. This fairy tale unfolds offering ethereal delights and shocking revelations not just about our newly inseparable duo, but also the peculiar events that have been transpiring around them.

 

Shiver is easily the best Teen Fiction book released so far this year. A bold statement, I know, but I genuinely believe it. A must-read, especially for the Twilight-obsessed reader, any lover of paranormal romance, and those who just enjoy a well-written book.

 

It will make you shiver.

The Host

Status: Bookseller Picks

 

How does memory constitute identity?  What is it to be human?  Such immense questions underlie much of the gripping drama in Stephanie Meyer's latest novel, The Host.  Melanie, a protagonist of this psychological thriller, guides her other part using memories and her internal voice.  She helps her other part to adapt to new challenging emotions, pains, and relationships.  Trapped between two societies, they find themselves on a quest to find loved ones and learn who can be trusted.  If you did not find any interest to read Meyer's Twilight series, than perhaps you were waiting for her to exhibit her talent in this science fiction novel that is likely to be the premiere of a new exciting series.

 

Before I Fall

Status: Bookseller Picks

 

I hated the main character of this book when I started it. Samantha Kingston is one of the most popular people in her school, but she is spoiled and mean and I didn't think I could read chapter after chapter about how awful she was to her classmates and family. But...then she died and that's when I realized this was not your normal story about a stuck up high school girl.

 

 

Sam ends up reliving the last day of her life seven times as she tries to figure out what happened and why. Lauren Oliver writes a beautiful and heart-breaking story (or, stories). I was worried that each time Sam woke up on 12 February I would be bored by the same details of her day as she went through it, but even if some things didn't change, Oliver made it seem new. I ended up finishing this novel in a fervor as I just had to get through Sam's last few tries along with her. Like her, I desperately wanted to figure out the mystery surrounding her death and began to see the beauty she was missing in her life.Before I Fall touches on many different emotions and has depth that is not always seen in teen novels.

 

  

 

 

 

A long loved adult author has made her way into teen fiction with the recent Darkest Powers series. Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld series), shows she can impact all age groups with heroine Chloe Saunders.

 

The Darkest Powers series, The Summoning, The Awakening, and the newest installment The Reckoning, follows a group of supernatural teens as they battle to survive.  Armstrong incorporates several supernatural elements including werewolves, witches, sorcerers, and necromancers.

 

It is a great follow-up series to anyone who is having difficulty finding something to read after finishing the addicting Twilight series (you know what I mean!). It features exciting characters with twists and turns all the way through.

The Summoning (Darkest Powers Series #1)

  

The Awakening (Darkest Powers Series #2)

  

The Reckoning (Darkest Powers Series #3)

  

 

Hush Hush

Status: Bookseller Picks

 

Two things I absolutely love about this book:the premise and the cover!

 

Several things I really like about this book: I liked Nora and found her to be a complex character that I enjoyed reading about. I hope that in subsequent books more is written about how she deals with everything. I also really liked the character of Patch- he was so deliciously bad and I loved how he was always matching the darkness and was such a bad boy. Nora's best friend Vee is also a riot and I would love for her to be more than just a side character.

 

A few things I could complain about regarding this book: Loose ends all over the place. I am hoping that some of the things that were never resolved come up in the sequels. I would also love to know more about how some of the characters came to be (without revealing the plot).

 

I would recommend this to teens (or adults who like a good story) who like a good romance with some mystery. Like I said, the premise is great and that alone really sucked me in. I will be back for more!

 

 

 

  

 

Categories: teens

Perfect End to a Near Perfect Series!

Status: Bookseller Picks

 

 

Mockingjay was the perfect end to a near perfect series. Even though I was slightly disappointed by the end of Catching Fire, I was pleasantly surprised at how Mockingjay addressed all the questions left up in the air at the end of Book 2. There was a point about 100 pages into Mockingjay, where I asked: How is Collins going to wrap up everything with so little time and space remaining? But she did, and she did it amazingly. Throughout Mockingjay, I was in a state of shocked awe at the risky, unique, intriguing concepts presented by Collins, like a camera crew following Katniss and crew into "action." Gale made his first real lengthy appearance in Katniss' life, and I followed their interactions on the edge of my seat, especially as Katniss and Gale's relationship related to Katniss' up and down relationship with Peeta.

   I promise I won't give away the ending, but I have to say: I approve. I truly believe it was masterfully written, as there is a war going on and in that sense there cannot not be casualties. Collins puts Katniss, Peeta, Gale, their army unit and camera crew into a no-going-back, kill-or-be-killed situation; it's heart-breaking but necessary. There are two distinct enemies and in the end Katniss has to face them both down, decide who's telling the truth and who isn't and in an unrelated but ultimately very important matter, decide who to spend the rest of her life with. I believe Collins achieves everything wonderfully, and I was left extremely satisfied. This is one of the best teen series published over the last decade (at least in my book) and is a must-read for anyone who loves teen and/or science fiction. Enjoy!

Categories: teens

Ender's Game - Sci Fi for Adults, Teens, and Kids?

Status: Bookseller Picks

This is one of my all-time favorite books. I have read it more times than I can count and have given it as a gift to every friend, family member, or person I don't know very well who needed a gift because it is great for all age groups and different types of people. You don't have to be a science fiction fan to enjoy it, although Ender's Game and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, both won the Hugo and Nebula awards for outstanding sci fi. I first found Ender's Game in my middle school library and picked it up because it said something about gifted children and I had been in gifted classes so I thought it might be about something like that. I read it in a little under a week and was completely hooked. I immediately wanted everyone I knew to read it because I felt like it was something that needed to be shared. I read it a few years later in high school and found whole new aspects of it I'd never noticed the first time. I started following the rest of the series, which divides and follows two main characters (I followed both). The next books that follow the character, Bean, stay in the same difficulty level. The ones that follow Ender turn into more hard-core science fiction, but were still thrilling. For this reason, the book is sometimes coded as children's, sometimes teen, and sometimes adult science fiction. It can definitely be read and enjoyed at any age! The story itself is essentially about an Earth of the future, united under a world government that formed when the "Buggers" attacked Earth decades earlier. Since that time the International Fleet has started taking incredibly bright young children away to Battle School, a space station designed solely for training future soldiers. Andrew (Ender) Wiggin is an illegal "third" in the population controlled world but the International Fleet has already turned down his older brother, Peter, and older sister, Valentine, for Battle School so his parents are allowed a third child. Ender winds up in Battle School having to participate with his "army" in a series of war-games. Meanwhile his brother and sister manipulate Earth's politics and we learn more about the International Fleet. The conclusion is shocking and hits hard, leaving you hoping there's more. And there is of course!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Status: Bookseller Picks

 

Austenland will never be the same.  This first release from the new teen publisher, Quirk Classics, brings readers back to the quiet English village of Meryton, but this time England is overrun with zombies and the Bennet family is trained zombie killers.  All of the romance and intrigue from Jane Austen's original is intact, featuring the classic characters of Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, and more; however, now they not only have to survive the gossip and ridicule of their time, but also the brain-eating hellspawn they have sworn to destroy.  Purists may faint on sight, but over 80% of Jane Austen's original material is retained with small "adjustments" and "additions" by author Seth Grahame-Smith included throughout the book.  A fun read for horror enthusiasts and Austen fans alike.  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies also comes in a hardcover Deluxe Heirloom Edition with 30% more zombie action than the original New York Times bestselling paperback!

 

 

Also from the publisher: Sense and Sensibility and Sea-Monsters

Categories: teens

Pretty-Making

Status: Bookseller Picks

Tally can not wait to turn 16 and become a Pretty like her best friend Paris. She will get to move to New Pretty Town and party day and night with her gorgeous new face and body. Sound weird? Well, it kind of is. Scott Westerfield creates a world that could be ours in very little time. The City makes everyone pretty and, therefore happy...but are they? Tally's new friend Shay doesn't want to be a Pretty and that's where this story really takes off. 

 

The great thing about this teen book is that nothing is over-explained. Westerfield does not talk down to his audience and you will not get bored as you explore this wild, different world. I had only planned to read Uglies, but ended up quickly reading Pretties and Specials in quick succession. And don't be surprised if you finish the series with a whole new slang language. It's totally bubbly!

Categories: teens

Fallen

Status: Bookseller Picks

 

The cover alone of "Fallen" by Lauren Tate is exquisite. Beginning with that and following up with an intriguing prologue, I was hooked before I knew it on this story. I love love love books that are a part of a series because it means that when I love it, I will get much much more once I've turned the last page. And I will definitely be picking up the second in the series.

 

 

I won't give away too much of the plot in case you begin it with no idea, but you will read it knowing about as much as the main character, Luce, does. You learn about each person she meets and feel every horrible part of her time at the Sword & Cross reform school in Georgia. Luce goes there after an unexplainable death of a friend and the subsequent questioning she receives from the police, psychiatrists, her parents, and her peers that leaves her questioning if she is, in fact, "crazy." She doesn't know what happened or why, but she wants to understand in case she was responsible for his death. I found this flaw in her character and personality to make Luce more believable. She may only be a senior in high school, but she has been through a lot and she is ready to take on this new world of hers at Sword & Cross.

 

I think teens will eat up this story as well as anyone looking for a Twilight-like escape. I liked the characters and found myself becoming attached to some of them and downright rooting for others. I'm not sure Fallen, as the first in the series, will have the same success as Twilight*, but I do think the story is set up quite nicely for an extraordinary second novel!

 

*Only because, while the story is amazing, Fallen is also a set up to know who is good and bad, unlike Twilight where most readers immediately either hated or LOVED Edward.

 

XO,

Scarls17

 

 

Jekel Loves Hyde - Beth Fantaskey strikes again!

Status: Bookseller Picks

 

 

Jekel Loves Hyde is coming out in May! 

 

As soon as I finished the last page of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, I immediately rushed to the computer to look up Beth Fantaskey's other books. To my dismay, there were none. So when I came across the advance reading copy of Jekel Loves Hyde, I was delighted! It didn't let me down, either! 

 

Jekel Loves Hyde is a great love story with twists and turns and an ending as unpredictable as Fantaskey's first novel. It is also a murder mystery heavily enmeshed in the lore of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (although not a retelling). 

 

The funeral of Jill Jekel's father opens the novel and is the introduction to the character, Tristen Hyde, the dark, unusual student from England. He waits in the back of the cemetery until Jill is about to break down and then unexpectedly approaches her and lets her cry on his shoulder, tells her "It does get better, hurt less. Trust me, Jill," then leaves. 

 

The story resumes with the first day of school. Jill and Tristen go to school together and share a chemistry class. Jill's mother is not coping with her new life as a widow at all, and Tristen's father is distant and demanding. Both are good chemistry students and Jill recruits Tristen to help her win a chemistry scholarship. Don't be fooled by the innocent-sounding plot, however: it quickly turns ugly and gets complicated. I'm not telling any more of that though; you'll have to read it for yourself!

 

The story is dual-narrated by Jill and Tristen alternately, but is does nothing to alleviate the suspense. When one narrator leaves you on a cliff-hanger, you turn to the next chapter only to find that it's the other character and you have to wait! I read the book in one sitting and was dead to the world furiously turning pages until I finished (much to my family's dismay!). So for teens and older kids, it's a great book! For adults, it's a quick read but still definitely worth it so be sure to check it out this May!

 

Keep 'em coming, Beth Fantaskey!

Emotional account of German teens in Hitler's Germany

Status: Bookseller Picks

 

 

Ashes  Often sad and always real, Kathryn Lasky's book teaches the reader what life must have been like during the onset of World War II for German children and teens.  Gabriella (Gaby) Schramm is the model German 13 year old - blond, well read and proud of her heritage until she witnesses first hand how her country is caught up in "Hitler fever".   Gaby , her older sister, mother and astrophysicist father see their world turn upside down.  Next door neighbor, Albert Einstein and other Jewish friends are set upon by the upcoming Nazi party.  Teachers and neighbors seem to change overnight - it is a world gone mad.  LIke other novels of this time period it can be too much for young readers.  I would however recommend it for a slightly younger age group than "The Book Thief" or "Diary of Anne Frank" as it discusses emotionally charged topics but reads like a young teen would speak and feel.

Categories: ages 9-12, teens

I have this horrible tendency to read the first book in a series and then stop before the next one, not because I don't like it but because I find something else to read. It's the whole "attracted to shiny objects" characteristic translated to my book list. But after staring at The Luxe for weeks after it came out, mesmorized by that humongus gown on the front cover, I finally picked it up.

 

 I loved every moment of it. Right off the bat, we have scandal and intrigue: the mysterious death of a young Manhattan socialite. But the intrigue doesn't stop there. Godbersen does a great job of creating characters that practically live and breathe alongside us. It doesn't matter that the setting is so removed from us (1900s New York City) because the crises and interests of her heroines and heros are the same as today. We love, we lust, to want what we can't have, and we do whatever is necessary to get it.

 

 As a quick aside, I realized after finishing the first book in the series that it appeals to me because my favorite "classic" author is Edith Wharton. Wharton penned The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome, and, my personal all-time favorite, The House of Mirth. It's clear that Godbersen is influenced by and respects Wharton as well. The time period is similar, the society in which the characters live, and their class problems and struggles all originally stream from Wharton's pen.

 

I hope that any teen who enjoys this series might look to Wharton for more.

Ice will set your heart on fire

Status: Bookseller Picks

Ice  

 

Cassie isn’t like the other teenagers that she knows. She doesn’t even know any other teenagers. Her life has been spent entirely in the Arctic, accompanying her father as he tags and researches polar bears. Knowing nothing else, she loves this life, and polar bears have become her passion, too.

 

On the day before her 18th birthday, she crosses paths with the most amazing polar bear she has ever seen. He reminds her of the Polar Bear King, who according to her grandmother's legends, kidnapped her mother. Although she never believed that story, she did grow up without a mother. Come to think of it, her grandmother also disappeared from her life as a young girl. However, I digress. Let’s get back to the story. So, when she sees this bear she absolutely must tag him for herself, not only because he is magnificent, but also to prove that she is grown up and can accomplish things on her own. Cassie loses the bear, but the next day he visits her… as the Polar Bear King. She must come to terms with the fact that the fairy tale is true, and she is now to be his bride. Trying to dodge her fate, Cassie makes a deal with him. She agrees to be his bride in exchange for her mother’s rescue. Disbelievingly, her mother shortly reappears and Cassie must uphold her end up the bargain.

 

 

Bear is forced to leave her, with no explanation. This sends Cassie on a terrifying adventure to unexplained and unimagined realms in order to rescue Bear and in turn, restore the balance of the natural world. Her task seems impossible until she starts to mature, understanding the value of family, friendship, and love.

 

This novel is an extraordinary and unique read…great for those who believe in fairy tales, even better for those who don’t.

All Unquiet Things

Status: Bookseller Picks

 

Wow. I finished this book after being completely consumed by it for several days and when I finally set it down, all I could think was, "Wow." Anna Jarzab's publishing debut is one she should be immensely proud of as I have very few complaints. The story is told from two points of view: Neily and Audrey. They begin to investigate the murder of their friend, Carly, who had once dated Neily and was cousins with Audrey. Amid the protected and dangerous world of their private school, they begin to unravel what really happened leading up to the night of the murder while they both deal with the devastating loss of their friend. Neily, Audrey, and Carly (by way of flashbacks) are all incredibly deep characters and the way Jarzab writes about their pain was breathtaking at times. It is refreshing to read about characters who are flawed, but you understand why because the author has done such a good job in her writing.

 

I was also impressed that this teen novel had so much depth to it. It was not just about love and school, it was about fear, loss, failure, hopes, dreams, and many other things that teens themselves go through every day. All Unquiet things is like a Judy Blume book that has been updated for 2010. And that is the greatest compliment I can give!:womanvery-happy:

Shade

Status: Bookseller Picks

 

Shade

  

 

 

After reading so many teen books, it is refreshing to read one that is well-written and so creative. Jeri Smith-Ready writes what I hope to be a series about a different kind of world where anyone under 16 can see and hear ghosts.

 

16 years ago The Shift happened and anyone born after that time can see ghosts, including Aura. She hates the ability and wears red whenever she can since ghosts hate that color. However, the night of her boyfriend Logan's birthday also turns out to be his last and now Aura has the ability to communicate with and see her dead boyfriend. Awkward.

 

This book is about love and loss, but it also has a great mystery: What was The Shift and why can Aura and others see the ghosts? I was very enthralled with this book as I read it as it is very fresh and captured both my imagination and my heart. The characters are deep and Smith-Ready creates a world where you can jump in with two feet and figure everything out with them.

Categories: teens
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