Tag Archives: YA

Review: Living Violet by Jaime Reed

Title: Living Violet (Cambion Chronicles #1)
Author: Jaime Reed
Publisher: Dafina
Genre:  Young Adult, Paranomal
Rating: 4/5

Why I picked it: Premise looked interesting and I won an ARC of the book via Goodreads.

Synopsis: He’s persuasive, charming, and way too mysterious. And for Samara Marshall, her co-worker is everything she wants most–and everything she most fears. . .

Samara Marshall is determined to make the summer before her senior year the best ever. Her plan: enjoy downtime with friends and work to save up cash for her dream car. Summer romance is not on her to-do list, but uncovering the truth about her flirtatious co-worker, Caleb Baker, is. From the peculiar glow to his eyes to the unfortunate events that befall the girls who pine after him, Samara is the only one to sense danger behind his smile.

But Caleb’s secrets are drawing Samara into a world where the laws of attraction are a means of survival. And as a sinister power closes in on those she loves, Samara must take a risk that will change her life forever. . .or consume it.

Review: Via Goodreads, I received an opportunity to read an advance copy of “Living Violet.” I was really interested in the plot and the book drew me in from the start. While I thought the premise was original (as original as you can be in the ever-growing paranormal YA genre), there were a few issues that I had which made this a 3.5 (or 4, since you can’t have half ratings) read for me.

Let me begin by saying I totally hate this cover. I hate HATE that Caleb is pictured because well…I don’t find this cover boy cute at all and it totally threw me off when reading the book since I was just picturing THAT dude as Caleb instead of some imagined hottie, and it made the plot a little unbelievable. Since I know that authors rarely even have a say in what their covers look like, I’m not going to detract any stars for this point. It’s a personal pet peeve and I wanted to mention it because it made the book a little harder for me to read.

When I did finally get into the book, one thing I really enjoyed was Jaime Reed’s writing style. It was really easygoing and fun and Samara was a character who really bounced off the pages. She was realistic, and realistic is good. I also really appreciated that she wasn’t a “Bella Swan” – meek and quiet and far too subtle for my tastes. While I can see where Sam would come off as being a little annoying, I really think that in this case, there was enough sass without it coming across as forced or bratty.

Another thing that really made the book for me was the actual premise. I liked the supernatural beings featured, and I really liked Reed’s explanations of how they work. The supporting characters in the book really helped move and shape the story and I really enjoyed getting to know them all.

Now, the one thing that I did NOT like (and I kinda mentioned above) was Caleb. Again, maybe this was because of my cover bias but he just DID NOT come off to me like the likeable, tempting guy that Samara is into. At the beginning, he comes off a little skeevy and really, does not make up for it for the rest of the book. He just did not work for me as the male lead, and do sorta wish he had been written differently.

Overall, I decided to rate the book up to 4 stars because I did enjoy reading it, issues aside. I also am curious to read the 2nd book in the series, because it seems like it would focus more on Samara than on Caleb and Samara’s relationship. I’d recommend this book to all fans of paranormal YA.

IMM: Living Violet

So I can only assume that most people who read book blogs are also members of Goodreads. If not, you totally should be! Thanks to entering contest on their site, I won me an advance, autographed copy of “Living Violet (The Cambion Chronicles)” by Jaime Reed.

I’m really excited to read and review this one and will have the review up in a week. If  you can’t wait, you can pre-order the book from Amazon! To check out more about the author, please go to http://www.jaimereedbooks.com/

Lastly, there is STILL TIME to win your own copy! Jaime is going away one a week until the release date (12/27/11). Just clicky on this link.

Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Title: Elsewhere
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Square Fish
Genre:  Young Adult
Rating: 5/5

Why I picked it: Never read anything by the author before and this was a bargain book.

Synopsis: Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice. Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward? This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

(Mini) Review: Let me begin by saying that I was totally hooked on this book about 5 pages in, and it’s very rare for me to be so into a book so quickly. Having read nothing from the author before, I was very pleasantly surprised by the subject matter of this book, as well as the create world-building.

Elizabeth Hall is dead. Instead of ending up in a heaven-like world where one lives on a cloud and is surrounded by angels, Liz finds herself in a world called Elsewhere that mirrors Earth but isn’t exactly the place that she had left behind.  I found Zevin’s interpretation of what happens after you die to be really original. Part of the reason why this book was such a page turner for me was because of how much I wanted to know about this world.

For a long while, Elizabeth is really depressed and accepting of her status as a member of the deceased. The struggles she goes through are just what one would expect of a person who died to young – never being able to grow up and enjoy all that life awaits them.I felt like I was there with Liz on her emotional journey of denial and acceptance.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to readers of all ages. The story works, and the supporting characters really do a wonderful job of really building Liz up as she learns acceptance. Although a book about death, “Elsewhere” brings a refreshingly positive outlook to life, in general, which is always something I enjoy.

Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Title: Twenty Boy Summer
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Chick Lit
Rating: 5/5

Why I picked it: It’s a banned book…so automatic appeal there.

Synopsis:According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Review: I have to really compose myself before writing this review because “Twenty Boy Summer” really impacted me. And I’m not ashamed to admit that – even being like 13 years older than the target audience. Sarah Ockler really blew me away with her story about love, loss, and that kinda awkward time that being a teen girl is really all about.

On the day of her 15th birthday, Anna’s wish comes true and she gets kissed by Matt – a close friend and also the brother of her best friend, Frankie. The kiss turns into many more as Matt and Anna steal moments of urgency that can only be associated with first lust. The intensity of their moments is conveyed in a way that made me really feel that rush of desire and innocent love. Instead of telling Frankie about their new connection, Anna and Matt decide to keep a secret – for fear of how she will take it. Matt, as Frankie’s brother, decides that he will be the one to tell her during their annual summer vacation to California. With that, he makes Anna promise that she won’t say a word beforehand. Before the secret relationship can be revealed, an accident happens and Matt does not survive. Anna decides to keep her last promise to him and does not reveal her secret to Frankie.

The book really picks up about  a year after the tragedy when Frankie and Anna are getting ready for summer vacation. This year, Anna is accompanying Frankie and her parents to California, and both girls vow to have the best summer ever –  a summer filled with twenty boys, one of whom Anna plans to lose her virginity to. Frankie, the more “advanced” of the two girls orchestrates the plan and puts it into motion, while Anna is more just along for the ride.

What really makes the book is Ockler’s impeccable writing and how she is able to put descriptive words to the exact emotions,  sense of loss,  and of  the not-belonging that teenagers face – especially teenage girls. One of my favorite lines in the book is:

“Tonight, when Frankie sits at the table and innocently knocks over her glass of Diet Coke, Aunt Jayne starts to cry, and the translucent veil of general okayness evaporates to reveal the honest, ugly parts underneath.”

I just cannot gush enough about how well-written this book was. It really brought be back to having similar emotions and experiences, in that sort of cusp of womanhood when you’re starting to realize the power of your sexuality and the impact of lust. I can see why this book ends up on Banned Books lists, but I really don’t think it should. The lessons it teaches far outweigh the implications that it makes. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone, especially anyone who currently is, or has ever been, a teenage girl.

Another Giveaway @Stuck in YA Blog

And in light of all this giveaway madness, I just HAD to post about this huge giveaway that is currently going on at a blog I follow – Stuck in YA.

Please check out this link for an opportunity to win SEVEN YA titles.

Pretty awesome, no?

Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Razor Bill
Genre:  YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Suspense
Rating: 4/5

Why I picked it: Loved the cover and wanted a more “Halloween”-ish read.

Synopsis: Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Review: Even before I heard of “The Replacement,” I was intrigued by Brenna Yovanoff after reading about her upcoming book “The Space Between.” After seeing the cover for “The Replacement,” I knew I had to read it and what better time to do so than during the Halloween season?

The story centers on Mackie, who is a replacement (changeling – the baby of two mystical creatures like faeries or goblins). Although left in the crib to a new family, Mackie is embraced by his human family and loved as if he was their born son. Their love, though, cannot stop Mackie from feeling as if he doesn’t belong. It also cannot stop him from slowly dying in the human world.

While the theme of love and family is strong in this book, it never comes across as cheesy or pandering to the YA-set. The bonds between Mackie, his parents, and his sister, feel natural. It’s a kind of relief to read a story where there is a positive relationship between the protagonist and those forces in his life. I especially loved Emma, Mackie’s sister – who is thoughtful and protective of her special younger brother, yet does so in an authentic way that mirrors an actual relationship between two siblings.

The other strong theme of “coming of age” has a darker twist to it, due to Mackie’s background and the conflicts contained in the book, but it still…works. He’s easy to relate to and seemed to me more of a tragic figure than most other heroes in YA books. The other plus is that I did not find him at all annoying, which tends to happen sometimes when I read YA (a tell-tale sign I am old)!

Although it can be dark at times, “The Replacement” doesn’t lack funny moments, and is brimming with positive relationships.   Due to some sexual descriptiveness and language, this may be better for the 15+ set but – as I am a prime example of – really has appeal across the age pool. I loved this book and now am even more excited to Brenna Yovanoff’s “The Space Between.”

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre:  YA, Fantasy
Rating: 4/5

Why I picked it: Love the concept of a story motivated by found pictures. Plus…AWESOME cover appeal.

Synopsis:  A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

Review: From the very moment I happened to stumble upon this book on Amazon, I was intrigued. The cover is fantastic and gives off such a spooky air that I couldn’t help but be drawn to it. Although I went into it expecting horror and got fantasy…I was not at all disappointed.

Ransom Riggs collects “found” photos. These old, and often super creepy, pictures are the inspiration behind this novel, which incorporates those images with a fantastical tale about a teenage boy trying to find his place in life.

Jacob has grown up listening to his grandfather’s stories about an island on which there is a school filled with “peculiar” children who all have different special talents. When old enough to dismiss such fantastical ideas as magic, Jacob decides to take his grandfather’s stories with a grain of salt – that is, until tragedy strikes and our hero realizes there might have been some truth behind it all. The story follows Jacob as he attempts to uncover the hidden secrets of his grandfather’s life – with a lot of humor and descriptive language peppered throughout.

I must admit this book hooked me really fast and the author’s build-up of events kept me reading well past my bedtime. I loved how the photos were incorporated into the text – with descriptions preceding actual pictures. I found myself really excited to turn the page and see what the described characters looked like. I also really enjoyed that these seemingly scary pictures were turned into something more innocent via the story. Instead of scared, I found myself fascinated by the photos.

One thing I did not care for was how the story builds up to a sequel (which has already been announced). In plain terms, there is more of a lack of resolution than I usually like. Don’t get me wrong, I like to read a series but I especially like to read a series where a book can stand alone. While this one can, it’s teetering on that edge of the unknown. And as a totally random side note, I actually thought to myself as I read “Hey! There’s not many pages left and it seems like too much is still open ended. But they’d have a hard time making this a series, unless they have many pictures of same individuals or enough pictures that kind of obscure the subject’s face.”

Overall, it was a very enjoyable read and I liked the format and the imaginative story. I would highly recommend this book, but be forewarned – if you like an ending wrapped in a neat and tidy bow, you will likely be disappointed.