Monday, April 21, 2014


By Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Published: May 13th, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

From GoodReadsA twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.

My Thoughts:
First, you can never go wrong with a Peter Pan retelling in my book. I adored Jodi Lynn Anderson's TIGER LILY, so when I saw that SECOND STAR was Peter Pan set on the coast of California with surfer kids, I all but knocked down Fierce Reads door (Okay, no. I just requested on NetGalley, but whatever).

Alyssa B. Sheinmel did a fantastic job capturing the magic and adventure of surf culture, and drew some pretty awesome comparisons between those who don't follow a traditional academic path to college, opting for adventure. In SECOND STAR's case, boys who want to follow the waves so they can catch the biggest ones.

In the search for her missing surfer brothers, Wendy Darling is caught up between the somewhat-childish, straight-laced Pete and drug dealer Jas and their turf war for the beach. There's something really beautiful about the different ways grief can be written about, and I loved Sheinmel's approach on the fear of letting go and growing up.

SECOND STAR spins the story of Peter Pan on its ear, with appearances by Belle, Nanna, but leaves the crocodiles at home. Overall, a strong contemporary retelling full of romance, adventure and mystique.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


By Tess Sharpe
Published: April 8th, Disney Hyperion

From GoodReads: Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.

The first time, she's fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that'll take years to kick.

The second time, she's seventeen, and it's no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina's murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina's brother won't speak to her, her parents fear she'll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina's murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.

My Thoughts:
When I went to ALAMW in January, FAR FROM YOU was the book I had to come home with. I'd been intrigued ever since I'd followed Tess Sharpe on Twitter and read her thoughts about writing. "This is a girl who knows what she's doing when it comes to craft," I thought. FAR FROM YOU is proof.

Tess weaves a secret romance into mystery and thrill, and skillfully packs emotion into each and every scene (even the ones that involve threatening someone with bear mace!). Sophie is a fierce character and so three dimensional. I commend Tess for presenting a bi-sexual character so well onto the YA scene, but Sophie is so many other things as a heroine: a loyal friend, a strong-headed daughter, a struggling addict, a reluctant cripple.

Lately, a big trend in publishing is non-linear stories, told in a back and forth motion from past and present. With these stories, I get really confused easily and forget where I am in the story (stopping to think "is this past or present?"). Tess navigates around this well, by keeping her chapters short (most are only two or three pages) and grounding the reader at the beginning of each chapter by marking not only how many months ago something happened, but how old the character was at the time.

Don't miss out on this April debut. I'm excited to see more writing from Tess. I think she has the potential to be a strong force in YA.
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