Tag Archives: young adult

Duels & Deception

Duels & Deception Book Cover Duels & Deception
Cindy Anstey
Young Adult Fiction
Macmillan
April 11, 2017
368

In 1800s London, a young heiress and her lawyer are caught up in a kidnapping plot to steal her fortune, but as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder what she truly wants.

 

Review:

I feel like I am the wrong person to review “Duels & Deception.”  It definitely seems like this is a case of “it isn’t the book; it’s me.”  The budding romance featured is cute and the historical elements are fascinating.  It’s also a very clean book for those looking for one, which is not very easy to find.  The flowery prose just seemed to grate on me and kept me from enjoying it.  If this seems like the type of book you will enjoy, please give it a try.  Don’t let my dislike sway you.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Minor Violence, Alcoholic Character

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts, Book 1)

Gilded Cage Book Cover Gilded Cage
Dark Gifts, Book 1
Vic James
Del Rey Books
February 14, 2017
368

For readers of Victoria Aveyard and Kiera Cass comes a darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule--and commoners are doomed to serve. NOT ALL ARE FREE. NOT ALL ARE EQUAL. NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED. Our world belongs to the Equals--aristocrats with magical gifts--and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world. A girl thirsts for love and knowledge. Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of their noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty--but will her heart pay the price? A boy dreams of revolution. Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution. And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts. He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate--or destroy?

 

Review:

“Gilded Cage” is a good take on a dystopian world mixed with fantasy elements.

The story is well-thought out with multiple points of view effectively used to both advance the story and tell it from different segments of the society.  The world-building is excellent.  All of the characters are complex and leave some mystery to them to be explored in the next book.  There are definitely some parallels to the current political climate throughout the book to be found.

I recommend “Gilded Cage” to lovers of dystopian books mixed with some magical elements.  It’s a quick and relatively clean read that is thought-provoking and fun.  I’m looking forward to the next book.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Brief Sexual Situations, Violence

One Italian Summer

One Italian Summer
Keris Stainton
Hot Key Books
May 4, 2017
Paperback
256

'Gentle and romantic. A holiday in itself.' Rainbow Rowell 'I flew through ONE ITALIAN SUMMER. It's a perfect summer read with a gorgeous setting, warm characters and a bittersweet evocation of life after tragedy.' Sophia Bennett, author of LOVE SONG Milly loves her sisters more than anything - they are her best friends. But this holiday is different. The loss of their dad has left a gaping hole in their lives that none of them know how to fill. Heartbreak is a hard thing to fix ...Still, there is plenty to keep the girls busy in Rome. A family wedding. Food, wine, parties and sun. And of course Luke ...Luke is hot, there is no way around that. And Milly will always have a crush on him. But this summer is about family, being together, and learning to live without Dad. It isn't about Luke at all ...is it?

 

Review:

“One Italian Summer” is a light ya romance that reads quickly but lacks much substance.

While there was an attempt at making the characters developed, I still felt somewhat removed from them, especially the love interest, Luke.  There was little to no explanation of exactly why Milly was so interested in him, aside from a rather alarming amount of wanting to lick his muscles.  Not going to lie, the amount of times a phrase like that was thought by her was a bit unsettling.  I know this complaint may be nitpicky, but the author seems to lose track of what her characters were doing quite a bit.  Characters would stand up twice in one page without sitting down, be in a car one second and in a parking lot walking to the car the next, etc.  It kept pulling me out of the story.

That being said, “One Italian Summer” is still a cute romance if you’re looking for a beach read that doesn’t require much from you.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Alcohol Use

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn Book Cover The Inconceivable Life of Quinn
Marianna Baer
Harry N. Abrams
April 4, 2017
384

Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumors spread, jeopardizing her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin? "

 

Review:

I normally hate giving two star reviews, but almost everything about “The Inconceivable Life of Quinn” rubbed me the wrong way.

The main problem for me was Quinn herself.  I didn’t find her at all likable. Instead she was irritating and kind of full of herself.  Her father made me want to punch things.  The plot wore thin about 75 pages before the book ended and it was an unsatisfying conclusion.

I appreciate the hard work the author put into this, and wish her luck in her future writing, but I just can’t recommend this one.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Discussions of Rape, Underage Alcohol Use

Bang

Bang Book Cover Bang
Barry Lyga
Young Adult Fiction
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
April 18, 2017
304

A heartbreaking novel about living with your worst mistake, from New York Times bestselling author Barry Lyga. A chunk of old memory, adrift in a pool of blood. Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one--not even Sebastian himself--can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father's gun. Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend--Aneesa--to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past. It took a gun to get him into this. Now he needs a gun to get out. Unflinching and honest, Bang is as true and as relevant as tomorrow's headlines, the story of one boy and one moment in time that cannot be reclaimed.

 

Review:

I really wanted to like “Bang”.  It seems that I’m in the minority in not feeling it.  Unfortunately, the book just did not resonate with me.

It isn’t that there is not good writing or that the characters aren’t well-developed.  Both were good.  The problem for me, I believe, is that so many issues were packed into one book that it didn’t have time to focus on any of them enough.  Gun control, Islamophobia, mental illness of several types, and the income gap are a few of the things covered.

I can’t recommend “Bang”, but if the blurb sounds good to you, give it a try.  Maybe it’s just me.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Violence, Hate Speech

Piper Perish

Piper Perish Book Cover Piper Perish
Kayla Cagan
Young Adult Fiction
Chronicle Books
March 7, 2017
416

Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and get to New York City, the better. Art school has been Piper's dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she's never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper's sister's tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper's art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power when it means giving up so much? Debut author Kayla Cagan breathes new life into fiction in this dynamic, utterly authentic work featuring interior art from Rookie magazine illustrator Maria Ines Gul. Piper will have readers asking big questions along with her. What is love? What is friendship? What is family? What is home? And who is a person when she's missing any one of these things?

 

Review:

“Piper Perish” is the perfect book for the kids who are creative and ponder life’s big questions.  It’s also great for the adults who once were those kids and probably are still the same as adults.  I really wish there would have been a book like this when I was in middle and high school.  Highly recommended!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

Alice and the Fly

Alice and the Fly Book Cover Alice and the Fly
James Rice
Juvenile Fiction
Quercus
April 4, 2017
304

Greg is cripplingly shy, afraid of spiders, and obsessed with Breakfast at Tiffany's. He's not exactly the most popular kid at his high school. In fact, he pretty much goes out of his way to avoid talking to anybody he doesn't have to. And it doesn't help that he has a severe lisp. But Greg's English teacher, Miss Hayes, can see that there's something different about him. He's insightful and sensitive beyond his years, and maybe--just maybe--he'll use these strengths to break out of his shell someday. Miss Hayes urges Greg to keep a journal. "This isn't an assignment," she tells him, "just write down your thoughts." Greg begins to write about everything from his mother's ill-conceived interior decorating ideas to his job at the local butcher's shop. When Greg begins to take an interest in a girl at his school named Alice, he realizes that he will have to face his most paralyzing anxieties if he wants to befriend Alice and help her escape from her violent family life.

 

Review:

I’m not really sure how to review “Alice and the Fly.”  It wasn’t a bad characterization of mental illness, though it did lack any real answers for the reader.  I feel like I just didn’t connect to the main character the way I wish I could.  Overall, I can neither recommend nor not recommend it.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

Redux (Tricksters #2)

Redux Book Cover Redux
Tricksters, Book 2
A.L. Davroe
Juvenile Fiction
Entangled: Teen
March 21, 2017
428

The domed city of Evanescence is in ruins. With nowhere to go, prodigy hacker Ellani “Ella” Drexel and a small band of survivors flee to the Undertunnel below their city. To escape the wasteland she unknowingly created. But sanctuary is hard to find. With malfunctioning androids and angry rebels at their backs, the group hopes to press on for the neighboring city of Cadence. But Ella’s chosen path is challenging...life-threatening, even. Worse, the boy she loves is acting distant, and not at all like the person she first met in Nexis. But then Ella learns a secret...and it changes everything. Ella knows she needs to turn back and make a stand to reclaim her home. She’s determined to bring a new—and better—life to all who’ve suffered. Or die trying.

 

Review:

The second book in the Tricksters series, “Redux”, left me feeling somewhat let down.

The plot is fun and kept my attention, but there were large info dumps throughout that could be quite confusing.  I understand that the characters were not aware of the situations, so it was like they were finding everything out all at once, but for the ease of the reader it could have been handled better.

“Redux” is still a good escape type of book, and I encourage those who enjoyed “Nexis” to continue with the series.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

Blood Rose Rebellion

Blood Rose Rebellion Book Cover Blood Rose Rebellion
Blood Rose Rebellion, Book 1
Rosalyn Eves
Young Adult Fiction
Knopf Books for Young Readers
March 28, 2017
416

In this first book in a fantasy trilogy, social prestige is derived from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic. However, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place. Sent from England to her family's once powerful but now oppressed native Hungary, Anna Arden finds herself in the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romani. She must choose to either deny her unique power and cling to the life she's always wanted, or embrace her gift, spark a rebellion, and change the world forever.

 

Review:

I’m going to keep the main review of “Blood Rose Rebellion” short, because there are some other issues I’ve seen mentioned that I feel it’s important to give my opinions on.

This book has complex world-building, a fun romance, and quite a bit of action.  It’s an enjoyable read for those who like historical fantasy.  The characters are developed to a certain degree, with some mystery being left for the next book in the series.  If you like those things, this book is worth a read.

Now for the heavy stuff.  I’ve seen some complaints about there being racism in the book.  Some people have not finished it.  Yes, the word gypsy is used quite a bit.  That’s because the story is set in mid-1800s Hungary.  As the main character gets to know them, her opinions change and that is reflected in her attitude.  In fact, the author introduces the term Romani at that point, even though historically it wasn’t in use at the time.  There’s an entire section at the end written by the author about the treatment of the Romani during the time, along with a bibliography for more information.

What I’m saying is please don’t let accusations of racism scare you away from “Blood Rose Rebellion.”  Ignoring the harsh realities of history is a disservice to everyone, and I applaud the author for being brave enough to tackle it.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Racist Speech and Actions

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life Book Cover The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
Benjamin Alire Saenz
Young Adult Fiction
Clarion Books
March 7, 2017
464

"A story set on the American border with Mexico, about family and friendship, life and death, and one teen struggling to understand what his adoption does and doesn't mean about who he is"--

 

Review:

“The Inexplicable Logic of My Life” is a book I had mixed feelings about, but in the end I found it well worth the time to read.

The plot is meandering, and while that can be a good thing, in this instance I wish about a quarter of the length had been shaved off.  The repetitiveness sometimes took me out of the story.  The plot itself is a good one about the nature of friendship and family instead of romance.  That’s refreshing to find in a young adult book.  Extra points for being a diverse book with both lgbtq and Mexican-American characters.

The flaws in the length of the story were more than made up for in the absolutely stunning writing.  Every chapter contained at least one beautiful sentence.  It felt like candy in the brain.  The characters, because of the writing style, seemed to jump off of the page and into my life.  They will undoubtedly live on inside of my mind, and I’ve already found myself repeating quotes.

Overall, I can definitely recommend “The Inexplicable Logic of My Life” to any older young adults and adults who are looking for beauty over a fast-paced plot.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Violence, Hate Speech