Archive for the ‘Young Adult’ Category


You Review: I Lived on Butterfly Hill – Marjorie Agosin

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Reviewed by Laura Baaijens

I Lived on Butterfly Hill is nothing short of a cute book. Set in the time of a dictatorship, there are hardships, of course, but the characters are all so likeable and inspiring that it nicely balances out the nerve-wracking situation they are all in. It may be a fictional girl living under a fictional government, but as Marjorie Agosín, the author, grew up during the real Chilean dictatorship, we can assume that she paints quite an accurate picture. At least from a child’s point of view.

We first see Celeste in her hometown, with her family and friends, going to the school she’s always gone too, enjoying all the beautiful parts of the Chilean culture. Yet things begin to change. Strange ships show up, classmates disappear, books are burned and eventually the grown-ups around her can not keep the truth of the situation from her anymore.

Her parents run a free clinic to help the poor and as the dictator does not agree with any sort of charity or free-thinking, they have to go into hiding. Eventually Celeste herself is forced to go live with her aunt in the United States until all is safe again.

How long will she stay there? Will she even be able to go back? And if so what will she find when she gets home? Can she blend in and feel at home in the States until then?

Everything is very uncertain. Not just for the characters in the book, the plot is quite unpredictable for the reader as well. It keeps this YA novel really interesting and will have you read quickly.

The story is accompanied by illustrations by Lee White. They were added after the copies for reviewers were printed.  Judging by the cover, however, they will be amazing and will help lift this story to a whole new level. All in all, I Lived on Butterfly Hill is quite a unique book. It is poetic, a tiny bit spiritual, but most of all a compelling story about a girl growing up and finding her place in the world.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

You Review: Noggin – John Corey Whaley

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Reviewed by Debby Kasbergen

When I was offered Noggin by John Corey Whaley for review, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. From the blurb it just sounded unique and sort of weird. With the head cut off element, I thought it would be a bizarre kind of sci-fi, but nope. This book surprised me in the best possible way.

Noggin is actually sort of a cancer book. It centers on Travis Coates who, indeed, has his head cut off – but for a medical reason. He had a terminal form of cancer that had destroyed his body – except for his head. Knowing he had no other options, he consented to participate in a new medical procedure. His head would be cut off and cryogenically frozen until such time as technology had advanced enough to allow him to survive reattachment to another body. He first expects that he would wake up far in the future, but instead he wakes up 5 years later: just long enough for his family, girlfriend and friends to have moved on, but not long enough for him to be able to let them go entirely, as for him no time has passed at all.

I honestly was not expecting that kind of story from the blurb, but it just instantly drew me in. I’m not the type of person who often goes for sickness or grief stories, because I find it hard to connect. But here the connection was instantaneous, mostly because Travis has such a refreshing voice. It was really fluid and easy to understand his thoughts, to be drawn into his mind and sympathize with his story. He has a wry kind of humor that pops out at just the right times and puts a smirk on your face despite his circumstances.

So the book tells Travis’s story of coming back to life with much fanfare to the world as a medical miracle interspersed with flashbacks to show how his former life ended. Tons of emotions abound. Honestly, there were moments when I had tears in my eyes because of the beautiful bond Travis had with his family, his girlfriend Cate, and his best friend, Kyle. This book is mostly about the relationships between these characters, all of which are rather strained because of the circumstances. Everyone wants to move on, but nobody really knows how. Strangely there’s no handbook on what to do when your son/(ex-)boyfriend/best friend comes back to life. And slowly it becomes obvious just how big of an effect Travis’s presence (and absence) has on all of them. I really felt touched by their stories and basically loved all of the characters, including Travis’s new friend, Hatton. Their relationships are beautiful, and they all give each other the reality checks they need.

I was seriously enjoying this and was super engrossed, but in my opinion, the story trailed off in the end. I didn’t feel like the ending was that strong, and I was rather frustrated with Travis and some of the choices he made. While it sort of fit the trend of his desperation and clinging to his former life, I would have liked to see more growth. However, I can also imagine that this is a more realistic take on how someone in such a situation would truly react.

Ultimately, Noggin is a really unique take on a cancer aftermath story. It’s a book that really makes you think about your own life, choices and relationships, and about the passage of time. When I finished, I felt sort of fragile. I needed to just lie in bed for a while and digest – and it’s very rare that a book has that kind of effect on me. So while I didn’t feel like the ending was that strong, it did leave a mark on me as a reader. And that is excellent. For what it’s worth, I think this would be a brilliant book for a book club, because it definitely fosters discussion.

Summing Up:  This is a strange little book, but I cannot stress enough how glad I am that it found its way into my hands. While it’s a story that’s a bit out of my comfort zone, it worked out extremely well. I loved this unique premise, with its awesome characters, beautiful relationships, and refreshing voice. It’s a book that will linger on in your mind for days. And personally, I’m betting it will beg me for a reread at some point.

Recommended To:  Fans of character-driven stories dealing with the consequences of life and death, and/or, potentially, fans of The Fault in Our Stars.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Debby is the author of the fabulous Snuggly Oranges blog, with a gazillion more book reviews.

This Just In: Young Adult Fiction

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Four Recently-Arrived Titles from the Young Adult Fiction section:

Please be sure to contact our stores for an exact stock check.

Ebook available for Half Bad.

ABC The Hague’s Young Adult Fiction buyer Lília has some notes, too:

  • Apparently the movie rights to Half Bad have already been sold!
  • The first part of the The Menagerie series is simply called The Menagerie and has just come out in paperback.
  • Ruins is the concluding part of the Partials trilogy.  Parts 1 and 2 are Partials and Fragments, respectively.

You Review: Us Minus Mum – Heather Butler

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Reviewed by Ana Chen Liao

Cancer.  This one word can turn a person’s world upside down. This disease does not just shake one person, but also his or her family in profound ways. It is especially challenging for children to face death at such a young age. Us Minus Mum is about how a mother’s terminal brain cancer affects her husband and two young sons. You can’t help but fall in love with this adorable family and empathize with their struggles.

The book is narrated by the older son, George, and the author has perfectly captured the musings of a young child’s mind. His life is normal, filled with things such as best friends, bullies, art class – until he finds out about his mother’s diagnosis. In the span of a few days, his happy days become tainted by dark thoughts. George’s family tries to continue a level of normalcy and there are many funny moments involving the family dog, Goffo.

Despite the deterioration of his mother’s health, George’s last memories of his mother are filled with happiness such as a trip to the zoo and a pet competition. Make sure you have a box of tissues ready because the ending is truly heart-breaking. Heather Butler perfectly captures the process young children go through while coping with cancer and death.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Besides books, Ana Chen Liao also loves to review restaurants on Yelp.

Ebook available for Us Minus Mum.

You Review: Allies & Assassins – Justin Somper

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Reviewed by Jonathan de Souza

Fantasy is not my cup of tea. That being said I tried not to let that have any bearing on my reading of Justin Somper’s Allies & Assassins, because I want to remain as objective as possible in my reviews, regardless of genre.

Allies & Assassins follows the story of Jared, a prince in the fictional realm of Archenfeld, who is thrust into the leader’s position of the princedom when his older brother Anders is poisoned. The story focuses both on finding Anders’s killer as well as Jared getting used to his late brother’s duties to the court and the people of Archenfeld. It soon becomes clear, though, that Jared is as much in danger as his brother was, and it falls upon him, as well as a few trusted companions, to find out who is after him and perhaps more importantly, the throne.

The novel has somewhat of a Game of Thrones vibe, which I enjoyed. I am not a big fan of Fantasy novels – I’m much more of a Sci-Fi geek. Many a time have I heard people say that Sci-Fi and Fantasy are the same thing. It’s one of my pet peeves and I usually take it upon myself to get up from where I’m sitting, insert myself into their conversation, and while they’re dumbstruck by this complete stranger suddenly sitting next to them, I proceed to explain that there really is a difference between the two – but enough about my dysfunctional social life and back to the story. And while this story didn’t really sway me into liking the genre more, I do have to say that I enjoyed it. There is an air of politics and ceremony that add very much to the narrative. Though many of the characters are not very animated, some seem downright shoddy, the story progresses fairly smoothly so it helps where the lack of character growth does not. It’s an okay read, though I’m not sure I’d read a sequel, but I never say never.

(Blogmistress’s note: my apologies for the delay in posting.  The Gift Ideas took over most of my time in October and November.)

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.