Title: Follow Me Back
Author: A.V. Geiger
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Tessa Hart has severe agoraphobia following an incident at a writing program she attended in early summer. She can’t leave her bedroom. Her therapist holds sessions for her in her room. Tessa is obsessed with the pop star Eric Thorn. She wrote a fanfiction story about him that went viral. She even started the hashtag EricThornObsessed that was trending at number one. Meanwhile, Eric Thorn’s manager and PR team are loving the attention he’s getting from this hashtag. But Eric isn’t as into the attention. He is still freaked out by the death of a fellow singer. Dorian Cromwell was stalked by a fangirl and then she slit his throat. Eric is worried about this happening to him too. He creates a fake account to try to give himself some negative attention, so his fans will move on to someone else. But his interactions with one fan leads to more than he ever expected.
I almost read this entire book in one sitting. I read until 2 AM and then continued as soon as I woke up in the morning! It was so thrilling!
The narrative of Tessa and Eric is interspersed with police transcripts about an incident that happened involving both of them. This hinted at them meeting one day and something serious happening!
The premise of all of these interactions happening on twitter is so realistic. You never know who you’re talking to online. This story really shows how dangerous it can be to blindly throw yourself into an online relationship.
The ending was amazing! There were so many twists and turns, until the very last page. It’s also amazing that this story was first published on Wattpad. A.V. Geiger is very talented. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with in the future!
Title: Hockey Karma
Author: Howard Shapiro
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Publisher: Animal Media Group
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Jeremiah Jacobson is a 32 year-old hockey player. He has back problems and his game is suffering from it. Everyone can see that he is close to retirement. He starts taking a lot of pain medication, so much that he forgets to spend quality time with his wife and children. His friend Tom Leonard wants him to look over a plan he has to improve their neighbouring city, Bump City, but Jeremiah keeps forgetting. Meanwhile, Tom is having his own romantic issues. He is dating his high school crush, Jaelithe, but she lives across the country in Pittsburgh. Tom goes back to a high school reunion and is reunited with his old bandmates. Jeremiah has to deal with his new drug problem, while Tom has to decide what to do with his new relationship.
I loved this graphic novel! It’s the third and final part in the Friends Forever series from Howard Shapiro. This one is definitely my favourite in the series. I love that it brings together the points from the first two books. I didn’t see as much of a connection between the first and second books, but this one brings back all of the characters from the series in a reunion.
The only part that was a little confusing was determining which character was which while they played hockey. Since they were all wearing helmets, I couldn’t tell which character was speaking at first glance.
I really enjoyed this series. This third book was a great conclusion to this heartfelt series.
Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Celaena Sardothien is an assassin who has been living in a prisoner camp for a year. One day the Crown Prince Dorian requests to visit her. He has selected her to be his champion in a battle to find a new champion for his father, the King. He promises her that if she wins, she can work for them as their champion for four years and then she will be free. The captain of the guards, Chaol, trains her and supervises her security. She has to be under lock and key at all times, since she is the most talented assassin in the world. Her identity is kept a secret throughout the competition for her protection and to help her win. The champions in the competition are eliminated through tests. However, some are murdered under mysterious circumstances. The murders don’t follow a pattern though, so Celaena is scared that she could be next. Her only wish is to make it to the end of the competition so she can win her freedom.
This was a very exciting book. It was fairly long, but the pace was consistent.
It has a third person narrative. It switches to give the perspective of different characters, though it usually follows Celaena. This gives some insight into what the other characters are doing or thinking. It also builds the mystery of who is behind the attacks, because it makes many people look suspiscious.
I really like this story and I’m excited to read the rest of the series!
Title: Speed of Life
Author: Carol Weston
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Release Date: April 1, 2017
Sofia Wolfe lives in New York with her father. Her mother died from a brain aneurysm a year ago. She goes to an all-girls private school. One day, Dear Kate goes to her school to do a presentation. Dear Kate is an advice columnist for Fifteen magazine, and Sofia’s best friend Kiki is obsessed with her. They sneak into the presentation for parents at night, which both girls convinced their parents to attend. Kiki hopes that her mother and Sofia’s father will start dating. As Sofia deals with confusing issues about growing up, and without a mother figure to speak to, she starts emailing Dear Kate her questions. When Sofia’s dad starts dating someone, she doesn’t want to hear about it, but she emails Dear Kate asking for advice. This all derails when she meets her father’s new girlfriend. Then Sofia not only has to think about the loss of her mother, but also her dad’s new girlfriend, his girlfriend’s teenage daughter, having her first boyfriend, and the possibility of moving and starting at a new school.
I couldn’t put down this book! I liked that the age level for it is between middle-grade and young adult. I don’t think there are enough books for this in between age, which is important to have. Sofia’s perspective is more middle-grade since she is just graduating from middle school and starting high school. However, she has to face many teenage issues when it comes with her dad’s girlfriend’s daughter.
This book also talked about many issues that teens face but may be afraid to ask. This comes out in the questions that Dear Kate is asked in her column. Girls, such as Sofia, feel more comfortable asking her questions through email, rather than speaking to someone in person about these awkward topics.
Sofia also mourns her mother and faces the possibility of her father remarrying, which is a real issue for many young girls. I like the way this story deals with these difficult parts of life in a positive way.
This is a great book for both young readers and parents alike!
Title: The Hockey Saint
Author: Howard Shapiro
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Publisher: Animal Media Group
Release Date: Oct. 14, 2014
Tom Leonard is a hockey player and a sophomore in university. His coach made him assistant captain for the team and he may get a full scholarship for his next year at school. He lives with his grandmother because his parents were killed in a car accident when he was a kid. He loves hockey and his favourite player is Jeremiah Jacobson. When he finds out where Jeremiah lives, he goes and sits outside his house, just to think about the problems in his life. Jeremiah goes outside and starts talking to Tom. Jeremiah tells Tom that he lost his father as a child too, so he understands what Tom is feeling. He invites Tom to go out with him the next day.
When Tom meets him the next day, they go to a food bank where Jeremiah volunteers every week. Tom assumed that Jeremiah went there to sign autographs but he wants to help people. Then he takes Tom to his next stop at a hospital to visit with veterans and children with cancer. Jeremiah continues to defy Tom’s expectations of who a stereotypical athlete should be.
Tom learns that his idol is very generous. Jeremiah is a famous hockey player who uses his status to help people who are less fortunate. Tom is shocked when he does this without asking for recognition. There are some celebrities that do this in the real world. Celebrities, whether they are athletes, singers, actors, or another profession, have a lot of influence over large portions of the population so they could make a positive impact on the world if they use their influence in a good way. However, many don’t use their power to make positive changes.
This is a really good graphic novel because of the way it looks at helping people who are less fortunate. Tom’s assumptions of Jeremiah looking for recognition of his good deeds are also knocked down. I like this positive message in the story. It is the third graphic novel in a trilogy from Howard Shapiro. The first one is called The Stereotypical Freaks. You can find my review of it here.
Title: Everything Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Madeline has SCID, a disease which means she can’t go outside. She lives in a sealed house with her mother, who is a doctor. Maddy is just turning 18. She does her school work online. Carla is her nurse who stays with her during the day. One day, a new family moves in next door. Maddy notices a boy about her age there. At night him and Maddy communicate through their bedroom windows and eventually start emailing each other. Soon, Maddy wants to spend time with the boy, Olly. Her nurse lets them spend time together one afternoon, but they have to stay on opposite sides of the room. However, this little taste of the outside world makes Maddy long to see the rest of the world, even if it’ll kill her.
This book is amazing! I love the diversity in the characters. Maddy’s mother is Japanese, and her father was African American. Her nurse, Carla, is Latina. Diversity in literature is especially important in YA because then teen readers from different nationalities can see themselves represented in their favourite books.
At first, I thought this book was going to follow a common YA theme, where the main character has a horrible disease. This story is so much more than that. It’s about discovering who you are and how to live life. It’s about everything, everything.
Title: Stereotypical Freaks
Author: Howard Shapiro
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Publisher: Animal Media Group
Release Date: November 14, 2012
Tom and Dan are friends who want to start a band to play in the battle of the bands at their high school. They consider themselves outcasts in school. When Tom starts tutoring his former friend, Mark, they ask him to join the band too. But then they need a drummer. Jacoby is the foreign exchange student from Canada, who is also an awesome drummer. They invite him to join, but he is distant at practices and doesn’t seem to have much time to devote to the band. They name their band the Stereotypical Freaks, because they all fit stereotypes (nerd, goofball, star athlete, quiet foreign exchange student) but they don’t fit in with the rest of the kids at school. However, when one of their band members reveals that he is dying of cancer, they have to decide if they still compete.
This graphic novel has a diverse set of characters. Mark is African American. Jacoby is an Inuit from Nunavut. This story shows one of the struggles that Inuit peoples face. Since Jacoby comes from such a small town, he has to move to Pittsburgh to get medical treatment for his cancer. I like that it brings some awareness to Inuit peoples of Canada.
I liked the style of art in this graphic novel. They are black and white sketches, rather than full colour pictures. This style fits with the indie band that the boys form.
I really liked this story and I’m excited to read the next graphic novel in the trilogy!
Allison is entering her junior year at college. Her adoptive father, Simon, drops her off. He adopted her out of foster care when she was 17 years old. Allison is quiet, and she is happy when she finds out her roommate isn’t attending school anymore, so she will have the room all to herself. Then one day, after wandering around town by herself, a girl grabs her to participate in a social experiment. Allison has to spend 180 seconds looking at a boy, without breaking eye contact. At the end of the 3 minutes, he pushes his chair back and kisses Allison passionately. She runs away immediately after, not saying anything. Her best friend, Steffi, who lives in California, calls her and asks her about a viral video by the online sensation, Esben Baylor. Esben makes videos of his social experiments, and the one that he posted of him and Allison holding eye contact for 180 seconds has gone viral. All of his fans want to know what happened to the girl in the video, after she ran away. At first, Allison is embarrassed and furious at this invasion of her privacy. She doesn’t want any kind of attention, especially not from fans on the internet. Eventually she speaks to Esben, and he isn’t the jerk that she thought he was. She thought he posted the video for his own gain, but he really cares about Allison. Esben teaches Allison to break down the walls that she has built up after years of living in foster care. However, soon her newfound strength is tested, and threatens her relationship with Esben.
In general, this was a good story. It had a unique plot, though some aspects were cliches of contemporary YA books (such as Allison living in foster care for most of her life). It was entertaining and the characters were realistic most of the time.
Good stories give the reader an emotional attachment. When Allison was falling in love with Esben, I felt happy with her. Similarly, when Allison was facing tough times, I felt bad with her.
Though the plot was intriguing, this story was quite a rollercoaster of emotions. The high parts were super high, with everything going extremely well for Allison and the other characters. But the low parts had everything spiralling out of control. There wasn’t really a happy medium of emotions. This is the only criticism I have of an otherwise good story.
Rachel, AKA Raya, is a teenage girl in foster care in London. She lives with Angie and Jake, another child in foster care. She’s almost 17. She wants to run away and live on her own. She goes to a hostel that someone recommended but it isn’t what she expected. She meets Pavel, who brings her to his friends, Ian and Emma, who own a cafe and have a spare room for her to stay in. She works for them for about a week but eventually her social worker finds her. Her foster brother has also run away, and he took Oscar, their social worker’s magical, talking cat, with him. Raya feels terribly guilty for influencing Jake to run away. They find him in a coma in the hospital. He ran in front of a truck to save the cat. Oscar was still in the hospital, so Raya and the social worker, Bryony, go to get him back. But when they reunite with Oscar the cat, Raya suddenly transports them back in time. Raya and Oscar arrive in England in 1645, just in time for the Essex Witch Trials. This isn’t the best time to be a teenage witch who travelled from the future, with a talking cat. Raya has just discovered she has powers, so she isn’t strong enough to bring them back to the future. Bryony comes back and finds them, but that isn’t the end of their adventure. When Raya attempts to send them back to the future, they only travel to Turkey, during the same period. Now Raya is faced with the challenge of learning how to use her powers to return them to modern England and how to survive in 17th century Turkey.
I enjoyed this book. At the beginning I was a little confused about how witches are perceived in the London of the book. Of course, since it’s called Being a Witch, I knew that the main character was going to be a witch. But she called her social worker a witch like it was an ordinary thing to say to someone. And her social worker agreed with her. Plus, she could hear a cat speak. No one addressed if this was a normal part of their life. There was also a part of the police department dedicated to “integrators,” which is the term used by Pavel for people with magic powers.
I enjoyed the story once she got to Turkey. The last half of the story was quite exciting, with her travelling around Istanbul, Turkey and learning how to use her new powers. I liked the historical aspects of the novel too. They were accurate depictions and added some truth to this fictional story.
YOLO Juliet is one of the books in a series from Brett Wright. These books retell classic stories, told in text messages. This one is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet.
Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet are star-crossed lovers in Shakespeare’s classic play. They come from feuding families, but fall in love. They are forbidden to see each other, since their families hate each other. They secretly get married. Romeo gets into a fight with Juliet’s cousin and kills him, which leads to Romeo being banished from the town. Juliet fakes her death with a special potion. The plan is that after she is buried in her family’s tomb, she will wake up and run away to be with Romeo. Friar Lawrence, who gave Juliet the potion that will make her appear dead, sends a letter to Romeo telling him of the plan to reunite him with Juliet. However, the letter doesn’t reach Romeo in time. Romeo hears about Juliet’s death, and rushes back to see her in her tomb. He drinks poison and dies, just as she wakes up. When she wakes up and sees her love has poisoned himself, she takes her dagger and stabs herself. After the deaths of these two young people, the Capulets and Montagues end their feud, though it is too late to help Romeo and Juliet.
This adaptation of Romeo and Juliet was very funny. At times, it was absurd to think about a story like this happening today through text messages. But it was funny to imagine how Romeo and Juliet would text each other. I especially liked that Lady Capulet would sign her name at the end of every text messages, because I have seen people who are not used to texting sign their texts with their names.
Many texting abbreviations were used in the story, but there is a glossary at the back that explains what they mean. I like how “YOLO” (You Only Live Once) is in the title. Juliet literally learns that in the story, since she and Romeo end their lives over their love.
This book was really good, so I’m going to watch for the other adaptations in the series.