Fresh Holiday Gift Recommendations From the Teen Shelves
December 5, 2013
It's gift giving season, so for this month's Fresh Takes I have featured
suggestions of some of my favorite recent books and completed series for the YA
book lover in your life (even if it's you). All of these are either stand alone
books or completed series (except where noted), and I've made a few notes about
age appropriateness (though your mileage may vary).
romance-coming-of-age book that satisfies the romance lover and the "literary"
lover both. It's just charming, getting raves from readers, librarians and
Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she's never felt more alone. All mismatched
clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn't stick out more if she
tried. Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and - in
Eleanor's eyes - impossibly cool, Park's worked out that flying under the radar
is the best way to get by.
Slowly,steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of
mixed tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the
first time, when you're 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose.
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor and Park is funny, sad,
shocking and true - an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never
forgotten their first love.
Or any book by
Funny and romantic with enough realism to make these satisfying and lasting.
Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great
job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's
less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until
she meets Etienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Etienne has it all . .
. including a serious girlfriend.
But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of
romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins
keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut
guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.
Or any book by Simone Elkeles. These
bad-boy-hero books are hot and addictive. Perhaps not the best gift for your
eleven year old niece, but her older sister will think you're the best aunt ever.
When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year,
she has no clue that her carefully created "perfect" life is about to unravel
before her eyes. She's forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang
member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's
worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her
boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect.
Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to
lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes
Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in
arrogance turns into something much more.
In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks
through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex
Or any book by Jennifer Echols. Her
romantic comedies are perfect for teens of all ages—lots of sexual
chemistry without too much sexual content, full of humor and heart. Her
"Dramaties" from MTV books are a little edgier, still witty, but with deeper
problems for the hero and heroine to work through.
Two irresistible boys. One unforgettable summer.
Lori can't wait for her summer at the lake. She loves wakeboarding and hanging
with her friends--including the two hotties next door. With the Vader brothers,
she's always been just one of the guys. Now that she's turning sixteen, she
wants to be seen as one of the girls, especially in the eyes of Sean, the older
brother. But that's not going to happen--not if the younger brother, Adam, can
Lori plans to make Sean jealous by spending time with Adam. Adam has plans of
his own for Lori. As the air heats up, so does this love triangle. Will Lori's
romantic summer melt into one hot mess?
Nightshade series by Andrea Cremer. Rich
world-building, strong characters and mature storytelling set this contemporary
set werewolf/witch trilogy (NIGHTSHADE, WOLFSBANE, and BLOODROSE) apart. A prequel
series (RISE and RIFT) stands alone in a
historical setting, so there is lots in the world to read.
Calla and Ren have been raised knowing it is their destiny to mate with one
another and rule over their shape-shifting wolf pack, but when a human boy
arrives and vies for Calla's heart, she is faced with a decision that could
change her whole world.
Shade series by Jeri Smith-Ready. Aura
must discover what caused the Shift that allowed the dead to start appearing to
the living—with the help of two handsome boys, of course. Superior writing
and characterization make this a standout from the paranormal romance crowd.
more than a vampire book. Tana wakes up after a party, and she's surrounded by
vampire-drained corpses. Oh, and she's got this little vampire bite herself. To
save herself she has to go into the quarantined world of Coldtown, where
monsters and humans coexist in a bloody mix of predator and prey. Stand alone
and unique. (Also gritty—better for older teens and adults.)
Vampires series by Rachel Caine. What if a
whole town was run by vampires? Claire and a rich cast of friends, allies and
enemies battle and banter in a vampire series that is both classic and clever.
This series just wrapped up in November with book #15, DAYLIGHTERS. (The early
books are available as multi-volume editions as well as a boxed set.) Plus,
there's a webseries in production. (The content matures slightly as the series
goes on, but it's well handled.)
For the Historical/Paranormal Mystery Novel Reader
A 1920's set mystery, with
ghosts and demons. OMG. This may be my favorite book from one of my favorite
authors. It just blends so many things so very well—spot on roaring
twenties period, twisty mystery plot, deeply textured paranormal elements,
compelling themes and characters and an intensely thrilling read. It starts a
series, but the book stands alone. (The 20's are a hedonistic time, so don't
give to someone with a parent who'll flip out about alcohol (and other stuff).)
The Gallagher Girls
novels by Ally Carter.
The Gallagher Academy trains teenage girls to be spies. Picture Mission
Impossible with lip gloss and a hair comb, you're on the right track. Each book
has a goal, but there's an overreaching arc that wraps up just in time for
graduation. The first three books are available as a boxed set. (These are great
for younger teens; the premise is fun and the voice is light and there's no
significant content to worry about.)
The Body Finder
novels by Kimberly
Derting. Violet can sense dead bodies. She starts as a kind of reluctant
detective when she ‘finds' a victim of a serial killer. The romance and
character development carry over from book to book, but each has a stand alone
(creepy and gritty) killer to catch. Though there is a paranormal element, these
have more of a contemporary mystery feel than a fantasy world, so I've put them
but connected stories follow three young women trained in a convent of
assassins. There's intrigue, mystery, supernatural gifts, and romance. Set in
medieval Brittany and lush with period detail and evocative writing. This would
appeal to the 14+ crowd more than a tween.
Another school for
turning out young lady spies, this one set in an alternate Victorian London. The
thing I love of about Carriger's steampunk is that she nails the slightly prissy
Victorian voice that makes instruction in espionage kind of hilarious. Her world
is built to the tiny details, so it's not just corsets and dirigibles. (But
there's that, too.) Despite the period detail, the light voice and younger
characters will make this a great gift to get someone started on fantasy that's
not THE HUNGER GAMES.
The Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu. The western US
is now the Republic, a police state with rigid strata. Throw in two teens from
different social worlds, a murder mystery, a dystopian state that will do
anything to keep the status quo and you've got an action adventure and suspense
and romance and awesome. The conclusion of the trilogy was just released last
month, so after your teen has seen Catching Fire for the fifth time, get her (or
him) this series.
The Lunar Chronicles
series by Marissa
Meyer. In a dystopian future, there's humans and androids, and a ruthless
race of lunar people just waiting for their chance to strike. The first book (CINDER) is both a
Cinderella retelling (with a mechanic cyborg!) and a science fiction adventure
that continues in SCARLET (a Red Riding Hood
riff) and concludes in CRESS (Rapunzel, but in a satellite). It's a mashup that
totally works. And rocks. (CRESS does not come out until the beginning of
February, but you can get started now.)