By Holly Smale
Publication date: Jan. 27, 2015
HarperTeen, 384 pages
Geek + runway = a hilarious runaway hit! This bestselling UK debut is full of humor and high-fashion hijinks—and now it’s coming to America.
Harriet Manners is tired of being labeled a geek. So when she’s discovered by a modeling agent, she seizes the chance to reinvent herself. There’s only one problem: Harriet is the definition of awkward. Does she have what it takes to transform from geek to chic?
Geek Girl is the first book in a hilarious new trilogy. It was also the #1 bestselling YA debut of 2013 in the UK, where it was shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Best Book for Teens. With all the humor and fabulous shenanigans of Louise Rennison’s Confessions of Georgia Nicolson and Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries, Geek Girl is about to become an international superstar.
— Goodreads.com description
This quirky book made me laugh, so on that alone you know I’ll read the rest of the Geek Girl trilogy!
I liked Harriet’s relationship with her parents: her funny dad and how she takes after her stepmother. There’s a cute romance and a female friendship that, yeah, includes some major fighting, but stays strong through it all.
And I liked the message about being yourself. It’s something I really feel strongly about. I loved this quote:
“You need to stop caring what people who don’t matter think of you. Be who you are and let everyone else be who they are. Differences are a good thing. It would be a terribly boring world if we were all the same.”
Still, it was a bit too simple for me to totally fall in OMG WOW love with. There was one particular character who totally annoyed me and creeped me out and I had time getting over. I’d probably recommend it for younger teens — not quite middle grade readers anymore, but not quite ready for full-on mature YA.
The Darkest Part of the Forest
By Holly Black
Publication date: Jan. 13, 2015
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 336 pages
Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.
Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.
Until one day, he does…
As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
— Goodreads.com description
I love it when characters are supposed to be evil…but end up surprisingly good!
And I love it when there is weird faerie business going on.
And a beautiful LGBTQ relationship. And positive sibling love.
And funny writing and a thrilling plot and great charcterization.
The Darkest Part of the Forest has it all. Not to mention a beautiful cover (made out of actual plants)! This one was a nice, pleasant surprise for me. I’ve read Holly Black books before and just didn’t “get” them. But this time? Aha! I get it now! Totally enjoyable, and perfect for fans of Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series.
By Alison Cherry
Publication date: Dec. 9, 2014
Delacorte Press, 304 pages
From Alison Cherry, author of Red, a novel PW declares “sparkles with wit,” comes a terrific new book about two sisters and one big question: how do you know who’s for real?
No parents. No limits. No clue what they’re in for.
Shy, cautious Claire has always been in her confident older sister’s shadow. While Miranda’s life is jam-packed with exciting people and whirlwind adventures, Claire gets her thrills vicariously by watching people live large on reality television.
When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her just after her college graduation, it’s Claire who comes up with the perfect plan. They’ll outshine Miranda’s fame-obsessed ex while having an amazing summer by competing on Around the World, a race around the globe for a million bucks. Revenge + sisterly bonding = awesome.
But the show has a twist, and Claire is stunned to find herself in the middle of a reality-show romance that may be just for the cameras. This summer could end up being the highlight of her life . . . or an epic fail forever captured on film. In a world where drama is currency and manipulation is standard, how can you tell what’s for real?
— Goodreads.com description
Romance takes a back seat to self-discovery, growth, strength, girl power and sisterly love in this story of two sisters on an Amazing Race-ish reality show. And I LOVED IT.
Yes, this is coming from the Queen of Kissing books, but I thoroughly enjoyed how engaging and just plain good For Real was.
The travel element and the reality angle were so interesting — I loved Claire’s theories behind the “philosophy” of reality TV (it sure as heck ain’t “for real”).
Anyhoo, highly enjoyable, I say. Have you read Red by Alison Cherry? Should I read that one too? If you want to give this one a try, it’s your LUCKY DAY! I’m doing a giveaway, and you can win your own copy. Enter below!
By Ally Condie
Publication date: Oct. 28, 2014
Dutton Children’s, 368 pages
Can you hear Atlantia breathing?
For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.
Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.
— Goodreads.com description
Atlantia, the latest from the author of the Matched series, kicks off with a heavy dose of it when Rio’s twin sister, Bay, unexpectedly chooses to live in the Above (on land), separating them forever.
You see, Rio lives Below aka below land aka an underwater city aka MY CHILDHOOD DREAM. If you only knew how often I daydreamed about this as a kid…
Anyway, immediately you want to dig into this book and uncover all of the secrets of the Below and of Rio’s family, which was a great feeling.
I also adored how Rio’s loneliness really matched the setting’s deep, dark depths — there was a really cool sense of pressure as you read. Oh, and there’s witches and romance and lots of other good stuff.
And another nice thing about this is that it’s NOT a series (at least, as far as I can tell). I know, what? Who does that these days?
On the downside…it’s not a series. By that, I mean it was wrapped up a little too quickly and with too much prothletising and “here is the moral” for my tastes.
Overall, though, I thought it was creative and a good read. And, in the end, I am sooo #TeamAbove. An underwater city is awesome, sure, but ewwwww sea creatures and dampness. No, thank you. Blech.
By Lauren Oliver
Publication date: Sept. 23, 2014
Ecco, 320 pages
The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition ofThe Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways.
Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.
But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.
The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.
Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.
What! A review of an adult novel on Anna Reads?! WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE!
I know. BUT…it’s Lauren Oliver so I knew you guys would be interested. Rooms is her first adult book and I was pumped to get to read it early.
I’ll be honest: It’s not my typical type of book. Beyond the fact that it’s adult, it’s quiet and has multiple narrators — two elements of books that tend to trip me up. So it was slow going for me.
But those of you who are big Lauren fans, fan of complicated characters and, moreover, fans of literary fiction will want to check this out. Oliver’s writing, as always, is lovely, as is the concept that there is history and life and secrets and character within the rooms of a house.
I dog-earred a few passages that I thought capture the spirit (ha-ha, see what I did there? The house is haunted) of the story:
People, Caroline though, were like houses. They could open their doors. You could walk through their rooms and touch the objects hidden in their corners. But something–the structure, the wiring, the invisible mechanism that kept the whole thing standing–remained invisible, suggested only by the fact of its existing at all.
About Lauren Oliver:
Lauren Oliver is the author of the New York Times bestselling YA novels Before I Fall, Panic, and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem. Her books have been translated into thirty languages. She is also the author of two novels for middle-grade readers, The Spindlers and Liesl & Po, which was a 2012 E. B. White Read-Aloud Award nominee. Lauren’s first adult novel, Rooms, will be published in September 2014. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU’s MFA program, Lauren Oliver is also the co-founder of the boutique literary development company Paper Lantern Lit. You can visit her online at www.laurenoliverbooks.com.