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Teen SRC 2020 – American Royals by Katharine McGee

American Royals

Hey guys! Summer School started this week so I apologize if your reviews take a bit longer to get published. Anyways, onto my review!

American Royals by Katharine McGee is about a world where George Washington became King of the United States instead of being voted President. Now, over 200 years later, his descendants are still on the throne.

Before we get into it, I would like to say that although the concept is super interesting, I did find it odd and not very believable. The entire American Revolution was to escape the British monarchy, so I couldn’t see why the people would decide to have yet another sovereign.

Anyways, the story talks mainly about the three Washington siblings: Beatrice, the heir, who is patient, polite and perfect. Jefferson (Jeff), the only son, who has two very different girls in his heart. Finally, Samantha (Sam), the polar opposite of her sister, a very wild card. The entire book is about their life and the drama that comes with being so well-known; two of their closest friends, Nina and Daphne, also have integral roles in the story.

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Teen SRC 2020 – Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

Hey guys! I’ll be reviewing Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys today, a YA historical fiction book.

This story takes place during the Holocaust, in Lithuania, also known as the Baltic genocide. A 15-year-old girl, Lina Vilkas, is arrested alongside her mother, Elena, and her little brother, Jonas. They are shoved onto a train by the Soviet Secret Police (The NKVD) alongside many other Jews, heading towards a concentration camp. To document what is happening to her, Lina draws pictures detailing everything she goes through in hopes of later showing the world.

I really, really enjoyed this book. To be fair though, I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a historical fiction, it’s just an extremely good genre. I appreciate the effort Sepetys puts into researching each of her books and it really reflects when one reads them. This story is definitely not a light read and it will probably make you cry at some point but I would still recommend it to anyone. I think reading about the terrible things that have happened in history is a key part of never repeating it in the future, and if you happen to like reading, historical fiction is a great way to educate yourself.

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Teen SRC 2020 – Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express - Christie, Agatha

Hey guys! This week I’m reviewing Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, an ICON (her books are outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible!)

A little context (no spoilers, don’t worry): The millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett boards the famous train, The Orient Express, but it is stopped by a snowdrift at around midnight. By the next morning, he is found dead in his compartment by a dozen or so stabbings. It is certain that one of his fellow passengers is the murderer, but who? and why? That’s what Hercule Poirot intends to find out.

I really liked this story! Mystery is one of my favourite genres and Agatha Christie never disappoints. I loved that the ending is very very believable, it’s not a far-fetched idea that the author made up just to create a plot twist. If you were to re-read the story, every single one of the clues leads to that outcome. However, this does not make the murder easy to solve, because I didn’t figure it out until the end either, so it’s still a very intriguing read.

I would recommend this to any mystery lovers or anyone in general who wants a short and fast-paced read. This book took me only a day or so to finish so if you don’t want to get too involved in a series or a long book, this is for you!

My final rating is an 8/10 only because I didn’t feel an emotional connection with any of the characters. This is completely understandable though, seeing as I didn’t have much time and the book wasn’t meant to do that. However, I would still definitely recommend it.

Teen SRC 2020 – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Hey guys! I can’t believe it’s already summer 🙂 I hope you’re all doing well and participating in the SRC!

Lately I’ve been continuing on my Classics spree so I’ll be reviewing Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen today.

Although this is one of the “best” love stories ever written, so was Romeo and Juliet (which I did not enjoy), so I didn’t have too high of hopes for this.

The story is set in rural England, and Mrs. Bennett, the mother of 5 daughters, has just one goal: to see them all married. 1/5 of her wish is about to be answered when a wealthy bachelor, Mr. Bingley, comes to their town, and takes a liking to Jane, the oldest Bennett sister. With him, he brings his sister, and a few friends and among these friends is Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, an even wealthier bachelor, but with a terrible pride.

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Teen Book Review – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Hey y’all!! I hope you’re all doing well and staying safe in quarantine 🙂

A while ago I read Little Women after a friend told me to read it before watching the new film adaption. I obliged, but it took a whiiiiiile … this book was SO long! I finally got through though, and here are my thoughts.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is about the four March sisters: Meg (16), Jo (15), Beth (13) and Amy (12). It’s set during the American Civil War, and their father is in the army, so they live with their mother, Mrs. March, and a kindhearted maid, Hannah.

The story begins in their teen years, and ends with them growing up and becoming wives and mothers. Although the girls aren’t perfect, they try their hardest, striving to be the best daughters, sisters, friends and women that they can be. 

I highly enjoyed the majority of the book. I could connect with the sisters, seeing many of their own faults in myself. My only complaint would be that at times, it was quite uneventful, although that is to be expected from most classics (someone had to say it :)). As well, I was not very impressed with the ending, but that has to do with personal opinion, and it was not due to the writing at all. Anyway, all shortcomings aside, I found it a good read overall, very amusing yet touching as well. I especially liked the differences between the sisters’ personalities, because it made for an interesting dynamic between them. They were all extreme opposites of each other, yet they fit together perfectly. 

In conclusion, it was a heartwarming read with many twists and turns. It was great to see the sisters grow up and mature into beautiful young women, and I rate it a 7.5/10. If you want to get into reading classics, I would definitely recommend this, because the language is very easy to understand and you will definitely relate a lot more as a fellow teen… Happy reading!

Teen Book Review – Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Hey all! It’s been a while since I’ve posted but it’s been a very busy month. Luckily though, I’ve got a review here and 3 more books on the hold shelf waiting to be picked up today!!

Spoiler-Free Summary: Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter is about two teens, Maddie and Logan. Long ago, Maddie’s dad was a secret service agent assigned to the President of the US. Logan’s dad, was the president and so, they became best friends. But then, during an attack on the President’s wife, Maddie’s dad is wounded. Following the injury, he decides to resign and brings Maddie along with him to live a simpler life… in Alaska. Maddie writes to Logan every day, hoping that he would write back, but either he isn’t getting them, or he’s just ignoring her. Fast forward to now. Logan has been sent to Alaska to stay with Maddie after disobeying one too many times and Maddie doesn’t know what to feel. But before she can figure it out, Logan is kidnapped, and she’s the only one who can save him.

My thoughts: Although the story was very fast-paced, which I usually enjoy, I didn’t actually like this book as much as I liked some of Ally’s other series. I felt that there was too much compacted into one book, everything moved too fast and neither the relationships nor the plot developed at a realistic rate. There were simply too many plot twists for one book, and the backstories were very shallow and underdeveloped. The relationship between Logan and Maddie also changed way faster than I would have believed and it just wasn’t realistic to me. If the story were more detailed and had more depth, I would have enjoyed it far more. I think if Ally had spread the plot out into two books or maybe a trilogy, and added character/plot/world development, I would have loved this book. Final rating is a 7/10. It was still a good read, just not super realistic and not as immersive as I would’ve liked.

Teen Book Review – Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Hey guys! First off, happy 2020! I wish you all very good luck in this new decade 🙂

Secondly, I was recommended this mystery by Inshal and I finally got around to it this winter break.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson is about a girl named Stephanie (“Stevie”) who is trying to solve the infamous Ellingham murders, committed in 1936 to Iris and Alice Ellingham, wife and daughter to Robert Ellingham. Robert Ellingham was a very wealthy man who built a school for exceptional students, where they had access to all the resources they needed for their own passions and projects. However, being rich and famous comes with a cost. Everyday, he and his family are bombarded with death threats until one day, someone went through with it, Truly Devious. His wife and daughter were kidnapped and later killed. 70 years later, a new generation of students arrived at the academy and Stevie is one of them. A major crime fan, Stevie makes it her project to solve the murders.

Mystery is one of my favourite genres but in all my years of reading, I’ve only found 3 series that really left an impression on me. If the sequels to this book are as good as this one was, we’ll have a 4th series! This book had just the right amount of suspense, clues and riddles to keep me on my toes throughout. At the beginning I was afraid I wouldn’t emotionally connect with Stevie because she wasn’t really expressive with her feelings but as the story progressed, that feeling was over faster than it had come. I’d rate this book an 8/10. It was really good but I think the sequels are going to be even better as we delve deeper into the case.

Teen Book Review – Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Can we just appreciate this gorgeous cover for a sec?

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Quick Spoiler-FREE Summary: Frank Li is a senior in high school. Like many Korean-Americans, his parents are racist. So, when he discovers that he really likes a girl, he’s forced to date her in secret all because she’s white. His close family friend also has the same problem so together, they decide to “fake-date” each other for their parents’ sake. Don’t worry, this story is a lot more than fake dating schemes so read on for my thoughts!

Where do I even start? I loved this coming-of-age novel so much I don’t think I can even describe how much I related to it. Being of Asian descent as well, I felt Frank’s pressure from his parents’ expectations, I felt his need to do well, his helplessness as he tried to sway his parents from their false beliefs and his wanting to freely say the words “I love you” to his parents without getting weird looks. My parents aren’t racist, but they do have many beliefs that are old-fashioned and it’s very difficult to say I love you to them not because I don’t, just because it’s not something we say often at all. This book is far from a light romance. It was very touching and there were so many parts that really hit my heart. It shocked me how much I found bits of myself in this book. Towards the end, I was sobbing so hard, I could barely read past my tears. My little brother literally told my mom about me crying, that’s how bad it was. I would recommend this book to absolutely everyone and anyone, it doesn’t matter your age, gender or race, this is the book for you. Full 10/10 stars because frankly, I’m in love with Frank Li.

TeenTober 2019 – Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

I stumbled across this book when browsing the shelves for beautiful covers and you gotta admit, this cover’s pretty stunning.

Although yes, I only picked this book up for the cover, once I read the back I knew this was a read I would enjoy. Behold, the story of three aspiring prima ballerinas navigating expectations, jealousy and modern-world problems.

Being a dancer myself, this book was a lot more relatable to me than it probably would have been for someone else. I could understand the terms and language used in it and their struggles were my struggles. For that reason, my rating will probably be slightly higher than yours so keep that in mind.

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TeenTober 2019 – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’ve been trying to read some classics lately but to be honest, I find them quite drab. The style of writing is very different than what I’m used to reading in the YA genre. However, they’re classics for a reason so I have made it my personal goal to finish these famous stories by Grade 12.

The Great Gatsby isn’t actually narrated by Gatsby himself which struck me as very peculiar when I first started reading it. It’s narrated by Gatsby’s neighbour, Nick, who has just moved to the fictional island of West Egg, next to Gatsby’s enormous mansion.

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