I am a week late with this blog, but my excuse is that I was suffering from the post-Halloween blues. Halloween is my favorite time of year, and I decided to focus on reading books that either were scary or related somehow to Halloween. Out of the four Hot Reads that I finished this month, only one was a romantic fantasy because after all the monsters, blood, and death I needed something more uplifting. Well, I probably should have gone with a straight romance if I wanted it to be all smiles and rainbows, but that’s beside the point. For my fifth book (and the Other Thing) this month I chose to read one of our New Non-Fiction titles, but still tying into the “scare the crap out of you” theme. Did you know that the Teen Room has Non-Fiction books? We do! All the “new” titles come down and live underneath the other new books, so you should always make sure to check out the bottom shelf!
This novel is a standalone fantasy, which I know might appeal to some people who do not have the energy or time to invest in a series (which many fantasies are). It also takes place around Halloween (Samhain) and involves many of the motifs and monsters that you associate with the holiday. Houck crafted a very interesting world with great characters and a sweet romance. However, it being a standalone novel did cause some problems for me. The ending seemed rushed and very abrupt. I think she had a lot more material she could have covered. But that would have either made the book much longer than it already is, or she would have needed to split it into a duology. I would have liked it better that way because I really wanted more than a final chapter just telling me in a rush what happened to everyone. I did enjoy this novel, and think it would be good for Halloween and fantasy romance fans. Just be prepared for the hasty end.
This book made me say, “That’s messed up,” multiple times throughout, but in the way that horror stories are supposed to make you think that. There was a lot of animal mutilation, so if that is something that you can’t handle than I recommend staying away from this novel. Stewart crafted a retro story about the horrors of loneliness and how sometimes friendship and love can be your only salvation. I liked the setting of the book, on a remote island in the UK in the 1980s. It was different enough to enhance the creepiness, but also familiar enough that I could relate to the characters. I am an older reader of YA, so the time period brought back memories for me (my trusty Walkman), but I think teenagers will enjoy the description of the “old days” before cell phones and the Internet. If you are a hardcore horror fan, or love stories of friendship and don’t mind being scared, this book is for you.
I loved this book. The premise was so intriguing—a girl wants to get her demon back after it is exorcised from her—but this novel is so much more than that. Cajoleas created such a unique and sympathetic main character in Clare. Her voice was immediately distinctive and different from many of the books out there today. His descriptions of place were amazing and I always felt like I was right there with Clare. There were several scary moments and some animal mutilation which is graphically described (apparently that is a thing right now), but it never felt like the author was adding it in just for shock value. Clare’s journey is emotional and supernatural, but also speaks to so many of the issues facing young girls today. I recommend that everyone reads this book. It is wonderful!
This is the romantic fantasy book I mentioned above, and it is the start of a series. Somaiya Daud writes beautifully, and the world she created in this book is a creative mixture of old and new. I loved the Middle Eastern motifs mixed in with space travel and conquest. The story is told from the point of view of Amani, and I really liked her, especially because she made mistakes and had poor judgment in some cases. The other two main characters, Maram and Idris, are also well-drawn and complicated. I felt that this was a solid series opener, written with language that you just want to crawl under your skin and live there. I cannot wait for the next installment to come out next year. If you love fantasy or romance, than I highly recommend you check out this book.
NEW TEEN NON-FICTION
What’s scarier than reading about several infectious diseases and the high probability of the next worldwide pandemic breaking out in the next twenty years? Yes, this book definitely opened my eyes to this very real global health crisis. The book was short but packed with information, and I learned a lot of new things about diseases and how scientists are working to combat them. I appreciated how Goldsmith organized the book, separating the diseases by type and how they are transmitted. I also liked how she graded them at the end of each chapter on the likelihood of them being the cause of the next pandemic. She also provided helpful suggestions on how each of us can do our part to help prevent the spread of these awful bugs. I think everyone should read this book because it is short, but covers a very important topic that we all may be dealing with in our lifetimes.