Category Archives: Teens

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Title: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beatty
Genre: Children’s fiction, fantasy
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publishing date: July 14th, 2015
ISBN: 9781484709016
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: “Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of the Biltmore estate.There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. When children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is:a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s identity before all of the children vanish one by one.
Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic. In order to save the children, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

My Review:

This book had a huge marketing hype around it. All the marketing, the intriguing description as well as the book-cover got me very excited about this book.
In many ways this book would be better off had the author invented a fictional family to go with the castle. Instead he chose to go with the family who are historically linked to the estate, and then he throws history all over the place. Of course all historical fiction does fictionalize a lot of things, but their fictional facts should in some fashion be linked to actual historical facts or theories.
The characters were easy to enjoy but they were a little flat. The mysteries are a bit simple and the books targeted audience (8-12 year olds) wouldn’t have much trouble figuring out the mysteries presented in the book. That is everything except Serafina’s own “past” which is barely foreshadowed at all and is just info-dumped on the reader in the end. Though it is pretty clear what she is, or it is very well displayed by the books illustrations, but the whole why and whens are just dropped in the end.
That aside, this is a book that can be enjoyed, particularly by it’s targeted audience, but the hype around it is insanely overplayed. This is a normal mediocre book which could have been much better had the story been a little more complex and with more colorful characters. If the novel had been longer and there had been more space for the character’s to evolve, this would have been a superb book.
By all means, this book turned out to be a huge disappointment.

Se the astonishing book-trailer below (I would watch that movie):

City of Fae

Title: City of Fae
Author: Pippa DaCosta
Genre: Teens & YA, Sci Fi & Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Publishing date: May 7th, 2015
ISBN: 9781408868720
Purchase Link: amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: From the moment Alina touches London’s hottest fae superstar, breaking one of the laws founded to protect all of her kind, her fate – and the fae – close in.
Below ground, the fae High Queen plots to claim the city as her own and places her pawns, ready for the battle to come. A battle she cannot lose, but for one small problem – Alina. There are four ancient keepers powerful enough to keep the queen in her prison. Three are dead. One remains … And to fight back, Alina risks sacrificing everything she has come to love.

My Review:

I’m going to jump right in and say it, this book was a huge disappointment. This is a book I was really looking forward to read, the plot sounded interesting, the cover was gorgeous. But upon reading the pages, the story just fell flat.
Instead of a love triangle, we got  a love quadruple (if that’s even a thing), as if love triangles aren’t hard enough to pull off without too much jibber jabber. It is okay that a book needs drama, and romance is an important factor in YA-fiction, but enough is enough.
At several point it felt like the plot was hand-fed to me, expect you reader to be intelligent, don’t treat them as if they are stupid. The “big reveal” was revealed to the reader long before it was written in plain words.
The strongest point with this book was the plot, which by all means felt like a fresh breath in a otherwise swamped area. The plot was just executed poorly and with too much going on around it.

Double Feature

Title: Double Feature
Series: Timber Ridge Riders #9
Author: Maggie Dana
Genre: Teen fiction, Sports
Publisher: Pageworks Press
Publishing date: April 13th, 2014
ISBN: 9780985150488
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: Kate McGregor’s movie-star boyfriend has been making headlines, and when Kate attends the Moonlight premiere in New York, she ends up making a headline of her own.
Then comes the Festival of Horses with an even bigger surprise. A girl from Kate’s past is tangled up with Angela’s present, and the fallout affects all of them… including Mrs. Dean who’ll stop at nothing to shove her daughter into the limelight.

My Review:

In many ways “Double Feature” was both extremely satisfying and disappointing at the same time. Old storylines are finally wrapped up, after four more than four books, we finally get a resolution to Kate’s boyproblems and we finally get to the festival of horses.
The say the boytrouble was wrapped up, was a relief but also very quickly done. Over the last five books the relationship between Kate and her moviestar boyfriend has been hyped up, as well as a relationship between Kate and Brad has been built. The need for a conclusion was raised, at least, one book ago, and it was a huge relief that this problem is sorted. The way it was sorted though was very swift and dissatisfying.
The Festival of horses is another thing which has been constantly mentioned during all the books I’ve read in the series. It was good to finally have it happening, and it was nice to see that Angela, Kate & Holly’s rival and enemy, finally starts to become more a person and less just a tool to make trouble. Angela’s humanity started to shine through in the previous book, it started to grow more during Double Feature.
Double Feature is a bit longer than the previous books in the series, probably due to more things happening, but it could have been even longer. To give the story more depth and more room to evolve it should have been about fifty pages longer, because it felt like a lot of things were thrown in on too few pages.
All in all the story was enjoyable, and it was good to see the story finally move forward (even though it felt more like a leap than a step) after a few “filler books.”

After the Storm

Title: After The Storm
Series: Timber Ridge Riders #8
Author: Maggie Dana
Publisher: Pageworks Press
Publishing date: November 20th, 2013
ISBN: 9780985150471
Purchase Link:

Synopsis: Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and the Timber Ridge girls are excited about getting dates and new outfits for the school dance. But a blizzard plunges them into reality when the barn’s power goes out. If Kate and Holly don’t act fast, a pony may die. But Angela Dean doesn’t care. She spreads false rumors that Kate can’t be trusted around horses.  If Angela succeeds in her latest vendetta, Kate might lose all she’s worked hard to attain-her place on the team and the respect of her two closest friends.

My Review:

After the Storm felt much like a filler book. The one incident with the pony happens in the beginning of the book, and not much happen after that. Teenage girls do have fights, but as Holly’ boyfriend told her: their argument sounded stupid.

“For once Adam was speechless. He opened his mouth, then shut it again as Holly blurted out her problems with Kate. But the more she talked about them, the dumber they sounded.”

This pretty much sums up the book. The arguments and the reasons for the arguments seem contrived. But what Adam thinks about it kind of makes up for some of it. Also because Holly and Kate are apart for much of the book every second chapter is devoted to each of their POV. The change of the POVs in it self is rather wasted, firstly because there is little to no distinction between the two voices, secondly because from the synopsis it seems like Kate is the main character while Holly is her sidekick.
Kate’s “long distance-relationship” with the famous actor should come to an end at some point. It doesn’t fit in with the story, and is more of a nauseant than entertaining.
I have been reading a lot of the books in this series, but this is the first one which is majorly disappointing. As for now I’m content with continuing reading the series.

Don’t Stay Up Late

Title: Don’t Stay Up Late
Series: Fear Street Relaunch
Author: R.L. Stine
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: 07.04.15
Purchase link: Amazon.co.uk
ISBN: 9781250051622

Synopsis: Lisa Brooks is plagued with nightmares and hallucinations. Could they be caused by the horrifying accident that landed her in the hospital for weeks?
When Lisa finds out that a neighbor is looking for a babysitter for her little boy, Lisa jumps at the chance to keep busy and take her mind off of her troubling thoughts. But then the murders start — and her friends begin dying one by one. Are Lisa’s nightmares coming true?

My Review:
As many for many others, R.L. Stine was a part of my child hood. When I was younger I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the new Goodsebumps book, and I loved the TV-show as well. My favorite series of his was Fear Street, I loved those books even more than Goosebumps. It was with a sense of nostalgia I wanted to read Don’t Stay Up Late.
Maybe I had too high expectations for this book, maybe my younger self put R.L. Stine on a too tall pedestal. Regardless how it came to be, I was largely disappointed after reading this book. The narrative is sloppy and I had a hard time continue reading past the first chapter. It has a lot of telling instead of showing, and though I suppose this is directed at a teen audience I felt that all the telling was more a short cut to tell the story faster. I think this should be advertised as MG or even children’s book rather than being in the Teen & YA section.
As much as I loved Mr. Stine’s books as a child, I suppose I have outgrown his writing style.

A Company of Swans

Title: A Company of Swans
Author: Eva Ibbotson
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publishing Date: 26.04.2015 (re-release)
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk
ISBN: 9781447280118

Synopsis: Weekly ballet classes are Harriet Morton’s only escape from her intolerably dull life. So when she is chosen to join a corps de ballet which is setting off on a tour of the Amazon, she leaps at the chance to run away for good.

My Review:
The story is straight on point and the characters are painted in a matter-of-factly way. Its narrative is fresh and to the point, but at times it is a bit messy as it keep switching point of views. In the book there’s a  lot of ballet terminology and it describes the ballet culture well, so it is easy to assume that this is book will be treasured by ballet enthusiastic teens. Also the story paints a rather realistic picture of pre-war modern era.
Another negative point to make about this book is that the chapters are terribly long, and the long chapters have few natural “stop points.”The main character is a curios girl, Harriet, who grew up in a home without love or laughter. Her father is a strict professor and she is more or less raised by her aunt after her mother’s death. And it is interesting to see Harriet leave her overprotective home in England and run away with a Ballet de Corpse into the Amazon.

Sky Rider

Author: Nancy Springer
Open Road Media Teen & Tween
Published: 30.12.2014

amazon.co.uk || Waterstones.com

The premise of Sky Rider was very interesting and good. The story of a ghost struggling to come to terms with his death, an alcoholic father he struggles to come to terms with his alcoholism and how it injured his daughter.
The story, though, seem a bit rushed, and the characters aren’t developed well. The story feels very superficial and the characters feels like characters, not people. As a book first published in 1999 I think it holds some standard, but as a book being republished in 2014 I feel like it is a story that I have read one time too many without having anything new contributing to it.

I did though very much enjoy the ghost to ghoul or angel aspect of the story, but I felt like it was only the beginning of a story and it ended where the story should have started. A guardian angel on a horse would a great story. The fact that the ghost name is Skye Ryder might be a bit much, when the books title is Sky Rider.

I will end it on a positive note and say that the story was entertaining and the story had a good and steady pace.

Jack Staples and the Ring of Time

Author: Mark Batterson 
& Joel N. Clark
David C Cook
Published: 01.09.2014

amazon.co.uk || Waterstones.com

To begin with “Jack Staples and the Ring of Time” was kind of hard to get into. The time jumping was confusing and not very easy to follow during the first few chapters. The pace started off a bit slow but picked up through the book and after two-thirds of it I was hooked. The world is built well, and everything is explained in due time.

There is an ancient battle going on between good and evil, and we are just starting to see it. All humans and animals are born with scales on their eyes which prevents them from seeing the evil creatures for what they are, but the scales are starting to come off, so people turn into the “awakened.”
Jack Staples is born without scales on his eyes and he has the ability to walk through time., a power he has to come to terms with and learn to control. Just because you can walk through time, it does not mean that you can play god, somethings cannot be change no matter how hard you try.

It is easy to see “The Author” and “The Assassin” as euphemism for “God” and “the Devil”, as they portray their characteristics through their representation of ancient good and evil. The book portray a Christian moral, but in a concealed way and without making the reader feel preached to..

I did not like the character of Mrs. Dumphry,as most of her dialogue felt contrived and her “riddles” were more of less only consisting on well-chewed clichés. And she seemed more like a “plot-device” rather than a necessary character.

However, I look forward to read more of this series. and see where Jack Staples end up.

Almost Perfect

Timber Ridge Riders (6)
Author: Maggie Dana
Pageworks Press
Published: 07.09.2013

Amazon.co.uk || Waterstones.com

This is the sixth installment in the Timber Ridge Riders series, and it is still enjoyable. This installment had more “boytrouble” in it, and the characters acted like teenagers. Holly got suspicious of her best-friend Kate, while Kate conspired with Holly’s boyfriend Adam to prepare a surprise party. Not to mention that Kate is dragging herself into a premature love-triangle with Nathan and Brad. The aspect of “boytrouble” does not interest me much, but it gives another aspect to Kate’s and Holly’s life.

The story is fast-paced and easy to read, but there is a lack of change in the narrative every time the author changes between Holly’s and Kate’s point of view. Which makes it confusing to follow at times. Though the story in itself is quite simple and easy to catch up on again. It is interesting to see how the “everyday” teenager problems are handled and solved, though I still wish to see a more rounded antagonist in Angela.

Almost Perfect is not the book I have enjoyed most in the series, but it was entertaining and I look forward to the next installment in the series.

Chasing Dreams

Timber Ridge Riders (5)
Author: Maggie Dana
Pageworks Press
Published: 27.04.2013

Amazon.co.uk || Waterstones.com


Chasing Dreams is a facepaced story where we continue to follow Kate in her live at Timber Ridge. Occasionally the narrative is a little confusing, as it is not always clear that the action is told from Kate’s point of view, which makes it hard to follow the story. Though as soon as the narrative gets straight again it is easy to fit the confusing parts in.
The story is engaging and gives everyday challenges that a fourteen-year-old is likely to challenge. The antagonist (Angela) tend to be two-dimensional and not very well-rounded. I would have liked to see some deeper development of Angela, and maybe see why she behaves the way she does. Angela’s nice little sister casts some light on how the life is in that family, but Angela still lack depth.
Again the issue with Skywalker (Angela’s horse) never being ridden is an issue, as a horse that is not trained can not perform. Though this is shed a light on in this book as it is mentioned that Liz (the stable’s owner/trainer) is the only one, apart from Angela, allowed to riding him.
This book also shed some more light on Kate’s father, as in previous installments he has more or less been absent. He was painted as a strict and eccentric father figure, but he soon changed into a good a caring father. Which was very nice to see.

My only persistent issue with the book series is that the cover continue to have a brown horse, while Kate’s horse is palomino (Golden fur with white mane and tail).

Overall I did very much enjoy reading this book, and as an older child/young teenager I would have enjoyed it even more.