Southbury Teen Review Blog

Books, music, movies, and more!

Boy 21 April 29, 2013

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick


Finley, known as “White Rabbit” to his teammates, loves basketball.  His earliest memories are of shooting hoops under the night sky.  It may be his only chance of escape from Bellmont, a gritty town ruled by the Irish mob.  He and girlfriend, Erin hope to leave for a brighter future by way of college scholarships.

Russell Allen was star ball player and top college recruit.  That was until his parents were murdered and he moved to Bellmont to live with his grandparents.  Now he wants to be known as Boy 21 – and he doesn’t want to play basketball.

Finley is asked by his coach to take Boy 21 under his wing since they both share mysterious and violent pasts.  This unlikely pairing just may be the best thing for both of these stargazers.

Hooked from page 1, I loved every minute of this mesmerizing story.  Not a sports fan?  No worries when picking up this one.  Matthew Quick, author of Sorta Like a Rockstar and The Silver Linings Playbook delivers another emotional and touching story of redemption and the celebration of life.


Suspect April 25, 2013

Filed under: Books,Staff Pics — Heather @ 10:12 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Suspect by Kristin Wolden Nitz

suspect book

Seventeen-year-old Jen is fresh from junior year of high school and a break-up with her boyfriend.  A fun-filled summer now awaits her-working at her Grandmother’s bed and breakfast.  Grandma Kay’s Schoenhaus lies among the vineyards of Missouri (who knew Missouri was know for its wine?), and will give Jen a much-needed break.  She’s even on board to play a role in the murder mystery weekend at the B & B, until she learns it may include solving a real-life mystery- her mother’s disappearance!

Jen’s mother abandoned her and her father fifteen years ago.  Periodically receiving gifts and letters from her absent mother, the contact came to a halt a few years ago.  Jen has lived her entire life without a mother, holding on to a few fleeting memories while trying to move on with her life.  Now Grandma Kay suspects Ellen didn’t really leave at all.  She thinks she was murdered!  Could it be true?  Could her mother really have been dead all these years?  Then who’s been sending the presents?  And even more frightening, who could have killed her?

All these questions are answered in this delightful tale.  I am a die-hard mystery fanatic and I suspect the author is as well.  Rarely do you find a well-crafted mystery (without some kind of supernatural beings) in young adult novels.  The teen characters are realistically portrayed.  The plot is engaging.  From the moment I picked it up, this book didn’t leave my hands.  Okay, maybe I had to go to the bathroom once, but that’s it!  I found myself literally on the edge of my seat, not able to read the pages fast enough to reach the satisfying climax of this novel.  Suspect is a great way to introduce teens to the wonderful world of murder and mayhem every mystery lover craves.  I can only anticipate future winners from Ms. Nitz.


The Space Between Trees by Kate Williams February 13, 2013

Filed under: Books,Staff Pics — Heather @ 1:44 am
Tags: , , , ,


Evie is a loner, emotionally distant, without friends.  She invents realities more colorful than her true life.  She imagines scenarios involving Jonah Luks, the handsome drop out and dead animal remover for whom she harbors a secret crush. One Sunday morning she stops to chat with Jonah while on her paper route.  Used to the sight of dead animals, he is startled by the discovery of the body of a girl.  Evie recognizes her as Zabet McCabe.  They were friends years ago in Elementary School.  Evie immediately fixates on the murder of her past friend.

While attending Zabet’s funeral Evie encounters her grieving father.  Mr. McCabe, eager to find a connection to his murdered daughter, latches on to Evie and urges her to tell him about his daughter.  Evie, adept at stretching the truth, weaves a story that will comfort Zabet’s father.  Zabet’s real best friend, Hadley continues the charade.  The two girls vow to discover the killer of their friend.  Hadley becomes obsessed with unearthing the truth.  Evie’s life is spinning out of control.  She wants to find Zabet’s murderer as much as anyone, but at what cost?

Kate Williams’ debut novel is a hauntingly beautiful story.  The cover itself is stunning.  What lies beyond is a lyrical masterpiece.  I am a big mystery lover, but this one goes beyond the simple whodunit.  The focus of this novel is not the murdered girl or the identity of the killer.  It is how those left behind are changed by the events.  I can’t accurately do justice to the depth of this book.  The Space Between Trees is one of my favorite books.


Jane by April Lindner

Filed under: Books,Staff Pics — Heather @ 12:54 am
Tags: , , , ,

jane april lindner

“What if Jane Eyre worked for a rock star?”

Jane Moore is orphaned by the death of her parents. Left with no alternative, she drops out of college and begins job hunting. Her travels take her to a nanny service that matches her with a client. Jane is probably the only person not thrown by the name Nico Rathburn. He is a world famous rock star who coincidentally needs a nanny for his daughter. So off to Thornfield Park in Connecticut she goes. Here Jane is introduced to a world unlike any she’s ever known. Rambling around a huge mansion and grounds, Jane tries to assimilate to her new life. Maddy, minus a famous French mom, immediately takes to Jane.

Just like her nineteenth century counterpart, our Jane doesn’t meet Rochester, I mean Rathburn, at first. He is mysterious and brooding, yet simple and kind. Jane is not thrilled by his rock star status, and this intrigues him. Nico insists on Jane’s presence during his parties and practices, but never fully exposing his true self.

Through Jane’s simplicity and honesty, Nico relies on her to assist him during precarious situations. If you remember the original, you’ll be waiting for the mysterious woman in the attic. Well, she’s here too. Grace Poole is now Brenda, keeping watch over a deep, dark secret. Just when Nico and Jane’s love blossoms, this secret from Nico’s past comes back to stand in their way.

Jane flees Rathburn and Maddy, reverting to a simplified existence in New Haven. Here she meets the St. John siblings. Just as in the original, this is my least favorite part but Lindner manages to make Jane’s sidetrack more palatable that Bronte’s. I was actually engaged with these characters rather than skipping over these chapters.

So same ending you ask? Will Jane and Rathburn live happily ever after at Thornfield Park? You’ll just have to find out for yourself.

Sure I’ll admit I had low expectations upon cracking the cover. Seriously, how can you improve on a classic? I stand corrected. Any doubts evaporated once I began reading. Bravo April Lindner!  I was totally blown away by a fantastic update of the classic Jane Eyre. For those of you that are not familiar with the original by Charlotte Bronte, I urge you to pick that up first. For those of you, like me, that have loved Jane Eyre and pictured yourself walking the halls of Thornfield Manor, Jane is a welcomed companion.  Look for Catherine, Lindner’s adaptation of Wuthering Heights.