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Currently Browsing: YA Literature
Apr
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The November Girl by Lydia Kang

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The November Girl by Lydia Kang Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: The November Girl Author: Lydia Kang Narrators: Chris Chambers and Piper Goodeve Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Standalone Genre: Young Adult (Urban Fantasy/Romance) Source: Tantor Audio The November Girl is a hauntingly powerful coming-of-age story for two seemingly different but truly similar teens.  I was completely enthralled by this bittersweet yet vividly rich story. Hector is a runaway.  Being half African-American and Korean, he never has fit in.  He didn’t with his mother in Korea so she sent him to his father when he was six.  However his father being active in the military couldn’t be bothered so Hector has been living with his uncle.  Though living with his uncle isn’t safe and he wants to live without fear.  So he has worked it out.  If he goes to Isle Royale during winter, the island is closed and he will be able to hide out until his eighteenth birthday.  However, what Hector doesn’t know is that he won’t be alone.  No matter how much he planned for roughing it from October to May, he could never have planned for Anda. Anda is not like other teens.  Living with her father on Isle Royale, Anda is invisible to everyone.  She is half human and half… other.  Every winter Jacob must leave his daughter so she can fulfill her purpose on the island.  She keeps the balance but eventually she will succumb as her sisters did and wholly embrace her mother’s will.  Or it seemed she would until she meets Hector and everything changes.  This is a compelling story of two broken souls that find courage, strength, and the will to change.  Though Anda and Hector seem so different, they are so similar.  Both struggle within the lives they live, they are both straddling worlds while belonging to none.  Though the course of them trying to survive, we learn about not only Anda and Hector, but also about the legend of the November Witch.  As their backgrounds come to light it is heartbreaking the realizations of their lives.   But through this trial, both Anda and Hector come out stronger.  Though riddled with pathos, the ending is hopeful and I loved the terse ending.   Mr. Chambers and Ms. Goodeve’s narration were excellent.  Since the novel changes periodically from Hector’s to Anda’s point-of-view, the changing narrator helped to convey the switch as well as give a different perspective. ...
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Dec
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards Today we have a special #audiobook review. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: One Was Lost Author:  Natalie D. Richards Narrator:  Vanessa Johansson Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series: Standalone Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Young Adult Source: Tantor Audio One Was Lost is a very gripping thriller-suspense mystery with a hint of romance.  I enjoyed this chilling tale, enhanced by the narration. Sera is a high school senior who signs up for a fun hiking/camping trip.  This is a mandatory requirement for seniors, they must complete a “mission.”  It varies from working at a homeless shelter to this wilderness trip.  Sera is talked into the trip by the school’s organizer, a teacher named Mr. Walker.  Six students and Ms. Brighton (another teacher) make up the group.  However, right at the beginning of the trip, the group is split while trying to cross a river during a storm.  Mr. Walker along with Sera, Lucas, Jude, and Emily are able to cross while Ms. Brighton and two other students are left on the other side.  They decide to camp for the night and reconnoiter in the morning.  However the morning brings a ravaged camp, a seriously ill Mr. Walker, and a strange tattoo on each of the students: Damaged, Deceptive, Dangerous, and Darling. One Was Lost is entirely told from Sera’s perspective.  When she wakes the next morning with her belongings missing or destroyed and the word “Darling” on her arm, Sera thinks it is some strange prank.  She doesn’t realize that it is the first strike in the countdown.  It doesn’t help that Sera does not know the other people in her group well, except for maybe Lucas.  Her brief romantic interlude with him has left her cold.  She fears romance and love ever since her mother fell in love with someone else, leaving her and her father.  Lucas is tattooed with “Dangerous” which furthers Sera’s distrust.  Yet, Sera wants to try to figure out not only how to get out of the wilderness, but also who is seemly hunting them and why. I was thoroughly engrossed in this young adult thriller/mystery suspense.  The little bit of romance sprinkled in added depth and help to keep Sera off-balance.  I enjoyed the twists and turns in the plot.  The story is far more complicated than it seems and though there are plenty of clues, it was not easy for me to figure out until the end.  Though the story is indicative of some other lost in the...
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Dec
15

Review: Spartan Heart by Jennifer Estep

Review: Spartan Heart by Jennifer Estep Spartan Heart Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una loved the Mythos Academy series.  When it concluded, we kept our fingers crossed that Ms. Estep would return to the world.  Our wish came true!  The Mythos Academy spinoff series features Gwen’s (the hero from the original series) cousin, Rory Forseti. This is an intriguing world where mythological creatures, warriors, and gods still exist (and mess with the mortal realm).  Rory, our heroine, is a Spartan.  These warriors are gifted with the ability to pick up anything and know how to kill something with it.  Yes, anything: a sword, a knife, a pencil, a fork, a paperclip, a loose-leaf notebook, etc.  At the end of the Mythos Academy series, Loki was captured and imprisoned by Gwen.  However, Loki’s followers, the Reapers, are not disbanded.  It seems with Loki out of the way, they have found a new leader who has decided to take over the world instead.  Well, unless a new band of heroes stops them. Rory’s character is similar to Gwen in that she is an outsider, smart, strong willed, and determined.  Gwen was an outsider due to her psychometric magic and gypsy background.  Rory, however, is the daughter of two high-ranking Reaper assassins.  Sadly, Rory never knew about her parents’ secret identity, until after they were murdered.  Now, Rory is shunned due to her Reaper parents.  Most people figure she will follow in their footsteps, even though she fought just as hard as Gwen to help stop Loki.   Rory now lives with her Aunt Rachel in Colorado, returning to her original academy and trying to find a small, square patch of normal in her completely upset life. We enjoyed watching Rory try to figure out who the Reaper student is.  It was interesting to watch her befriend the group of young Midgards and find her place among them.  It was touching to see the commonalities between Rory and Ian.  We look forward to watching the romance blossom between them and we have our eye on Aunt Rachel and Takeda.  Of course most of the bad guys got away and we look forward to the next battle in the upcoming untitled book 2. You do not have to have read the previous series, but it does give a stronger background in the mythology and the world.  If you enjoy mythology and young adult adventures with a touch of romance,...
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Oct
30

Review: Scavenger Girl–Season of Atchem by Jennifer Arntson

Review: Scavenger Girl–Season of Atchem by Jennifer Arntson Scavenger Girl-Season of Atchem Author: Jennifer Arntson Reviewer: Nima Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Scavenger Girl is the first book in the new young adult series by the same name.  It’s told from the perspective of Una, a seventeen year old girl and member of the lowest caste in a leveled socio-economic system.  This dystopian novel is set on a planet with three moons that with their movements create five distinct seasons: Atchem, Talium, Hytalia, Toridia, and Zoetica.  The seasons correspond to the five books intended for the series. The single perspective creates a very intimate feeling with the narration.  The pace isn’t slow so much as it feels like real time, not skipping or jumping over large days or weeks. Arntson’s methodical writing style reminds me of Lois McMaster Bujold, author of the Sharing Knife series. The story is told day by day at the end of Atchem season, leading up to Talium, the dark season when the moons line up to block out the sun in a perpetual total eclipse. Nothing grows, it’s always night, and even rivers are affected by gravitational pull.  In a largely agrarian society, the ability to produce food and goods is significant. Productive farmers tend to be wealthy—if they are “citizens.” “Citizens” have standing and privilege.  They worship a pantheon of gods and approve of human sacrifice.  “Reclaimers” are those who have lost or never had a birthright.  They are not entitled to own anything, but what they can scavenge or reclaim from the castoffs and trash of citizens.  This includes their own children.  Girls reaching puberty are sold into surrogacy and slavery.  The contrast between the citizens and the reclaimers is stark, characterized by have and have-not at its basic level and graphically violent at the extreme.  That violence feels very personal since we are intimate with Una and her family.  Some sensitive readers may be triggered. At its heart, however, Scavenger Girl is a love story.  When Una has the opportunity to secure the safety of her beloved family by virtue of a betrothal to a citizen farmer, she gets to live a Cinderella fairytale—or is it?  Can she fit into this parallel culture for the sake of her family?  I have a few minor criticisms, but mostly, I was impressed.  Arntson made me remember what a teenage, real first kiss felt like.  I’ve been married 30 years so that’s saying a lot.  I read enough romance that I...
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Jul
26

Review: Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

Review: Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine Ash and Quill Author: Rachel Caine Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Rachel Caine has done it again!  Ash and Quill is another outstanding novel in The Great Library series.  Gikany and Una found themselves lost in the world and utterly gripped by the cliffhanger ending.  We eagerly await the next installment. This story immediately begins where our heroes were last left.  Betrayed by Jess’s father, the band of library rebels are in the hands of the Burners in Philadelphia – the heart of a Burner stronghold under siege by the Library’s forces.  Despite the hopelessness of their situation, they never give up.  It is compelling to see how each one is willing to sacrifice for the others.  It is as Khalila says – they are a family.  This family seeks to right the Great Library by removing the Artifex Magnus, the leader of the Great Library. Once freed from the clutches of the Burners, Jess and his friends find themselves in another conflict.  They truly illustrate the old adage, out of the frying pan and into the fire.  From the beginning we have always feared for the survival of this group.  So far, fate has smiled upon them, but we fear that once all is said and done some beloved heroes may be lost.  In all great stories in history drastic change requires the ultimate sacrifice. This world and these characters completely suck you in.  The mythology, the premise, and the personalities of the characters are all enchanting and they truly come alive. 5Gikany and Una are completely hooked on this series and we cannot wait until the next installment is out.  If you want to read something truly unique, gripping, and intricately woven with politics, action/adventure, and heart, you seriously should pick up this series. Our Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: Words can kill. Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny… Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule. Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the...
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Apr
10

Review: Sanguine Moon by Jennifer Foxcroft

Review: Sanguine Moon by Jennifer Foxcroft Sanguine Moon Author: Jennifer Foxcroft Reviewer: Nima Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Sanguine Moon is the second installment in the young adult paranormal romance Camazotz Trilogy.  It picks up right where Sanguine Mountain left off.  I appreciated the fact that this was not a filler book, but had its own, valid plot.  While it is a complete story, this is definitely a “read in order” trilogy, also setting us up for book three in the last chapter. With two years between the release of the first and second installments, there is a character list in the back to help the reader keep multiple players in order. I found the first story was unique enough that I did remember most of it and have been looking forward to this read. I’m enjoying continuing this alternate version of the vampire myth.  Camazotz are a species of shape-shifting vampire bats—more zoology, less Bela Lugosi.  They shun modern technology and outsiders in an effort to keep their secrets.  Main heartthrob Rockland “Rocks” is desperately in love with aeronaught (ordinary human) Connie Phillips. Unfortunately he’s also heir-apparent to leadership of his colony. Connie has her own troubles as the identity of her biological parents prove to be more than problematic. In fact, they become very adult problems which is why I was frustrated by Connie’s lack of faith in the adults in her life—parents who are perfect in a way only fictional characters can be.  Keeping them from the action of the story felt a little contrived, even if necessary.  Academy Award winning director Keith Merrill once said, “If you’re a screenwriter and understand the essence of drama, and you want to plunge your characters into conflict and keep them there, then you probably need to ‘lose the mom.’ Mothers go missing in movies because leaving them in the lives of characters in crisis makes sustaining conflict difficult. Mothers listen and understand, solve problems, and resolve conflicts. They are selfless and love without conditions. You want to stir up a heap of trouble and make it believable? Better keep Mom out of it.”  Foxcroft’s justifications for keeping good parents “out of it” wore very thin before being resolved.  To her credit, however, when we finally got there, it was almost a physical relief.  I hope it is appropriate to give them a larger support role in book three. Rocks has his own problems with his colony.  Their fear of the outside world, especially...
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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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