teens

Review: Adam & Evie by Marisa Concetta

Adam & Evie

by Marisa Concetta

318 pages
Genre: YA
3.5 / 5

My Review:

Adam and Evie are proof that everything is a matter of perspective. You view what happens through your lens, and rarely do you ever take the time to try and see it through someone else’s.

You may not always agree with Evie and Adam, and you may not always like what they do, but Marisa Concetta makes sure that you care deeply about them. I loved how Adam, a star athlete, sometimes sort of passively lets others call the game for him (so to speak), yet he knows when it is necessary for him to stand up for himself. Evie, meanwhile, occasionally appears to be the tougher of the two (perhaps because of her singing stardom), but in many ways, she is the more fragile. She loved Adam, and before she left their hometown for Hollywood, she had to watch him (appear to) choose her former best friend.

Concetta understands her audience, and she writes a sweet, angsty story of love and friendship. The lesson – to realize that your version of the story is not the only version – is particularly important for today’s teens given the way social media skewers just about everything. Find out the facts before you decide to judge, Concetta says.

Teens will love this book. Its occasional predictability doesn’t feel intrusive or distracting, and its occasional lapses in pacing don’t feel too bothersome. I just loved Adam. Not all the time – he is a teen boy, after all, so he does the occasional dumb thing, even if he does it for the right reasons. And I liked that Evie, who in many ways is living every teen girl’s dream, is still relatable.

Blurb:

What could happen when the nerd of Roosevelt High becomes Hollywood’s next superstar? Answer: Anything.

Before she became Evie Chase, Hollywood’s Golden Girl, Evie was a nobody at the bottom of the high school food chain with only a handful of friends. Her best friend – Adam Fields – was a popular jock who always had her back. Until one day, he stopped, and they never spoke again. Fast forward three years, and everything has changed. Evie is out in LA living the dream as a seventeen year old popstar, Adam’s at home finishing off high school, and they are both trying their best to forget the past. They are living separate lives and everything is running smoothly. Until…Evie’s back.

To avoid paparazzi, the young starlet returns to school in disguise. As the teenagers get to know each other again, Adam unaware that the new girl is his former best friend, they are both left wondering – did the past actually happen the way they remember it? And could their revived friendship turn out to be something more?

About the Author:

Marisa Concetta is a Massachusetts native and graduated from Merrimack College with her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology. Besides continuing to write YA novels, she has goals to become a physician. She began writing her debut novel Adam and Evie when she was only fifteen, and since then, the novel has gained nearly five million readers on both Wattpad and Inkitt where she has nearly nine thousand followers. When Marisa isn’t writing—or studying—she enjoys binge watching shows on Netflix, watching baseball (particularly the Red Sox), running, traveling, and really, anything involving Disney or Disney World. You can follow her on: Wattpad (@xWinterFallzx3), Twitter (@marisaconcetta), Instagram (@marisawrites), or her Facebook page (Marisa Concetta).

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

Review: THE LAST TO LET GO by Amber Smith

The Last to Let Go

by Amber Smith

Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
384 pages
Genre: YA
3.5 / 5

My Review:

Amber Smith makes you rethink what a domestic tragedy looks like. She makes you see the tragedy of a father abusing a mother and driving away an eldest child. She makes you see the glimmer of hope when the mother kills that father. And then she makes you see the tragedy of the legal system not quite agreeing that this was a justified homicide.

I liked how Smith showed Brooke’s determination to be independent, even as she desperately needs her brother and sister. Brooke is more than just a confused, conflicted teen. She is someone who cannot, as the title implies, let go.

In Brooke, Smith has a heroine who is intellectually exceptional but emotionally stunted. That Brooke cannot give up her notions of what she thinks she and, particularly, her sister need is not due to any romanticized vision of family but rather a desperation to just feel normal. Normal high school girls don’t live with guardians. They don’t visit their mothers in prison. They don’t bury their fathers because their mothers murdered those fathers. They live at home, with their brothers and sisters.

There are pacing issues in this book, times when the plot lines felt repetitive and slow. This is not a book for people looking to feel happy; the sadness that permeates nearly every page stops that wish in a hurry. Yet Brooke, frustrating though she is on occasion, is someone you dearly hope figures out how to be happy. How to let go.

Blurb:

A twisted tragedy leaves Brooke and her siblings on their own in this provocative new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Way I Used To Be.

How do you let go of something you’ve never had?

Junior year for Brooke Winters is supposed to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind.

But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. No one really knows what happened that day, if it was premeditated or self-defense, whether it was right or wrong. And now Brooke and her siblings are on their own.

In a year of firsts—the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom—Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go.

About the Author:

Amber Smith grew up in Buffalo, New York and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her two dogs. Fueled by a lifelong passion for the arts, story, and creative expression, Amber graduated from art school with a BFA in Painting and went on to earn her master’s degree in Art History. When she’s not writing she’s usually reading, but can also be found in her studio making art or freelancing as an art consultant. She has also written on the topics of art history and modern and contemporary art.

Her debut novel, The Way I Used to Be was a New York Timesbestseller. Look out for her next book, The Last to Let Go, which will be released February 6, 2018 from Simon & Schuster’s Margaret K. McElderry Books.

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

Review: TRUST by Kylie Scott

Trust

by Kylie Scott

Published by Kylie Scott
374 pages
Genre: YA; romance
4 / 5

My Review:

There is meeting cute, and then there is meeting during a convenience store hold-up with a gun shoved in your mouth.

Edie and John meet in the latter fashion.

Both in the wrong place at the wrong time, they survive the robbery largely due to John’s quick thinking. He saves her, and she feels drawn to him in the way you’d feel if someone rescued you from certain death. When she transfers to the high school he attends, they begin a fragile yet assured friendship.

Edie is the good girl discovering the freedom that comes with facing your mortality. There are things she wants to accomplish that she thinks will make her normal, or at least normal enough. She already feels like a freak because of what happened to her, and it isn’t helping that she can’t sleep at night or that she jumps when she hears loud cracks. John, on the other hand, takes his survival as a sign that he needs to change things, namely shedding himself of his role as resident drug dealer of choice.

As Edie stretches herself, making new friends and slowly (too slowly for her mother) settling into school, John tries to limit himself. He pulls in as she spreads out. When she tells him that she wants to lose her virginity, he steps up and volunteers.

Sex, though. Sex changes things. What will it do to the friendship Edie is desperate to maintain with John?

I first heard of this book when I saw its trailer, and I was instantly intrigued. Then I started reading it, and Kylie Scott hooked me immediately. I really liked Edie. She felt real to me. I understood her struggles with the bullies at her old school and with trying to find her way in her new reality. I liked her insecurities and her confusions. I liked her relationship with her mother. I also liked John. He’s an easy guy to root for because you can see how desperate he is to change things. Scott develops their relationship with care and deliberation, not rushing or forcing anything.

Scott also ratchets up the tension. There is another dangerous threat out there that could harm John and Edie, and Scott weaves that in and out of the story. It’s ever present, but Scott never plays it heavy-handedly.

Now, there is sex in this book – not a lot, and not wildly detailed – and it’s a YA. I’d say it’s geared more toward older, more mature teens. Edie’s struggles with her body image should prompt some important discussions between teens – particularly teen girls – and their parents, as well as with each other.

Kylie Scott wrote one heck of a story. I look forward to what she does next.

 

Blurb:

Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.

After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen-year-old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.

While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.

An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.

About the Author:

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

Review: PROTECTED by Claire Zorn

Protected

by Claire Zorn

Published by Sourcebooks Fire
261 pages
Genre: YA
4 / 5

My Review:

If this book doesn’t break your heart, then yours must be made of stone.

The good news, Dear Reader, is that Claire Zorn puts you back together again.

About a year ago, Hannah’s older sister, the vivacious, popular Katie, died in a car accident. The girls’ father was driving, but he has no memory of the accident. Neither does Hannah, although many people hope that her memories return. Life in Hannah’s home has gone from reasonable to removed. Her mother, who hasn’t left the house since Katie’s death, spends all day sleeping, and her father hobbles around, burdened as much by guilt as he is by his lingering injuries.

And yet Hannah’s life has gotten a bit better since her sister died. The scenes depicting the traumas inflicted on Hannah are heartbreaking to read. I cried so many times while reading this book that I began to wonder how Zorn got through writing it. I wanted to reach into the pages and wrap Hannah in my arms, assuring her that everything would be okay. Except high school, for Hannah, was anything but okay. It was like a trip through a house of horrors.

One reason why Hannah’s life has gotten better is the arrival of Josh, a new classmate. He’s heard about Katie, and he’s heard a few things about Hannah, but he doesn’t let that information cloud him or stop him from seeking Hannah’s friendship. At times he seems almost too cheeky to be true, but if he helps heal Hannah, then I’m his number one fan.

This is a story of endurance, but perhaps not the sort of endurance you’ve come to expect. Hannah has to endure. She has to suffer a constant stream of bullying, the scorn of her sister, the emotional absence of her mother, the grief of her father, and the forced kindness of the very people who made her life hell. She has not choice but to endure it. She has no idea if, on the other side, she will be any happier. And yet endure she does.

This is a beautifully written story, one that teens and their parents need to read and discuss.

And now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to go apply for some grant money so that I can get a class set of Protected for my students to read.

Blurb:

I have three months left to call Katie my older sister. Then the gap will close and I will pass her. I will get older. But Katie will always be fifteen, eleven months and twenty-one days old. 

Hannah has survived high school by putting up walls. At first, they were meant to protect her from the relentless bullying that no one would defend her from, not even her popular older sister, Katie. Then Katie died, and, in a cruel twist of fate, Hannah’s daily torment abruptly stopped. Now the walls try to shut it all out—the grief, the loneliness, and the harsh truth that Katie’s death has somehow improved Hannah’s life.

Then something happens that Hannah couldn’t have predicted—friendship comes knocking in the form of new student Josh Chamberlain. Hannah has never been so desperate for connection. But if this isn’t for real, if it’s just another joke, Hannah’s not sure she can take it…

An inspiring and achingly honest story of a girl with the courage to endure, hope, and even heal in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

About the Author:

Maybe you’ve come here because you want to read more of my stuff, maybe you’ve come here because you googled the Zorn Arena at the University of Wisconsin Eu Claire. Lest to say, I’m not an athletics arena. I am a writer. My latest novel The Protected  (UQP) won the 2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for young adult fiction, the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year (older readers), the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Award for young adult literature and has been shortlisted for the Gold Inky Award. My first novel The Sky So Heavy (UQP) was published in 2013. (Yes, it’s a serious-sounding title, because it’s about a nuclear winter, and that’s a serious scenario, people.) It was awarded Honour Book by the Children’s Book Council of Australia and shortlisted for both the Gold Inky and the Aurealis Award (Young Adult).

My latest novel, One Would Think the Deep (UQP) was shortlisted for the 2016 Queensland Literary Award – Young Adult Literature, and is a 2017 CBCA Notable book.

I am foremost a writer of young adult fiction, but you don’t have to be a young adult to read my stuff; you could be a middle-aged uncle, or a nanna, or thirtyish professional water-skier with a passion for hot housed orchids.

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

Review: 16 Ways to Break a Heart by Lauren Strasnick

16 Ways to Break a Heart

by Lauren Strasnick

Published by Katherine Tegen Books
208 pages
Genre: YA
2 / 5

My Review:

I debated whether or not to write a review for this book. I tend to not review books which earn less than three stars, largely because I respect the work that authors do, and I respect the courage it takes to write a book.

But, Dear Reader, I had to review this one so that you know what you’re in for if you choose to read it.

Lauren Strasnick follows a familiar gimmick of revealing plot and characters through emails and text messages, with an occasional letter. The problem with the gimmick is that it doesn’t work, and it doesn’t work because every character in this book – and I stress, EVERY CHARACTER IN THIS BOOK – is utterly, completely, and resolutely awful.

Dan is self-involved and with such a heavy dose of entitlement that he thinks everything he does is just dandy, and he pays no regard to the feelings of others. Natalie is a sociopath. Like, for real. She is a sociopath. The supporting cast is equally reprehensible. This makes it pretty difficult to read this book because you cannot emotionally connect with anything in it.

So why two stars and not fewer than that? Lauren Strasnick deserves something for giving me enough reason to keep reading. And that reason, oddly enough, was Dan. I was curious about him. I wanted to see if what I suspected about him was true (it was), and I wanted to see how he would react to Natalie’s increasingly unhinged behavior.

I guess that makes it worth two stars.

Blurb:

Told through letters, texts, and emails, 16 WAYS TO BREAK A HEART is a sophisticated, sexy read with a he said/she said theme that centers on the fateful moment a relationship shifts and breaks irrevocably.

Natalie and Dan were electric from the moment they met. Witty banter and sizzling chemistry made falling in love easy, inevitable. He was in awe of her subversive art and contagious zest for life; she was drawn to his good-guy charm and drive to succeed as a documentary filmmaker.

But that was before. Before a few little lies turned to broken trust. Before hot tempers turned to blowout arguments. Before a hundred tiny slights broke them open and exposed the ugly truth of their relationship.

And now Natalie wants Dan to know just how much he broke her.

Over the course of one fateful day, Dan reads the sixteen letters that Natalie has secretly, brilliantly, hid in places only he would find. As Dan pieces together the story she’s trying to tell, he realizes that Natalie has one more message for him. And it just might send his carefully-constructed life tumbling down.

About the Author:

Hi. I’m Lauren and I write books about doomed love, toxic friendship, and existential dread. My first novel, NOTHING LIKE YOU (Simon & Schuster, 2009), was an RWA RITA Award Finalist in two categories, Best First Book and YA Romance. My second novel, HER AND ME AND YOU (Simon & Schuster, 2010), was a 2012 ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. I teach fiction in the MFA program at Antioch University, and also lead weekly novel workshops at Writing Pad in Los Angeles. 16 WAYS TO BREAK A HEART, my next book, will be published by HarperCollins’s Katherine Tegen Books in 2017, and will also be published by HarperCollins in Italy and France.

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

Review: A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Jared Reck

A Short History of the Girl Next Door

by Jared Reck

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
272 pages
Genre: YA; teens
4 / 5

My Review:

Grab your tissues, Dear Readers. Jared Reck will make you cry either due to laughter or because HE BREAKS YOUR HEART.

Matt and Tabby grew up together, and, over the course of their years of friendship, he’s come to care for her. In That Way. By the time their freshman year rolls around, it might even seem like she cares about him, too, at least until Liam Branson, a SENIOR. He’s also a basketball star and, unfortunately for Matt, a decent guy. Prepare yourself, because in those small scenes when Matt watches Tabby move further away from him, you will feel so sad.

Matt loves her. Maybe you could minimize it by saying that he loves her in the way that teenagers love someone, but it’s more than that. Matt’s mother recognizes this, and she even asks him if he wants to be her first love – something that likely will end – or if he wants to be her last love. When you’re fifteen, though, all you want is for that person to love you because it all seems like forever.

As the blurb points out, a tragedy occurs, and Matt feels even more relegated, dismissed as if he lacked importance to Tabby. He tries to understand what’s happening, and he tries to respond the way he thinks he should, but he loves her. It devastates him that he is not recognized as someone important to her.

If this sounds like a heavy story, understand that it is indeed that, but Reck never makes you feel overwhelmed. He peppers his tale with laugh-out-loud moments, too. So, yes, while you will be sad, you also will feel lighter, happier.

One of my favorite parts of this book is how Reck characterized Matt’s parents. They are not painted as your average YA adult, distant and unsympathetic. They understand how their son feels, and they try to guide and help him. Because of them, you are hopeful that Matt will come through all of this and be fine. That he will be happy.

I loved reading this through Matt’s perspective. His mind thinks differently from how you might think a YA hero would think, and that’s what makes him – and this story – one to love.

Blurb:

Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, this unrequited love story will appeal to fans of Jennifer Niven, John Green, and Jesse Andrews.
 
Seriously, how can you see a person nearly every day of your life and never think a thing of it, then all of a sudden, one day, it’s different? You see that goofy grin a thousand times and just laugh. But goofy grin #1,001 nearly stops your heart? 
 
Right. That sounds like a bad movie already.
 
Matt Wainwright is constantly sabotaged by the overdramatic movie director in his head. He can’t tell his best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her, he implodes on the JV basketball team, and the only place he feels normal is in Mr. Ellis’s English class, discussing the greatest fart scenes in literature and writing poems about pissed-off candy-cane lumberjacks.

If this were a movie, everything would work out perfectly. Tabby would discover that Matt’s madly in love with her, be overcome with emotion, and would fall into his arms. Maybe in the rain.

But that’s not how it works. Matt watches Tabby get swept away by senior basketball star and all-around great guy Liam Branson. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough, but screwing up and losing her as a friend is even worse.

After a tragic accident, Matt finds himself left on the sidelines, on the verge of spiraling out of control and losing everything that matters to him. From debut author Jared Reck comes a fiercely funny and heart-wrenching novel about love, longing, and what happens when life as you know it changes in an instant.

About the Author:

Short version:

Jared Reck lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two daughters. He teaches 8th grade Language Arts, where he has been reading awesome books and writing alongside his students for the past twelve years. A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is his debut novel.

Longer Version:

The truth is, I wouldn’t be a writer if I hadn’t first been a teacher. It just wouldn’t have happened. In my classroom is where I fell in love with YA lit, devouring Crutcher and Laurie Halse Anderson, John Green and Sara Zarr and A.S. King, right alongside my students. And it was with these same students that I learned how published writers write, soaking in the lessons of Nancie Atwell’s Writing Workshop and trying them out with my students. If I hadn’t spent those years playing with memoir and poetry and short fiction in front of my students, I’d have never even considered attempting a novel.

I’m glad I did.

I grew up in Hanover, Pennsylvania, the youngest son of two teachers who taught me to love laughter and to love stories. In elementary school, I checked out Dr. Seuss’s Oh Say Can You Say? about a bajillion times from the school library—even when I was clearly too old to be perusing the blue-dot section—just to hear my dad try to get through “Pete Pats Pigs” without tripping up, then to hear him belly-laugh when he inevitably would.

I attended Clemson University, first for architecture, then fine arts, and finally received a B.A. in English, with hopes of writing and illustrating picture books (though I was too scared to ever submit anything). After a short time as a production editor for medical journals, I went back for my teaching certification, which is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Since then, I’ve received a Masters in Educational Leadership from Shippensburg University, and I’ve completed graduate coursework in McDaniel College’s Writing for Children and Young Adults Program.

You can still find me in Hanover, probably either having early-morning breakfast with my dad or toting my daughters to their myriad extracurriculars. ​

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

Review: IF THIS IS HOME by Kristine Scarrow

If This is Home

by Kristine Scarrow

Published by Dundurn
200 pages
Genre: YA; teen
3 / 5

My Review:

Grab some tissues, faithful readers. This YA tale from Kristine Scarrow will give you All The Feels.

At sixteen, Jayce is accustomed to being self-reliant. Her mother works a myriad of jobs to support Jayce and younger sister Joelle, making Jayce a sort of de facto mother to her four-year-old sister. When her mother gets cancer, though, an already stressful life becomes fraught with greater concerns.

Jayce decides it’s time to find her wayward musician father, but she winds up finding all sorts of family intrigue. She also finds a new best friend and, perhaps, more to a sort of former best friend. Even more importantly, she finds the strength to trust and to give others a chance to let her trust.

This is a quick, if emotionally fraught, book. I think its brevity causes the biggest problem with it: there are plot holes, and some of the ends are tied up too quickly and too neatly. It’s almost as if Kristine Scarrow exhausted herself emotionally and had to just end the story.

Teenage readers, though, will enjoy the book, perhaps recognizing their own friendships in those that Jayce has. They may even recognize the flaws and weaknesses of their parents.

Blurb:

Jayce Loewen is used to taking care of herself and her little sister while their mom works two jobs to support them. But when her mother gets cancer, Jayce decides she can’t go it alone, and sets out to find her long-absent father — but when she actually finds him, it might just have made things worse. Can she figure out who her real family is?

When her mom is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Jayce searches for her estranged father, hoping he can fix everything.

Jayce Loewen has had to take on a lot of responsibility over the years. Her single mom works two jobs and long hours, leaving Jayce in charge of her four-year-old sister most of the time. When her mom is diagnosed with cancer, Jayce decides to track down her long-absent father in the hope that he will be able to make everything okay again.

Looking for her dad was one thing, but when she actually finds him, Jayce is in for a real shock. When everything in her life seems to be going wrong, Jayce has to figure out who her family really is, and how to live with the possibility of losing the person she loves most.

 

Buy Links:

 

About the Author:

Kristine’s first young adult novel Throwaway Girl (Dundurn Press) was released in October 2014. Her second YA novel If This Is Home (Dundurn Press) will be released January 28, 2017.

Kristine has a special interest in writing as a healing art and offers writing workshops to individuals, schools, community based organizations and other groups. Through her workshops, she offers a safe, gentle approach to writing and wants others to discover how writing can be a useful tool to help heal and grow.

Kristine is the writer-in-residence at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon, as part of the Healing Arts Program. This multi-disciplinary team is comprised of an artist-in-residence, a music therapist, a writer-in-residence, and volunteer artists in the community. The mandate of the Healing Arts Program is to provide care that encourages an individual’s holistic well-being by creating an environment that facilitates expression, healing, and meaning through the visual, musical, performance, and literary disciplines of art.

She is the first person in Saskatchewan to be a certified instructor of Journal to the Self, a journaling techniques course developed by world-renowned journal therapy pioneer Kathleen Adams. As well, she is currently in the process of becoming a certified journal facilitator from the Center for Journal Therapy in Colorado.

Kristine has published dozens of articles for magazines such as: Fine Lifestyles, Dogs in Canada, Boomer Generation, Lake Country, Alert, Eagle Feather News, Edmonton’s Child, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon Newsletter.

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway: ANY BOY BUT YOU (North Pole #1) by Julie Hammerle

Any Boy But You (North Pole #1)

by Julie Hammerle

Published by Entangled Crush
Genre: teen; YA; romance
4 / 5

My Review:

As an unrepentant fan of You’ve Got Mail and YA lit, I gobbled this book up, faithful readers.

Elena Chestnut’s and Oliver Prince’s families can best be likened to the Hatfields and the McCoys, northern Minnesota styles. Once in the sporting goods business together, they now operate rival stores situated right across the street from each other. It appears that the Prince business is doing a bit better, but that could be due to the growing popularity of a Pokémon Go-type game that Oliver created. Elena is decidedly unamused, a state not helped by the fact that her best friend appears to be buddying up to the enemy.

When Elena decides to play, she creates a game persona and immediately clicks with another player. OF COURSE the other player is Oliver, but Elena has no clue, just as he doesn’t know that the girl he’s been chatting to is the daughter of his father’s enemy.

There are various subplots at play involving Elena’s and Oliver’s families, as well as Elena’s best friend, but Julie Hammerle always keeps the focus squarely on her teen couple. Hammerle knows how to write for her audience, and teen readers (plus those of us who are well past our teen years) will love this book. It’s sweet. It’s cute. It’s romantic. It’s got some Feels. And it’s just plain fun to read. Watching Elena and Oliver draw closer, despite their outward loathing of each other, is engaging and, well, fun.

It remains true in Elena and Oliver’s world, just as it does in that of most teens, that parents can absolutely ruin your life. But sometimes they can come through when you least expect it. Just trust yourself, Hammerle seems to say. Trust who you are and how you feel, and trust your gut instinct, and you will turn out just fine.

Blurb:

Elena Chestnut has been chatting with an anonymous boy late into the night. It’s a very You’ve Got Mail situation, and she has no idea who he is. He can’t be Oliver Prince, hot-and-bashful son of the family running the rival sporting goods store. Their fancy sales strategies are driving Elena’s family out of business. Elena’s mystery boy has teamed up with her in their latest sales strategy, an augmented reality game, to help her win the grand-prize plane tickets. Money’s so tight Elena’s going to miss senior year spring break with her friends if she can’t win this game.

The girl Oliver’s fallen head-over-heels for online had better not be Elena Chestnut. She’s his angry, vindictive Latin tutor, the daughter of his dad’s business rival, and the one girl he’d never even think of kissing. She’s definitely not his online crush, because that girl is funny, sweet, and perfect.

When Oliver asks to reveal their names at the Valentine’s Day dance, their IRL relationship will either ruin what they have online, or they’ll discover just how thin the line between love and hate really is.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains swearing, snowball fights, and sexual tension that could melt the North Pole. Read at your own risk.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Buy Links:

About the Author:

Julie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us, which will be published by Entangled Teen on June 7, 2016. Before settling down to write “for real,” she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her iPod reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Blog Tour & Review: THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT NIK by Sara Hantz

There’s Something About Nik

by Sara Hantz

Published by
Entangled Teen
Genre: YA; contemporary
3.5 / 5

My Review:

When you grow up reading magazines about royalty, you find yourself daydreaming about marrying a prince. Amber is not one of those girls. She grew up attached to a camera, viewing life through a lens. When she meets the officious Nik Gustafsson, she is resoundingly unimpressed. He is a bit standoffish, a bit smug, and a bit superior.

Little does she know that he’s also second in line to the throne in his home country.

Amber puts Nik off because of the camera. He loathes cameras and the people who operate them, yet the more he and Amber get to know each other, the more they start to like each other. Of course, she doesn’t know he’s a prince – something for which Nik is quite grateful because once people find out the truth about him, they change how they act toward him – and he doesn’t  know that she maybe possibly took a surreptitious photo of him.

This is a gooey sweet teen romance, perfect for girls who like the fantasy of meeting a prince. It’s wonderfully fluffy, and it has its share of some teen angst. Nik is a pretty good guy, if only he’d trust Amber a little more, and Amber is a pretty great girl, if only she would trust Nik a little more.

Blurb:

Nik Gustafsson has a secret: He’s not really Nik Gustafsson.

He’s not a spy. He’s not crazy.

He’s just the son and heir to one of the most important families in Europe—one where duty always comes first. And his posh, too-public life is suffocating him. So when he gets the chance to attend boarding school in America, pretending to be an average exchange student is too big of a temptation to pass up.

Then he literally runs into Amber on campus. And she hates him at first sight.

It’s kind of exhilarating to be hated for who he is, not for his family name or his wealth. Maybe if he turns up the charm and turns down the aloof mask he habitually wears, he can win her over. Even though a bad past experience has made her swear off dating this year.

But the more he gets to know her, the more uncomfortable he is keeping things from her.

Because Nik Gustafsson has a secret. And it’s a big one.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a hot boy who’s the strong and silent type, a studious girl who refuses to believe in fairy-tale romance, and one epic secret that could be disastrous if it comes to light.

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About the Author:

Sara Hantz has been a prolific reader all her life, but it wasn’t until she was an adult that she got the writing bug. She writes contemporary adult and young adult fiction and her debut book The Second Virginity of Suzy Green made the prestigious list ‘New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age’. Sara lectured for many years before deciding to devote more time to her writing and working in the family hospitality business. She has two grown-up children and when not writing, working, or online with her friends, she spends more time than most people she knows watching TV – in fact if TV watching was an Olympic sport she’d win gold.  She has presented many writing workshops with her partner-in-crime Amanda Ashby.

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

YOU KNOW ME WELL by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

You Know Me Well

by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin
257 pages
Genre: YA; teens; LGBTQ
4 / 5

My Review:

In the final week of school, after having sat next to each other all year in their calculus class, Kate and Mark meet for the first time during Pride Week in San Francisco. What they haven’t known is how much they need each other.

Mark has loved his best friend Ryan nearly all his life. They discovered their homosexuality together, they experimented together, they formed both an emotional and physical intimacy together. And Mark loves him, although that love is a secret. Unlike Mark, Ryan is not out, and he has rules for himself. No dancing. No physical contact. Nothing that would reveal what Ryan hopes to keep secret. Mark knows that Ryan isn’t ready to be known as gay, just as he also knows that Ryan isn’t ready for Mark to love him.

Kate has loved Violet for a while now, even though the two have yet to meet. They exchange emails, but most of their contact comes through Violet’s cousin and Kate’s best friend Lehna. The daughter of people who are in the circus, Violet has traveled the world, and Kate knows she could love her. But Kate is terrified. She’s almost frozen in place, terrified by what loving Violet could mean, terrified that the paintings she created aren’t good enough (even though she got accepted to UCLA’s hard-fought art school based on them). She’s unable to move forward in any aspect of her life.

When Mark and Kate meet, each is on the precipice of change. Mark watches his relationship with Ryan change, powerless to stop that from happening. Kate watches her friendship with Lehna change and she watches her potential relationship with Violet nearly implode, feeling powerless to stop both from happening. Together, they help each other overcome their fears and overcome the powerlessness those fears induce.

Told in alternate POVs, you get into both characters’ minds and hearts. Of the two, Mark’s story resonates deeper. I think I cried at least a half dozen times while reading his arc. His desperation for Ryan to accept his own homosexuality and Mark’s love is palpable. It will break your heart.

Which is why the resolution of that thread feels disappointing. It’s as if Mark gets slighted somehow.

Kate’s story is not as relatable, if only because I couldn’t understand how a girl who demanded that Mark be her friend is the same girl who is paralyzed by the unknown. Still, though, her fears are understandable. When you’re 18 and your future sits in front of you, it can be terrifying.

Set against Pride Week, this book doesn’t use homosexuality to make any grand statements or to try and change the world. Rather, as Lin-Manuel Miranda said in his Tony acceptance speech, it shows that love is love is love is love is love is love. The gender of who you love doesn’t matter. All that does matter is love itself.

Blurb:

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour, the award-winning author of Hold Still and The Disenchantments, and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

 

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.