“Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories” by Stephanie Perkins

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Written by twelve of the best-selling young adult writers today, Summer Days and Summer Nights, consists of a brand new love story in each chapter written by a different author. This anthology was edited by Stephanie Perkins, an international best-selling author, who also contributed to the book by writing a chapter herself titled, “In Ninety Minutes, Turn North.” The remaining eleven authors who took part in writing this teen novel include Veronica Roth, Cassandra Clare, Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

Each short story of, Summer Days and Summer Nights, is set in its own unique world that at times can seem similar to reality and other times incorporates the work of fantasy to tell the love story. All characters in this novel are either in their high school years or transitioning to college, which can cause a connection with readers of the same age. This modern anthology tells real stories of love and relationships that involves LGBT couples, mental illnesses in relationships, scenarios without a happy ending, and more. There are ups and downs just like in real life, but humorous, romantic, and happy moments are just as or even more frequent throughout the whole book.

Readers who take this book off the shelf will find times in the novel that are easy to relate to, no matter if they’ve ever fallen in love or not. Whether the story begins with a crush, an already existing couple, close friends, or two people who insist on steering clear from relationships, heartwarming love will inevitably bloom in these summer tales. Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories is the perfect book to read for a relaxing summer day at the beach or a hot summer night. Who knows, maybe this heartfelt compilation of passionate affairs will encourage the readers, to find love for themselves and ignite unexpected, memorable relationships even if just for one summer.

Check this book out or put it on hold

-Gaby Chacon

 

 

 

“Black Widow: Forever Red” by Margaret Stohl

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Eight years ago, Natasha Romanoff is sent to Ukraine to kill Ivan Somodorov, the man who trained her to become a Black Widow. S.H.I.E.L.D. has discovered that Ivan was trying to create more Black Widows, and cannot let that happen. Natasha rescues a young girl, Ava Orlova, from Ivan’s hideout before the base explodes. Natasha promises young Ava that she will always watch over her because they are both “Ivan’s girls”. Fast forward to the present and Ava Orlova is now a teenager who lives on the streets after escaping from a S.H.I.E.L.D. safe house. She has dreams of a boy named Alex Manor, and she goes to a fencing competition in Philadelphia to attempt to meet him. When she meets him, he doesn’t recognize Ava at all, and she wonders why she is having dreams of him. When she tries registering for the competition, the lady running the registration table turns out to be Natasha, and she tells Ava that Ivan has sent men to kidnap her because he wants to continue testing on Ava. They go to the roof to escape from the men when Alex Manor appears because he was concerned about Ava. The three of them get to safety, and Alex joins Ava and Natasha to finish Ivan off once and for all.

Teens that are fans of Marvel comics or the Marvel cinematic universe will enjoy this story about the Black Widow. Marvel fans will pick up on the subtle references to the Avengers that other teens may not; those who have never seen a Marvel movie or have never read a Marvel comic may want to do a little research if they are interested in picking up this novel. Stohl’s version of Natasha Romanoff is up to par with the Natasha Romanoff portrayed in the Marvel cinematic universe and the comics, and the bits of Russian spoken by the characters make them seem even more realistic. Each chapter starts off with an excerpt of an interrogation of Natasha Romanoff by S.H.I.E.L.D., and they are meant to tell Natasha’s reflection on the events that have occurred in the novel. The ending will contain unexpected events, and it will be heart wrenching for some readers. Teens who want more Marvel stories should check this book out.

Check this book out or put it on hold

-Caylee Pallatto

“Museum of Heartbreak” by Meg Leder

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Penelope Marx wants what most teenage girls want: a dream boyfriend. At seventeen, she’s never been kissed, and Penelope and her best friend Audrey fantasize about what they want in their perfect boyfriend. On the first day of school, Penelope meets Keats, an attractive boy who at first glance seems to embody all of the characteristics of Penelope’s dream boyfriend. She develops a crush on Keats and starts dating him after getting close to him at a party he hosted. Meanwhile, Audrey and Eph, Penelope’s two best friends, start hanging out with other people. As a result, Penelope goes to a fair by herself and meets Grace and Miles, two members of Nevermore, the school’s literary magazine. Penelope joins the Nevermore staff and reads the pieces that students have submitted for consideration. She recognizes one of the anonymous submissions as Keats’s, and she is torn whether to include it since she does not like the story. Keats has also started treating Penelope with disrespect, and hanging out with Cherisse, Penelope’s archenemy. Penelope is then faced with a tough decision: stay with Keats and be disrespected or be without a boyfriend. In addition, her friend Eph is becoming more attracted to her, and she is afraid that if they date their friendship won’t be the same.

Penelope is very socially awkward, quiet, and quirky, which readers can pick up on through her dialogue and her actions. Many teenage girls will be able to relate to the social awkwardness Penelope has when she first meets Keats. Penelope also lives in New York City, and Leder uses her personal knowledge of the city to create a descriptive setting that includes eclectic coffee shops, thrift stores, and flea markets. To go along with the title, Museum of Heartbreak, each chapter has an illustration of an object adjacent to a museum-style description in place of a chapter title, and the chapter that follows reveals why the object is included in Penelope’s museum. That was a unique touch to the novel that connected to the overall museum theme. Teens who like novels that feature friends, love, and heartbreak should check out Museum of Heartbreak.

Check this book out of put it on hold

-Caylee Pallatto

“Famous Last Words” by Katie Alender

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Willa and her mother have moved from Connecticut to California to live with her new stepfather, Jonathan, who is a movie director based in Los Angeles. While not excited to live in Los Angeles, Willa accepts the fact that it is the only way to move on from the death of her father. She regularly tries to contact his spirit using a method she found in an old book, but she does not receive any response. After she tries to contact her father’s spirit in her stepfather’s house, she starts seeing things that no one else can see. Her stepfather’s mansion was owned by Diana Del Mar, an actress who died in the house, and Willa assumes that the ghost of Diana is causing all of the strange occurrences that she is witnessing. At the same time, Los Angeles is being struck by the Hollywood Killer, a serial killer who kidnaps young girls and poses them in reenactments of famous movie scenes before murdering them. Willa meets a boy named Wyatt who is obsessed with the Hollywood Killer, and she believes that he is somehow connected to the case. When Willa’s friend Marnie goes missing and the paranormal activity in the house increases, Willa and Wyatt set out to get to the bottom of both mysteries.

Famous Last Words is a mixture of mystery and ghost story, Alender combines the characteristics of paranormal activity with a good old-fashioned murder mystery. Willa is a character who wants to connect with her father’s spirit and initially is afraid of the paranormal activity she appears to have unleashed upon herself, but by the end of the novel she accepts it and is less afraid of it. She is driven to solve the mystery of the Hollywood Killer, and the strange clues that she finds do not deter her from her search. Like a true mystery novel, the plot contains details that came together by the end of the novel to reveal the true identity of the murderer, while also containing elements that would only be found in Los Angeles such as private schools filled with children of rich parents and movie premiers. Teens should check out Famous Last Words if they like solving mysteries before reaching the end of the novel or if they just want to follow along on a new mystery.

Check this book out or put it on hold

-Caylee Pallatto

“The Cemetery Boys” by Heather Brewer

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Stephen and his father move to Denver, Colorado, after his dad loses his job. They are forced to move in with his grandmother back in his dad’s tiny hometown of Spencer, Michigan. Stephen instantly feels out-of-place in this small Michigan town where everybody knows everybody until he meets twins Cara and Devon. He is instantly attracted to Cara and so Stephen joins Devon’s group of boys who hang out in the cemetery, known locally as the “Playground”, during the night. They tell Stephen local stories of the Winged Ones: large, black flying birds that supposedly cause Spencer to go through bad times if they are not appeased with a human sacrifice. Stephen does not take this myth seriously, but as the summer goes on he finds that Devon and the group seem to think the Winged Ones actually exist. Stephen begins to question the group’s actions and starts to wonder if it is his new friends that are causing all of the mysterious accidents that are happening in Spencer.

The Cemetery Boys is geared towards teens that prefer reading mystery novels. The prologue at the beginning of the book hooks the reader in, with the main character Stephen in peril, which makes the reader want to continue reading to find out more. Brewer also created a voice for Stephen that is generally sarcastic and curious while being skeptical of the existence of the Winged Ones. The small town history and description of Spencer makes it an interesting town and setting. However, Brewer could have possibly elaborated on the town’s back-story a little more, even though the current back-story provided would satisfy most readers. The mystery element of the novel kept building from the beginning to the end, and very few readers will see the plot twist that comes towards the end of the novel. The ending of the novel was more abstract and unique than other young adult books, which allows readers to interpret the ending in their own way. The Cemetery Boys is a book that should be checked out by teenage readers who like getting to the bottom of mysteries.

Check this book out or put it on hold

-Caylee Pallatto

“Illuminae” by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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In the year 2575, Kady and Ezra are barely on speaking terms after breaking up. They are forced together when their planet is attacked and they must evacuate to a space fleet. The fleet is trying to outrun the enemy, but they’re losing ground, and no one in command will say what’s really going on. Kady turns to hacking to see if she can dig up the truth from the ship’s data, while Ezra is made a pilot and sent to defend the fleet. They both soon realize the situation is far more dangerous than anyone thought. A plague has broken out on a ship in the fleet and is spreading at an alarming rate, and the fleet’s artificial intelligence seems to be turning against them all. As things get worse, Kady and Ezra realize that working together may be the only way they can survive.

Illuminae is an adrenaline rush of a novel told through the fleet’s hacked documents, including reports, interviews, maps, private emails, and messages. It keeps you guessing from start to finish as pieces of the bigger picture are revealed one by one through the documents. Kady and Ezra are working to save the fleet – as well as their relationship. At first, their conversations start out awkward, as they haven’t spoken to each other in a while, but as they go on, they warm up to each other again, exchanging witty banter and stories from their past. Illuminae is an incredible sci-fi thriller that really makes you feel the fear, grief, and hope along with the characters, and ultimately leaves you needing to get your hands on the next book in the trilogy ASAP. If you liked the The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey with its mind-blowing twists and turns and characters struggling to balance love and survival, I would definitely recommend reading Illuminae.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Jillian Dunne

“City Love” by Susane Colasanti

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City Love tells the stories of Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna, three college freshmen who are living together in New York City before starting their first year at University of New York in the fall. Sadie has lived in New York City all of her life (fans of Colasanti may remember her as Brooke’s friend in So Much Closer) and at her internship at the Department of City Planning, Sadie finally meets her dream boy.

Darcy is from California, and she is determined to just have fun during the summer until she meets a boy that is head-over-heels for her and she is conflicted whether to risk having her heart broken again or to not even give him a chance.

Rosanna is from Chicago, and she comes from a household that has never had much money. A rich boy takes interest in her and continually takes her out to the most expensive places in town, and she is not used to his wealthy lifestyle. These three girls may have different personalities, but they quickly become friends as they ask each other for advice concerning their love lives.

In the situation Colasanti paints, most girls can relate to all three of the female characters. Sadie is the sweet, girl-next-door who is always positive and just wants to find love. Darcy is trying to forget her ex-boyfriend, so she becomes fun, cool, and she keeps her relationships short to avoid future heartbreak. Rosanna has never had any money, and she has dealt with abuse in the past, so she is uncomfortable when a wealthy guy takes interest in her and wants to be in a relationship. The book also switches perspectives between the three girls, so each of their stories is told equally throughout the novel. There is an in-depth perspective from each character rather than having a general third-person point of view or one singular first person point of view, which gives the book more depth.  Colasanti keeps the reader waiting for the second book in the City Love series, Lost in Love (available May 3, 2016), with a twist at the end that will certainly make readers impatient for the next novel. Fans of Susane Colasanti or of contemporary young adult romance will certainly enjoy this recent release.

_Caylee P.

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“I am Princess X” by Cherie Priest

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In fifth grade, two girls named Libby and May created the character Princess X: a dark haired young girl who wears a pink puffy dress, red Chuck Taylors, and wields a purple katana sword. Both girls became best friends and created stories together with Princess X as the main character until Libby died when the girls were fourteen. The Princess X story collection was lost when Libby’s dad moved away, but three years later May finds a Princess X sticker stuck on a building window when she goes to visit her dad in Seattle. She finds that Princess X has her own webcomic, but the author of the webcomic is unknown. She recruits amateur hacker Patrick Hobbs to help her with her search. May becomes convinced that Libby is the author of the webcomic after seeing various allusions to her childhood with Libby. May and Patrick then go on the hunt to find Libby and to solve the mystery of her disappearance once and for all.

This book contains a mystery that uses a creative and modern method that teens can relate to. The Internet webcomic involving Princess X is like a treasure map, but May and Patrick have to interpret it to find who took Libby and where she is hiding. Throughout the book, there are brief segments of the webcomic so it makes the reader feel like they are reading it along with May and that feature adds a unique element to the novel. There were some moments where the book gets serious, especially towards the end, but it does not get as dark as some other teen mystery books. The general feel of the book is very hopeful, but the reader can still feel the urgency in the novel as the antagonist gets on May and Patrick’s tail in the second half of the book. Overall, any teen that enjoys reading mystery novels should check out Princess X.

-Caylee P.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

 

 

 

“The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things” by Ann Aguirre

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This is the first YA book I’ve read in which I wasn’t waiting to figure out what the problem is. Usually, I spend the first few chapters wishing the story would hurry up and get to the point already. That is not the case here.

The protagonist, Sage Czinsky, is a 16 year old doing her best to make high school a less-terrible experience for everyone. Sage is an environmentally active, “crunchy-granola” type who sticks to her principles even when it’s inconvenient. This girl is interesting and it’s nice to see anyone in high school, even a fictional character, work hard at trying to be a good person. But our heroine has a past, and as much as she does her best to stave off her darker side, it unexpectedly rears its ugly head.

Sage begins leaving kind words on post-it notes on the lockers of her classmates. Whenever she finds someone struggling or having a difficult day, she leaves a sticky note with small but kind observations of what she notices about them. She never really knows what kind of affect her post-its have, but figures from a few changes she’s noticed that they were overall positively perceived. It isn’t until her classmates learn of Sage’s tragedy that she’s able to see the overwhelming support from nearly the entire school when they leave post-its on her locker. Just as she did for them, they are able to return the hope that she always offered in dark times. In Sage’s case, we see that the good she has done nearly atones for the mistakes of her past, but since it will always be a part of her, she will probably be unable to see that for herself.

One of the messages that I took away from this book is that your past can catch up with you, but life is not about what you did in your past, not really. Life is about how you treat the present, and even though you may be flawed, you can still help and be good to others.

This is probably one of the best books I’ve read in a while. I love the fact that the protagonist is a flawed yet strong heroine, and her boyfriend (yep, she has a boyfriend, and that part of the story is something you shouldn’t miss) is a significant part of her life but not her entire life. I am tempted to write that this novel is well crafted and funny.  While it’s true that it is, I can’t say that because I fancy myself to be(come) a better writer than that. Plus, that saying is not too original.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Cicely Douglas

“Noggin” by John Corey Whaley

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Travis Coates is sixteen when he is diagnosed with cancer. No treatment helps slow down the cancer cells, so Travis agrees to participate in a cryogenic reanimation experiment where a group of scientists are trying to bring back people from the dead. When Travis dies, his head is removed from his body and frozen since his brain is the only area of his body that is not affected by the cancer. Five years later, Travis wakes up in a hospital alive with his head surgically attached to a different body. He instantly becomes famous for being the second person to have successfully been brought back from the dead. Travis struggles with integrating back into daily life; his best friends are now in college and his extended family is in shock which makes it harder for Travis to accept that he can’t pick up his life where he left off when he died.

This book explores the intriguing scientific concept of bringing people back to life. The book feels like a modern twist on Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein; while Travis’s reanimation is an amazing scientific feat, his family and friends have mixed reactions to his return. Most of the characters are glad that Travis came back to life, but they also struggle psychologically because it is hard for them to accept that someone they have grieved over is now back, alive. Even though Travis is gone for five years, he is still sixteen mentally and he has trouble processing that people have moved on with their lives after his death. He tries to get back together with his old girlfriend Cate multiple times, even though she moved on and is engaged to somebody else. This book shows that coming back from the dead has both positive and negative effects on friends and family members. Anybody who is interested in medical advancements and future technology should check out Noggin.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Caylee Palatto