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Currently Browsing: YA Literature
Oct
9

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins Isla and the Happily Ever After Author: Stephanie Perkins Reviewer: Nima Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: If you are an unapologetic hopeless romantic, this is your book.  Isla and the Happily Ever After is all about that gut-wrenching, turn your heart inside-out, I may never eat again if I can just stay in this love bubble with you kind of love.  I loved every minute of it.  I read it straight through.  Seriously, I think if I had had to stop mid-book, it would have been physically painful. Isla and the Happily Ever After, book three in Perkins unnamed trilogy, is told exclusively from Isla’s point of view.  For that reason we have to forego some of the details and depth that go with having additional perspectives.  It also means there are no sub-plots that don’t involve Isla.  It’s a purer, contiguous read in that sense.  I only missed them in a few places, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the journey or the conclusion.  In fact, during a major plot crisis, because we don’t know what’s going on with the other characters, we genuinely feel Isla’s anxiety amplifying the overall conclusion. Both of the main characters, Isla Martin and Josh Wasserstein, were on the periphery in the first book of the series, Anna and the French Kiss.  They were little more than set dressing at the time.  It’s now three years later and Anna, St. Claire, and Meredith have all graduated leaving Josh alone to finish his senior year.  Isla, of course, has been in love with Josh since they were both freshman, and outsider looking on at him and his friends.  This year, their senior year, is the year they finally come together and make the fantasy of their love into a reality. That’s not say they don’t have issues, because they’re seventeen and what high school senior doesn’t have issues?  It’s a life season full of possibilities.  That can excite and scare all at the same time and Isla and Josh are no exception.  Don’t try to read them as the adults they haven’t become yet.  Being a more (ahem) mature adult myself, it was frankly a breath of fresh air to be so completely in the moment from chapter to chapter. Perkins pulls more into the story from the secondary characters than in past novels.  Kurt, Isla’s best friend, is an enjoyable addition.  Living with a high functioning form of autism,...
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Jul
29

Review: What Dreams May Come by Beth M. Honeycutt

Review: What Dreams May Come by Beth M. Honeycutt What Dreams May Come Author: Beth M. Honeycutt Reviewer: Nima Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: What Dreams May Come is the debut effort of author Beth M. Honeycutt. The first in her In Dreams series, it is a sweet, young adult romance, and in my opinion, probably on the younger side of teens than adult. I think its target audience is about twelve or thirteen even though the main characters are sixteen or seventeen. Parents can rest assured that it is comfortably clean. The concept of the story is strong one.  I won’t spoil it by telling you what it is, but it involves dreams and was original enough to hold my attention.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a great deal of plot to go with it. If some of the over-done swooning were removed, it would have been better suited to a novella or even a very tight short story. With a print length of only 246 pages, I thought there were many places the narrative could have been expanded to show us more and develop more of the peripheral characters to enrich the promising base plotline. The narrative actually has the ring of Twilight fan fiction. It begins in a meadow, the two main characters, Ellie and Gabe, challenge each other and bond in science class, the heroine is socially awkward, and is constantly hiding behind a “veil of hair.”  It’s also desperately one-sided.  Ellie is being bullied when Gabe comes to her rescue.  Gabe has been through hell in the foster care system and abandoned by his parents.  Not to diminish the very real harm of bullying, but in this narrative, Gabe’s problems are downplayed so he can be highlighted as Ellie’s hero.  Nowhere does she seem to do anything for him except exist. Finally, I found it regrettable that Honeycutt gave her interesting story such a common title. There are multiple books with the same name, including a very well-known 1978 romance by Richard Matheson. It was made into one of my favorite Oscar winning movies starring Robin Williams. (Super intense, visually symbolic story about a love that can withstand a trip to hell and back, literally.  Have an entire box of tissues next to you if you rent it.) Despite my issues with some of its construction, I definitely liked it and I strongly believe the next books in the series will only improve as Honeycutt develops as a writer. My Rating:  C+ Liked It — But...
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Jul
14

Review: Ashlynn’s Dreams by Julie C. Gilbert

Review: Ashlynn’s Dreams by Julie C. Gilbert Ashlynn’s Dreams Author: Julie C. Gilbert Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: DNF What We’re Talking About: Ashlynn’s Dreams is a young adult novel about a young girl who discovers she is special after being kidnapped.  This first book in what appears to be the Devya’s Children series held promise to Gikany and Una but ultimately was not our cup of tea. We found the premise interesting, the characters fascinating, and the plot intriguing.  However, it fell flat in the storytelling.  The story is told through letters from and journal entries by various characters.  Although this may appeal to some, it felt choppy and disjointed to us.  After reading through 25% of the novel, we found we were just not connecting to the story because of this method of narration.  It was impossible for us to immerse ourselves in the world.  Due to the shifting perspectives, we could not find a foundation for ourselves in the story. Although it was promising, ultimately Ashlynn’s Dreams did not appeal to us. However, it may appeal to many others, and we hope if it sounds interesting to you, you give it a shot. Our Rating:  DNF: Did Not Finish About the Book: Before she was kidnapped, Jillian Marie Antel Blairington was just an average bright, brave, headstrong child. She was excited for life in a new house with her Momma and new Daddy. Afterward, she’s all that … and so much more. Held in a scientific facility, Jillian discovers her past-a family she never knew and a power she doesn’t understand. With her ability now activated, she can enter and even shape a person’s dreams. Jillian’s been kidnapped, and her Gift has been triggered, so she can locate and save Benjamin Connelly, a brother she never even knew she had. She’d better master this strange ability quickly, though, because her life isn’t the only one at stake. Her babysitter, Danielle Matheson, is being held as a hostage to ensure Jillian’s full cooperation. Slowly, Jillian begins to learn more about her captor and the other genetically altered children held at the facility. Join Jillian as she tries to survive the training being forced upon her, find her unknown brother, escape with Danielle, and work her way back to a normal life once more. Release Date: February 28, 2013 Publisher: self-published Series: Devya’s Children #1 ISBN: #978-1450232845 Genre: Young Adult (Science Fiction) Format(s): Paperback (216 pages), e-book Book Source: Author Purchase Info: Ashlynn’s Dreams (Devya’s...
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Jun
10

Review: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

Review: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare City of Heavenly Fire Author: Cassandra Clare Reviewer: Una Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: It seems lately I have been reviewing the end-of-a-series books.  So far, they have all been well done.  City of Heavenly Fire is no exception and in fact is amazing!  It is beautifully crafted, brimming with pathos, and completely tensioned filled; I was mesmerized, overwhelmed, and ensnared.  The course of the last five books reached an unexpected and almost hopelessly impossible pinnacle, and I find myself left with a beautiful sense of peace and a core of hope.  City of Heavenly Fire is by far my favorite book of the series! Ms. Clare certainly has the ability to craft a poetic epic.  The imagery, the characters and situations; they all seem orchestrated to music.  The feelings she evokes, the images her words paint, the knowledge she plants, combine to an incredibly all-encompassing read.  For a novel that is over 700 pages, it goes by quickly and yet, at times, each second lasted pages.  Frequently, the tension is tempered by humor, but more often I found it tempered by several different emotions: love, desire, fear, confusion, and sometimes cold logical thinking (“what on earth was next” being the most popular in my mind).  But what I find the most humorous of my read is that I am the main culprit for a good deal of the tension.  The war was coming; the majority of the novel is a chess game.  Yet, just when I think the pieces are in position, I discovered that we were not quite to the end game.  I found myself expecting the worst around each turn due to the loss of a character early on in the novel. City of Heavenly Fire truly takes us full circle.  Though the novel does wrap up with a big bow of hope, we still grieve the losses.  However, Ms. Clare writes about loss in more than the conventional way.  Though there are moments and players that I could tell were key, the way it unfolds is completely a surprise.  I was stunned by some of the sacrifices that take place.  Some sacrifices are in the form of death, but some are political, some are of love, friendships, and some of home or the path of what could have been.  If Ms. Clare plays as she writes, I would be a poor opponent indeed at the chess table.  Although I am taken by the twists,...
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Mar
6

Review: Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep

Review: Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep Killer Frost Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una are bereft to inform you that we have indeed read the last of the Mythos Academy books.  Killer Frost is a bittersweet read only in that we say goodbye to Gwen and her friends and this rich and wondrous world.  However, Killer Frost is an exceedingly brilliant novel that ties up all the loose ends simply and poignantly. Throughout the Mythos Academy series, Gwen has been the underdog, the unlikely hero.  Surrounded at the Academy by Amazons, Valkyries, Spartans, Ninjas and other great warriors, Gwen is different.  Her magic lies in psychometry – not really a fearsome offensive weapon.  But Nike chose Gwen to be her champion anyway.  Was it her fierce determination, her stubborn will, or her innate compassion and kindness?  Rest assured fans and readers, the answer is revealed!  Gikany and Una always wondered why Gwen was chosen, she seemed so outmatched, especially taking into consideration that Loki’s champion is a Valkyrie.  Nike is one smart cookie – this explains why she is the Goddess of Victory.  The clues were there all along but, as is the nature of the gods, you needed the right circumstances and context to understand them.  Gwen truly is the embodiment of a Champion. This book is all about the final battle, Gwen facing Loki.  However, as we build up to this final moment there are many different pieces that first needed to be locked into place.  Getting there was not just full of suspense and adventure, but emotionally charged as well.  We loved seeing how well Gwen’s friends not only know her, but love her.  They do what they can to support her.  Part of what makes this series so rich is the group of supporting characters.  Not just Gwen’s friends, but other allies – some obvious and some not so.  They add humor, humanity and pathos. One thing that we respected and loved about Killer Frost was the reality check at the end.  Once the dust settles, these people will never be the same.  We were not spared the reality of a great battle’s aftermath.  In this world, where Loki and his followers have affected each and every student and teacher, it would be insulting to not endure their losses with them.  Some have lost friends, parents, etc. during this time of turmoil.  The great final battle requires more sacrifices and losses. ...
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Jan
13

Review: Touch by Michelle Sagara

Review: Touch by Michelle Sagara Touch Author: Michelle Sagara Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: D+ What I’m Talking About: Touch opens with a short prelude from the POV of Nathan, the deceased boyfriend of protagonist Emma who was not present in the first title, Silence. Nathan chronicles his thoughts and existence from the moment of his car crash to “present day,” roughly three or four months after his accident. We discover that he was given an order by the Queen of the Dead to go home and watch his family and friends. The book then begins its story shortly after the conclusion of the first title. Emma’s friends are trying to adjust to a routine after learning about her ability to see ghosts and the existence of Necromancers, humans like Emma who have the ability gain powers from using ghosts’ energy. Necromancers work for the Queen of the Dead, who wants to kill off Emma’s friends and family. Although I don’t normal read and enjoy YA literature, I was completely enamored with Silence, the first book in Ms. Sagara’s Queen of the Dead series. The story was engrossing and characters strong, keeping me glued to the pages, despite some confusion while reading the book. Unfortunately, the second story, Touch, did not hold my attention like the first book did. The small issues I had when reading Silence only grew and became problematic the second time around. The plot is slow moving and seemingly without a clear direction at times. There is entirely way too much introspection by these characters, and at times I just wanted to skip over the repetitive analysis of true friendship, love and death. Overall, Touch focuses on the emotional development of each character rather than be driven by the plot and action. If that is your cup of tea, you may enjoy the book. However, I wanted a cleaner/clearer storyline that moved from point A to point B. There are side stories which are critical for the further development of the characters, but did nothing for the overall plot of the book. Unfortunately, each of the characters fell flat for me. The strength I found in each before, seems to have fizzled under the weight of insecurity. Too often characters are harshly judging themselves or uncertain what course of action would be best. The only character who seemed to have her act together is Amy, the Cordelia-like (Buffy) friend of the gang who takes charge, even over the knowledgable elders. And don’t...
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Dec
14

Review: Dark Craving by Veronica Wolff

Review: Dark Craving by Veronica Wolff Dark Craving Author: Veronica Wolff Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una are still recovering from finishing Dark Craving, the latest in the Watchers series.  Wow!  Since it is a novella, we were curious as to why it was given a full number in the series progression instead of the usual .5 – denoting it as a filler or extra between two novels.  Well, though it is novella length, Dark Craving packs the punch of a full novel with an ending that continues to blow our minds. The Watchers series follows Drew, the main character and only point of view to date, as she finds herself on a desolate island run by vampires.  She was recruited and is being trained to be a Watcher, if she doesn’t die first.  However, all is not what it seems, and for the first time, we read things through the eyes of Ronan, and we find out a little more backstory and a huge plot twist.  Ronan was the Tracer charged with bringing Drew to the island, but his duties didn’t stop there.  Through his limited time with her, he finds something he thought never to dream of: hope.  It may not seem like much, but when you are a slave to the whims of the ruling vampires, hope is blessedly rare and infinitely precious. Our only compliant is that Ronan is a Tracer; he grew up knowing about these vampires.  It stands to reason he would know considerably more than Drew about the island and the vampires.  However as we read a portion where Drew confronts Ronan about a discovery she made at the end of the previous novel, it felt a little anticlimactic.  Although Tracers are different from the Trainees, we thought Ronan would know more about what goes on in the Keep, things that Drew had just discovered.  Moreover, we thought he would know more about the status of Emma – whether she is alive, dead or something else.  As we read his point of view of this conversation, we are not rewarded with anything from his private thoughts or subconscious.  This seemed rather cryptic and odd.  As much as Tracers are given much responsibility, they would naturally have seen more and know more.  We understand Ronan keeping Drew in the dark (for her protection) but why not ponder such things to himself?  It just struck a sour chord with us. If you haven’t...
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Nov
5

Review: The Lair by Emily McKay

Review: The Lair by Emily McKay The Lair Author: Emily McKay  Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What We’re Talking About: The Lair is the exciting sequel to the YA novel, The Farm.  Although The Farm wasn’t exactly what we were expecting, we liked it. But right from the start, The Lair was a gripping read which we enjoyed, and we look forward to more. The story starts off near where The Farm ended.  Mel has been turned by Sebastian, and he has taken her under his wing to “raise” her.  For the first time in Lily’s life, she is not only not watching over her sister, but they are physically separated.  However, being with Carter, softens the blow.  Gikany and Una enjoy that we continue to have both Mel and Lily’s points of view in The Lair.  It was fascinating to observe Mel’s transformation and her time being mentored by Sebastian.  The abilities of vampires seem to develop quickly.  And, as we observe through Mel’s eyes, we question whether Sebastian’s motives are entirely pure. While Mel learns how to be vampire, Lily and Carter finally reach the home base of the resistance.  But all is (of course) not well.  Once they reach the base they realize something is not right…horribly not right.  We would love to say that they do get better, but who are we kidding.  This IS a post-apocalyptic world.  It does not get better… but it does spiral and twist in ways we did not expect.  Keeping us glued to the pages, we could not put down The Lair as we kept trying to figure out Sebastian with Mel and what on earth was going to happen with Lily and the choices she endures.  Let’s just say (we realize we are being utterly vague but we would hate to spoil things for you) there are arguments, break ups, betrayals and more betrayal. We do enjoy Carter’s point of view, but Lily is the main narrator in The Lair with Mel giving us snapshots of her journey.  However, Carter’s point of view does add a richness to the overall world.  He is struggling with being the leader of the resistance without the abductura he was supposed to retrieve.  In Carter we see the epitome of a leader – calm, decisive, confident.  Someone anyone could follow and would.  However, through his points of view we discover he questions every choice, struggles with thoughts of the future while grieving his lost soldiers...
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Oct
29

Review: Daylighters by Rachel Caine

Review: Daylighters by Rachel Caine Daylighters Author: Rachel Caine Reviewer: Una Rating: A-, 4 Stars What I’m Talking About: Wow…I am speechless over the final book in the Morganville Vampires series.  I started this series from reading a novella (how Eve came to be a member of the Glass House) and enjoyed the novella so much, I started the series with the first book.  Daylighters ties this series up with a big red bow it seems.  Although there is the option, if Ms. Caine decides, for us to be able to return to Morganville.  However, the story of Claire and her Glass House friends has come full circle, and I’m happy to say, the ending is all I hoped for. As we were left in Fall of Night, our friends return to a Morganville much different than when they left.  The Daylighters have taken over the town, placing all the vampires in an enclave – for not only the town’s protection, but the vampires as well.  The head of the Daylighter’s claims he can rehabilitate the vampires and cure their vampirism.  However, as Claire and Eve learn more about the cure, they find out it is not as sunny as it appears.  There are quite a few references that tie the Daylighters to the Nazis and the allusion is quite accurate.  This mandatory cure kills more than it heals.  As understanding about this cure comes to light, Claire begins to learn what the “dog bite” to Shane has truly done. There are some very tense moments during the story, making it difficult to put down. Another long-standing issue is the marriage of Eve and Michael. In this the town, it seems they stand united; a vampire and a human are not meant to be married.  The nature of a vampire cannot ignore its natural prey.  It happened only once before in the town’s history – and it did not end well.  This “Romeo and Juliet” situation becomes much dire with the Daylighters now in charge.  Eve finds out only shortly after arriving back into Morganville that her marriage may be annulled.  With the vampires imprisoned and miserable while the humans are overjoyed and happily living without fear, Claire finds herself at a moral dilemma.  She knows the treatment of the vampires is wrong.  However, the town has been transformed – people freely walk the streets, well into the evening.  People are truly living in Morganville without the fear that has hung heavy throughout their...
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Aug
20

Review: Doon by Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon

Review: Doon by Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon Title: Doon Author: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Reviewer: Ang Rating: A+, 5 Stars What I’m Talking About: Anyone who reads my reviews knows I am a tough grader. It is rare for me give anything higher than a B. I have exacting standards when it comes to books. I want a strong storyline, great characters and most of all I want to be brought into the story. I am the queen of show me, don’t tell me, which was why when I read Doon and found myself completely smitten with it, I was hesitant to turn in my grade. Don’t get me wrong when I turned the last page of this book I was ready to write A A A all over it, but I wanted to be certain it was because the book was, in fact, “A worthy” and not simply because it had been so long since I had read any good YA books.  So I decided to let it marinate for a while, and reread it, before writing this review. After 3 months and 3 readings I can say I am no longer smitten with Doon but completely in love with it and ready and willing to have its kilt wearing, Scottish speaking babies.  So if you will indulge me please allow me to gush. From beginning to end I seriously loved, loved, loved this book. I adored the setting; a magical, almost utopian like, kingdom that only appears every 100 years, count me in, the characters; hottie princes, devoted servants & subjects with a wicked witch whose trying to destroy their world? Fabulous!,  the language; before mentioned yummy princes with a Scottish brogue, yes please,   the humor, insides jokes between besties, a smart maid with a wickedly dry, matter of fact, sense of humor coupled with musical and book references,  perfection!, and this is just the basic overview. Seriously, what’s not to love? Kenna and Vee are fun, smart, witty, relatable characters with the kind of friendship I wish I’d had in a high school friend. Jamie and Duncan are the kind of princes Disney musical revolve around and the wicked witch would give Oz a run for their money. The story is told from both, Kenna and Vee’s points of view, alternating between them a chapter or two at a time. I was worried this would be distracting or feel disjointed, instead I found the approach refreshing and fun, allowing me to experience...
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