Southbury Teen Review Blog

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Flat-Out Love July 20, 2013

Filed under: Books — Jessie @ 4:44 pm
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Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love, #1)Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love #1) Jessica Park

When Julie arrives in Boston for college she finds out the apartment she has rented doesn’t exist.  Her mother’s former college roommate invites Julie to stay with her family; Matt, the quirky, cute and nerdy MIT student, Celeste, the super smart younger sister who has some quirk of her own, and Erin and Roger, the hardworking academics who rarely spend time at home.  As Julie starts to settle in, she starts talking to the one member of the Watkins family she hasn’t met yet, Finn, who’s rooms she is currently occupying.  Through emails, chats, and Facebook statuses, Julie begins to fall in love with Finn.  As Julie gets closer to everyone in the Watkins family she stirs up the family’s secrets.

It’s hard for me to express how great this book is without sounding like a squealing teenage girl!  This book exceeded my expectations with its great characters and plot.  Being somewhat of a nerd myself, I loved the humor and conversations between all the characters.  Julie was equal parts smart, funny and nerdy while still being completely relatable and realistic.  Matt was the typical MIT student, super smart and geeky but he was caring and funny too.  I did figure out one part of the plot about halfway through but it didn’t take away from the rest of the book at all.  There was still plenty of twists that kept things interesting.  I was so invested in this book that I read the majority of it in one afternoon because I had to know what happened!

I don’t want to say too much about what happens so I don’t spoil it for everyone that is going to read it! If you like great romance stories with smart and funny characters you have to read this.  It is a more sophisticated romance story that many young adults, and even adults, will love!

Flat-Out Matt (Flat-Out Love, #1.5)Flat-Out Matt (Flat-Out Love #1.5) Jessica Park

In Flat-Out Matt, Jessica Park has taken some of the chapters from Flat-Out Love and written Matt’s point of view.  She picks key chapters that coincide with pivotal moments from Flat-Out Love.  It’s great to have some insight into Matt’s mind and I loved him even more after reading this than I did after Flat-Out Love.  There’s also an extra chapter at the end that takes place right where Flat-Out Love ends and its the perfect ending. 

 

Matched April 17, 2013

Filed under: Books — Heather @ 2:21 pm
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Matched by Ally Condie

matchedIn the not-so-distant future, The Society controls all aspect of life.  They decide what you eat, where you work, whom you marry, and even when you die.  That’s just the way it is.  A Matching ceremony is held when you turn seventeen.  It is here eager teenagers learn who will be their life-long mate.  Cassia’s seventeenth birthday coincides with her Matching ceremony.  She will learn who she’ll marry-what a present!  Her match just happens to be her neighbor and friend Xander.  She’s surprised and thrilled.  Never has she thought of him romantically, but somehow it’s comforting and easy.  Cassia and Xander timidly enter into a new relationship.

After she’s Matched, Cassia receives the details about her partner-to-be.  What could she not already know about Xander?  But she’s in for a surprise when it’s not his face she sees flash on the screen.  She immediately recognizes Ky from school.  He’s a loner she’s never gotten to know.  Xander’s smiling face reappears, wiping Ky’s from the screen. Cassia is confused to say the least.  Could it be a mistake?  Is Xander really her Match or is it Ky?  The Society does NOT make mistakes!

Intrigued by what she’s seen, Cassia can’t get Ky out of her head.  She encounters him at school and during hiking class. The more she gets to know Ky, the more she finds herself attracted to him.  But Xander is her Match…or is he?

I know what you’re thinking-not another dystopian future story.  That’s what I assumed before I read Ms. Condie’s work.  I really liked this one.  Maybe the premise is an old one but the characters are refreshingly different.  Yes, there’s a love triangle, but I think it worked.  I know many of the other reviews out there have been harsh on Matched, claiming it is “stolen” ideas from past books.  I totally disagree.  The author gives us a new interpretation of what life is like in one society.  The details woven into the story give the characters depth.  I especially liked Cassia’s grandfather and the role he plays in her life.  The preparation for his death and his passing was beautifully written.  It’s moments like this that separate Matched from other dystopian novels and makes it an instant classic in this reader’s opinion.

Matched is a 2014 Teen Nutmeg Nominee.  Check out the further adventures of Cassia in Crossed and Reached.

 

All You Desire April 9, 2013

Filed under: Books — Heather @ 9:18 pm
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All You DesireThe Eternal Ones #2  by Kirsten Miller

all_you_desire-198x289Haven Moore and Iain Morrow have waited two thousand years to be together.  After Iain’s faked death, the eternal lovers retreat to Rome.  Only the disappearance of Haven’s best friend Beau can lure them back to New York.  No one has heard from Beau after traveling to the city to meet his supposed long lost love.

Upon arrival, Haven encounters the Horae, and ancient group of women that are trying to destroy Adam Rosier, the evil leader of the Ouroboros Society.  Haven makes a deal with the Horae.  They will assist her in remembering the past lives that may lead her to finding what happened to Beau. In return, Haven must go undercover in the Ouroboros Society to charm Adam and lure him into a trap.

Will Iain be publicly “resurrected” and cleared of his murder charge?  Can Haven remember the past and find Beau before it’s too late?  Are the Horae to be trusted?  Is Adam really evil incarnate?  Some of these questions will be answered.  As for the others, we’ll just have to wait for the third installment of this highly addictive series.

 

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller February 13, 2013

Filed under: Books — Heather @ 4:33 pm
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eternal ones

Haven Moore lives a sheltered life in rural Tennessee.  Under the thumb of her ultra-religious grandmother, she longs to escape. Haven plans on attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.  She can’t wait for graduation when she and her best friend Beau can leave Snope City for good.  Problems arise when Haven begins having blackouts and vivid visions.  She had them in the past, but has managed to keep it in check until now.  Grandmother Imogene calls in Dr. Tidmore and they decide Haven needs an exorcism.

Events come to a head when Haven sees a face on television that matches the one from her visions.  So it’s off to NYC where she begins to put the pieces of her past together.  Haven’s visions involve a girl named Constance and her love, Ethan.  Detailed descriptions of New York flood her head, even though this is her first time in the city.  Believing herself to be Constance, she has identified wealthy playboy Iain Morrow as her Ethan.  The same Iain Morrow in the tabloids suspected of murder.  Iain has been waiting for “Constance” for many years and happily takes up with Haven right where they left off in a past life.  Haven learns they have been together for many lives, she just doesn’t remember them yet.  The Ourobos Society, a secret group devoted to reincarnation, may hold the keys to unlock this past.

Will Haven and Iain live happily ever and ever and ever after?  Or will her visions of a fiery death come true…again?  Who can she trust, where can she turn?

I was hooked on this new take on supernatural romance from page one.  Reincarnation and past lives haven’t figured heavily as a genre in young adult literature.  I was pleased to see Kirsten Miller give us an intriguing and complete plot with characters that are unlike any others out there. I only have one question: sequel?  Check out All You Desire, the sequel to The Eternal Ones.

 

Jane by April Lindner

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

 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Filed under: Books,The Classics — Heather @ 12:31 am
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rebecca-by-daphne-du-maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

A young woman, a paid companion, is in Monte Carlo with her rich, American employer. It is here she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower not impressed with the frivolities of the French Riviera. Drawn to her unpretentious character and attractive inexperience, the two spend all their spare time together. Somber Mr. de Winter was married before. A mystery surrounds the death of his wife. They say he just can’t get over Rebecca. Our heroine seems to melt Maxim’s chilly exterior and soothe his wounded heart.

After a whirlwind romance the new Mrs. de Winter arrives home at Manderley, a picture postcard perfect estate on the Cornish coast of England. The young bride (who remains nameless throughout the story) is in for a shock. Along with the estate comes a litany of servants and responsibilities. Mrs. Danvers rules Manderley with her steely façade and grim presence. Danny loved Rebecca and takes every opportunity to remind the new Mrs. de Winter she’ll never fill the void left by her predecessor.

Feeling like an outsider, not belonging to the world of landed gentry into which she has been dropped, the new bride hopes she hasn’t made a mistake. Inept at every turn, the second Mrs. de Winter is haunted by the past perfection that was Rebecca.

Maxim’s first wife was the epitome of elegance and beauty. Her shadow hovers over Manderley, casting doubt into the heart of her successor.

Maxim never speaks of Rebecca, never mentions her death. She drowned off the coast while boating alone one night. Haunted by her memory, happiness evades Maxim. Our young protagonist is the antithesis of glamorous Rebecca. Can she fill the shoes that trampled over Maxim and all of Manderley?

Since publication in 1938, Rebecca has stood the test of time. A classic tale of romance and suspense, it will satisfy lovers of both. Famous for introducing readers to the windy Cornish coast, dashing Maxim de Winter, and insidiously creepy Mrs. Danvers,  Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is worth reading and re-reading…and re-reading.

 

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater February 12, 2013

Filed under: Books — Heather @ 10:58 pm
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the-scorpio-racesThe author of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series finds a new animal muse in The Scorpio Races. Building on the Celtic myth of the water horse, Stiefvater’s capaill usice are fearsome, flesh-eating horses. Each November the Scorpio Races are held on the small, fictional island of Thisby. The capaill uisce emerge from the sea, stinking of seaweed and decay and hungry for blood. Foolishly brave riders attempt to tame and race the legendary horses. Local girl Puck Connelly has joined this year’s race in an attempt to win enough money to save her family home. Sean Kendrick follows in his father’s footsteps by winning the Scorpio Races several times. This year he races for a chance to buy Corr, his capall uisce, from his employer. Fame, money, pride, and maybe even freedom are at stake this year.

The Scorpio Races is an enthralling story that weaves elements of legend with real-life struggles to overcome poverty and position. The starkly beautiful landscape, the siren’s song of the ocean, and the majestic beauty and brutality of the capaill uisce are gorgeously intertwined with the story of Puck and Sean. Sprinkle in a hint of romance and enjoy!