*Book cover pic from Goodreads.com
Normally I try to balance my YA, middle grade, and lower elementary reviews, but Netgalley approved me for a ton of YA all at one time, and I felt a few really needed to go on the blog. So, here is another read I can see being popular once it is published in August. I do not know much about Progeria, but this book helps you see it in a unique way. The book starts by letting you know these are the last 100 days of Agnes's life (we know; she doesn't), so there were no surprises in that part of the ending. What you do get with her last 100 days is great information about the evolving friendships and journeys of these three teens: Agnes, Boone, and Moira. Finally, here is a book where I cared about the characters! It has been a while (I read a LOT more books than what go on this blog), and it was a welcome change. You see Agnes's interactions at school (limited), with her best friend Moira, Boone, and her divorced parents and their respective families. You see things as Agnes sees things, and I found myself wishing for things to happen as the chapter countdown continued closer to 1. I loved her perspective (the relationships with her parents and friends) and felt the changing viewpoints worked really well. This book is one I can see YA readers really enjoying-anyone who likes realistic fiction and wants something clean with a positive message of friendship and love will not be disappointed in this book!
*Cover pic from Goodreads,com
This title comes out in June. It is a good summer read for teens or anyone who likes YA and a little mystery. I felt like there were some things that made me think it was like a YA Gone Girl in a way. Jill wakes up in a hospital and learns she was in a car accident in Italy, and her best friend died. She does not remember being in Italy or the car accident, and she has no idea why her friend was with her. So, the story builds with news stories, talk show clips, interviews, and police records. You see Jill as she learns what happened (and that people think it was murder on her part), and you start to build an image of all the players in the drama, even though Jill really does not regain her memory for the majority of the book. I felt it was interesting, the mystery was strong, and teen readers will love it. It does contain some pretty hefty profanity, but if that is not a concern, then the book is a good read for anyone who loves mystery and loves having that brain challenge of building a story when the narrator is not reliable. I would not personally rate it in my top books (thought the ending was a bit flimsy), but I would rate it high for teen readers and would recommend it because I was really sucked in until the end. It is one of those books where you hate the chapter to end because you are building the story as you go. That, to me, says it is a good book!
*Cover picture from Goodreads.com
This title will not be available until April, but I cannot get it out of my head; I want to post about it before something else (usually another book!) gets in my way.
Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this advanced copy. It was one I just devoured, and it's one of those times I think-how am I lucky enough to get these books into my hands before they are published? Then, because I am itching to review it on Goodreads and my blog, I know why-because I'm about to spread the word about this one! You're welcome, publisher!
First, it's a wonderful piece of historical fiction. The author does a great job in her notes at the end explaining what is true and what she took artistic license with in the book. I have read a lot about WWII, but I still loved reading about the resistance and things I did already know about but find I did not know as much as I thought. Next, it has an element of mystery in it that I got sucked into. I could not have solved the mystery if I tried, but I don't think that ruins it for anyone because it's still completely realistic. Besides, maybe people are sharper than me and will pick up on the clues! Sadly, I broke my rule I've made for myself since reading ebooks-I will not flip ahead and see who lives and who dies. I did it. I'm ashamed. But, it needed to be done. I was in suspense and wanted to brace myself for what was coming. I don't handle suspense well. The author, luckily, does! Finally, there are characters in here you can see and hear. I love when I get my hands on a book that brings fiction to life.
I stayed up late last night to finish it; I was sucked in. I am big on getting enough sleep (with an almost two-year-old up at 6 A.M., that sleep is precious), and I sacrificed sleep for literature. Is there a better recommendation for a book than that? Check it out in April and let me know what you think!
*Cover pic from Goodreads,com
Though this title is not available until June, I really wanted to get a review up on this site because this title is one that will stick with me. I try to read a variety of literature and to keep an open mind about the topics and subjects and themes within that literature. That being said, I also try to read books by authors I have enjoyed in the past. This book fit both those bills: I have enjoyed LaCour and Levithan in the past, and this book is a YA love story, but it is not the narrators who fall in love; rather one narrator is a gay high school student while the other narrator is a lesbian high school student. These kids do not really know each other or talk until they, by chance, see each other and talk at a bar during the kick off to PRIDE week. It actually reminded me of the random way I ended up meeting and talking to some of my friends (minus the PRIDE week situation). Both characters build their back stories and personalities and relationships (and sometimes lack thereof) as they build this new friendship. Though I found the plethora of teens just like them unrealistic (which might be my rural upbringing), I found the love and friendship in this book real and touching. I know teens are often limited in the support they receive as they come out and come to terms with everything that means for them, their family, and their friends, and I felt a book like this would be such a welcome read for those teens. I can name some adults who would have appreciated and loved this book growing up. This book is obviously not for everyone, but it is a worthy addition to the books I have on this site because it is one that will stay with me in my mind for a while.
Today's review is brought to you by a former secondary student of mine, Megan Smida. Her review puts mine to shame it is so good! Enjoy! Check out her bio at the end of the review.
*Book cover pic from Goodreads.com
I was initially hesitant to pick up Tiger Lily. I realized that it was a retelling of Peter Pan, and I was never a huge fan of that movie when I was little. However, I thought it would be interesting to see the story from the point of view of Tiger Lily, the Native American girl who plays a small role in the original story. I’m here to tell you to pick this up no matter how you feel about Peter Pan. This book is a very loose retelling. Don’t worry though, it still features the naïve and charismatic Peter Pan and even Wendy Darling from a perspective that might infuriate you and change how you see her forever.
The setting of this book is absolutely magical. I could always put myself in the characters' shoes no matter where they were. Whether or not Tiger Lily was in the village that her and her tribe live in or hanging with the Lost Boys in their hideout, it was like a movie was flashing before my eyes. Although the characters appearances are never really deeply described, I still had very vivid faces that I associated with them because I grew attached to all of them. Well, maybe not Wendy Darling and Phillip, but other than that…
Not only are the characters amazing on their own, but the character dynamics are some of the best I’ve ever seen. We have Tik Tok, Tiger Lily’s non-biological father. Tik Tok likes to wear dresses and wear his hair in long braids. Tiger Lily doesn’t think anything of that until a white man comes—Phillip—and gets everyone to shun Tik Tok for his lifestyle. Instead of following in their footsteps, Tiger Lily stands by her father and has his back through everything. I loved every word that these two exchanged. The incredible relationships don’t end there. Pine Sap is Tiger Lily’s childhood friend.
“Many people in the village wanted her to be more of a girl, and Peter had wanted her to be large and brave but a little less large and brave than him. But Pine Sap was sure enough to want her to be exactly who she was.”
As much as I loved them, Peter still managed to capture my heart. I never thought it would happen since I never really thought he was all that great in the Disney movie. The things he said to Tiger Lily honestly made my stomach flip at times. I mean that in the best way possible. There were a couple times I almost happy cried because it seemed like they were soulmates.
Another thing that Anderson incorporated into this novel is this: the book is narrated by Tinker Bell. This was very effective because she could watch everyone because she was so small. I always had this opinion that Tinker Bell was stuck up and a bit annoying. This book changed my perspective completely. She valued Tiger Lily’s feelings more than her own. Even though she was in love with Peter Pan, she didn’t let her jealousy consume her when she saw Tiger Lily and Peter together.
Basically Tiger Lily herself is one of the best heroines I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about. She is selfless, strong, and genuine. Most “strong” female characters just seem too hardcore in my eyes, to the point where it's unrealistic. Authors need to realize that no matter how powerful their character is, she still feel things and experiences moments of weakness.
"You looked strange climbing in the tree like that."
Tiger Lily pulled her braids between her fingers her sudden self-consciousness feeling foreign and strange to her. "I didn't do it to look nice."
Prepare yourself if you plan to read this. The ending of this book is completely heartbreaking. I cried about five times all for different reasons. Although there are so many upsetting things that happen, Anderson still provides you with the closure you need with her quotes and resolution.
With a perfect beginning, middle, and end, extraordinary characters, and emotional impact, this book without a doubt makes it onto my top five books of all time. I would recommend Tiger Lily to anyone; it changed my life in so many ways.
My name is Megan Smida, and I fell in love with reading when I was around nine. I’ve been buying and reading books every chance I get since then. I just recently started writing reviews, and I really enjoy it, especially when it’s a book that I really love. I write reviews of every book I read on my Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/21656454-megan.
You can add me or follow my reviews there.
*Book cover pic from Goodreads.com
Even though this book is the second one, and I put Jackaby (book one) in older elementary, I wanted to put this book in Young Adult because I think this series crosses over those levels. I can see an older student (5th/6th grade) who is a strong reader and can appreciate the wit enjoying the series while young adult readers would get a lot out of it as well. The language is more sophisticated, the humor a little dryer and closer to wit than "ha ha," and the mysteries can be a little gruesome at times. As I enjoyed book one, I was eager for the second book and not disappointed. Book 3 is already on my wish list. Abigail Rook once again follows her employer R.F. Jackaby on an adventure to determine what is reeking havoc on the small town Charlie (from book one) is now serving in his job as a policeman. I honestly did not pick up on the twist of what was going on and who was involved at all until it was revealed. It is not hard to determine what the "beast" is, but I did not make the connection (and was annoyed at myself afterwards!) to how in the world this beast appeared. I read some reviews that did not like this book as much, but I enjoyed it and am looking forward to learning more about the mystery surrounding Jenny, the ghostly inhabitant of their home/office, in book 3. These books are not for everyone, but there is definitely a niche that would find them as worthy to devour as I do.
*Cover pic from Goodreads.com
I am a bit behind the rush to read this one, but I am glad I finally got it. It lived up to the comparisons and description, and it was the right amount of fantasy elements and complex characters (built well with backstories) and adventure. I can see girls and boys liking this one. It has violence, but it is necessary to the story and nothing too gruesome that teens cannot handle it. Kaz gathers a team of criminals to attempt an impossible prison break for a sum of money they can only dream of...totally worth the read. Eagerly anticipating book 2! This book is definitely for a higher level reader of YA because of all the stories and things going on at once.
*Book cover image from Goodreads.com
I cannot say enough good things about this book. It is actually coming out in February of next year, but I am lucky enough to get advanced copies from Netgalley, so I was able to read it in advance. It is historical fiction around a WWII event I had no idea even occurred. I am a little bit of a WWII buff, so it is impressive that there are events I have not read about at this point! The multiple narrator tale begins with the journey of separate people who have their own secrets and who are mourning their own losses and hardships. These people come together to board a German evacuation ship that experiences a tragedy that is so significant I cannot believe I have not read about it before now. The story is captivating, and the writing is gripping. You feel like these characters are real (she did base them off of people she researched and interviewed), and it is touching and tragic at the same time. Once I was 3/4 of the way through the book, I had to rush to finish it; it sucked me in, and the action was so intense. Pre-order it. Put it on your to-read list. It is fabulous!
*Cover picture from Goodreads.com
I read this trilogy years ago when I was teaching young adult novels, and the series was new. I had a student recommend it to me. I had a hard time when that happened because, while I could read something I did not love and match it to a kid who would, kids would often try to recommend a book to me that I just knew I did not want to read (and would probably not be able to recommend to many other kids). I had trouble reading something just because I did not want to hurt a student's feelings! This book was one of those recommendations. A teenage boy said, "You HAVE to read these books!" Because of who the student was, and because I was between books at the time, I reluctantly checked out this first one. I loved it. It is a hard book to describe, and I think it only works for an audience who has a creative mind, likes fantasy books that are a bit out there and kind of historical, and a reader who can handle the "girl masquerading as a boy" situation found in it. Deryn is in the British Air Force, but this is a time period (World War I-ish) when there are two groups of people: those who use machines and those who alter animals to use as weapons and machines or sorts. She ends up helping Prince Aleksander, running for his life, as she hides who she really is in this world of men. It sounds so far out there, but the best way I can describe it is that it is just neat. It's a really different trilogy that is creative and fresh and has adventure that I had no issues picturing as I read. It also has fantastic illustrations that will appeal to young readers.
*Book picture from Goodreads.com
Books written in verse can wear on me. I thought the first book I read by Ellen Hopkins was fresh and interesting. I was not as pleased with the second one. It cannot feel forced, and it has to fit the story. This title was great. The basketball- playing narrator also has rhythm in his language, so the format fits well. It is fresh, and the story is surprising and interesting. I highly recommend this one for teens, basketball players or not. Like all books in verse, it is a quick, easy read, but this one really hooked me and kept me interested throughout!