Tag Archives: Blink YA Books

The Lost Girl of Astor Street

Book Review: The Lost Girl of Astor Street

Author: Stephanie Morrill

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon’s website of The Lost Girl of Astor Street:

When her best friend vanishes without so much as a good-bye, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail takes on the role of amateur sleuth in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. Given that Piper’s tendency has always been to butt heads with high-society’s expectations of her, it’s no surprise that she doesn’t give a second thought to searching for answers to Lydia’s abduction from their privileged neighborhood.

As Piper discovers that those answers might stem from the corruption strangling 1924 Chicago—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.

Perfect for fans of Libba Bray and Anna Godbersen, Stephanie Morrill’s atmospheric jazz-age mystery will take readers from the glitzy homes of the elite to the dark underbelly of 1920s Chicago.

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            Stephanie’s other books are also written for teen girls, but are contemporary novels and I have enjoyed reading those. But I LOVED the Lost Girl of Astor Street. This book is gritty and real, and deals with emotions, life issues, and tragedy in a genuine, honest way. The twists and turns are many and most I didn’t expect. There’s adventure, suspense, mystery, history, and romance in this book, all skillfully woven together and appropriately done for this audience. I didn’t want to put this one down, not until I discovered with Piper whodunit, and what effect that would have on Piper and her family. I would love to see more from Stephanie revolving around Piper and this era, so here’s hoping!

As many have found, the young adult genre is also a great area for adult readers as well, and this is one of those that both older and younger readers would enjoy.

About the Author

Biography from Amazon’s website: Stephanie Morrill is the author of several young adult novels, including the 1920’s mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street (February 2017, Blink/HarperCollins). Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids. You can learn more about her on her author site: StephanieMorrill.com

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Summer By Summer

_240_360_Book.1561.coverBook Review: Summer By Summer

Author: Heather Burch

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Book Look Bloggers’ website description of Summer By Summer:

When Summer took a job as a nanny for a couple vacationing in Belize, she imagined it would be a fresh start before starting college in the fall. And while she adores her charge, Josh, she can’t say the same for her employers’ oldest son, Bray. He’s cocky, inconsiderate, and makes her feel she’s a chore he has to put up with. In short, he’s everything she dislikes in a guy.

Bray had a plan for the summer: party, hang out with friends, and forget all the responsibilities waiting for him back home. But every time he’s forced to be around Summer, her dour, serious mood sets him off. Not to mention she has a habit of picking up on what he already knows is wrong with him.

Then the two find themselves on a dive trip gone wrong, stranded on a remote island. As they focus on survival, their differences melt away, and they find being together may be what both needed all along.

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Summer by Summer is the first book I’ve read from Heather Burch, and I fell in love with this author’s writing style, the characters, and the setting. This novel is a YA adventure/romance. Heather did a magnificent job of pulling off both adventure and romance, keeping my attention throughout the entire book. I read it in two days, folks. Two. Days. It would have been shorter, but you know, work and stuff. Here’s why I loved it:

The style. There was never a lull in Summer By Summer, never a dull moment. There wasn’t one time where I yawned and set the book aside. I was engaged and pulled in by Summer and Bray’s uniquely written perspectives, which leads me to…

The characters. Bray and Summer were both flawed, in big ways. Yet at the same time, they had good things about them that made me cheer for them. This book is in the first person point of view, which I really enjoyed, since it included Bray’s perspective. I identified with Summer in several ways, which made the book all the better. Being on the island is a time for each of finding out who they truly are and who they want to be. This is a story about working through your pain and knowing you’re not alone, almost a coming-of-age. Summer also works through her anger toward God and finding that she really does need him. Bray…well his relationship with God wasn’t really explored, which I would have liked. He seemed more along for the ride on that one.

The setting. It’s super cool, guys. I mean, c’mon, Belize? Then the fact that they’re shipwrecked intrigued me. I’ve read shipwreck stories in Historical Fiction, but not in Contemporary, so that was fascinating.

The extras. The mystery in this book that made things even worse on the island was well done, I enjoyed that.

Summer by Summer is a well-written novel, and a good read for an older teen. The ages of the characters and what they’re struggling with will be a great fit for a teen or just-into-college reader. Or if you’re just looking for a great, relaxing story, then you might just want to get yourself a copy of Summer by Summer.

About the Author

Biography from Book Look Bloggers’ website: Heather Burch, the author of the popular Halflings series, spent the last seven years in Southern Florida but recently returned to her hometown in the Ozark Mountains. Her books have garnered praise from USA Today, Romantic Times, and Booklist magazine. When not working on her latest novel, she can be found hiking in the hills or planning a trip to the beach with her husband, John, who is her hero in every way.

I was given a review copy of Summer By Summer from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Destined for Doon

18866743Book Review: Destined for Doon

Authors: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Book Look Bloggers’ website description of Destined for Doon:

In this sequel to Doon, Mackenna Reid realizes she made a horrible mistake – choosing to follow her dreams of Broadway instead of staying in the enchanted land of Doon. To make everything worse, she’s received her Calling – proof she and Duncan are each other’s one true love – and it’s pure torment, especially when visions of the very alluring Scottish prince appear right before she goes on stage. So when Duncan tells her an ancient curse threatens to overtake Doon and the new queen needs her to return, Kenna doesn’t have to think twice. With darkness closing in on all sides, Kenna and Vee must battle a world of nightmares in order to protect the kingdom. But it will take the ultimate test of courage for Kenna to salvage her happily ever after.

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If you read the first book in the Doon Series, then you should remember that it ends on a cliff hanger. Destined for Doon picks up shortly after that, depending on which time you’re in, Doon or World time. Mackenna’s life isn’t exactly as she thought it would be. The theater world is not nearly as shiny—or as fulfilling—as she imagined it would be. Likewise, back in Dodge, or Doon rather, Veronica’s life isn’t all peachy-keen. Being a queen is no easy task, especially when her boyfriend and co-regent-to-be seems to regard her as incapable of handling the role by herself. That was one of the things I appreciated in this second book. Just like real life, this novel doesn’t portray everyone with a fantastical happily-ever-after.

As in Doon, this sequel has a good deal of suspense as Mackenna and Veronica have to save the kingdom yet again. The novel felt like a YA fantasy (yeah, it is) with a potential zombie apocalypse. It also reminded me of the Chronicles of Narnia movie, Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Interesting combo, I know.

I wouldn’t categorize this book as Christian fantasy. More like general YA fantasy with some Christian elements and themes. Whether or not the authors develop that plot line more in the next two books will be interesting to see.

Again, the romance level of this book is a bit more than what I prefer to read, with a couple kissing scenes (for lack of a better way to put it) that were uncomfortable for me to read.

As with every book, Destined for Doon needs to be read with discretion, and I would say this book is aimed for the older teen reader and adult reader. I enjoyed Destined for Doon and was sucked into the story line just as I was with Doon. The authors do a fantastic job of creating compelling characters and conflicts that had me thinking of them whenever I had to put the book down.

Oh, and guess what? There is another cliff hanger at the end of this book, which is frustrating, and compelling at the same time. They did a good job, though, because it left me thinking bring on Book 3!

About the Authors

Biographies from the Doon Series website: Carey Corp wrote her first book, a brilliant retelling of Star Wars, at the prodigious age of seven. Since then, her love affair of reinvention has continued to run amuck. Writing both literary fiction and stories for young adults, she begins each morning consuming copious amounts of coffee while weaving stories that capture her exhaustive imagination. She harbors a voracious passion (in no consistent order) for mohawks, Italy, musical theater, chocolate, and Jane Austen. Her debut novel for teens, The Halo Chronicles: The Guardian, earned her national recognition as 2010 Golden Heart finalist for best young adult fiction.

A few years ago, Lorie Langdon left her thriving corporate career with a Fortune 500 company to satisfy the voices in her head. Now as a full-time author and stay-at-home mom, she spends her summers editing poolside while dodging automatic water-gun fire, and the rest of the year tucked into her cozy office, Havanese puppy by her side, working to translate her effusive imagination into the written word. Her co-written four-book series, DOON, a YA reimagining of the Scottish legend of Brigadoon, will release beginning in August 2013 from Zondervan/Harper Collins.

I was given a review copy of Destined for Doon from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.