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Teen SRC 2021 – Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao

I cannot even begin to explain how much Our Wayward Fate, a teen romance book written by Gloria Chao, blew my mind. See, this was another one of those books I decided to read just from glancing at the cover and barely skimming through the blurb. I was expecting an amusing anecdote, maybe a relatable story at most. What I wasn’t prepared for was the most heartfelt, lovable romance novel with amazing characters.

I’m not going to go through the plot synopsis here, but the general idea of the book was about an asian boy called Chase Yu who moved to a new school in Indiana, with no other asian kids whatsoever. …Well, with the exception of Ali Chu. The two begin to bond throughout the book, but when Ali’s mother forces her to stop seeing Chase, Ali has to find out more about this mysterious classmate.

HANDS DOWN the best plot twist ever. Unexpected, mind-blowing, heartbreaking and the good kind of dramatic. I enjoyed reading this book, 9/10!

Teen SRC 2021 – Better Together by Christine Riccio

Better Together by Christine Riccio

I’m not gonna wait for the conclusion. I would give Better Together by Christine Riccio a seven out of ten for the writing and a hundred out of ten for the cover. I’m sorry, try to prove me wrong; there are literally two sides to the cover, each illustrating one sister.

The writing itself was more of a short anecdote that I found to be lighthearted and entertaining. There are no really heavy or deep concepts in this book in my opinion, I think it was just a casual, fun, read. That being said, I really loved the writing style and the character development in this book, along with the plot twists. I absolutely loved the contradiction of the two personalities of the sisters too as it made the book extremely satisfying to read. Overall I just think it was a light sort of book, the type that gets you out of a reading slump; I’d give it- oops, that was already covered in the introduction, wasn’t it?

Teen SRC 2021 – The Names they Gave Us by Emery Lord

When I found out that Lucy was Christian and the daughter of a priest, I didn’t expect to like the book because the MC would be so different from me. Turns out I was wrong. I absolutely adored The Names they Gave Us by Emery Lord!

On the night of her prom, Lucy finds out her mother’s cancer has relapsed and rushes home, angry with God for letting this happen. She is heartbroken and vows to spend as much time as she can with her mother. Her mother asks her to spend the summer at Camp Daybreak (for kids who are having a tough time) as a councillor and only come home on the weekend. To make matters worse, her boyfriend thinks their relationship needs a “pause” and Lucy is left lonely at a camp where she knows no one. As the story progresses, she finds secrets linked to her mother’s past. She desperately wants to know everything about her mother before it’s too late. While her faith is wavering and with her new friends, Lucy learns to “be okay again. Just a different kind of okay than before”

Lucy’s relationship with her mother, her faith, and her friends makes this book so wholesome! I rate this book a 10/10!

Teen SRC 2021 – Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Tweet Cute: A Novel: Lord, Emma: 9781250237323: Books - Amazon.ca

I feel like I know what you’re thinking: Rosie writing another review on a YA romance?? ?

And yes, you are correct. I did indeed read yet another realistic fiction, teen romance novel this year :0

BUT — it’s because I was trying to get into the summer mindset and this just happened to scream teen spirit to me!!

And guess what? I liked it a lot more than Anna and the French Kiss! I know, crazy. Just read on to find out why <3

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord is the story of Pepper Evans and Jack Campbell. An enemies to friends to enemies to lovers. Yep. That’s basically it. But if you really want to get into it, let me tell you about these two, because I loved, loved, LOVED them. Remember how I commended Stephanie Perkins on making Anna and St. Clair relatively realistic and likable? Well Emma Lord blew this aspect out of the heckin’ park.

Pepper is an all-round amazing student. A perfect GPA, countless stellar extracurriculars and awards, and a naturally competitive spirit to top it all off. She’s smart, she’s driven, and she’s… lost? She isn’t quite sure what she wants to do in the future, so she’s just trying to do everything she can to make it into a top university for the time being. To add to her workload, her mother (the CEO of a huge fast-food chain, Big League Burger) is constantly asking Pepper to manage the business social media, posting snarky replies and funny tweets.

Jack, on the other hand, is the class clown, always just one step behind his incredibly popular twin, Ethan. His family runs a local deli (Girl Cheesing), and Jack’s been working there his entire life, and many of their loyal customers have watched him grow up. He knows that when he graduates, Ethan will be off changing the world, and he’ll be charged with staying and taking on the family business. Secretly though, Jack harbours dreams of going into app development and coding, and has already created several fun and unique apps.

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Teen SRC 2021 – Anna and the French Kiss

So… I haven’t read a pure romance YA novel since The Selection (which I did not enjoy very much… oops) was a thing, which was a LONG time ago. But this quarantine I caved, and finally read the mother of all YA romance, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.

I assume everyone has heard of this book before, because it’s commonly hailed as THE YA romance, so I won’t give too thorough of an introduction; if you’re interested, there are synopses everywhere on the internet, and you should be able to find a much more detailed summary quite easily!

So anyway, this is the story of an american girl by the name of Anna Oliphant, an outgoing, clumsy, aspiring film critic who is sent to a boarding school in France by her father. At first, she’s terrified, which is understandable considering the major culture shock and the abruptness of this change, but as she spends more and more time in the city of light, she starts to change her mind…

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Teen SRC 2021 – Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone

Click’d, a book by Tamara Ireland Stone, is about a game that Allie Navarro made at her CodeGirls camp that helps you make friends. She is really excited to share it with everyone at her school. As Allie works on her game harder than ever, it suddenly makes a huge mistake. Click’d sends out a really embarrassing photo that was never meant to be sent. Allie tries desperately to fix her game, and as she does, there is triumph and sadness, victory and failure. Then more and more embarrassing pictures are sent out, and Allie might have to drop out of Games for Good, a really big competition for coders. Click’d is a book about drama, friendship, accepting failure, and learning from it.

I liked this book because it had some very real-life moments in it, that have even happened to me and my friends. I feel like this book is really good for people who love the drama genre, or who are just looking for an interesting book. Click’d was very well-written, and fun to read.

TAMBA Author Interview – Jennifer Honeybourn

My friend, Rosie, and I were recently given the opportunity to interview the author of numerous YA and middle school novels, Jennifer Honeybourn! Some of her works include: When Life Gives You Demons, Wesley James Ruined My Life, Just My Luck, and many more!

We asked her a few questions about her writing process and her journey as an author! Here are some of her insights:

It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to be an author! But it took me a while to get there and for me to realize that I had a YA voice. 

Ideas are everywhere. There are really no original ideas (there were wizards long before there was Harry Potter!), it’s just about taking something and putting your own spin on it! Ideas usually come to me as a mashup, getting inspiration from different things and then writing it in my own way. Find a new way to tell a story!

As a writer, you want to focus on the story engine, the thing that will drive the character. What goal will pull the character through the story and how will it change them? 

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Teen SRC 2020 – China Rich Girlfriends by Kevin Kwan

China Rich Girlfriend - Kwan, Kevin

On the eve of Rachel’s Wedding, she should be overjoyed by her beautiful ring, wedding dress, and a an who is willing to give up all his inheritance  just to marry her. But yet, she grieves of the thought that her birth father won’t be able to walk her down the aisle. That was the case until an announcement made a huge turn in events. In this second book, Carlton a Ferrari crashing bad-boy, Colette a celebrity who is constantly chased by paparazzi, and Rachel’s unknown father who she has been dying to meet. While Astrid is learning that having a newly tech, billionaire husband has a downside. Drama, gossip, rumors, and secrets unfold as they travel through auctions, clubs, estates, and VVIP after after parties.

I love this series. Its sassy, funny, bold, and so much drama! Reading this book was so enjoyable and relaxing. Even though I prefer the first book as it focused more on Rachel and Nickolas, but I think the second one was more pointed towards Carlton and Colette. I am still really fond about the story but I just wished Rachel and Nickolas had more depth in the plot. I would rate this book 7/10 and I definitely plan on watching the movie when it comes out.

China Rich Girlfriend and Kevin Kwan’s other works can be found here.

Teen SRC 2020 – Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Title details for Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan - Available

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan stars Rachel Chu, an economic professor in NY dating Nicholas Young, her boyfriend of two years. She agrees to visit her boyfriend’s family in Singapore for the summer. She expects a humble experience and just spending quality time with the one she hopes to marry. However, she is faced with massive parties, homes that looks like palaces, and with the man every girl in Asia wants to marry right by her side, she is basically a prey with a huge mark on her. Not only does she have to deal with all the constant rumors and two sided people, but her significant’s mother definitely hates her guts. Nicholas Young’s mom, Eleanor Young, is very strict about who her son should, or shouldn’t marry. And conveniently, Rachel is probably the highest on the “shouldn’t marry” list. As she tries to survive in this new environment, she will have to decide who is her allies and who is her foe.

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Teen SRC 2020- Slay by Brittney Morris

Slay

Kiera Johnson leads a double life. Being one of the few Black girls at her school, she behaves the way she needs to: smart, helpful, and unproblematic. Even Kiera’s family and her boyfriend, Malcolm, expect her to act a certain way. The only time Kiera is truly herself is when she’s Emerald, the queen in a virtual reality game called Slay. Keira made Slay to celebrate Black excellence, and her multitude of players come from across the globe. Of course, no one in Kiera’s real life knows she made the game, or even that she plays it.

But when a Black boy is murdered for game money, for SLAY money, Kiera’s two very separate lives come crashing together. Kiera is filled with guilt for having created a game that took a boy’s life, but she doesn’t have time to grieve. Media outlets, and the internet has pounced on the game, on HER game, calling it racist and exclusionary. Everyone now has an opinion on SLAY, but Kiera doesn’t know what to do. Not saying anything, she might become complacent to the injustice, but speaking up could risk exposing her identity. Worst of all, Kiera now risks losing SLAY to Dred Scott, a racist troll. Emerald would fight for justice, Kiera knows. Emerald wouldn’t bow down to anyone. But will Kiera?

Slay is an absolute masterpiece. I have to admit to having an aversion to video-game related books, but Slay has dispelled that notion. The world-building in this book is amazing, the details exquisite, and I wished I could see a game like SLAY in real life. Kiera is a well-developed character, but some of the side characters are more likable, at least to me. We are also told how SLAY has impacted people’s lives by having a few chapters told in another perspective, a technique I will always love.

Slay by Brittney Morris gets 9/10. The ending was a bit too unrealistic for my taste, and there were some unnecessary scenes. (and i’m sorry, but the cover!! A portrait cover, *sigh*, and far too much pink, which doesn’t match with the story’s vibe.)

Overall, Slay opens up many important discussions about safe spaces for minorities, identity, and what Black excellence looks like at an individual level. That might sound preachy or way too serious, but I promise you, it’s not. The story itself is captivating and there is a mystery aspect to it as well (yayyy!!). Coming from a minority background myself, Slay feels like a hug after a tiring day, a hug that says “I see you and I feel you.” 100% recommend, whoever you are and whatever you like reading.