Skip to main content

Teen SRC 2020- A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder - Jackson, Holly

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson seemed like an interesting read (the cover is amazing, and i judged the book by it, fight me 😉 ). But then, the synopsis ended up disappointing me. It sounded like the book was a mash-up of literally every other YA murder mystery. We have our usual ‘good’ white girl protagonist, our suspect from a marginalized community, with a name like ‘Sal Singh’ to make it extra obvious. We have the popular/mean girl murder victim (Andie) and the lazy/racist reporter. Then, of course, Ravi. The younger brother of previously mentioned murderer that killed his girlfriend then himself (Sal Singh). Of course, Ravi is the cute but very reserved and intense love interest.

The first quarter of this book made me want to chuck it at a wall. But I kept going and… it improved. BY A LOT.

The characters stayed flat. Only Pippa (protag) had some sort of character arc, and even that was half-hearted. No, the only thing that redeemed this book was the mystery. It was SHOCKINGLY well-planned and thought out. I didn’t guess the murderer and wouldn’t have in a thousand years, but IT MADE SENSE.

The romance ended up growing on me, and the relationships between the characters are okay. I don’t have much else to say, so the rating: 8/10. Boring and stereotyped characters, but BRILLIANT mystery. Enjoyable, and suspenseful, but seriously– too many cliches.

Teen SRC 2020- The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos

The Girl They Left Behind - Veletzos, Roxanne

The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos is the most moving, heartbreaking and beautiful book I’ve read in a long time. Set in World War II Romania, the book tells the life story of two families joined despite war, boundaries, and suffering, by the daughter they share.

Natalia is four years old when the knock comes on her door. The police is here to arrest her father and take her and her mother away. It is only by sheer luck that the family runs away in the cover of the night. Fearing for their lives, and that of their daughter’s, Natalia’s parents have to make the worst decision of their lives. Leave Natalia behind, and give her the chance at a better life, breaking their own hearts in the process, or risk taking her with them, where death is an almost certain possibility.

Enter Despina and Anton. In every way except one, they are the perfect young couple. She is rich and gorgeous, he is charming and happy. But after four miscarriages, the sadness that hangs on Despina is too much for Anton to accept. At the orphanage, Despina and Anton are shocked to meet Natalia a silent, broken girl, and not the joyous bundle they expected. But something stirs deep inside her heart and Despina knows she needs Natalia’s love just as much as Natalia needs hers.

Despina, Anton, and Natalia’s story is told in gripping scenes and chapters, time passing as Natalia slowly grows up into a young woman. With the war ending, and the Soviets taking control, the family’s fortunes are reversed. They lose everything, and come close to losing each other. Victor, a young man Anton took under his wing years ago, returns later in the story as a powerful Communist leader. He becomes, even as they begin a secret affair, Natalia’s only chance at freedom.

With the devastation of war and the power of love, comes the pain of sacrifice. What will Natalia choose: staying with the only people she’s ever loved, in an ever-shrinking world, or leave behind everything to seek freedom, and answers to a past she thought buried?

Wow, okay, so the description went a little long (sorry! and believe me, there were no spoilers in it). The book itself includes so much more, and every bit of it is raw, and riveting. The passage of time was discreet, and well-written, and the subplots/ change in perspectives were amazing. The only thing I didn’t like in the book was the romance between Victor and Talia, and the fact that sometimes a scene would start in the middle, telling us what happened before instead of showing it. That glossed over some things should’ve been more important.

Anyway, the book shook me to my core. It made me cry, both from sorrow and happiness. Each character is complex, none of them perfect (having well-written characters in historical fiction is a must!!) The Girl They Left Behind matches to the likes of The Book Thief. 10/10, no regrets.

Teen SRC 2020 – Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie

Bone Crier's Moon - Purdie, Kathryn

Bone ​Criers have a sacred job. Them alone can keep the dead from preying the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes with a great sacrifice. The gods order a promise of dedication to their duty. And that promise includes the life of the Bone Criers’ one true love. Ailesse has been molded since her first breath to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers. But first she must successfully complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she loves. Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier which he wasn’t supposed to wittiness, and now he seeks revenge. Along with his companions’ whose family has also been taken as sacrifice by Bone Criers. But when he finally kidnapped one, his craving for vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fate has already been tied. Sabine, Ailesse’s best friend, never had the guts to take part of the Bone Crier’s work. But when Ailesse had been caught, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means breaking their traditions or acting against their matriarch just to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. And to just make circumstances even worse the matriarch seems to be harboring dark secrets and Sabine only has one year to save Ailesse, or they will all die.

Read More

Teen SRC 2020- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars

Having read Genuine Fraud (also by E. Lockhart) I started We Were Liars happily expecting to have my socks knocked off. And it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Welcome to the Sinclair family. Tall, proud, and rich. Golden-haired, freckled, and most importantly: perfect. There are no Sinclair addicts, drop-outs, or failures. And every summer, the prestigious family meets on their very own island. But one summer, when the Liars (Cadence, her cousins, and a family friend named Gat) are fifteen, something goes horribly wrong. Cadence has an accident and now, at seventeen, she’s still suffering from constant migraines and selective amnesia. She doesn’t remember a thing of what happened. But after having skipped summer sixteen to travel Europe with her dad, Cadence finally returns to Beechwood Island, desperate for answers.

We Were Liars was absolutely brilliant. The idea of a perfect and rich family with their own island is fascinating, and E. Lockhart pulled it off impeccably AND realistically. The flashbacks, Cadence’s pain written in fanciful poetry, and yes, even the romance, was enjoyable to read. It beautifully conveyed the reality that no family is perfect, and there is an overall message in the book about dealing with family problems, money, expectations, pain, loss, and guilt…

And then there’s the plot twist. OH BOY, what can I say about the plot twist? My heart skipped a beat and I had to read the page again and again when I got to it. And the best part: it was entirely believable. (I mean, it took some time but I eventually came to terms with it.) Seriously, the plot twist is amazing.

The book isn’t perfect. (Duh, nothing’s perfect. Not even the Sinclairs!) The switching timelines were confusing: I didn’t know half the time when Cadence was talking about summer fifteen or seventeen. It could have been improved with chapter headings or something like ‘before’ and ‘after’. Cadence is okay as a character– not enough personality in my opinion, and not very likable, either. There were also some overdone metaphors that cut the quality of the writing, and and abrupt ending that needed more and slower falling action.

But please, don’t let my harsh criticism put you off. (that’s just me being me, really.) We Were Liars gripped me from the start and I finished the book in hours. I sacrificed sleep for it, and I don’t regret a thing. It’s the best of the best of contemporary suspense novels and I can’t wait to read it again. 9.5/10.

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.

Read More

August’s Teen Book Club

Welcome to the August’s Teen Book Club! Can you believe that half the summer has already passed! Even though the library is open in a small capacity, we still can’t meet in the library, so we’re doing a book club here on the blog. Participate by commenting below this post and start discussions with other teens. And there’s prizes!! Remember, 1 teen will win 1 Book Prize each week for a thoughtful comment in the monthly Teen Book Club.

For the month of August, let’s talk all about Romance in books. Should romance always be a plot point in books?

To get you started, here are some questions for you:

  • Romance is great and lovely, but should it be in almost every book?
  • Did the romance make sense, or did it ruin the story?
  • Why is romance such a large part of teen books?
  • Does the romance in the story help the character or the plot?
  • What is your favourite romance book or storyline?

Teen SRC 2020 – The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

The Downstairs Girl

A historical fiction mystery with a witty protagonist not afraid to speak her mind. You can’t go wrong with a book like this, but adding proper POC representation, unconventional family troubles, and career goals is just icing on the cake.

Introducing: Jo Kuan. She lives with her stand-in father, Old Gin, in the basement of a print shop, in 1890’s Atlanta. Having just been fired from a millinery (apparently customers are uncomfortable with her directness. Or maybe it’s her Chinese features. Probably both.) Jo has no choice but to take up position once again as a maid for Caroline Payne, the downright cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in the city. If memory serves right, Jo is going to have her work cut out for her, especially now that she’s started anonymously penning the column “Miss Sweetie.” She started the column so that the newspaper shop (also secretly serving as her home) can stay in business.

But as each article starts voicing more and more progressive ideas, the elite of Atlanta pick up pitchforks. How could someone so openly write against segregation, encourage women to ride the bicycle, and–gasp!– promote a future for women that ISN’T marriage? Jo knows that if Miss Sweetie is unmasked as a Chinese commoner, it could mean her life. But having had a taste of the freedom words can give, Jo isn’t ready to give up so easily.

I absolutely adored this book. The summary I (tried to) give above is just a fraction of the plot, all of which is completely riveting. Stacey Lee’s writing style is unique, and honestly, at first, I didn’t know what to think about it. The funny expressions grew on me, though, and I ended up loving her style. Don’t let the cover put you off (the potential wasted on portrait covers is a hill I will die on)– this book is worth a read.

Teen SRC 2020- Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

Dry

Living in a time where dystopian books are common and overdone (the more apocalyptic and doomsday-ish, the better) it’s truly rare to find a book that will leave you with chills running down your spine. Dry, by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman does exactly that.

The idea behind this book is also unusual but not entirely unimaginable; what if the taps were to suddenly go dry? What if there was no more running water, and what if everyone around you suddenly became a thirsty water-zombie that would stop at nothing to get a few drops of the stuff? I know what you’re thinking. No running water, the end of the world, and ZOMBIES? Not another apocalypse book!

And while I don’t consider myself an expert on sci-fi or dystopian novels (not really my genre), I think this book did some things differently that changed it from an overused cliche doomsday book to something special.

First: This novel is narrated by a multiple person perspective. The first few characters stuck throughout the story, but others were just here to offer ‘snapshots’. I found it interesting because we didn’t just see what the Tap-Out meant for Alyssa, Kelton and their friends but for a whole host of different people. Living the apocalypse isn’t really fun when you don’t get the whole experience, am I right?

Read More