Magnolia by Kristi Cook

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Magnolia is just as sweet as the name suggests. The Cafferty and Marsden families are old Southern royalty. Their families’ connection can be traced all the way back to the Civil War. The families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. When Jemma and Ryder are born just a few weeks apart, the families think its fate for these two to finally unite the two famous families so they can rule Magnolia Branch, Mississippi together.

The problem is Jemma and Ryder hate each other. Both Jemma and Ryder are more concerned about cheerleading, SEC football, and high school. However when Jemma and Ryder are forced to work through a tragedy together, they realize they may have more in common than they think.

This book echoes Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, told through acts, but with the relationship of the main characters reversed from the original tale.

There are so many things that I loved about this book, but most of all I loved how unique it was. Its Southern setting and language really bring something new and interesting to the book. I would recommend this book for any reader of YA romance who is looking for something short and sweet.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Stephanie Rudisill

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We Were Liars by e. lockhart

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Summertime on Beechwood Island in Massachusetts has always been special for the Sinclair family. Harris Sinclair, the patriarch of the family, owns the small island near Martha’s Vineyard and built a summer house there for each of his three daughters. Cadence “Cady” Eastman, eldest grandchild of Harris and his beloved wife Tipper, has happily lived and loved every summer with her extended family on Beechwood.

Summer 15 proves to be difficult in many ways. It’s the year when everything changes. Cady’s father leaves. Tipper passes away. Cady realizes in her heart that she’s in love with Gat, her cousin Johnny’s best friend, who also spends his summers on Beechwood Island. The summer Gat tells her he loves her. But what about his girlfriend back home? Their first kiss. The summer of her “accident”, an accident she doesn’t really remember. Secrets and lies. The summer when her world comes apart.

Summer 16 is not a good one for Cady either. She is forced to go on a European vacation with her father instead of her usual summer plans. She hasn’t been in touch with any of the “Liars”, cousin Mirren, Cousin Johnny, or her Gat. None of them have written or called since her accident the previous summer. No Beechwood. No Gat. No Liars. Only brutal migraines that leave Cady in extreme pain, sometimes sleeping for days, and taking meds that the doctors prescribe but don’t actually work.

Now, it’s Summer 17, two years after her accident. She has convinced her mom to let her come back to Beechwood. Bits and pieces of Summer 15 flash back to her in between her frequent migraines. All Cady remembers about the accident was going down to the beach alone to swim and the way she was found, freezing and curled up into a ball on the shore. Something else must’ve happened. A fight maybe? She must’ve hit her head on the rocks, right? Hypothermia they said. Respiratory issues they said. But why can’t she remember? Traumatic brain injury and selective amnesia was her diagnosis, but it still made no sense. Why would Cady go alone when the three other Liars were always with her? So many questions Cady couldn’t answer. Or could she?

Lockhart does an amazing job with this story. I couldn’t put it down. Some will see the plot twist and some won’t, but it doesn’t change the intrigue and mystery surrounding Cady’s accident and the craziness in her family. I would definitely recommend this to anyone that enjoys quick reads, romance, and a good mystery.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Kelly Handy

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This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel

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This Dark Endeavour is the first book in Oppel’s The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series. Taking place when Victor Frankenstein was just a teenager, This Dark Endeavour charts Victor’s quest to find the elixir of life after his twin brother, Konrad, falls seriously ill. Accompanied by Konrad, and their distant cousin, Elizabeth, Viktor begins to study ancient alchemical texts after finding a secret library in his family’s chateau. Yet, once Konrad gets sick, Victor’s interest in alchemy becomes an obsession, often putting his and Elizabeth’s lives in danger as they try to gather the ingredients necessary for the elixir of life. The story is suspenseful and atmospheric, and I often could not put it down.

Fans of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and of the gothic horror genre are sure to enjoy this gripping read. Oppel stays true to the feel of Shelley’s original work, while creating a whole new back story and bringing new life to the characters of Frankenstein in this prequel. He also expertly writes his characters, creating a plausible explanation for the adult Victor Frankenstein’s obsession with overcoming death. This Dark Endeavour is followed up by an excellent sequel, Such Wicked Intent, and I am eagerly awaiting Oppel announcing the third book in the series.

Check this book out or put it on hold.
-Caitlin Connelly

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Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

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In this twist on the classic fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast,” Nyx has been raised her whole life knowing that it is her destiny to marry the Dark Lord, the evil ruler of her kingdom. On her seventeenth birthday Nyx marries Ignifex with one mission, kill him and free Arcadia, even though she will likely die in the process. Of course, like in “Beauty and the Beast,” things aren’t quite so straightforward once Nyx gets to know her mysterious husband. She is intrigued by and drawn to Ignifex and her commitment to what she has been tasked to do begins to waver.

Hodge has created a unique world in her novel. Nyx’s kingdom is completely cut off from the outside world, thanks to the Dark Lord, and is plagued by demons. The world of Cruel Beauty combines elements of both Greek and Roman mythology. Hodge’s writing is beautiful and I could easily picture the kingdom of Arcadia and Ignifex’s constantly changing mansion as Nyx searches for a way to fulfill her mission. Hodge’s detailed descriptions of setting and of Nyx, a strong yet imperfect heroine, were two of my favorite elements of this book.

For lovers of fairy tale retellings and fantasy, Cruel Beauty will not disappoint. My only quibble is that the ending felt a little rushed, after a lot of build up. But overall, Cruel Beauty is one of my favorite books of 2014, and I will definitely read Hodge’s next novel Crimson Bound.

Check this book out or put it on hold.
-Caitlin Connelly

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Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Just Listen

Just Listen is the story of teen model Annabel Greene, who finds her world tumbling down when she loses her best friends and realizes she doesn’t enjoy modeling anymore. Kristen and Whitney, Annabel’s two older sisters, were also models, but their lives are far from perfect. Kristen, the rebellious one, has quit modeling, and Whitney develops anorexia. Worried that her modeling career is the only thing keeping her mom going, Annabel decides to keep her feelings inside.

At the beginning of a new school year, Annabel feels lost and has nowhere to turn until she meets Owen Armstrong. Owen’s interest in music is far from normal, but Annabel feels like she can tell him the truth, something she isn’t used to doing. His personality is very different from Annabel’s. He is an open and honest person and possibly just the thing Annabel needs to help her through this tough time.

It’s interesting to see where the relationship goes. Sarah Dessen is a wonderful YA author. I also started reading one of her other novels, Dreamland, since I enjoyed this one so much. It’s a wonderful story that will leave you wanting more.

Check this book out or put it on hold.
-Azure K.

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Unbreakable by Kami Garcia, (The Legion #1)

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Kennedy Waters is just a normal seventeen-year-old girl until a ghost tries to kill her. Luckily, she is saved by identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart. Not only do they save her, but they explain that her mother was part of a secret organization, now known as “The Legion”, that protects humanity from evil.

Kennedy joins them and two other members, Priest and Alara, as they try to find out who killed the previous members. It’s a race against time to figure out the various puzzles left by the previous group on their way to finding the one weapon that can destroy the demons forever.

Originally I picked this up because I enjoyed her book, Beautiful Creatures. It also helped that they claimed it was Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code. The twins reminded me somewhat of the Winchester brothers from Supernatural, without me being able to make obvious comparisons. I love Garcia’s writing style and I loved this book even more than her last series. I really can’t wait to see what comes next.

Check this book out or put it on hold.
-Natalie Martinez

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Blythewood by Carol Goodman

 

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Aveline Hall’s adventure begins with the death of her beloved mother. From there, things go from bad to worse. She is involved in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, hunted by a man who breathes smoke, and escapes from an insane asylum. Next, she journeys to Blythewood Academy, a boarding school that her mother once attended. As she begins to discover the secrets of Blythewood, and of the dashing young man who saved her from the fire, she may find that the most dangerous secrets regard her family history.

Why I picked it up: To be honest, at first I wanted to read this because I saw she had been through so very much. Could the author pull this off without the character becoming a “Mary Sue”? I think she did a great job on this.

Why I finished it: I think the author has wonderful world building skills. I liked this concept of weaving old world ideas with her own special brand of magic.

I’d give it to: Teens who don’t mind more historical settings, teens who enjoy paranormal romance or teens who enjoy paranormal action novels.

Check this book out or put it on hold.
-Natalie Martinez

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