Tag Archives: romance

Customer Review: Becoming Jinn

BecomingJinnBecoming Jinn

Lori Goldstein

Feiwel & Friends

$17.99

Available Now

Upon finishing this amazing book the only thought running through my head was “please tell me there is a sequel!!” This book has so many amazing qualities such as being based in Massachusetts, a love triangle, and a race of genies or Jinns. When Ara wakes up on her sixteenth birthday she is transformed into a true Jinn with magical abilities and a new face. In one summer her whole life changes she becomes closer with her Zar sisters, finds herself in a confusing love triangle with her neighbor and a life guard, and discovers that she is more powerful than an average Jinn. This book should be at the very top of your TBR list!

~ Emily, 17

Note: Meet Lori Goldstein at Eight Cousins on Saturday, May 9 at 4pm!

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Staff Review: Marina

9780316044714Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Marina

$19.00

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Available today

Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s final young adult novel is beautifully written and darkly captivating. Its onlydisappointing feature is the unfairly long time it took to be released in the US—it was originally published in Spanish in 1999. Oscar Drai, the lonely 15-year-old protagonist, wanders through parts of 1980 Barcelona that remain locked away ina frozen, post-war Spain. It’s in these anachronistic wanderings that he meets Marina, an equally lonely girl with whom he follows a mysterious woman from a graveyard to an abandoned greenhouse suffused with the stench of death. This act drags them into a web of all-too-real stories from the same era as their wanderings, and from which they are soon unable to disentangle themselves, as their investigations grow steadily more disturbing and dangerous. However, all the intrigue, suspense, and horror of their encounters with reanimated prosthetic limbs, faces ravaged by acid, and the ubiquitous black butterfly become simply a distractionfrom the devastatingly poignant ending. This novel defies categorization, seamlessly blending mystery, adventure, and suspense with a touch of the supernatural and a dash of romance. All of this is woven together in an incredible gothic story with achingly beautiful language and plot twists that keep the reader breathless and glued to the text until the final page.

Warning: I gasped and shouted audibly in public while reading this book. It’s that good.

~ Cara

 

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Staff Review: What I Thought Was True

9780803739093What I Thought Was True

Huntley Fitzpatrick

Dial

$17.99

Available now

Gwen’s close Portuguese immigrant family has served the summer resort trade for two generations, and she’s afraid she and her classmates may be yet another. All of her classmates except handsome Cass, exiled from a fancy private school, that is. Gwen tries to avoid Cass as she works in her father’s small restaurant, helps her mother clean houses, spends time as paid companion to a wealthy but frail widow. But Cass seems unavoidable, her parents are living out the tensions of marrying too young, her little brother’s disabilities weigh on her attention, her cousin and best friend are all but engaged at 18, and catering to clueless plutocrats is demeaning – as are the racy rumors of her prior summer relationships.

Yes, it’s a summer romance — but it’s so much more. Fitzpatrick weaves everything together so gracefully: economic goals and opportunities, a little brother with disabilities, plenty of humor, the purposes of marriage, ethnic and cultural divisions, aging, more humor, athletics, and above all, life in a beach community. Readers who love Sarah Dessen will be delighted to discover Huntley Fitzpatrick.

~ Carol

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Staff Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

9780316213103

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Holly Black

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

$19.00

Available now

I’ve had an advance copy of Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown sitting on my desk since June. I’m not a fan of the Vampire genre. I never read Anne Rice, or watched Buffy. I didn’t jump on the Twilight bandwagon (books or movies). I did read Dracula in grad school, but only because it was selected by my reading group. I don’t actively dislike vampires, I just prefer other supernatural creatures. But that’s not why I didn’t read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown earlier. I had heard it was great and having read other books by Black, I was sure that was true. It was mostly time. And obligations. But then the book was released in September and the reviews started coming out. First there was this review over at io9.com. The reviewer starts the same way I do here: ‘I’m not a vampire person, but . . ..’ The io9 review is smart and enticing. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown moved closer to the top of the must-read pile. More reviews came out and the book started showing up on “Best of the Year” lists. Arg. I started to accept that I was missing something really good. Then I read this review at PW, which included this question and Black’s answer:

This isn’t meant to sound hostile, but: after Twilight and a thousand imitators, why a vampire novel?

I think that’s a great question. I’ve loved vampires for a very long time. In eighth grade, I guess, my research paper was on vampires. I’ve read countless vampire books and in all the time that I have loved vampires they’ve either been so over that you’d be crazy to write a vampire book, or so popular that writing one would be a waste of time because there were too many of them. Eventually I said to myself, there’s never going to be a time when it makes sense to write a vampire book, so just write one.

In the moment I read Black’s response, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown moved directly to the ‘next book’ spot. I love the idea that if you have a story you need to write, then who cares about trends. I knew, from her response, that The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was a book with something to say. And now I’m kicking myself for not reading it back in June.

You can read about plot descriptions, expositions on why this isn’t “just a vampire book”, and persuasive essays on the book’s commentary about social media and celebrity culture elsewhere. Instead, I want to mention two parts that catapulted this book into “one of the best books I’ve read this year” category: the chapter headings and the allusions to carnival.

Each chapter includes a quotation about death from writers and poets such as Woody Allen, George Eliot and George Bernard Shaw along with ballads and folk proverbs. The quotations often connect either directly or tangentially to the action within that chapter, but each quotation is a reminder of humanity’s obsession — and infatuation — with death. It is interesting that most of these quotations are about death and beauty. Death and love. The first chapter heading is a quotation from Whitman, “Nothing can happen more beautiful than death.” The quotations set the tone for the book because they aren’t afraid. They are celebratory. In them, death is an adventure and respite, a lover and a seducer. Place and person. Death is home. Avoiding it. Striving for immortality. Those are the real tragedies.

Chapter 33 contains a quotation from Adrienne Rich: “A thinking woman sleeps with monsters”, which is somewhat of an anomaly in that the quotation does not directly reference death. The quotation is from Rich’s book Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (1963). The inclusion of Rich’s overtly feminist poetry in a story about vampires might seem obvious — yes, yes violent men prey on innocent women — but Black explodes all of those gendered cliches within the narrative itself. Tana isn’t passive. She’s definitely not a victim of male aggression, and , as noted by other reviewers, gender fluidity is a significant factor in this story. So how do we understand the Rich quotation, especially as it comes rather late in the book? If Tana is our guide for intelligent women, then we must acknowledge choice. Tana, as we have come to learn, thinks before she acts and she makes contentious decisions. She can’t control everything that happens to her — and certainly not the actions of others, but she carefully determines her response. If she’s sleeping with monsters, it’s by choice.

At this point in the story, though, the distinction between human and monster has become increasingly blurred. Scientists, according to the narrative, insist that not all vampires are monsters. Humans voluntarily become vampires, indicating that there is something appealing to humans and they aren’t strictly victims. Vampires in coldtowns maintain a degree of social ethics, feeding from tubes and shunts to avoid infecting humans and creating an overpopulation of vampires. Tana continually wonders about the dynamics between vampires and humans, exposing the reader to her unanswerable questions. By the end of the novel, Tana has challenged and dismantled the entire definition of monster, leaving it up to the reader to re-assemble it. In Black’s story, we aren’t dealing with humans and the ‘other’. We are slowly forced to face the horrifying truth that humans are capable of monstrosity. And goodness. We aren’t one or the other, we move between the two. We desire the chance to become the monster, even if for only a short time, we want to escape our own own humanity and that is more terrifying than any monster.

In one of the final chapters — and I don’t think this is too much of a spoiler, because it’s not plot related — Tana “finally understood how the wildness of the Eternal ball was the wildness of grief, the intoxicating dance of carnival, where one leaves oneself at home and becomes something else for a night, hoping that the old skin will still fit when one comes back to it in the morning.” Carnival is time out. Time outside of yourself. Time when people dress-up, wear masks, become someone else. Escape. The paradox of carnival, however, is that during that time, you aren’t someone else. You are still yourself, which begs the question, who is the real you? During carnival, do we put on masks or take them off? Black’s “intoxicating dance of carnival” reminds us that carnival, like death, is seductive.

Death, however, doesn’t let us leave; “To die is landing on some distant shore” (John Dryden, Chapter 15).

Death is our final home; “Call no man happy till he is dead” (Aescylus, Chapter 12).

“Nothing can happen more beautiful than death” (Walt Whitman, Chapter 1).

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Customer Review: These Broken Stars

9781423171027These Broken Stars

Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Disney-Hyperion

$17.99

Available December 10, 2013

This book was fantastic, a blend of sci-fi, survival, and creeping horror. I love that it’s told from both Tarver and Lilac’s points of view, keeping in check their strengths and weaknesses, and adding to the suspense. I couldn’t stop reading; I had to know what happened next. And it was never what I expected; These Broken Stars threw me for a dozen loops. Tarver and Lilac face impossible odds, terrifying circumstances, and new problems. Kaufman and Spooner gave them distinct, well-done personalities, and had them fall in love slowly and realistically. Happily, the love story isn’t the main focus of the novel until much later, and it does add to the book.

The only thing I found a little bit off about These Broken Stars was that *only* Tarver and Lilac sruvived, out of the fifty thousand souls on board. I would have liked for them to encounter another survivor or two, but at the same time, the fact that they were utterly and totally alone helped to set the mood for the story.

These Broken Stars was a deliciously unique, tense science fiction, that had me interested from page one all the way to the end. My advice for you – read it. Read it now.

~Emma, age 15

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Customer Review: The Chaos of Stars

9780062135926_0_Cover-1

The Chaos of Stars

Kiersten White

Harper Collins

$17.99

Available August 21, 2013

The story is set partly in Egypt and partly in Las Vegas, California. The book has a good story line and Isadora (the protagonist) is an interesting character. Her family, immortal Egyptian gods, all have very distinct personalities. Her mother has around 100 children, but makes only some of them immortal and Isadora is not one of them. This is why Isadora is mad at her mum and determined to love anyone “since it is not going to last.” After her mother (Isis, Mother of gods and God of childhood) has some disturbing dreams, Isadora gets sent to live with her brother Sirus and his wife in Las Vegas. There is no such thing as a clean break from the family for anyone with her background and she gets haunted with strange dreams too. I did not like the book The Chaos of Stars as much, but that is only because it is not really my type of story. Other people would probably really like it. It is about how Isadora meets Ry and loves him, but does not want to, which gives the story a dramatic turn. I would recommend this book to anyone who would enjoy half the story being about love and the other half about family drama, peppered with ancient Egyptian mythology.

~Helena

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Morse Pond Review: Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood

9780763655082

Abby McDonald

Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood

Candlewick Press

$17.99

Available now

Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood is a fabulous story! It grabbed my attention right away. This story starts off with Grace and Hallie losing their father. The father’s spouse and the girls’ stepmother, Portia, is left with everything. The girls and their mom are forced to move out of their house which was owned by their father, and move to L.A. and live with a rich uncle they have never met. Hallie, an actress who is trying to make it big, is very excited for the move. But Grace does not want to move, especially after meeting her new crush at the funeral. They move to L.A. and Grace has her heartbroken, while Hallie finds new love. Will Hallie’s heart get broken too? Or will she make it big? And will Grace find love after all? Read this amazing book with lots of twist and turns to find out!

~ Celia, 6th grade

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