Great Reads for Teens and Tweens!

Helping you make an informed decision about that book

The Shadowland by Meg Cabot (Mediator Series Book 1)

Title: Shadowland The Mediator Series Bk.1

Author: Meg Cabot

Publisher: HarperTeen           Year: 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0060725112

Genre: Fiction

Age: 13 and up

Awards: ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults

Themes / Subjects: Ghosts, Fantasy, Romance, Relationships, high school, mediator

Plot Summary:

Suze is a high school sophomore, who, in her own words has “this unfortunate ability to communicate with the dead.” She’s a mediator which means she is responsible for helping ghosts solve unresolved issues so they can move on to the next world. As important as Suze’s role is, it is one that she has always resented. At sixteen, she just wants to be a normal teenage girl, worried about clothes and boys, not dead people To make matters worse, her mom has remarried and is moving them from New York City and clear across the country to northern California. With a new stepdad who’s pretty cool, and three stepbrothers who turn out to be a pain, Suze hopes this move to California will be a positive change. At least she thought that until she meets Heather, the angry ghost of a girl who committed suicide over Christmas break and wants revenge on her ex-boyfriend.

My Take:

Meg Cabot is one of my all-time favorite authors so I was really surprised I hadn’t heard about this book until a student suggested I read it. This has now become one of my favorite YA series! Every day I would look forward to seeing this particular student and would greedily beg for the next book in the series.

This is a fast paced novel, chock full of sarcasm and ghost busting action! The book immediately begins with action and just continues to get better. Things really pick up when Suze realizes she is stuck sharing a room with the ghost of a young boy named Jesse. Swoon! He sounds really dreamy (kinda weird since he is dead) and it’s hilarious how much he aggravates Suze. Heather (angry, evil spirit) is absolutely crazy and truly believes that Suze is trying to take over her life and place at the high school.

You will find yourself constantly laughing in the most random of places and breezing through this book with no problem. If you are a fan of the paranormal, romance, and sarcastically funny protagonists, then this is a book for you!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars! All teen girls should READ THIS BOOK!

Similar read: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White … Evie considers herself a normal teenage girl even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency.

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Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Title: Twilight

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Year: 2008

ISBN -13: 978-0316038379

Age: 14 and up

Genre: Fiction

Subjects / Themes: high school, forbidden romance, fantasy & magic, vampires, relationships

Awards: Publishers Weekly’s “Best Children’s Books of 2005”, School Library Journal’s “Best Books of 2005”, 2008 #26 in USA Today’s list of “Bestselling Books of Last 15 Years”, bestselling book of 2008 and second biggest selling of 2009

Plot Summary:

When 17-year-old Bella Swan moves to Forks, Washington she unwillingly becomes the center of attention in her new peers eyes, except one. Bella is mystified by the alluring and handsome Edward Cullen who spends little time socializing with his classmates and most of the time with his family. The Cullens have managed to keep their vampire identity a secret in the small community of Forks but everything changes when their existence and Bella’s life is threatened.Can Bella and Edward’s love survive their biological differences and will Edward be able to protect everyone he loves?

My Take:

This wouldn’t be a teen book review blog if I didn’t include the “hottest” book since Harry Potter and before the Hunger Games. I’ve put off this review because I’m not sure I can be completely unbiased. Let me explain …

The first time I read this book I was in college and recently single. I never really fit in with any of my classmates so I was totally feeling like Bella Swan. The idea of falling in love with a good-looking but dangerous boy? Enticing. I devoured every page and didn’t sleep a wink that entire week because I JUST HAD TO READ THE WHOLE SERIES.

The second time I read the book I hated every minute of it. Coming out of a tough break-up probably didnt’ help but all I could think was Bella was an idiot. I couldn’t understand what had appealed to me the first time I read the book but this second time I was definitely not Bella. How could she put herself in danger and not think or care about how it would affect her family or few friends? Or my biggest annoyance, how could their love be so deep and true if they hardly knew one another?!

Not too long ago I reread this book for a third time. I can honestly say, I don’t understand the hype around this book or movie. Sure the story is fun and a little daring but I found too many flaws and inconsistencies in Meyer’s writing to really enjoy the book. For example in one paragraph it’s the beginning of the week and Bella is getting ready for finals, the next paragraph finals are over but in the paragraph after that Edward is walking her down the hall after Bella finishes her first final. What the heck? I found myself having to reread certain passages over and over again before I could move on which made this third reading rather tedious. I found the characters to be rather shallow and poorly developed. How could Bella an honor student act so stupid sometimes? And if Edward has lived for a hundred years, why isn’t he smarter?

All in all … if you are thinking about reading it after a break-up, don’t. You really won’t like it. If you are thinking about reading it for fun, then enjoy. If you have an analytical brain who likes a story to have a consistent flow, I’d think twice.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Those inconsistencies really bug me!

Similar Read: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends      Year: 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0312641894

Genre: Science Fiction

Age: 12 and up

Themes / Subjects: Science Fiction & fantasy, fairytale retelling, dystopia, alternate worlds, Cinderella, family, friendship

Plot Summary:

Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing and a cyborg. Orphaned as a child after a terrible accident, doctors were able to save her life by replacing her foot and hand with metal ones. Despite being a medical miracle, cyborgs are looked down upon and considered second class citizens. Now sixteen-years-old she spends long days at a booth in the market repairing androids and portscreens then heads home to a cruel and loveless home ruled by an evil stepmother. Cinder’s two step-sisters couldn’t be more opposite; where Pearl is mean and just as evil as her stepmother, Peony is sweet and Cinder’s best human friend. One afternoon Prince Kair comes to the market to have Cinder fix his beloved android and immediately there is chemistry between them. But when Peony contracts the deadly plague letumosis for which there is no cure and Cinder gets caught in the middle of a political battle between two worlds, Cinder’s life changes drastically.

My Take:

Cinderella as a futuristic cyborg named Cinder? AWESOME! I had never heard of this book until I saw it on one of the shelves of the school book fair. How cool is that beautiful red high heel with a translucent leg and metal bones showing? As soon as I read the back cover I knew I had to read this book!

Marissa Meyer’s takes the well-known fairytale Cinderella and gives it an interesting futuristic/sci-fi twist. Although much of the book was predictable, I still found myself unable to stop reading as the suspense of the Lunar people and their Queen was built up. There is just the right amount of romance, heartache and humor to captivate all readers. While reading, it was a lot of fun to notice subtle tributes to the original Cinderella story such as the pumpkin-orange car and a loose foot that could possibly be left on the palace stairs.

My favorite and scariest parts of the book are Cinder and Prince Kai’s interactions with the Lunar people, especially Queen Levana, because Lunars have a special kind of “magic.” I won’t spoil it for you so go and read the book and find out for yourself!

Again, I have found myself in a predicament … this is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series with the next books Sarcelt, Cress, and Winter not coming out until 2013, 2014 and 2015. UGH!! I hate waiting!! What happens next?

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars … the “twist” at the end of the story was predictable from the beginning otherwise a fun retelling of Cinderella

Similar read: A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce

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Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman

 Title: Son of the Mob

 Author: Gordon Korman

 Publisher: Hyperion  Year: 2004

 ISBN-13: 978-0786815937

 Genre: Fiction

 Age: 12 and up

Awards: American Library Association 2003 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults Annotated List – Book 2001 Son of the Mob

Themes / Subjects: humor, mystery/detective, family life, social situations

Plot Summary:

17-year-old Vince Luca just wants to be your normal high school student and lead a normal life. He spends his time chasing girls, playing on the football team and hanging out with his best friend Alex. But there is absolutely nothing normal about his family. His father happens to be THE mob boss running the “vending machine business” in New York and Vince’s “uncles,” brother, and dad expect him to join the family business. Vince on the other hand wants nothing to do with it. Instead he rebels and attempts to escape his family’s image and reputation. However, nothing goes as Vince plans and to make matters worse he’s fallen for the one girl whose father could take down the whole Luca family and business.

My Take:

This was my first time reading anything by Gordon Korman and I am hooked! This book is not your typical kill/torture mafia story but rather less talk more action, page turning suspense and just a hint of romance.  Korman does a phenomenal job describing and bringing to life the internal and external struggles Vince Luca experiences as a result of being a “mob prince” and a senior in high school. Torn between loyalty to his family and the desire to be a good, normal kid, Vince is going to have to make some rather gutsy decisions that are going to impact everyone around him.

There are some references to drugs and sex but they do not play a major role in the book. Violence is a big part of the mafia life, aka “vending machine business”, but it is important to note that Vince does everything in his power to avoid violence being used. I think his lack of threats and weapons is what makes him such a powerful and relatable character. Plus, it is very interesting to read about falling in love from a guy’s perspective without it ruining the pace of the story.

This book is a great way to open up a discussion with younger readers regarding morals and values because of the questionable acts of the Luca family and the ways in which Vince handles them.

And just because I love the way they describe it, from Publishers Weekly … “The Sopranos (minus the vulgarity and violence) meets Leave It to Beaver (minus the “aw-shucks” tone and dated sensibility) in Korman’s (No More Dead Dogs) brassy, comical caper. With its razor-sharp dialogue and bullet-fast pace, this tale could fly on either the small or big screen, yet it makes a page-turner of a novel.”

Rating: 5/5 stars … This book is a must read if you like action, suspense and a little romance. Or if you happen to find random bodies in the back of your car and suspect your parents to be in the “vending machine business.”

Similar read: Breaking Point by Alex Flinn

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