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Currently Browsing: YA Literature
Sep
21

Review: Gilt Hollow by Lorie Langdon

Review: Gilt Hollow by Lorie Langdon Gilt Hollow Author: Lorie Langdon Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Author Lorie Langdon steps away from the fun and fantasy of her Doon Series to a darker who-done-it mystery in Gilt Hollow.  Gilt Hollow is the name of a quirky little town in Ohio that embraces artistic, creative types, but still has the well-known suburban markers that govern teenage life.  Four years before the story begins, five friends on a camping trip dare each other to jump from a cliff into the river below.  One of them gets pushed, but the one who went to jail for the murder, Ashton Keller, wasn’t the one who did the pushing…or was he? As the story opens, Ashton comes back from years in juvenile lock-up a changed young man.  No longer the innocent boy who was taken away by police all those years ago, he’s determined to clear his name.  Ashton appeared to be a broody stereotype, but was in reality a sympathetic character.  I liked him and cared about the choices he was making. Willow Lamott is Ashton’s best friend, maybe only friend, in the whole wide world—and that includes his parents.  She just wants to be ordinary, go on a date, attend football games, get good grades, and not be the best friend of a murderer.  There’s still a soft spot in her heart for Ashton though and when he comes back, he turns her world upside-down.  Willow reads as smart, but not inappropriately so for her age.  She’s believable as teenager girl and comes across as entirely normal rather than a caricature of the geek that doesn’t know she’s beautiful.  Langdon successfully writes teenage longing without annoying teenage angst.  That is no small feat! The story moves at medium pace, not overly rushed at the expense of humanizing details or too slow at the risk of boring readers so that they don’t finish.  The result is an intimate, interesting book. I can’t wait to see what Langdon writes next. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Willow Lamott’s best friend is a convicted killer, and no one in the small town of Gilt Hollow will let her forget it. Over four long years, she’s tried to fade into the background—but none of that matters when Ashton Keller comes striding into school, fresh out of juvie and fueled by revenge. The moment their eyes meet, Willow no longer feels invisible. Drawn to the vulnerability behind...
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Aug
2

Review: Forever Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Review: Forever Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Please help TWITA welcome guest reviewer, Kymbo. An avid reader, Kymbo is also the teenaged daughter of our own Ang. Forever Doon Author: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Reviewer: Kymbo Rating: C What I’m Talking About: I’ve read the Doon series from beginning to end. Not being one for fairytales with the whole princess and prince thing, I was surprised at how much I thoroughly enjoyed the first two titles in the series. After the first two though, I started having some fairly major issues with the novels. I felt as though the target age for the series changed to a younger audience, as if series was being dragged on, like the authors lost their focus and were unclear where it was going, and like the classification of the novels changed. Forever Doon, like the three before, was a multiple point of view book. Although there is nothing wrong with that, there is a point when it isn’t needed. Forever Doon was told from four different points of view. It was clear why it was told from three of the four, but the fourth viewpoint seemed excessive, to the say the least, and completely unnecessary. Two of the characters were with each other throughout the entire novel, and having both points of view was just each story being retold, most of the time word for word. The fourth viewpoint did not add any extra insight or necessary details through the whole novel all it did was up the word count, and I firmly believe if it doesn’t add to the story it should be left out. Maturity was another topic I often found myself thinking about as I read this book. The main characters are all said to be high school graduates and well above 14, yet I often felt as though they were acting like they were middle-schoolers. Not only was the language used, such as “skellies,” immature and childish, the way character on character conflict was solved was immature. Many times the characters would simply yell at each other instead of actually figuring out the problem, and then it would magically disappear like it never happened. It was almost as though a few of the characters were developing, but not in a way that fit the story. I expected them to mature as they faced various conflicts and it felt like the opposite was happening. I was hoping that because the series was originally planned for four...
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Jul
27

Review: Shades of Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Review: Shades of Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Please help TWITA welcome guest reviewer, Kymbo. An avid reader, Kymbo is also the teenaged daughter of our own Ang. Shades of Doon Author: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Reviewer: Kymbo Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: After reading the first two books in this series, I was beyond excited to receive Shades of Doon as an ARC in the mail. However, I am sad to say I was disappointed as I started reading the book and even had to put it down for a while before picking it up again. Shades of Doon picks up beautifully from where the second one, Destined For Doon, leaves off; however, as the book goes on it feels as though the authors weren’t sure where they were going with it. I often found myself thinking that I was simply re-reading the second book. I also found myself annoyed with the turn the book took in its age range. I felt like it went from a Teen/ YA book to something intended for pre-teens. Maybe the authors did that intentionally to expand the group of readers for the series, but I found it annoying and even frustrating. The book is marked as young adult, and at times I would agree, but at others I felt more like I was reading a book meant for preteens. The character’s voices changed so much, the language used became immature in places and topics it would dive into and then quickly avoid was annoying, and left a variety of issues unresolved. This felt out of character based on the previous two novels. Regardless of why this happened, I’m sad to say by the end of this novel, I was not excited for the fourth and final in the series. My Rating:  B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues ~Kymbo~ About the Book: After cheating death, Veronica Welling is determined to savor every moment in her idyllic kingdom with both her true love and best friend by her side at last. At the same time, Mackenna Reid is enthusiastically building her new life and a theater with her prince. But just as their dreams of happiness are within reach, the world Vee and Kenna have chosen is ripped away, leaving them to face their most horrific challenge yet—their old lives. Thrust out of Doon, the best friends are confronted with tormentors from their past and no way to return to their adopted land. When the MacCrae brothers...
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Jul
27

Review: Destined for Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Review: Destined for Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Please help TWITA welcome guest reviewer, Kymbo. An avid reader, Kymbo is also the teenaged daughter of our own Ang. Destined for Doon Author: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Guest Reviewer: Kymbo Rating: B What I’m Talking About: The first in this series, Doon, changed my perspective on fairytale/princess books altogether. I loved every minute of it. I am happy to say I was not disappointed at all with this sequel. Destined for Doon is anything but your basic fairytale. There is no damsel in distress who needs rescuing , no prince who comes to save her, nor a song after every major scene. Instead, this book is full of humor, musical references, heartbreaking teen romance, unbreakable friendship, and an evil witch that must be stopped. Although Destined for Doon was a strong sequel, I would not say it was without its imperfections. Between the two authors and the switching back and forth of perspectives after every chapter, I would say there were times where I felt as though the writing style simply didn’t work. There were moments where it would have flowed better to stick with once voice over another. Despite a few flaws, Destined for Doon was good considering it was a sequel, and although it wasn’t perfect I would still recommend it to fellow readers, especially considering it has stuck with me nearly two years after reading it. So go visit the world of Doon; you won’t be disappointed. My Rating:  B, Liked It ~Kymba~ About the Book: The second book in the popular new Doon YA series that takes on a classic story, Brigadoon, and spins it in a new way to give readers a fresh, modern experience. In this sequel to Doon, Kenna Reid realizes she made a horrible mistake-choosing to follow her dreams of Broadway instead of staying in the enchanted land of Doon. Worse, she’s received proof she and Duncan are meant to be, along with torturous visions of the prince she left behind. So when Duncan shows up and informs Kenna that Doon needs her, she doesn’t need to think twice. But even if Kenna can save the enchanted kingdom, her happily ever after may still be in peril. The Doon novels are a part of Blink, HarperCollins Christian Publishing’s new YA imprint that delivers empowering and heartening literature while maintaining a tradition of imaginative and impactful storytelling. Release Date: September 2, 2014 Publisher: Blink Series: Doon #2 Genre: Young Adult...
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Jul
5

Review: Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

Review: Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine Paper and Fire Author: Rachel Caine Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A/A- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una have really enjoyed this new series, The Great Library.  The first novel, Ink and Bone, was a captivating and thrilling page-turner.  Paper and Fire ramps it up even more, with an unexpected twist at the end. As with our review of Ink and Bone, it is very difficult for us to do our normal discussion type review.  From the beginning of Paper and Fire, the plot begins to twist and turn, revealing some truths while hinting at other plots.  It would be far too easy to spoil this novel.  So we apologize for this terse and vague review. Jess continues to be the central character.  We follow him in the new chapter of his life as part of the Library.  As a bottom-rung cadet, he has very little power, but if the Library thinks they can control him, they are very wrong.  Jess continues to seek answers, find out the truth of his friends, and search for a way to change the brutal dictatorial nature of the library.  Although he never is completely sure whom he can trust, Jess knows he will never be able to free Morgan without help. This series continues to mesmerize us.  Although it can be argued whether this is a young adult series or fantasy, there are topics that are strictly for the more mature reader: torture, rape, and war.  The nefarious plots of the different factions all weave around each other, and all seem to be against Jess.  It is overwhelmingly and incredibly addicting.  We especially enjoyed the painfully clear depiction that no matter how gilded the cage is, it is still a prison. The end came as quite a surprise to us as the novel goes in a completely unexpected direction.  But it is one that makes sense and holds an intriguing possibility.  We eagerly look forward to the next book in this series.  If you haven’t picked it up yet, you are seriously missing out on a well crafted, addicting, and suspenseful world. Our Rating: A/A-  Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good. Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is...
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May
12

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Black Blade Series Author: Jennifer Estep Narrator: Brittany Presley Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Black Blade #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Source: purchased/audible Bright Blaze of Magic Bright Blaze of Magic is the third and final story in the wonderful young adult urban fantasy Black Blade trilogy. The book hits all the right marks needed for the successful conclusion of a series: bringing to end the overarching storylines and finishing on a positive note. The story begins shortly after the exciting conclusion of Dark Heart of Magic, with the younger Sinclairs: Lila, Devon, and Felix, breaking into the Draconi Mansion to steal Victor’s magic infused black blades. With the help of new ally Dia, things have gone as smoothly as possible over the past couple of weeks. However, time is up and Victor is ready to make his move against the rest of the Cloudburst Falls Families. Overall, I enjoyed the final adventure in the Black Blade series which brought to close the war between the families and filled in all the details of Victor’s backstory and his dastardly plans. I loved seeing how much Lila has grown over the course of the three books, going from loner to a valued and loved member of the Sinclair family. I also enjoyed seeing her make connections with the monsters around town and learning more about her mother and her own roots. While predictable in where the story would end, the whys and hows were interesting and kept me engrossed in the tale. With that said, I felt that this book was lacking the richness and fullness of the previous two titles. Bright Blaze of Magic focused pretty much solely on the battle between the Victor and the other Families. The book felt like one fight scene after another, with little else. In the previous books, there was a central mystery to be solved, but not so with Bright Blaze of Magic. This, coupled with the amount of repetitious thoughts, actions, and phrases, made the story drag at times, and I found my thoughts wandering as I listened. The narration by Ms. Pressley remained spot on and highly enjoyable. She gives the primary characters the vibrancy of their youthful years without making them come across young or immature. One difference for me this time around; I listened to the book at 1.5x instead of my usual 1.25x. I’m not sure if this is...
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Apr
27

Review: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Review: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep Bright Blaze of Magic Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: It is always difficult to say goodbye to a great series, and that is definitely the case with this final book in the Black Blade series, Bright Blaze of Magic.  We have enjoyed Lila’s adventures and the world that she thrived in.  This final book is an exciting and wonderful conclusion to the series. In this final book Lila’s revenge is sated, those oppressed are freed, and, most importantly, Lila has found hope for the future with her new love and the family which she has become an integral part.  The final confrontation between Lila and Victor was powerful and well played. What makes this series so compelling is Lila’s plight.  When the series began in Cold Burn of Magic, Lila was orphaned and living on the streets.  Her world consisted of herself and her only friend Moe.  By the end of the series she is a part of a family and a group of friends.  She has come a long way.  Her mission to exact vengeance on the man responsible for the horrific murder of her mother unfolds and evolves over the course of the three novels. The world is rich in magic and adventure, and the characters are grounded and engaging.  It is difficult to not be drawn into this vivid and wondrous world. Bright Blaze of Magic is a marvelous conclusion the Black Blade series.  If you haven’t read this trilogy, we strongly recommend it for any fans of urban fantasy. We encourage you to pick it up and indulge in the magic, wit, and action/adventure that make this world come alive.  Although we hope Ms. Estep writes something new in this world, we look forward to the next new world and charming characters she creates. Our Rating (Novel):  A, Loved It Our Rating (Overall Series):  A, Loved It About the Book: Bad Things Always Come In Threes… As a thief, I’m good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls.  Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families–and kill every last Sinclair. What they don’t know is that I’m on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom...
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Apr
12

Review: Reckoning by Veronica Wolff

Review: Reckoning by Veronica Wolff Reckoning Author: Veronica Wolff Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una have eagerly anticipated this final novel in The Watchers young adult series.  We have been mesmerized by this rich and fascinating world of a secret society of vampires and the candidates they lure in so they can train them to be Watchers.  Although the novel nicely ties up everything with a big bow, we thought it was not as smooth as the previous novels. Drew finally exhibits a sense of maturity in this final installment.  We enjoyed seeing her finally take to heart the lessons so many had tried to teach her.  Although she wasn’t perfectly mature throughout, she tried to do the right things and to think before acting.  However her waffling between Cardin and Ronin did wear on us after a while.  We felt it was never a contest between Ronin and Carden (we’ve always had a soft spot for Ronin in our hearts), however with the blood bond between her and Carden and with Ronin’s compulsion abilities, we can understand her fears and inability to determine what is real. Although we were happy with how the story ends, its execution was not polished.  We thought the first half of the novel was forced while the ending was abrupt.  The beginning felt like it was being rushed just to get to the last half.  So much happens near the end that it was a bit convoluted.  We were appalled that a critical reunion took place outside of the storyline.  This was a driving force for Drew, and to not be able to experience this meeting was a huge let down. Overall, we loved The Watchers series and are sad that it is over.  This was a wondrously rich and fascinatingly fresh world of vampires.  Although this final book is a bit of a letdown, we are relieved that Drew achieves her happy ending.  Despite our reservations with this title, we still recommend the young adult series. Our Rating:  B- Liked It, but we had a few small issues About the Book: IN THE GAME OF EVIL, THERE IS ALWAYS A FINAL RECKONING Annelise’s slaying of Vampire Dagursson has thrown the Isle of Night – and her own heart – into chaos. Though she shares a bond with the vampire Carden, her connection to Ronan grows deeper as he protects her from those who seek justice for and power from Dagursson’s death....
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Mar
1

Review: Midnight Bites by Rachel Caine

Review: Midnight Bites by Rachel Caine Midnight Bites: Stories of the Morganville Vampires Author: Rachel Caine Reviewer: Una Rating: A What I’m Talking About: What a treat for Morganville Vampires series fans!  Midnight Bites: Stories of the Morganville Vampires is a wonderful collection of some previously released and brand new short stories in this rich and vibrant world.  I would wholeheartedly recommend this to all fans of the series but advise caution for newbies.  This collection would be considered spoilerish if you haven’t read the series.  You’d also be a bit lost on the significance and context of some of the stories included. I’m a big fan of this series and was sad when I read the final book, Daylighters.  I have read anything and everything that I could get my hands on in this world, including those stories that Ms. Caine posted for free on the web, as well as getting anthologies from the library so I didn’t miss a novella.  Though this is not a comprehensive collection of all the short stories Ms. Caine has created, it is a wonderfully balanced anthology. I was able to experience the backstory of some of the most colorful and critical characters in the series as well as enjoy a few new adventures.  Included are points of view from our favorite misunderstood vampire, Myrnin and his liege Amelie.  I enjoyed seeing Morganville, along with our heroes, through their eyes.  There is so much more to the vampires than what we previously experienced.  We are also given a glimpse of Myrnin’s past as well as a few stories that are more epilogues in nature.  One of the most compelling stories I found was from Michael and Eve’s point of view when Michael was struggling as a new vampire.  There is just so much to love in this collection including stories that centered on Shane as well as one from Hannah Moses. Ms. Caine in her afterword gave me hope that she is not finished with this world.  In the meantime though, Morganville Vampires fans will certainly want and need to read this short story collection.  You won’t be disappointed, I certainly wasn’t! My Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine presents a collection of stories—including six new tales—featuring the little Texas town that’s overrun by the undead.  WELCOME TO MORGANVILLE. YOU’LL NEVER WANT TO LEAVE. By day, Morganville, Texas, is just a typical college town. By night, the vampires emerge and...
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Dec
10

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Black Blade Series Author: Jennifer Estep Narrator: Brittany Presley Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Black Blade #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Source: author Dark Heart of Magic Dark Heart of Magic, the second book in the exciting Black Blade trilogy, opens with narrator Lila Merriweather and good friends Devon and Felix (all of the Sinclair Family) discovering that something has the tree trolls agitated. Although this is an intriguing mystery, it must be put aside because of the annual Tournament of Blades, a competition that pits the best youth fighters from each Family against one another in a 3-day event. Lila and Devon are two of the many selected to represent the Sinclair family, just as the usual suspects (along with some new ones) are also selected to represent each of his/her Family. Unfortunately, things start to go wrong at the tournament, resulting in injured and dead competitors, and it’s up to Lila to figure out who’s behind the attacks. Unlike its predecessor, Dark Heart of Magic has no need for extensive world-building; therefore, the story takes off right from the get go. I was completely engrossed as the story unfolded, and I found that the additional characters framed the tale perfectly. We learned so much more about not only Lila’s heritage, but what brought the current warring situation to a head. I appreciated that each character is multi-faceted, although the antagonist, Victor Draconi, is just downright evil. As much as I love her, I was a bit frustrated with Lila this time around. It took her way too long to put together all of the pieces of the puzzle and make connections that were pretty obvious. Lila’s constant “it’s on the edge of my memory” bit was annoying, as was the fact that one of the bad guys basically had to spell out to Lila what was happening and why. But maybe I’m just a super-sleuth. haha. Once again, narrator Brittany Presley does an excellent job of capturing each character’s persona within the context of their voices. I can tell the personalities and corresponding moods of each just by listening to her performance. She continues to capture both the youth and life experiences of the each of the primary characters. Overall, I enjoyed this Dark Heart of Magic. I liked the standalone story of the Tournament of Blades and how it brought out each character’s personalities, strengths, and weaknesses....
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