Friday, August 08, 2014

The Bridge from Me to You--Lisa Schroeder

Title: The Bridge from Me to You
Author: Lisa Schroeder
Publisher: Scholastic, 2014
Pages: 336 p.
Source: VOYA & Publisher sent a copy separately
Compensation: none

I received a copy of this book to review for VOYA and then a few days later I got another copy randomly mailed to me from Scholastic. I guess the universe really wanted me to read this book.

Lauren is the new girl in a small town that revolves around its high school football team. It’s unclear at first why her mother has abandoned her, forcing her to live with her uncle and his family, and whether or not she deserves it. She has found a loving family with them but she is afraid it will not last and that nothing will work out for her. Colby is the high school football star being recruited by top ivy league schools who secretly wants to stop playing football and study bridges. To stop playing football would disappoint his father, so he keeps his wishes hidden and tries to do right by everybody else. When Lauren and Colby meet they both sense a kindred spirit and a chance at happiness.

The Bridge From Me to You is classified as a romance book but it is so much more. Lauren and Colby’s romance is sweet and slow, but it takes a backseat to larger themes of family and strength and finding one’s self. Lauren must deal with her issues with her mother before she can truly commit to a relationship with Colby, likewise Colby has to face his father. The author lets them work out these issues and develop a friendship instead of jumping into insta-love. The novel is written in alternating chapters of poetry (Lauren) and prose (Colby) that serve the story well. It is a very quick engrossing read that Sarah Dessen fans will appreciate.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Let's Get Lost--Aldi Alsaid

Title: Let's Get Lost
Author: Aldi Alsaid
Publisher: Harlequin Teen, 2014
Pages: 352 p.
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None

Let’s Get Lost is a road trip book with a twist. Leila is traveling from Louisiana to Alaska to see the Northern Lights. Along the way, her trip is delayed by four people who need her help and Leila’s story is told through their eyes. Leila meets mechanic Hudson for a simple tune-up, but soon it’s clear that there are sparks between Hudson and Leila and they set out for a night of epic fun and adventure—on the eve of Hudson’s medical school interview. Hundreds of miles later Leila picks up hitchhiker and sometime shoplifter Bree and learns that seizing the day can be fun but also come with serious consequences. Elliot wants his life to be like a romantic comedy when he confesses his love for his childhood friend, but winds up with a drama instead. Leila helps him pick up the pieces and find the confidence to try again. On the border with Canada, Leila stumbles on guilt-ridden Sonia who is afraid to stop grieving for her deceased boyfriend and move on with a new love. Once Leila reaches the Northern Lights she takes over her own story in the final section.

Leila’s journey is emotional and exciting. Alsaid’s different narrating style invites the reader to join in the ride. Saving Leila’s voice for last lets us get to know her like her traveling companions do. Let’s Get Lost is a touching debut novel and worthy of addition to YA collections.

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Friday, July 04, 2014

The Dark Shore--Kevin Emerson

Title: The Dark Shore: Book Two of the Atlanteans
Author: Kevin Emerson
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2013
Pages: 470 p.
Source: Library
Compensation: None

I reviewed the first book in this series a couple of years ago and while I liked it, life got in the way and I kind of forgot to look out for the second. But then VOYA sent me the 3rd to review and I realized I needed to catch up.

There will be some spoilers in this review (for The Lost Code) if you haven't read the first one yet. Consider yourself warned. 

Owen has discovered that he is part of a lost race of people -- the Atlanteans -- and that he has to fulfill destiny in order to save the planet and humans. He is the Aeronaut-- the one of the Three who can fly a special Atlantean ship to get to the Heart of Terra (Earth). The Mariner (Leech ) can locate it and the Medium can speak to it. The Three need to work together to get the job done and protect themselves from the evil EdenWest who have their own plans for civilization.

Owen had hoped that his girlfriend Lilly would be the Medium but she hasn't lost her gills yet and she hadn't seen the Siren. His hopes are dashed further when they learn of a girl in the South claimed to be the Third Atlantean. She is the center of the Heliad-7 cult controlled by the Benevolent Mother. The Heliad-7 believe in living in the light instead of fearing the sun's dangerous rays and sacrifice long lives for more meaningful ones. Owen and his team are rescued by Heliad-7 when they run into trouble with EdenWest. At first he thinks they've finally found a place of safety and understanding, but he's not entirely sure he can trust the "Benevolent Mother" or the mysterious Third Atlantean. Something strange is going on with Lilly as well.

At first I thought I didn't like this book as much as the first. Everywhere they went, Owen and his team ran into people who knew about the Atlanteans and their journey, but Owen had no idea what was going on when he was at EdenWest. He had never heard of the Atlanteans when he lived in the Hub either. I was confused as to why this seemed to be public knowledge and Owen was in the dark. But by the end of The Dark Shore it all made sense. It was definitely gripping and intense and hard to put down. I finished the book in less than 2 days and that's a pretty big accomplishment for me these days. It wasn't just a filler book to get to the end of the trilogy--a lot happens in this book. There's more world-building, character development, and mythology. There are some really heavy topics as well--ecology, religion, government-- that would make it a great choice for a book club. There are a couple of twists at the end: one is predictable and the other was not (for me). Now that I'm all caught up, I'm looking forward to reading the next one. You'll have to wait until it's published in VOYA before I can post it here though.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Better off Friends--Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: Better off Friends
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point (Scholastic), 2014
Pages: 278 p
Source: Publisher
Compensation: None

I get a lot of my books from the library and VOYA, but I'll also get books randomly mailed to me. Quite a few wind up being too juvenile so I skip them since I never actually asked for them. But once in a while I'm sent something that actually looks promising and YA. This is one of those books.

11-year old Macallan has had her world flipped upside down when her mom dies and is looking forward to the distraction of schoolwork. Levi is the new homesick kid in school looking for his first friend. Macallan is not really interested in anything with Levi until she discovers they both love an obscure British television show. They bond over the show and instantly become best friends. The older they get the harder it is to remain best friends when other relationships and love interfere. 

The book starts out with Macallan and Levi speaking directly to the reader, each with a different font, to set up the story. They continue speaking to the reader after each chapter. The chapters alternate Macallan's point of view with Levi's. Besides the font change, they each have distinctive voices and it's easy to tell who is narrating the chapter. Eulberg has done a good job of distinguishing her characters without resorting to simply using crass language for the boy's perspective. We're able to see both sides of the story so we don't automatically sympathize with one or the other. 

I've said before that I'm not much of a romance reader. I don't mind it if it's part of a larger story but if it's pretty much just pure romance it doesn't keep my interest. This book was different-- it is a romance, but it's about friendships and family and so much more. Better off Friends is funny and interesting and a good addition to any YA collection.

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