Beach Reads: YA Edition
You can get your Young Adult books in a range of flavours – dystopian action, popular girl backstabbing dramas, everyday teen conundrums, OTT romance and so on. Ultimately virtually all YA fiction has a fantasy element, as authors seek to make the awkward, frustrating moments of teenagedom into something more romantic, daring, and dramatic. Thus, YA makes for an excellent bracket to draw from when picking out some beach reads for the season. From a gift-giving perspective, it’s also a good way to keep younger readers’ minds active over the mushy brain summer months. Today I’m highlighting a bunch of awesome beachy YA reads – and giving away all of them!
The Summer After You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Perfect if: you’re in the mood for a Nicholas Sparks-esque story about potentially doomed relationships.
This one reads like a classic summer teen movie – a local townie by the name of Lucy lives on the Jersey Shore, quietly pining away for one of the summer residents, a boy named Connor. But Lucy knows better than to fall for a tourist – that is, until Super Storm Sandy sweeps in and pushes the two of them together closer than Lucy would have ever dared. Naturally, she ends up with a broken heart anyway, one she nurses until the following summer as she anticipates Connor’s return – which is essentially where the book picks up as Lucy does her best to avoid Connor and we get flashes of what happened between them. Of course, life isn’t just about this romantic fling – the story also touches on the impacts a major storm has well after the emergency relief crews have packed up their tents, including Lucy’s family’s financial struggles, and her strained relationship with her twin brother. If you like a bit of soap with your dishy romantic tales, then you’ll enjoy this one.
The Truth Commission by Susan Juby
Perfect if: you’re going through John Green withdrawal and want to read a story with sharp-witted, acerbic teens.
I *love* Susan Juby! She’s probably one of the best-known YA writers in Canada and for good reason – her razor sharp books feel real and clever and unique all at the same time. This time around, Juby has spun a fictional tale and delivered it in a nonfiction format – as if you are reading a play-by-play account of what’s happened (it also features some very funny and fun footnotes). But onto the plot. The story follows Normandy and her two friends Dusk and Neil, who are known as the titular Truth Commission, for their approach to tackling rumours head on and unveiling the truth about them. But things take a turn when someone suggests to Normandy that she has a secret of her own to unveil – namely, why her prodigal sister Keira has returned to town and what happened to her while she was away. Between uncovering this mystery, dealing with a complex relationship with her pals, and wondering what to do about her sister’s secrets, this book is a serious page turner and laugh out loud funny.
Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend + Revenge, Ice Cream and Other Things Best Served Cold by Katie Finn
Perfect if: you loved the drama of ABC’s Revenge set amongst the Hamptons.
Admittedly reviewing these two books is a *bit* tricky as there’s a mighty twist at the end of Book 1 that drives the plot of Book 2. But I’ll try. In a nutshell, Gemma is looking forward to the summer after her sophomore year – she’s got a great boyfriend and best friend in her pocket. But when Gemma is unceremoniously dumped, she finds herself back in the Hamptons for the summer after being away for five years. Might it have something to do with her ex-best friend Hallie, who she is now avoiding? Perhaps. Meanwhile, Gemma gets caught up in a case of mistaken identity, positioning her in a great spot to take revenge on those who wronged her. The second book…picks up not long after the first one, with Gemma’s revenge quest amplified and Hallie not backing down one bit. I won’t spoil too much beyond that, other than to say if you like a bit of cattiness with your summer reads, these two dishy books don’t disappoint (plus there’s a third book in the series to come!)
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Perfect for: fans of Sophie Kinsella’s signature wit – packaged in a fresh new light.
YA authors are throwing their hats in the adult ring more and more these days – so why not do things in reverse? Sophie Kinsella, one of the queens of chick lit best known for her Shopaholic series, takes a stab at YA fiction and does pretty well. First, it’s important to note that the story isn’t quite as fluffy as her adult books are. It follows Audrey, a fourteen-year-old girl who develops an anxiety disorder that makes her very uncomfortable when dealing with other people. Things start to improve a bit as Audrey finds a way to communicate with one of her brother’s friends, but rest assured, the book’s message isn’t ‘love conquers all, including mental illness’. Set amongst the hijinks of her quirky family, this heartwarming story is really about Audrey overcoming her challenges herself and making progress toward just simply being ‘okay’. It’s a surprisingly sweet story – one that melds Kinsella’s laugh out loud prose with a deeper, more genuine sense of emotion.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Perfect if: you like some swordplay with your beach reads. Also it reminded me a bit of Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse or Marie Lu’s Legend.
Laia is an impoverished girl living in ancient times, in a fictional society inspired by the Roman Empire. When her brother is arrested, Laia makes a deal with the proverbial devil – she’ll enlist in the Empire’s military academy, but really she’ll be a spy for a group of rebels. It’s there that she meets Elias, the military’s top prodigy, but he too is harbouring a deep secret – namely he wants to be free of the very Empire he’s meant to be protecting. Told in alternating chapters, this is truly one of the more engrossing and villainous worlds I’ve been drawn into – think: the can’t-put-down aspects of The Hunger Games, only a lot darker. This book will make your heart pound and your blood boil, all the way up until the stunning ending. The good news? You won’t be left hanging – the book has been incredibly well received by fans and critics alike, and a sequel is already in the works!
Love, Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius
Perfect if: you want a cute, fluffy, fairy tale-esque read.
I need to address the cover because it’s the cutest – and if you agree, then you’ll probably want to pick this book up. It’s a sweet story that dabbles in magical realism, aka where the story is set very much in the world you and I know, but where magic is a real thing, plain and simple. In this case, magic plays a role in determining who you’ll fall in love with upon attending high school in the town of Grimbaud, which in and of itself is one of the highlights of the story – I adored reading about the cute setting and the way magic played a role! But Fallon is thrown for a serious loop when her fortune decides that she will never fall in love. Devastated, Fallon isn’t sure where to turn – until she links up with Sebastian, the school’s resident heartbreaker, to try and overturn the town’s obsession with fortune-led love once and for all.
I’m staring at a stack of seven books – and I’m delighted to be giving away all seven titles to one lucky winner. Want to win? Here’s how to enter:
1) First & foremost: you must be a subscriber to the Canadian Gift Guide to enter this giveaway. It’s as simple as finding ‘The Gift of Gab’ box in the righthand column and dropping in your email or clicking follow. Then, tell me in the comments below by August 14, 2015 – which of these YA Beach Reads are you most excited to dive into?
2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around August 15, 2015 to select the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.
3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.
4) Bonus Entry #1: Follow Penguin Canada on Twitter, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about why you want to read An Ember in the Ashes and / or The Truth Commission. Post a link to your Tweet below in a separate comment to earn yourself an extra entry into the draw.
5) Bonus Entry #2: Follow Raincoast Books on Twitter, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about why you want to check out Love, Fortunes and Other Disasters and / or Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend / Revenge, Ice Cream and Other Things Best Served Cold and / or The Summer After You and Me. Post a link to your Tweet below in a separate comment to earn yourself an extra entry into the draw.
6) Bonus Entry #3: Follow Random House of Canada on Twitter, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about why you want to check out Finding Audrey. Post a link to your Tweet below in a separate comment to earn yourself an extra entry into the draw.