Spring Book Roundup and Giveaway! YA books and more

Attention book lovers! We’ve got a bunch of titles to bring to your attention in our Spring Book Roundup, plus a giveaway! Check out our book reviews, and scroll down to the giveaway.

The following contains affiliate links. We receive a small percentage from Amazon with every purchase. If you buy anything, thank you for supporting us and the authors below!

The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl
Paige McKenzie
Hachette Books
Softcover, 336 pages

YouTube sensation Paige McKenzie wraps up her New York Times Bestselling “Sunshine Girl” trilogy with her latest novel, The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl. In this installment, teenager Sunshine Griffith returns from her training to wage war against the evil demon Dubu. She is accompanied by her family and friends, including her boyfriend Nolan and fellow luiseach (guardian angel-like protector of humans) Lucio.

Our hero really “shines” (ahem) in this climactic novel, which is action packed from the start. Lovers of action and all things wizardly will delight that the very first battle occurs within the first dozen pages or so. As the book progresses, she discovers more about the race of guardians she belongs to, her powers, and also learns some extremely suprising news about her birth mother (who happens to have wanted to kill her when she was a baby). As the world heads towards a demonic apocalypse, and she faces a terrible betrayal, Sunshine has to make a life or death decision…not only for herself but possibly the entire world. Good stuff.

The book is very well written and draws you in quickly. Its a fast, fun read, and it’s even funner if you have watched a few of the Haunted Sunshine episodes on YouTube, as McKenzie has sprinkled in a few Easter eggs here and there which die-hards will no doubt spot and appreciate. Highly recommended.

Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to the Dark Side of the Moon
Bill Kopp
Rowman & Littlefield
Hardcover, 260 pages

Most teens know Pink Floyd from playing Rock Band or from checking their parents’ old record collections. For those for whom Pink Floyd appreciation means more than wearing a trendy Dark Side of the Moon t-shirt, this new book by Bill Kopp is a treat. Its full of rather technical musical jargon, but still presents insights into the band that are found nowhere else.

While the book covers a bit of the Syd Barrett era, it doesn’t rehash all of the drama of that early period which has been well-documented elsewhere. Instead, it concentrates specifically on the period from Barrett’s departure up until the creation of the rock masterpiece the band is best known for (the aforementioned Moon). That time was difficult for the band, as the departure of their leader meant having to define their musical identity — and this was not an easy journey. The author does an excellent job highlighting the trauma and travails, including the numerous failures and dead-ends the band encountered while creating its new musical style.

Pink Floyd fans, and musicians inspired by their sound, should definitely appreciate this book.

The Tombs
Deborah Schaumberg
Harper Teen
Hardcover, 448 pages

The first thing that strikes you as when you take hold of The Tombs is its beautiful cover and the deckle (frayed) edges which evoke the story’s setting of late 19th century New York. Its a nice touch which perfectly sets you up for the world you will enter when you crack the book open.

The Tombs is told from the point of view of Avery Kohl, a sixteen year old girl with the ability to see auras. She embarks on a mission to rescue her mother, who was placed in the Tombs asylum (Temple of Mind Balance Studies) due to her extrasensory perceptions. Held captive by an evil scientist and his crow-masked cronies, her fate seems destined for Avery as well — unless the teenager learns to wield her power and thwart the scientist’s evil plot.

The book is easy to read and enjoyable, albeit a bit slow in some parts. The author creates a rich world with some steampunk-ish elements, aided no doubt by her background in architecture. She makes the obligatory nods towards diversity by including African and Romany companions, but it doesn’t seem forced because, well, New York always HAS been very diverse. She also throws in a love triangle which doesn’t really have too much bearing on anything, but I guess you have to have that in any YA book these days.

Overall, the book is an impressive debut, and sets up the story for a sequel — which will be a welcome read as well!

Becoming the Dragon (The Dragon Inside Book 1)
Alex Sapegin
Litworld, Ltd
Paperback, 178 pages

Becoming the Dragon is the first in a series of four books comprising The Dragon Inside tetralogy. It starts with, interestingly enough, a list of characters, which comes in handy when trying to figure out who is who as the plot gets going. Our protagonist is Andy, a teenager who develops the ability to freak out electronics after being hit by lightning. As if that weren’t enough, he later stumbles across an experiment in time travel and gets transported to a magical realm full of dragons, elves, orcs and the whole nine yards. Afer a few misadventures, he dies. That’s not a huge spoiler, as if he doesn’t die then there is no rest of the series because he, get this, becomes reincarnated as a bad-ass dragon! Becoming the dragon, get it?

Anyway, as a dragon, he of course becomes embroiled in war, as dragons are apt to do. Without spoiling too much (did I mention Andy dies and becomes a dragon?), much of the action is PG13 and the author does a good job with world-building and with his characters. Fantasy buffs will enjoy this series. the main issue I have is with some of the dialogue and the writing itself. The book was written by Russian Alex Sapegin, and was translated to English. Because of this, some of the language just seems a bit off. Also, the human characters have typical Russian names, such as Olga, Sergey, and Irina, which threw me off at first because those are very foreign-sounding to American ears. As I kep reading, these factors no longer mattered, however, and I simply enjoyed the story.

Things We Haven’t Said: Sexual Violence Survivors Speak Out
Edited by Erin Moulton
Zest Books
Paperback, 224 Pages

This book is very timely, what with the #metoo and #timesup movements at the forefront of society’s conversations these days. Its an anthology written by adult survivors of sexual abuse and violence during their childhood and teen years. Following each story or poem, there is a brief interview with the victim discussing their recovery. Any reader who has similar experiences will no doubt find this very valuable.

But let me be blunt…it is a very, very hard read. These are real stories, and what these now-adults endured when they were young was horrible. Innocence taken. Years of guilt and shame. Your blood will boil reading some of the stories, especially as you realize that this is still happening in our world right now.

However, I would also say that in some cases, the issue of rape or sexual abuse is not so clear when viewed from a lens different from the one we look at life through today. Is a self-loathing girl who angrily has sex with a loser druggie a rape victim, just because the experience disgusted her? Or what about a sexual encounter among teens, where there is no voiced dissent, but there is disappointment afterwards? Slippery slopes, and they show just how difficult sexual relations are becoming due to shifting norms and even definitions. Where are the lines drawn? I will leave it up to the reader to decide.

 

Food Sanity: How to eat in a world of fads and fiction
Dr. David Friedman
Turner Publishing
Paperback, 352 pages

Knowing what to eat and what to avoid as can be confusing. A lot of what we consider common sense has been contradicted by health experts…none of whom seem to agree with one another. One book might help clarify that and start you on a lifetime of sensible eating which doesn’t require giving up everything you like. Its jam-packed with practical information you can use!

Lifetime television’s morning show health expert and syndicated radio host, Dr. David Friedman (as seen on ABC, CBS, NBC, E!, Discovery Health, FOX, FitTV, The Food Network, Discovery Channel and more) has spent the last 15 years interviewing hundreds of health advocates, scientists, doctors and New York Times bestselling authors. Unfortunately, a lot of the nutrition advice given by some experts would invariably be contradicted by others, making knowing the truth difficult.

Dr. Friedman created a common science meets common sense approach that “finally puts an end to all the culinary conundrum.”

Some of the topics covered include (from official synopsis):

* Meats vs. Beets – Dr. Friedman weighs the paleo and vegetarian diets’ pros and cons and reveals forensic fossil evidence divulging what exactly our ancestors really ate.

* Seeing “all natural”, “hormone-free” and “organic” on the label isn’t synonymous with healthy. Dr. Friedman explains how to read labels for accuracy. Also, how do we buy safe and healthy fish, chicken, pork and eggs?

* Does your product contain GMOs? The 5- digit numbers on the stickers you find on produce indicate how the product was grown. If it begins with an 8 that means it’s a genetically modified food.

* Weight Loss – We have more weight loss plans than any time in history yet the obesity epidemic is getting worse. From Atkins, Paleo, Zone, Keto, Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers, Dr. Friedman discusses the two crucial missing elements to achieving permanent weight loss.

It’s Not What You’re Eating, It’s What’s Eating You: A Teenager’s Guide to Preventing Eating Disorders―and Loving Yourself
Shari Brady
Skyhorse Publishing
Paperback, 192 pages

Continuing the theme of healthy eating (wow, what a problem this has become!) is the last book in our roundup. The author used to suffer from anorexia nervosa, a psychological condition that leads sufferers to starve themselves. Now a licensed clinical therapist, she has put together a valuable guide for teenagers who might not have the healthiest relationship with food or their self-image.

The book is very easy to read and full of real-life case studies, so anyone suffering from eating disorders can relate. She includes exercises to help teens uncover their feelings and learn to deal with them in positive ways. Readers will discover a lot about themselves as a whole, not just learn to adopt better eating habits. There is also sound advice about dealing with society’s insistence on thinness, and the effects of social media. This book is recommended for anyone struggling with self-image and eating disorders — teens and beyond.

Lang’s Labyrinth: Forests of the Fae Book Three
K. Kibbee
Incorgnito Publishing Press
Paperpack, 294 pages

Thirteen-year-old Anne has quite a lot on her hands for such a young girl. She has discovered that Fae creatures, so lovingly represented by Disney and others, are actually bloodthirsty creatures hell-bent on taking over the human race. Entire cities have been emptied of children by Fae depredations over the course of decades, and the evil threatens to spread — putting Anne, her family and friends in danger. She embarks on a quest to find twelve original Fae books in order to untangle a magical spell and save humanity.

First of all, having never read the first two books, I appreciate the inclusion of complete summaries of the first two books in the front pages. That quickly brought me up to speed on the world created by Kibbee, the main characters, and the plot which leads up to this final volume. The book starts off a bit slow, with Anne seeking the twelve original Fae books, which had a cast spell on them by their author, Lang, which can defeat the fairies forever. She is accompanied by her friend Grace, who has taken over the body of her brother’s pet raven, and an old bookstore owner. While the pace picks up a bit as Anne gets closer to tracking down all the books, and she meets a mysterious loner on the way to the Fae forests, the book never really delivers on the action I expected. The world-building and description of the evil fairies could have been amplified…I left feeling like I knew little to nothing about the, their history, and their motivations beyond being jealous of the human experience. The ending has a good payoff, however, and I did like that our heroine is just a normal girl rather than some “chosen one.”

Through the Barbed Wire (Wild at Heart Mystery)
Isabella Allen
Brown Books Kids
Paperback, 224 pages

Through the Barbed Wire is the debut novel by teen author Isabella Allen. It tells the story of Isla, an 11-year-old girl who lives a very carefree life on her family’s 10 acre property despite suffering from dyslexia and a speech impediment. Isla has a special bond with nature due to her staying out all day and exploring the property. She plays with deer, squirrels, and even has a respectful bond with a rattlesnake.

One day, things begin to change. A compact disc wth construction plans mysteriously shows up on the property. Strange markings on trees. And then…destruction. How are these connected? Will they change Isla’s life? Read the book to find out!

The book is very easy to read, and is more suited for tweens and early teens. Older teens might find it too slow paced. I like the perspective of the protagonist, who reminds the reader that there are just as many entertaining things to explore in nature as on smartphones or TV.

Giveaway!

We are giving away a set of the following four books:

To enter:

  1. Follow us on Instagram
  2. Mention a friend who likes to read in the comments of our “#teenbookgiveaway” post (it has a picture of the four books).
  3. For each friend mentioned, you get one entry into our drawing.
  4. We will pick and DM a random winner on Tuesday, May 1st, 2018!
  5. We will only ship to US addresses, no international entries please.

 

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