Category Archives: YA

Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty QueensDetails:  Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

  • Pub. Date: May 2011
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Format: Hardcover , 400pp
  • Sales Rank: 15,938
  • Age Range: 12
  • Lexile: HL690L

Synopsis:
From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.
Teen beauty queens. A “Lost”-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

My Thoughts:

Okay, so I was not entirely sure about this book but I had been hearing such great things that I had to check it out.  A plane full of beauty pageant contestants crashes on a deserted island and they are forced to survive on their own but is this all it appears to be or is there more going on on this island.  There are very few girls left and honestly is seems that there are not a lot of skills from the remaining girls.  It is going to be a huge challenge to survive and make it back to the contest.  

Libba Bray is one of the funniest authors I have ever read.  This book was so funny, laugh out loud funny.  She has the ability to use humor to teach some very powerful lessons and you don’t even realize that it has happened until it is all over.  This book is quick witted and very quick moving.  I did not want to put it down because I just had to know what was going to happen next.  Everything from making watch catching systems out of evening gowns to exposing who each contestant really was deep down.  This was by far the funniest book I have read all year, and probably for years before that.

My favorite line in this book hits very close to home.  I am from Michigan and here is what Ms. Michigan had to say.
“Yeah. Hi. Jennifer Huberman, Miss Michigan.  Go Blue!  I am from Flint, the smaller Motor City.  Well, before they went bankrupt. Now, I’m from Repossessed City.  Sorry. Little gallows humor there.”

I applaud Libba Bray for the research she completed about all of the states and types of people she put into this book.  This is what made it such an outstanding read.  Not to mention, the unique idea, settings and challenges she brought to Beauty Queens.

My Rating:
Great Read!  I highly recommend this book.


*I was provided a copy of this book by Scholastic.  This in no way affected the opinions and views above. 
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Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Twenty Boy SummerDetails:  Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

  • Pub. Date: May 2010
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Format: Paperback , 290pp
  • Sales Rank: 33,165
  • Age Range: Young Adult


Synopsis:

“Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it.”
“Okay.”
“Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?”
“Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?”
According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie—-she’s already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.
Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.

My Thoughts:

This is a very touching and sad book for many different reasons in my book.  The introduction is Anna kind of reliving her birthday and the first kiss from her best friend, Frankie’s, older brother, who she has been secretly in love with since she was twelve.  Their story of sneaking around and sharing hidden kisses is touching and reminded me of what young love is all about.  Matt begged Anna not to tell his sister that he would be the one to do it and then he died suddenly from a heart condition no one knew about and both girls are left devastated   Flash forward one year, Frankie and Anna are going to go on the vacation of a lifetime together where Frankie’s family has been vacationing for years and the memories of Matt and haunting everyone.  Frankie puts out the challenge of 20 boys, 10 each while they are gone.  Will they make the count?

This story was super hard to read at times because both girls were hurting so much yet neither could or would talk to each other.  This is a true story of love, loss and healing.  There are many extreme lows for both girls but how they respond is just how you would expect.  They rebel and do some things there never would.  Sarah Ockler has a great connection with the teen world and what is reasonable and not reasonable to happen.  I loved the descriptions of the ocean and beach and the sea glass.  This was one of my favorite parts of the book.  Also, the growth both girls has during this summer. Oh to be young again.

The only frustration with the book was the ending it was just too abrupt for my taste.  I wanted to know how these girls were going to repair their somewhat broken relationship as all the truth came tumbling out.   

My Rating:

Good story – it touches the heart and is a true reflection of love and loss as a teen.

*I was given this book from another blogger.  All opinions are mine.

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Review: Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn’t have) by Sarah Mlynowski

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)Details:  Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn’t have) by Sarah Mlynowski



  • Pub. Date: June 2011
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Format: Hardcover , 368pp
  • Sales Rank: 25,624
  • Age Range: 12 and up



Synopsis:

2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn’t have.
If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn’t jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe “opportunity” isn’t the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: “Lied to Our Parents”). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up “Skipping School” (#3), “Throwing a Crazy Party” (#8), “Buying a Hot Tub” (#4), and, um, “Harboring a Fugitive” (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.
In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn’t-have-done at a time.

My Thoughts:


This was a super fun read.  I love the rebellion in these girls.  There is not way at their age that I would have thought one that my parents would let me move in with my best friend while they moved across the country or two that there would be no adult supervisor.  The trouble they get into and the super hard lessons learned along the way make this a good read for teens.  When looking back on this story after I could not put it down, this was a one sitting read for me, I realized that there are super heavy topics covered in this book from lying, to alcohol and the trouble you can get into there, to sexually transmitted diseases.  That is a whole range of tough topics that I didn’t really put together until I sat down and really thought about the story.  That is the biggest reason why I think this book in very impactful for teens and a good reflection for adults.  The style of writing is what makes this book different from some many others that take the super hard line on these issues and harp on them.  In this book, choices are made and consequence happen and it feels so much more like real life.  Great job to Sarah Mlynowski!


My Rating:

4 Penguins –  Good story with a great message and the ending was very interesting but I am not telling you what happens.  
* I purchased this book.  All opinions are mine.

   

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Review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

StarcrossedDetails:  Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

  • Pub. Date: May 2011
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Format: Hardcover , 496pp
  • Sales Rank: 16,085
  • Age Range: Young Adult





Synopsis

How do you defy destiny?
Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.
As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart

My Thoughts


Helen has always felt kind of out of place even though she has her great best friend who look out for her.  She has never felt that she could be herself and seems to get horrible cramps every time she was the center of attention.  She lives on Nantucket and learns the first week of school that a new family is moving into a huge property on the island.  She has the oddest encounter with one of the boys, and she pretty much loses control.  Helen learns that she is really is different.  There is love and loss and just frustration all though this book.


I LOVED this story.  It was a great taken on the classics.  Josephine Angelini has a wonderful style that makes reading her book play like a movie in your head.  Mythology has always been an interesting topic for me since I studies Greek Mythology in my 5th grade advanced reading class.  It was so fun and different and really made me think about the world as I know it and how different it could be. Helen was a girl facing the challenges of being different which made her very easy to connect with, which I think is very important in a YA book.  For me, it is important in all books to be able to connect with the main character.  Every single character no matter how small was well defined and complete.  The interactions between the characters was well thought out and very diverse.  The book did a wonderful job with the challenges and feelings that Helen has throughout the course of discovering just who she really is and how important she is to the world.  


My Rating:


5 Penguins – This was an awesome book – I could not put it down.

*I purchased this book and all opinions are mine alone





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Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope By Maureen Johnson

The Last Little Blue Envelope

Overview -The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Product Details








Synopsis


Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny’s backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.
Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he’s found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.

My Thoughts


The Last Little Blue Envelope starts after Ginny has returned home to the US and is getting ready to apply for colleges.  She is having trouble writing her essay about what life event has changed you.  How can she explain her summer traveling Europe following the Little Blue Envelopes left by her aunt.  Keith, the boy she meet on her first trip has been more and more distant.  Ginny opens her email one day to find an email from a totally stranger name Oliver saying that he has the 13th and last blue envelope and to meet him in London to discuss it.  So off Ginny goes, back to London to finish off this adventure.  Ginny decides to surprise Keith only to find that he is in a new relationship that he did not mention to her.  Oliver basically is blackmailing Ginny to finish this last envelope and put together her aunt’s final art piece and sell it at Auction.  Keith pretty much demands that he is going with Ginny and Oliver and the new girlfriend, Ellis, is along for the ride.  What trouble will these four get themselves into and what will happen to their relationships?

I don’t often says that I enjoy a sequel book more than the first but in the case of The Last Little Blue Envelope I am saying just that.  There was a lot going on in the first book, Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, and sometimes it was just a lot to keep track of.  Maureen Johnson  focused more on the relationships and the interaction between the people that the adventure.  While I loved the adventure before, I was read to really get to know Ginny and see how she was going to handle all of the pressure in this second book know how much she had grown in the first.  This was a very quick read for me mostly because it was a well written clean story and I really really wanted to know what was going to happen.  This is a great story and I would recommend it, I would say to really understand the book you do need to read the first.  


My Rating


 4 Penguin!  I enjoyed the story and would recommend it.

* I purchased this book and all opinions are my own,

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Review: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

What Happened to Goodbye

Overview – 

What Happened to Goodbye

Product Details

  • Pub. Date: May 2011
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Format: Hardcover , 416pp
  • Sales Rank: 88
  • Age Range: Young Adult
  • Lexile: HL760L What’s This?

Synopsis

Since her parents’ bitter divorce, Mclean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move – four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother’s new family, Mclean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, Mclean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself – whoever that is. Perhaps her neighbor Dave, an academic superstar trying to be just a regular guy, can help her find out. Combining Sarah Dessen’s trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

My Thoughts


So, as you can call tell, I have been on a bit of a Sarah Dessen kick since I discovered her outstanding story recently.  Now, I know that I have barely touched on her collection of books, however What Happened to Goodbye has quickly jumped to the top of my favorites list.  I loved this story – Mclean is someone I can completely relate to.  Not only that but her situation is unique.

Mclean has chosen to live with her father after her parent’s marriage ends in ruin after her mother cheats on and leaves her father for the coach of his all time favorite basketball team at his former college.  Mclean was able to make this decision on her own after fights in court about what was best for her considering her father has to move from town to town about every six months for his job as a restaurant consultant    Mclean has taken this opportunity to reinvent herself in each school, down to a new name for each new persona.  They have moving down to a system and it does not take Mclean long to get into some minor trouble in her new town but she is saved my her next door neighbor, Dave.  Mclean realizes that instead of building a new persona and picking new friends based on it, people, “friends” if you will are drawn to her in this town and she might not want to leave.  She gets involved in a large community project but is forced away after her mother files with the court that she is not getting to see her per the agreement.  While away at the “beach” with her mother she overhears a conversation that she thinks is about her and takes off.  Remembering what Dave told her that you need at least one friend to call at 2 am that will bail you out she call him for help and ends up getting him in trouble.  What is Mclean going to do about this situation she wants to stay but her dad is moving on?

Mclean is a diverse person driven to do things that most teen would not based on her current life situation.  I found myself trying to get into her head and figure her out but each time I thought I had gotten then she changed things up on me.  Dave is awesome, the total brainy kid who wants nothing more than to be a normal teen and is pushing his parents past their limiting to do so.  All of the other “friends” in this book as just as well developed.  They all have history, passion and a want to be known.  I love this unlikely group of friends and the project they undertake.  

I also enjoyed the inside picture of a restaurant consulting business.  I found the process very interesting and think that the setting in the book is great.  It is such a dense setting with strong emotional ties all over the place.  This is the type of setting I look for!  

As in all of the books I have read by Sarah Dessen, this book caught my attention and left me wanting more.  I would willing read more about these characters and what happens in their future!

 

My Rating


5 of 5 Stars!  This is a wonderful YA book and one that I would recommend to teen and adult alike!

*I purchased this book and all opinions are my own.

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Review: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

The Truth About Forever

Overview – 

The Truth about Forever

Product Details

  • Pub. Date: April 2006
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Format: Paperback , 400pp
  • Sales Rank: 10,875
  • Age Range: Young Adult
















Synopsis

Macy’s summer stretches before her, carefully planned and outlined. She will spend her days sitting at the library information desk. She will spend her evenings studying for the SATs. Spare time will be used to help her obsessive mother prepare for the big opening of the townhouse section of her luxury development.
But Macy’s plans don’t anticipate a surprising and chaotic job with Wish Catering, a motley crew of new friends, or . . . Wes. Tattooed, artistic, anything-but-expected Wes. He doesn’t fit Macy’s life at all&150so why does she feel so comfortable with him? So . . . happy? What is it about him that makes her let down her guard and finally talk about how much she misses her father, who died before her eyes the year before?
Sarah Dessen delivers a page-turning novel that carries readers on a roller coaster of denial, grief, comfort, and love as we watch a broken but resilient girl pick up the pieces of her life and fit them back together.

My Thoughts


Macy starts her summer off by saying goodbye to her boyfriend who is headed to Brain Camp.  While she is left behind she will be taking his job at the library information desk, a job that he drilled her on before he left, and spending time preparing for the next year of school and her future.  Something her mother has pushed very hard at her since her father died.  Macy holds herself in part responsible for his death because she did not get up and run with him the morning he collapsed.  Right after her new job starts, and she hates it from day one and the girls at the desk are horrible, and her boyfriend as decided they need to take a break, Macy’s mother has a open house at their home and the caterer is a mess and she helps in the kitchen.  This leads to Macy working for the caterer and making a whole bunch of new friends and really beginning to live.  Macy’s mother is not thrilled with the new boy friend that she has or any of the new friends she has made, but will she be able to keep them apart.

Macy is a typical Sarah Dessen girl from my point of view.  She has all of her own little and big issues but deep down is just a girl who wants and needs to be accepted for who she is.  Macy and Wes frustrated me to no end during this book.  They just kept dancing around each other even though the spark and interest was there.  There was a TON of build up to the last few pages of the book, in my opinion maybe too much build up but I was happy with the story and development of it.  There are no empty players in this story each and every person story and placement is explained and fully carried out in the book.  This was another Sarah Dessen book that I was unable to put down because I had to know what was going to happen.  I love that the content and approach of her books spans many different age groups from a mature middle grade student all the way to adult.  


My Rating


4 of 5 stars.  I really enjoyed this read.
*I purchased this book and all opinions are my own.

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