Book Review | Cygnet by Season Butler

cygnet book cover.jpgA seventeen year old girl has been abandoned by her parents. They’ve left her on an island in the Atlantic with her grandmother. It was supposed to be maybe only a week, but the seasons have changed over and they aren’t coming back. Grandma has died and the bluff that makes up the back yard to her island house is eroding into the ocean. The girl is living alone, on an island composed solely of the elderly, trying to pay rent by editing photos for $5 an hour as she waits to be collected by addict parents who will surely come every tomorrow.

Cygnet is a delight. Butler’s writing is fabulous. Certain passages are so intricately composed as to just cause the reader to marvel a bit. The story is original enough and with interesting reflective themes incorporated, providing for a good read. The plot is slightly loose, but followable. Butler would be a solid choice to watch for upcoming works. Cygnet could be considered a coming of age or YA text, but adults may appreciate it more. It could also be used in a teen book group to generate discussion. Check it out from a library near you!

Publication is scheduled for June of 2019. I received an uncorrected proof of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating.

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Book Review | Anna by Niccolò Ammaniti

anna cover.jpegA dystopian young adult novel, Anna is reminiscent of several previous works. After the Red Fever virus has swept through the world infecting and killing all adults, but sparing youth until puberty, a child only society takes hold. The plot focuses on the survival of Anna and her younger brother Astor. In their quest to traipse across Sicily and head to the mainland of Italy, they encounter various difficulties.

Though the written word in this text is appealing, the plot and characters are somewhat lacking. Despite having a strong female protagonist, none of the characters are particularly like-able, and are somewhat flat. The story flows at a decent enough clip that the book can still be finished, but it may leave a reader feeling their time could have been better spent. It would serve as a quick read for an adult seeking temporary distraction, or could be used in a t(w)een book group to generate discussion. Though translated from Italian, a fair number of libraries have it, so check with a library near you.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating.

Book Review | Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love

Dear Heartbreak- YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love book cover.jpgTo be released on Tuesday, Dear Heartbreak is a collection of letters written by teens concerning their heartbreak struggles and the corresponding responses from YA authors. The authors provide encouragement, life tips and personal anecdotes to address the teens’ issues. Topics dealt with include loneliness, self confidence, disability, assault, depression, termination of a relationship, lack of a relationship and self love, among others. Clearly some letters and responses will be more relatable to readers experiencing those specific issue. As each letter response comes from a different YA author, this book could also provide solid future reading suggestions based on the discovery of these new (to the reader) authors.

Though not quite yet published, check to see if a library near you has ordered this title, and if you can place a hold on a new copy.

I received an advance reader’s edition of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

For further reading, young adults dealing with stress or troubling situations may appreciate the insights offered in Be Mindful and Stress Less: 50 Ways to Deal with Your (Crazy) Life by Gina Biegal (2018).

Book Review | Damselfly by Chandra Prasad

damselfly cover.jpgReminiscent of Lord of the Flies, Prasad’s latest YA novel details the events of teens surviving a plane crash on a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean. The high school fencing teams from an elite East Coast boarding school were in route to a competition in Japan when their private jet went down. As they learn to utilize the island’s resources to survive, they are simultaneously threatened by discord among themselves and an unknown enemy who wants them gone on threat of death.

Damselfly is an easy text to jump into. The story proceeds at a good clip, focusing mainly on the plot. While the cast of characters is not very likable, they aren’t off-putting enough to discourage the reader. Prasad includes social issues such as racism, eating disorders, mental health and environmentalism, perhaps making this text more relevant today than Golding’s classic. It could serve as a quick read for an adult seeking adventure, or be used in a teen book group to generate discussion. Check it out from a library near you!

I received an uncorrected proof of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating.

Book Review | The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

impossible fortress cover.jpgReturn to the 1980’s for some of the first consumer computers to hit the market. The Impossible Fortress introduces a few teens not yet old enough to buy the Vanna White Playboy. As the boys try to figure out their best shot for getting a copy, Billy begins programming a computer game with Mary to submit in competition. Billy develops feelings for Mary, which causes a ripple effect influencing the ragtag heist.

A fast paced story with ample chapter breaks, this book can be read quickly. While it reads like a YA novel with emphasis on action and plot, many references to 1980’s things will be lost on someone born after 1980. For adults, the characters may not be relatable and their repeated stupid choices will be very frustrating. Rekulak incorporates some topics that make the book unique, but they aren’t fully played out. In summary, the book is a quick read with a decent story, but it’s value is decreased by the author’s seeming lack of choice between an adult novel and a YA piece. Recommended for outcast teens, those interested in 1980’s computer programming, and video game geeks. Check it out from a library near you.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Aki and Christa are high schoolers who fall in like at first sight when their church groups join up in a small town to help with the construction of a new church. The girls sneak off in the evenings to make out with each other and deal with trying to hide their relationship by day. The book mainly addresses a teen coming to terms with her (bi)sexuality while on a summer youth group trip to Mexico, but also includes broader social issues within the context.

Our Own Private Universe keeps a decent pace and tells a story that holds the reader’s intrest. Some sections, especially that narrator’s internal monologue, are a bit repetitive. As a YA novel, it’s successful in its inclusion of diversity, budding sexuality, and melodrama. Adult readers may be put off by all of the characters lying to each other or the narrator’s tendency to blow things out of proportion. The book could serve as a good introduction to teens trying to orient themselves on the LGBTQIA spectrum. Check it out from a library near you.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating.

Book Review | The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook

hanging girl cover.jpgDuring Skye’s senior year of high school, a fellow classmate is kidnapped. After popular Paige goes missing, no one suspects tarot card reader Skye could be involved, which makes her the perfect choice of accomplice. Skye’s role is to feed tips to the police under the guise that she’s having visions about the crime. Problems arise when Paige doesn’t stick to their plans and Skye realizes she is in over her head.

As a young adult suspense mystery, The Hanging Girl is successful. The story is easy to follow and has enough plot twists to keep the reader guessing until the very end. Chapter breaks are frequent enough and the book’s length is appropriate. That said, the characters are difficult, in that they are rather unlikable, and the narrator is self-deprecating. Similes are overused and the writing style, at times, is a challenge. Readers who enjoy a book for its story that can overlook the stylistic annoyances will have a winner here. Check it out from a library near you!

I received an advance reading copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating.

*Fans of The Hanging Girl, may be interested in The Leaf Reader by Emily Arsenault (2017).