Tag Archives: young adult

Did I Mention I Need You (DIMILY, Book 2)

Did I Mention I Need You? Book Cover Did I Mention I Need You?
DIMILY, Book 2
Estelle Maskame
Juvenile Fiction
Sourcebooks Fire
March 1, 2016

Stepsiblings Eden Munro and Tyler Bruce have desperately tried to ignore their love for each other for the sake of their family. The Tyler invites her to spend the summer with him in New York...Alone together, away from their parents and friends, and caught up in the excitement of life in the Big Apple, they can't deny their feelings any longer. As their summer fling turns into something much more serious, Tyler and Eden must face up to reality and make some life-changing decisions. But how will their family react when they confess their secret romance -- and is their relationship strong enough to survive the devastating fallout?



I had such great hopes for “Did I Mention I Need You.”  Unfortunately, they fell far short.

Anyone who read my review of “Did I Mention I Love You” will know that I thought there were many flaws with the book, but I did think that they were fixable and was going to read the second because the premise was so good.  Let me tell you, the problems not only remained but managed to become worse.

Eden is infuriatingly naive and grating.  Tyler was actually pretty good until the out-of-nowhere ending.  There were A LOT of plot points that seemingly had no context.  It could also have used a hundred or so fewer pages.  I’m going to leave the review here, as the waste of a good premise is making me need blood pressure medication.

I can’t recommend this to anyone.  The two stars is for the obvious ability of the author to come up with a good story idea.  I’m hoping to see her fulfill it one day. There is a lot of potential left.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Adult Situations, Violence, Underage Drinking

The Way to Game the Walk of Shame

The Way to Game the Walk of Shame Book Cover The Way to Game the Walk of Shame
Jenn P. Nguyen, Phuong Anh Nguyen
Juvenile Fiction
Swoon Reads
June 7, 2016

Taylor Simmons is screwed. Things were hard enough when her single-minded dedication to her studies earned her the reputation of being an Ice Queen, but after getting drunk at a party and waking up next to bad boy surfer Evan McKinley, the entire school seems intent on tearing Taylor down with mockery and gossip. Desperate to salvage her reputation, Taylor persuades Evan to pretend they're in a serious romantic relationship. After all, it's better to be the girl who tames the wild surfer than just another notch on his surfboard. Readers will be ready to sign their own love contract after reading this fun and addicting contemporary YA romance.



“The Way to Game the Walk of Shame” is a good summer beach read.  I will say that the first couple of chapters had me thinking I would not enjoy the book, but once the pace picked up I thoroughly enjoyed it.  If you have the temptation to put it down keep going a little bit longer, because odds are you will have the same reaction.

The main characters of Taylor and Evan were definitely romantic tropes, but in a fun way, and I enjoyed the way their interactions were written.  The dialogue is snappy and funny.  There isn’t much in the way of background character development aside from the parents.  It doesn’t detract from the book, though, as this is very much only their story.  I will say that the character of Evan’s mom made me grit my teeth.  She may have been written too sympathetically, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

The plot revolves around one of my favorite tropes: a fake relationship that turns real.  This was very well done with quite a bit of originality.  Think of them as Katniss and Peeta without the threat of death or familial dismemberment.  It moved quickly and kept me entertained after those dreaded first chapters.  The ending sequence was the best part.

I recommend “The Way to Game the Walk of Shame” to upper-middle graders to adults who enjoy a fun and light romance.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Brief Violence, Underage Drinking

The King Slayer (The Witch Hunter, Book 2)

The King Slayer Book Cover The King Slayer
The Witch Hunter, Book 2
Virginia Boecker
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
June 14, 2016

An action-packed and suspenseful sequel to The Witch Hunter, perfect for fans of Graceling and the Grisha Trilogy.

"I think, in time, you'll either be my greatest mistake or my greatest victory."

Former witch hunter Elizabeth Grey is hiding within the magically protected village of Harrow, evading the price put on her head by Lord Blackwell, the usurper king of Anglia. Their last encounter left Blackwell ruined, but his thirst for power grows stronger every day. He's readying for a war against those who would resist his rule--namely Elizabeth and the witches and wizards she now calls her allies.

Having lost her stigma, a magical source of protection and healing, Elizabeth's strength is tested both physically and emotionally. War always means sacrifice, and as the lines between good and evil blur once more, Elizabeth must decide just how far she'll go to save those she loves.

"[Filled] with everything a good fantasy book needs: swords, poison, black magic, and betrayal."--April Tucholke, author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, on The Witch Hunter



“The King Slayer” is an excellent follow-up to “The Witch Hunter.”

For those who read the first of the duology, you will be happy to know that all of your favorite (and not-so-favorite) characters are back, most of them with much bigger parts in the story.  I’m almost afraid to write anything in this review for fear of spoiling someone.  I can say that it is as good as, if not better, than the first.  The world is still one of the most well-built I have ever read.

There is something that some may find controversial, but given the historical context, it’s really the only way it could play out realistically.

Oh, and please Virginia Boecker, give us a book about Schuyler.  There seems like so much to tell, and I don’t want to see him go.

Highly recommended to anyone who loved the first.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Gore

Summer of Supernovas

Summer of Supernovas Book Cover Summer of Supernovas
Darcy Woods
Crown Books for Young Readers
May 10, 2016

As the daughter of an astrologer, Wilamena Carlisle knows the truth lies within the stars, so when she discovers a rare planetary alignment she is forced to tackle her worst astrological fear--The Fifth House of Relationships and Love--but Wil must decide whether a cosmically doomed love is worth rejecting her mother's legacy when she falls for a sensitive guitar player.


Book Review:

Reading “Summer of Supernovas” was like reading the literary equivalent of the actual character of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Willamena is the main character, a young woman obsessed with astrology and who has lost her mother.  The character is written as edgy and artistic, but this character is trying WAY too hard.  She’s irritating and immature.  The astrology stuff has loose connections but never seems to come together, completely pushing to the side the interesting fact that she is a genius with actual astronomy.  As is always the case with an annoying female character, there is a love triangle, leaving us to wonder what is going on in this world.

The frustrating part is one of the love interests has so much potential to be a great character and salvage the book on his shoulders alone.  Instead, the author leaves us with facts about him that make the reader want more only to never get it.  The relationship Willamena has with her grandmother is another goldmine waiting to be explored.  It had some page-time but not nearly enough.

The author of “Summer of Supernovas” has talent, but it was focused, in my opinion, on the wrong areas of the story.  I wish there could be a do over, because there really is a story in there I would like to read.  Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this one.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Underage Drinking

Summer of Sloane

Summer of Sloane Book Cover Summer of Sloane
Erin L. Schneider
May 3, 2016

Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she'd be spending at her mom's home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there's no reason Sloane shouldn't enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn't always play by the rules, she knows he's the perfect distraction from everything that's so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn't nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane's carefree summer might not be as easy to come by as she'd hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.



“Summer of Sloane” is the perfect choice for those looking for a beach read that is fun with a side of seriousness.

Sloane is a character put into a very difficult situation through no fault of her own, and the way she works through it feels very natural and realistic.  She’s someone who is easy to like, something that is not always easily found in young adult romances.  All of the supporting characters added to the story and were well-developed.  Most are the sorts of friends anyone would want to have.  You’ll know the ones you definitely do not want when you read it.

I loved the pacing and the writing.  It flowed steadily and the narration really sucked me into Sloane’s world.  Not an easy feat since I have never been to Hawaii and probably never will get to go.  I felt like I was sitting around a bonfire with my friends a good amount of the time.  None of the conversation felt stilted or forced, and the writer gave each character a unique voice.  There are also some very important life lessons thrown in that don’t seem at all preachy.  It strikes a nice balance.

“Summer of Sloane” is a good book for anyone looking for a teen romance with a little bite.  It’s also a cheap summer getaway to paradise.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Underage Drinking

The Square Root of Summer

The Square Root of Summer Book Cover The Square Root of Summer
Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Roaring Brook Press
May 3, 2016

This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It's a little bit like a black hole. It's a little bit like infinity.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she's hurtled through wormholes to her past:

To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn't even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.

Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie's past, present, and future are about to collide―and someone's heart is about to be broken.

With time travel, quantum physics, and sweeping romance, The Square Root of Summer is an exponentially enthralling story about love, loss, and trying to figure it all out, from stunning debut YA voice, Harriet Reuter Hapgood.



Actual Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

“The Square Root of Summer” is the perfect example of why there needs to be a half star option for rating books.  It is definitely better than a three, but the one major flaw keeps it from being a four.

Gottie and her family are wonderful and quirky characters, especially her grandfather Grey.  I would love a book just focusing on him in all of his glory.  They provide the perfect cast of characters for the theme of heartbreak coming in all kinds of forms, and the only way to deal is to tackle them head-on.  Gottie is not the only one having problems with this, and it’s interesting to see how everyone handles their losses.  I do have to say I think her friends and brother were more than a little hard on her, but that isn’t unrealistic for teenagers experiencing all kinds of losses and changes.  This part of the story is five stars.

The problem is the physics aspect of the time travel thread.  I loved the time travel itself, but physics was never my strong suit, and even though the author did her best to make it make sense it ended up leaving my brain in a puddle.  Some parts were easy, and I did learn quite a few new things, but I believe the science was over-explained.  Being so lost made that part turn into an indecipherable mess by the end.

I still would recommend “The Square Root of Summer” to older young adults and adults.  It is worth it for the story of loss and the wonderful Grey.  I do think if you’re inclined to math and science you will get more out of it than I did.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations

True Born

True Born Book Cover True Born
True Born, Book 1
L.E. Sterling
Entangled: Teen
May 3, 2016

Welcome to Dominion City.

After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated...and their genetics damaged beyond repair.

The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…

And then there's Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, including the charismatic leader, Nolan Storm, and the beautiful but deadly Jared, who tempts her as much as he infuriates her. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood.



I would liken “True Born” to the “Under the Never Sky” series.  Not in plot, but in the guilty pleasure type of enjoyment it provides.  The similarities include that there’s a world that doesn’t make much sense, though I suspect that will be cleared up in future books, and science that is barely explained and is best left unquestioned.

In spite of the things mentioned above, it’s fun. It takes the ideas of plagues, shape-shifters, and religious zealots and mixes them into a good adventure filled with quite a bit of romance.  The language can get a bit flowery at times, but that settles down by about a quarter of the way through.

The characters are intriguing and mysterious, and there is definitely a lot of surprises left in store for readers as the series continues.  I have my theories on what will happen and am anxious to see whether or not I’m right.

I recommend “True Born” to anyone looking for a quick and easy read that doesn’t require too much thought.  It’s the perfect book to read after something depressing and/or heavy.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

Anything You Want

Anything You Want Book Cover Anything You Want
Geoff Herbach
Sourcebooks Fire
May 3, 2016

Taco's mom always said, "Today is the best day of your life, and tomorrow will be even better." That was hard to believe the day she died of cancer and when Taco's dad had to move up north for work, but he sure did believe it when Maggie Corrigan agreed to go with him to junior prom. Taco loves Maggie-even more than the tacos that earned him his nickname. And she loves him right back.

Except, all that love? It gets Maggie pregnant. Everyone else may be freaking out, but Taco can't wait to have a real family again. He just has to figure out what it means to be dad and how to pass calculus. And then there's getting Maggie's parents to like him. Because it's would be so much easier for them to be together if he didn't have to climb the side of the Corrigan's house to see her...



I’m going to put it right out there.  I really disliked “Anything You Want.”  Had it not been for the ending this would be a one star review.

Taco, our main character, is dealing with the loss of his mom, an absent dad, an alcoholic brother, and now an unexpected pregnancy with his girlfriend.  Now, I actually read the author defending Taco as an incurable optimist.  My dislike for Taco is not due to that, or the fact that he’s not the smartest item on the menu, but because the way he is written is absolutely annoying.  There can’t be someone that clueless and still function in life.  I was legitimately concerned he was unable to even consent to sex.  He’s naive to the point that you wonder if he was raised away from society, including magazines and television.  The slang he used grated on my last nerve.

I’m going to stop myself there.  Suffice it to say, I can’t recommend “Anything You Want” to anyone.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations

The Last Boy and Girl in the World

The Last Boy and Girl in the World Book Cover The Last Boy and Girl in the World
Siobhan Vivian
Juvenile Fiction
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
April 26, 2016

From the critically acclaimed author of The List comes a stunning new novel about a girl who must say goodbye to everything she knows after a storm wreaks havoc on her hometown. Aberdeen is drowning. Keeley Hewitt always has a joke to crack. Except there is nothing funny about her life right now. Her hometown of Aberdeen has always been known for flooding, but after one last terrible storm, the entire town has been told they must evacuate by the end of the summer…for good. How will she say goodbye to everything and everyone she has ever known? Most of the Aberdeen residents happily take the generous payout and look forward to starting over someplace new. But Keeley’s dad isn’t swayed by the overtures of officials or the sheriff’s threats. He refuses to evacuate their family, and Keeley goes from being the funny girl in school, to the last girl in Aberdeen. As the town empties out, two boys compete for her heart. One is a boy she’s had a crush on forever, and the other is one she thinks she could fall in love with. But the water is rising higher and higher, and Keeley is faced with losing everything she’s ever known, and the promise of things she’s only ever wished for…



2 stars for the main character

4 stars for the plot

I’m going to average out the stars to three on “The Last Boy and Girl in the World” because that is the only fair way to deal with what felt like two separate books.

The story itself is beautiful and haunting.  The feeling of love of your hometown and the shock of losing it overnight is described very well.  It also points out what can happen when greed and government corruption go up against the poor.  Add to it a flawed family that is very relatable and you have a perfect book, right? No.

Keeley, the narrator, almost ruins the entire thing.  I’ve never read a character that could be so insecure and yet think so highly of herself in terms of how she’s viewed by her friends, family, and even teachers.  Even when confronted with how they really feel she doesn’t get it.  In fact, I’m shocked she even managed to have friends.  That would have been ok if there had been a character growth arc, but there wasn’t.  She suddenly grew up in the last couple of chapters and her relationship with one character is inexplicably fixed even after not seeing one another for months.  It felt crammed in as an afterthought.

If you read the book description and “The Last Boy and Girl in the World” sounds interesting to you, then give it a shot.  The writing is good, but it just wasn’t for me.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Underage Drinking

The Art of Not Breathing

The Art of Not Breathing Book Cover The Art of Not Breathing
Sarah Alexander
April 1, 2016

Since her twin brother, Eddie, drowned five years ago, sixteen-year-old Elsie Main has tried to remember what really happened that fateful day on the beach. One minute Eddie was there, and the next he was gone. Seventeen-year-old Tay McKenzie is a cute and mysterious boy that Elsie meets in her favorite boathouse hangout. When Tay introduces Elsie to the world of freediving, she vows to find the answers she seeks at the bottom of the sea.



“The Art of Not Breathing” is far from your typical YA book.  In fact, I found it quite odd.  That isn’t actually a bad thing considering that our narrator, Elsie, is different from the norm herself.

This is one of those books that mentioning much of it will spoil the whole thing.  I can say the Elsie is dealing with the drowning death of her twin brother when they were eleven and a very, very broken family.  Her life is extremely painful and the author spares no feelings in describing the stark reality of everything that she is living through.

On top of her home life, she is dealing with a bullying  at school.  In fact, there is one scene that describes the most brutal bullying situation I have ever read.  It was bad enough that I had to put the book down for a bit.  One other thing that may trigger readers is that her brother has a severe eating disorder.  I applaud the author for her frank description of what it does to him, but I want to warn everyone that it is graphic.

I recommend “The Art of Breathing” to anyone looking for a good contemporary read that unflinchingly examines broken families, the lies they tell, bullying, and eating disorders.  There is romance, but if you’re looking for something lighthearted in that genre I’d suggest you look elsewhere.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Violence, Sexual Situations, Underage Drug and Alcohol Use, Bullying, Eating Disorders