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Book Review: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Summary:  
Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

In a timely update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant re-imagining of this beloved classic.

 
Release Date: January 2019
Age Group: YA, Contemporary, Retelling
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
I am always a sucker for a retelling of P&P. And about 50% of the time I’m disappointed with the conclusion, they always seem to fall flat. Why can’t they wrap up in blazing glory?!

Here’s what I loved:

  •           I really enjoyed Papi and Mama's strong relationship and presence. I especially loved Papi's voice--
"read to travel," Papi always says.
       The best advice. Ever. I swear I could shout that from the roof tops life a crazy woman
       and it still wouldn't be enough.

  •      The clash of culture within a culture (“the block”): Madringa herself and all that she represented, the meshing between Haitian and Dominican decent, and of course gentrification. 

  •         I enjoyed the poetry, haiku and metaphors that Zuri uses to express herself. They were clever and beautiful.

  •         The story is written in an easy manner that I think teens will enjoy.

  •         The characters fit into the basic blueprint of P&P but with a nice cultural twist. It was like stepping into another way of life. I loved learning all the common terms of the Benitez culture-- the corner bodega, the goddess Ochun, and what is bougee.

  •         For me this retelling kept reminding me of the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker. I think they would actually pair well together for a high school setting or cultural study.

  •          The discussion of “privilege” was done really well. Benitez versus Darcy. Black versus Black. London roots versus Dominican-Haitian descents. This block versus that block.
You do know there are black people who have money out there in the world, Z, right?  ~Janae


Here’s what I didn’t enjoy:

  •          If you are going to bring Darcy to my door you better bring a strong broody hunk. Darius was a hunk but pretty weak. I don’t think I was ever convinced that he was madly in love with Zuri. And Zuri sure wasn’t in love, she flat out said she didn’t know what it was yet. Meh.

  •          I just didn’t like Zuri. I liked her poetry and seeing how her world was expanding with life experience but she herself was too judgmental and rude. 

  •          The story is truly a telling. No build up. Very anticlimactic and P&P needs the build up! I need the moment when Elizabeth and Darcy realize they are both madly in love with each other.


  •      Overall, I liked it. I’d recommend it to teens, teachers and P&P fans. It’s an easy read. I don’t think a teen audience will pick it apart like I did.

I actually read half the book and started over with the audiobook. I wanted to make sure I heard all the terms and language correctly and not in my butchered Southern drawl. I am so glad I listened and got the full effect of what it means when something is bougee. 

 

This article originally appeared on I'd So Rather Be Reading

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Book Review: Love and Other Secrets (The First Kiss Hypothesis #2) by Christina Mandelski

Summary: Star lacrosse player Alex “Kov” Koviak has it all. Or so everyone thinks. He’s real good at pretending his life is perfect...until he meets Bailey. The girl challenges him and pushes him and makes him laugh like he’s never laughed before. Their friendship is their little secret, and he’s happy to keep her to himself.

Between school, two jobs, and trying to get into NYU film school, Bailey Banfield has zero time for a social life. But then she meets Alex in her express lane at the grocery store, and their secret friendship becomes the only place she can breathe. She refuses to complicate that with more. No matter how charming Alex can be.

When Bailey decides to film outrageous promposals for her NYU application, she enlists Alex’s help to plan an over-the-top, epic promposal to someone else. Too bad the only prom date Alex wants anywhere near Bailey is him.

For a guy who seems to have it all, he’s about to lose the only thing he’s ever wanted.


Release Date:
Age Group: YA, Contemporary (clean), Sports Romance
Source: Review Copy from Publisher (Entangled Teen Crush)
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
It's no secret that I'm a fan of Entangled Crush reads and Mandelski's style of writing. It's fun, fast and a little predictable. If you like Sweet Valley High style books then you have found  new author and a new publisher! Stand tall friends, don't let people dim your light for SVH!

Promposals. 🤔

I feel confident that if promposals existed when I was in high school, I would have been the girl watching on the side, turning beet red just witnessing the entire scene unfold, all while secretly hoping I had it happen to me (but NEVER revealing such a girly secret).
 
I've seen these proposals range from simple & sweet to holy-crap-that-was-more-expensive-than-my wedding. It really gives a new meaning to go big or go home. Love and Other Secrets really tapped into what it's like to be in high school right now. Secret crushes, promposals, popularity and coming of age pains all tied into public displays of {affection}.  Are promposals affectionate or a show?? 🙄

Teens will easily relate to the plot and teenage angst. Bailey and Kov were relatable and terrible at communicating. 👈🏽 C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-I-O-N kids! It really can solve world problems.

Love and Other Secrets is sure to be loved by YA contemporary fans. It's fast, funny, relatable and like everything else, it's all caught on film. You poor YouTube generation... I'm so glad all my teen fails were not recorded and archived for all of time. 









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Book Review: The Reader by MK Harkins (The Immortal Series #1)

Summary: Hunted, shot, and without her memory, eighteen-year-old Ann Baker wakes in shallow water on a deserted Pacific Northwest island. She is soon approached by two young men claiming to be her friends. Something isn’t right, but when gunshots sound, Ann is left with little choice but to allow Devon and Archer to help her escape. Soon she finds herself in their North Bend mountain compound, where the higher evolved humans claim to be mind-readers. While Ann heals, she realizes they believe her to be one of the last and most powerful of all – The Lost One.

She’s welcomed by most with opened arms, but not everyone is happy about her arrival. A jealous adversary has plans for Ann, which spirals the entire Reader community into chaos.

As lies, murder, and betrayal threaten to rip apart the once harmonious mountain dwellers, Ann is thrust into making a decision that could save or devastate not only The Readers, but all of mankind. But there’s just one glitch: by doing so it may require her to make the ultimate sacrifice.


Release Date: August 2016
Age Group: YA, Paranormal
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
I've read several Harkins contemporary books, I like the easy flow of words and the angst she gives her characters when it comes to love. However, the cover of The Reader is what initially caught my attention, the freckles reminded me of our middle grade reviewer Macy Kate. A simple, raw beauty. When I realized that it was Harkins work and her shift into the paranormal/dystopian genre I was interested!

Y'all, THE HOOK! Nothing like starting right off with a little amnesia, hot guys and bullets flying! This is the stuff YA dreams are made of... #allthefeels

At first the world building seemed simplistic and a bit mysterious but it didn't take long to realize that this was headed into a paranormal setting. The premise of genetically superior humans, divided by divine roles felt a tiny, tiny bit mythological/historical and it worked. The hidden city in the mountain was written very vividly and I really could picture the beauty of it all.

Humans with unique gifts, long life expectancy, bad guys, love triangles and mind reading is really what every woman YA teen girl pines for, right?!

The MC, Ann, is both strong and flawed. She isn't too go to be true but relatable... you know, she will scissor kick you in the throat if you cross her yet she can't make a decent judgment on a guy.

Devon & Archer were so Edward and Jacob for a hot minute but it worked. The character development was pretty steady and the plot twists kept making me love someone one minute and hate them the next. Good stuff.

The ending was a bit anti-climactic for me BUT that's because it isn't over yet! This is a duology and concludes with The Jack!

Overall, The Reader is a nice addition to the YA genre and fans of dystopian & paranormal lit. will enjoy its fast pacing and unique imagery.

If you liked: Gameboard of the Gods, Perfected, Uncharted  you will enjoy The Reader.









*I waited FOREVER for book 2... I started to loose hope. But one morning BAM! there it was on NetGalley, just waiting for me to download!-- review coming soon (*spoiler: it was better than The Reader #sorrynotsorry).


This article originally appeared on I'd So Rather Be Reading

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Book to Movie Spotlight: Mortal Engines


MORTAL ENGINES – In Theaters December 14

Hundreds of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, a mysterious young woman, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), emerges as the only one who can stop London — now a giant, predator city on wheels — from devouring everything in its path.  Feral, and fiercely driven by the memory of her mother, Hester joins forces with Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), an outcast from London, along with Anna Fang (Jihae), a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head.

Mortal Engines is the startling, new epic adventure directed by Oscar®-winning visual-effects artist Christian Rivers (King Kong).  Joining Rivers are The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies three-time Academy Award®-winning filmmakers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, who have penned the screenplay.  Visual effects are created by a Weta Digital team led by Ken McGaugh, Kevin Smith, Luke Millar and Dennis Yoo.  The Universal and MRC adaptation is from the award-winning book series by Philip Reeve, published in 2001 by Scholastic. 

On board as producers are Zane Weiner (The Hobbit trilogy), Amanda Walker (The Hobbit trilogy) and Deborah Forte (Goosebumps), as well as Walsh and Jackson.  Ken Kamins (The Hobbit trilogy) joins Boyens as executive producer.  Universal will distribute the film worldwide.  www.mortalengines.com

Genre: 3D Epic Adventure
Cast: Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Jihae, Ronan Raftery, Leila George, Patrick Malahide and Stephen Lang
Directed by: Christian Rivers
Writers: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Based on the Book by: Philip Reeve
Produced by: Zane Weiner, Amanda Walker, Deborah Forte, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson
Executive Producers: Ken Kamins, Philippa Boyens

Watch and share the new MORTAL ENGINES extended look.

#MortalEngines is in theaters December 14.

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https://twitter.com/mortal_engines/status/1060336102169399296

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Book Review: Freedom Trials by Meredith Tate

Summary: Evelyn Summers is imprisoned for a crime that was wiped from her memory.

In order for Evelyn to be released, she―along with other “reformed” prisoners―must pass seven mental, physical, and virtual challenges known as the Freedom Trials. One mistake means execution and, with her history of being a snitch, her fellow inmates will do everything they can to get revenge.

When new prisoner Alex Martinez arrives, armed with secrets about Evelyn’s missing memories, she must make a choice. She can follow the rules to win and walk free, or covertly uncover details of the crime that sent her there. But competing in the trials and dredging up her erased past may cost Evelyn the one thing more valuable than freedom: her life.









Release Date: October 2018
Age Group: YA, Dystopian
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
Freedom Trials has a very familiar and identifiable feel to it. It is undeniably the offspring of The Maze Runner & Divergent with maybe The Last Girl as its aunt. YA fans of the dystopian genre are going to either fall in love or outright resent this one. The world and plot are so relatable that you are either going to dive in and be excited to re-enter a familiar world or you are going to just not be interested in a re-run.

With that said, I really enjoyed the ride! The story pace is fast and had a very easy flow to it. I liked piecing things together with Evelyn and the feelings of uncertainty & confusion; the slang took me a bit of time to figure out because there wasn't a lot of explanation to it (hacks, slingers, etc) but it worked out.

Because this is a first in the series there is a lot we just don't know {yet}.
I don't know:
  • how I feel about Evelyn. I hope she gets a bit more Katniss-y.
  • if I like the love interest. Really needs to be fleshed out in the next book with either their history or some serious dialogue. Make me either love him or hate him! Right now I think he is a really cool GI JOE but I don't trust him.
  • who are the "good/bad" guys.
There is a lot of build-up for book two. It is either going to set this series apart from its predecessors or its simply not. I think Freedom Trials is off to a good start. Welcome the Dystopian Family Ms. Tate! Bring the fire in book two, we can take the heat!
________________________________________________________________________

I would recommend this to reluctant teen readers. The style of writing is easy to follow. There are a lot of characters in the prison but forgetting one will not hurt in following the story plot.

👇🏽 I would also recommend Freedom Trials to teens who enjoyed the books listed below.👇🏽 

Perfected by Kate Javik Birch {trilogy}
Branded by Abi Ketner {trilogy}
Ignite by Danielle Rogland
Ordinary by Lindy Zart {trilogy}

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Book Review: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

Summary: There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.




Release Date: July 2018
Age Group: YA, Dark Thriller
Source: Review Copy from NetGalley
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
I read The Cheerleaders about a month ago and I 've been sitting on the review because I was left uneasy. With that said, it was a good YA thriller filled with mystery and murder but there were two reoccurring issues that were pretty heavy-- suicide & abortion. I wasn't sure how I felt about it when it all ended but now I do and I hated it.
I am a victim, whether or not I feel like one.
It's not that I don't think these two topics are appropriate for YA literature, as a matter of fact, I've read a few that addressed hard issues beautifully: Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe, The Girl Next Door or Ryan's Bed.

I do believe if you are going to bring the tough stuff in you better take the time to work through each and every detail, really dive into the characters' emotional processes and specifically identify instances that are wrong... DO NOT LEAVE GREY AREA for teens to read and walk away doubting they were victimized.

I never felt any closer, yes the mystery and sleuthing was original and clever but again, there was this whole situation that just kept getting but on the back burner. The continued thoughts of the victim constantly blaming herself for what should have been identified as statutory rape was just sad. Only to be followed by zero parental involvement in the decision of an abortion and not because the mom wasn't present.

It was basically a girl (with a lot of baggage🚨) telling her mom she was pregnant (by someone other than her boyfriend 🚨) and that her mom didn't need to know or worry about "him" 🚨. Followed by said teen making a "quick" decision before she could "think" about it 🚨. WHAT!?!?! Red flags for dayyysssss. 🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨 #redALERT

In all honesty, this story would have been better if the abortion was left out, yes it stung hard but it wasn't the real punch to the gut in the overall story arch and it actually caused more harm than awareness. The phrase "less is more" comes to mind.

As far as a dark thriller goes, the mystery was great and unpredictable. There were several plot twists that kept me going and it definitely flowed like an episode of Riverdale. I hung in there until the end but it did feel a bit flat at the conclusion, very anticlimactic. I really wanted it to be so much more.




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Book Review: Courting Carlyn by Melissa Chambers

Summary: Vaughn Yarborough is ready to trade the fame and glory of the international junior pro tennis circuit for college and a more settled life. First stop: spearhead a summer camp for underprivileged kids. The girl who’s agreed to run it with him has Vaughn more intrigued by the minute, but with the strict no-fraternizing rules, he’s got to figure out how not to fall for her.

When the boy Carlyn Sadowski has crushed on for years asks her to work with him for the summer, she has to pinch herself. When his world-famed coach offers her training for free, she can’t believe her luck. He could actually help her follow in her mother’s footsteps by playing college tennis. But when she finds out the catch is she’s got to convince Vaughn to go pro, Carlyn will have to decide between her dreams and the boy currently stealing her heart.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book features a super-hot sports star, the shy girl looking to grow her confidence on and off the court, and late-night shenanigans that would make your camp counselor blush.


Release Date: August 2018
Age Group: YA, Contemporary (clean), Sports Romance
Source: Review Copy from Publisher (Entangled Teen Crush)
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
What can I say, I'm a sucker for contemporary YA sports fiction, who knew! I wish I had this niche of fiction when I was in high school. Maybe it would have made all the broody athletes more tolerable... probably not but I would have enjoyed looking at them a bit more. Ah nostalgia. You seriously couldn't pay me to repeat high school but I do love reading a good coming of age story and Entangled Crush book always deliver! 💯

I was a little hesitant with this one because I have absolutely no interest in tennis. None. Although, I do think the outfits a freaking adorable and I have serious leg envy. But Courting Carlyn was an adorable, sweet romance without being cliche, plus who doesn't love a summer camp romance?

The alternating POV's between Vaughn and Carlyn were entertaining and humorous. I think high school girls will really enjoy the flirtatious banter between the two. Carlyn and Vaughn were really relatable for a teen audience but especially for senior athletes who have to make big choices that will begin to shape their future paths.

I also enjoyed exploring the history that drove each one toward their goals. And of course one of my favorite plot points to fall upon, neither one gave up a dream for love! 🎉🎉🎉 Points for both love & life goals!

Basically, this is a total swoon worthy YA read and it doesn't matter if you know anything about tennis or not. If you need a sweet coming of age romance with a little teen angst and a tennis ball, then grab Courting Carlyn!


X🎾X🎾X🎾X🎾

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Book Review: Surviving Adam Meade by Shannon Klare

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Claire Collins has a plan: get into college and leave North Carolina behind. What she doesn’t have is an idea for how to get rid of the local football star and womanizer extraordinaire—Adam Meade, who she can’t even avoid (despite many efforts), because Claire’s dad is the high school football coach.

Seventeen-year-old Adam Meade never fails. He always gets what he wants… until he meets Claire, the new girl who leaves him unnerved, pissed off, and confused. But there’s something about her that he just can’t resist…

With the bite of lemon meringue pie and the sugar of sweet tea, Surviving Adam Meade is a sexy and compelling young adult novel about two strong-willed people who think they know what they want but have no idea what they need.








Release Date: August 2018
Age Group: YA, Contemporary
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Biased Texan Clause:
Okay, so this book will be loved by all Texans/Natives simply because it is based on our states mandatory Friday night activity, HS Football or termed FNL= Friday Night Lights.

My kids had 28 tardies at the close of last year. I am chronically late to church each Sunday (which starts at 12:30pm). But this past week I got up at 5am sharp to get in line for our HS football season tickets... I was third in line.

Do I have a kid in HS? No. Can I name anyone on the team? Yes, one. Do I have a child in football? Nope. But I got my tickets (and a few extra because I require extra butt room)! See, we are a strange breed but honest about it.

Review: 
Surviving Adam Meade was a fun, feel good book and a great contribution to YA contemporary but without the standard guarantee of a HEA, which was killer good build-up for book 2. And that is another bonus, a BOOK 2!

Once I started, I read this sucker in one sitting, wanna know why? Because of page 13 and one snarky reply by the MC Claire: "I'd bring him a special water bottle filled with the tears of my enemies."

I loved Claire! I loved her spunk, her fire and her sassy mouth. She is exactly what I'd expect from a football coaches daughter but with the added bonus of teen heartache.

When Adam was introduced he was the typical jerk-jock and I just knew I was going to hate the guy. But the more he and Claire interacted the more I loved the both of them as a pair. I'm not sure I would have liked them apart, they had a certain fire about them. The kind of fire that screams "I will eat your first born but first KISS ME you fool!"

I also really liked how Adam's story unfolded, his character was the most realistic and endearing. He had real life tragedies and the world on his shoulders (sometimes literally).

The Ex:
The only complaint I have is that I didn't know enough about Seth, the Ex, to really spew hate-fire at the guy. I mean I know we hate him but I needed more backstory besides a break-up. Give me the dirt!

Surviving Adam Meade is filled with all the challenges of Senior year, the odd year between adolescence and adulthood. It is a fantastic debut novel and I cannot wait to dive into Finding Claire Collins.


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Review: Labyrinth Lost

Labyrinth Lost Brooklyn Brujas, Book 1
By Zoraida Córdova
Available now from Sourcebooks Fire
Review copy

Zoraida Córdova's The Vicious Deep trilogy is my favorite thing to come from the mermaid mini-trend in YA. I knew I wanted to read her next YA urban fantasy novel, so I was sold on LABYRINTH LOST even before I saw the gorgeous cover.

LABYRINTH LOST did lose me a little at the beginning. Alex is a bruja with great potential, about to step into her full power at her Deathday celebration. But she doesn't want the power, because she believes her power drove her father away. (I found it obvious that this wasn't the full truth, but it is understandable that Alex can't see past the trauma of childhood abandonment.) When she meets a mysterious hot boy named Nova who promises he can help her get rid of her powers, she instantly believes him. No one but Alex is surprised when the spell he gives her goes horribly awry.

Once Alex, Nova, and her non-magical best friend Rishi travel to the liminal Los Lagos to rescue Alex's family, I was fully onboard. I loved the quest through a magical, dangerous land filled with strange people who could be enemies or allies and had their own motivations and stories. But the journey to that point was a slog, with Alex making one obvious bad decision after another.

I'm pretty sure when I reread LABYRINTH LOST I'll skip over most of the beginning. Because the rest of the novel, honestly, was exactly what I wanted. I'd even idly thought, "Wouldn't it be nice if X happened?" and the book delivered. LABYRINTH LOST even recovers from the lame, cliche bad boy setup and develops a believable romance with sparkling chemistry.

I also found the world Córdova creates fascinating. Her brujas are of her own creation, and they stand out from the usual crowd since she syncretizes various Latin American myths and folklore. Fans of Daniel José Older's SHADOWSHAPER and Bone Street Rumba novels will find much to love. 

The beginning had me worried, but I was write to trust that Córdova would deliver a book that I found enthralling. I am eagerly awaiting the second Brooklyn Brujas novel.

This article originally appeared on In Bed With Books