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Teen Book Reviews

Anastasia’s Secret by Susanne Dunlap
Beastly by Alex Flinn
Bewitching by Alex Flinn
Cloaked by Alex Flinn
Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

 


Bewitching
by Alex Flinn

Anyone who read Beastly by Alex Flinn will for sure enjoy this read! Kendra, the witch from the previously mentioned book, tells her story about her various efforts to use helpful magic. Her current victim, or should we say, girl in need, is Emma from Miami. Book-loving Emma has an interesting situation; her gorgeously perfect stepsister Lisette is moving in after her mother dies, and both girls are excited to become sisters. But that all changes when Lisette meets the world of high school, and quickly drops Emma for boys and popular girls. Not only does Lisette drop Emma though, she is determined to ruin Emma’s life in return for Emma ‘stealing’ all the time Lisette missed out with her father. This is where Kendra decides to step in, to help out Emma. Through an entertaining scenario of events, we watch as Emma learns to be herself despite all obstacles. We also hear the stories of some of Kendra’s past magical mistakes, including the stories of Doria, a little mermaid, and Prince Louis’ desperate efforts to find a wife (amazing how a pea complicates things). One again, Alex Flinn gives us an imaginative story that causes us to rethink and revisit the stories of our childhood. Anyone who has enjoyed Flinn’s past work, as well as a story full of magic, romance, and self-discovery, will enjoy this book. Recommended for grades 9 and up.

posted by Kathryn Marshall, Teen Volunteer
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Anastasia’s Secret by Susanne Dunlap

Nastya or better known as Anastasia is a young girl in love and in trouble.  Anastasia is Russia’s last princess and unfortunately lives during a revolution that will change Russia’s royalty forever.  Only Nastya with the help of her love, Sasha, can save her family from certain doom as captives of the Bolsheviks.  Will Sasha’s love for Anastasia prevail and lead the last of the royal family to their freedom?  Historically the answer is sadly no. The Romanov’s fate was tragic yet if the character Sasha had not been fictional, would the family have lived?  I thought this was great historical fiction because I grew up watching the Disney movie Anastasia.  This was also good because I don’t read about Russian history too often so it was fun to learn something new.  Ages 12-16.

posted by Teen Book Worm
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Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs Sweet Venom

Grace, Gretchen, and Greer face extreme challenges ahead of them as triplets and descendants of Medusa, who in this Greek mythology twist is a guardian of the demon world.  Things  become out of place when the seal that only lets one demon out at a time has gone crazy, letting multiple monsters through at a time.  It is up to Grace, Gretchen, and Greer to figure out what is wrong and protect the unsuspecting human population.  I thought there needed to be more to the story because at the end I felt like the story wasn’t complete.  I was really disappointed.  Ages 11-14.

posted by Teen Book Worm
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In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

In a luminous tale full of sisterhood, loyalty, and the fight for justice, Julia Alvarez gives us a historical fictional account of the legendary Mirabal sisters. Patria, Minerva, Maria Teresa, and Dedé are four sisters from the Dominican Republic who live under the horrific Trujillo Regime, who was the dictator of the Republic from 1931-1960. These sisters make the decision to leave the safe shelter of their homes and fight for the freedom they and their people deserve. In In the Time of the Butterflies, we follow Las Mariposas, The Butterflies, through their lives under Trujillo dictatorship. Be it a story about going to a party or going to prison, the reader becomes connected to each butterfly in a different way. An inspiring account about the martyred Butterflies, the reader becomes aware of four historical heroes, and how they fought for justice. The reader also gains insight into just how challenging standing up for what is right can be. This heartbreaking but brilliant book is recommended for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, and is especially interested in the lives of Dominicans under the Trujillo dictatorship. For anyone who has heard of Las Mariposas, this is a must read! Recommended for those grades 10 and up.  This book can be found in Adult Fiction.

posted by Kathryn Marshall, Teen Volunteer
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Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult Nineteen Minutes

An unexpected act of violence takes the small New Hampshire town of Sterling by surprise, and leaves the town with the question “why?” The title is based on the horrific act of Columbine, which took only 19 minutes to get revenge, to change the nation, and to devastate the friends and families of its victims. In the novel, the aftermath causes the townspeople to seek justice and try to distinguish fiction from truth in order to bring back the normality of their everyday lives.

Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge assigned to the case, could be the town’s best hope for justice, but she can’t remember any of the event, even though it happened right in front of her own eyes. As the novel progresses, fault lies between the high school and the adult community, and friendships and families are destroyed.

“Nineteen Minutes” is Jodi Picoult’s most raw and honest novel, addressing the unspoken tragedy of Columbine. It asks simple questions with impossible answers: Can your own child become a stranger to you? What does it mean to be different in modern day society? Jodi Picoult once again refuses to tiptoe around volatile issues and brings this farfetched story of Columbine into reality and makes the experience more real for the reader.

The ending of the book is the real reason for its shocking and mixed reviews. I believe the novel to be beautifully written and to contain information about an  extremely interesting and modern topic. I recommend the book to anyone knowing of the Columbine incident and wondering what it must have been like. This book is shelved in adult fiction. Ages: 16-adult.

Lauren Marquis, Teen Library Volunteer
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Cloaked by Alex Flinn

Once again, Alex Flinn takes us for a fairy-tale full plot that brings in traditional tales, including “The Frog Prince”, “The Six Swans”, “The Elves and the Shoemaker.” By creatively integrating these beloved tales into her book, Alex tells the story of seventeen-year-old Johnny, a boy who spends his days (and nights) working the family shoe repair shop. In the midst of providing for his mom and meeting shoe deadlines, Johnny has no hope of ever enjoying the summer taking place right outside his door in South Beach, Florida. But that all changes when the drop-dead gorgeous Princess Victoriana of Alora comes to town, surprising Johnny by sending him on a mission…to find her brother, the heir to the throne. There’s one complication though; Prince Phillip has been cursed and is now hopping around somewhere in the world as a frog. Our shoe-maker sets off on this adventure, and learns quite a few meaningful lessons- you’re going to think twice when you see your cat after reading this! A story packed full of magic and friendship, as well as a touch of romance, Alex Flinn reminds us that with hope and belief in the unbelievable, anything can be achieved. Those who love fantasy and romance, as well as a quick read, will enjoy this book. Recommended for grades 7 and up.

posted by Kathryn Marshall, Teen Volunteer
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Beastly by Alex Flinn Beastly

Who doesn’t love the story of Beauty and the Beast? A horrible creature brought to the light by a young, innocent girl who can see past the horror of his appearance…how romantic. But oftentimes, things are more complicated than they first appear. In Alex Flinn’s modern-day telling of Beauty and the Beast, hot Kyle Kingsbury gets the surprise of his life when he finds himself transformed into a horrid beast after an unfortunate dance experience. Kyle has two years to find somebody he loves and who loves him back if he is ever going to return to his original human state. The castle? An apartment in New York City where his newscaster-father hides him for shame of his appearance. The girl? Lindy, who is offered up by her drug addict father when “the beast” catches him loafing about. In a spell-binding story, Alex Flinn brings in several characters who slowly help Kyle to see the magic that can be found in kindness and an object as simple as a rose. A great read for those who enjoy fairytales, and of course, happy endings. Recommended for grades 9 and up.

posted by Kathryn Marshall, Teen Volunteer
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Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey

Wilde Island is in pandemonium over the recent death of its king.  With the pact between dragons, fairies, and humans unraveling, and the leadership of an unworthy uncle while the heir is away, has left the kingdom in pieces. To make matters worse, a witch hunter is on the loose in search of young girls with “fire in their hearts and sparks in their soul.” Meanwhile Tess, a blacksmith’s daughter from a tiny hamlet near the magical and mysterious Dragonswood, wants more for herself then a good man and a house to keep.  But in times like these, wanting can be hazardous. I thought this was a great book and I would recommend it to people who enjoy fantasy, magic, and fiction.  I would have liked to have read more about the witch trials, may be a short paragraph on what the witch trials were about in the back of the book. Ages 11-14.

posted by Teen Book Worm
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