Hexed is a fairly cute read. In the vein of an ABC family drama, it follows a popular cheerleader Indigo who's quirky mother runs an occult shop in Lo...moreHexed is a fairly cute read. In the vein of an ABC family drama, it follows a popular cheerleader Indigo who's quirky mother runs an occult shop in Los Angeles. Indigo tries to be normal, as normal as the teen daughter of a single-mother wannabe-witch can be. Then one day while driving to her mom's shop she witnesses a man die. That's when things start getting weird. Next thing she knows she's gone from cheerleader, to trying to find her mother's stolen witch Bible while running from sorcerers and trying to figure out if she might be a witch herself.
This book, with one HUGE exception, is lighthearted and silly. That's not a bad thing itself. I actually like the light tone and fluffy approach to paranormal that this book takes. What I don't like is the romance, which seems to move at hyper-speed with little development and the back-stabbing catty popular friend's that are just a little too cliche. Also, I don't like that Indigo walks all over her childhood best friend Paige. That whole part felt illogical. Indigo treats Paige like shit, Paige continues to be nice to Indigo and then sticks by her when no one else does. Let's be honest, there's no way Paige would've stuck around or risked her life for someone who treated her like Indigo did.
But here's the thing, despite the book's flaws I enjoyed myself while reading it, especially the beginning before any of the romance began. It's a quick read and if you like paranormals and don't mind silly teen romance then you might like this book.
I received an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. (less)
More Than Good Enough is the story of Trent Osceola, half Miccosukee and half white, a teenager who is living with his father for the first time since...moreMore Than Good Enough is the story of Trent Osceola, half Miccosukee and half white, a teenager who is living with his father for the first time since his childhood on the Miccosukee Reservation, a piece of his culture he really doesn't know much about. Having recently failed out of his prestigious music high school, Trent is drifting through life without much direction.
There are aspects to this book that I like. I think Trent's identity struggle, not knowing where he belongs and feeling disconnected from the reservation community is the more interesting piece of this novel. But it's not enough of the book. We don't meet Cookie, one of his relatives on the reservation and probably the best character in the whole story, until nearly the end of the book.
Instead we're given the story of Trent breaking up with his DJ girlfriend Michelle, starting a new public high school and trying to romance his childhood sweetheart Pippa. These sections of the book seem like they're trying to be hip, painfully so, using slang like "homeslice" and having Pippa dress like something off the hot-topic website.
The book is short, which makes it a quick and easy read, but also prevents the relationship between Trent and almost anyone (his father, Pippa, etc) from developing. Sometimes the conversations and Trent's internal monologue were too random. Though that's probably realistic for teenagers, it's not particularly enjoyable to read. While I like what this book was trying to do, it feels too scattered and plotless for the first half while simultaneously trying too hard to be cool.
I received an advanced reading e-book in exchange for an honest review.(less)
2.5 or 3. I dunno. The gross parts of this book were nearly unreadable and it had some other flaws but that aside it's not terrible. Just gross. Full...more2.5 or 3. I dunno. The gross parts of this book were nearly unreadable and it had some other flaws but that aside it's not terrible. Just gross. Full review to come. (less)
Sloane Emily Jacobs is the daughter of a U.S. Senator with the picture perfect family that isn't quite as perfect as it seems. A figure skater, Sloane...moreSloane Emily Jacobs is the daughter of a U.S. Senator with the picture perfect family that isn't quite as perfect as it seems. A figure skater, Sloane Emily choked at junior nationals and isn't sure that iceskating is really for her, but her parents send her to Montreal for skating camp despite her objections. Sloane Devon Jacobs is a tough hockey player dealing with her own slew of problems that are manifesting themselves in fighting on the hockey rink. Like Sloane Emily, she's sent away to a different ice hockey camp in Montreal.
Being Sloane Jacobs is about each girl's struggle to find themselves in the midst of their problems. The pair meet because of a luggage mix-up at their hotel. Neither wants to face their life so they decide to switch for the summer. This book requires a certain suspension of disbelief, that the Sloane Jacobs can switch sports with minimal difficulty and nobody will notice that they're not who they're supposed to be. If you're willing to make that jump then this is an enjoyable book. It's a little bit of a leap, being able to skate does not make someone an figure skater or hockey player, but it's one the book requires.
I love sports books, especially when they're not just play-by-plays of the action but realize the impact that sports can have on someone's life. Part of the reason Sloane Devon sticks with hockey is because that's her ticket out of her life and into a college scholarship. It also recognizes the camaraderie of team sports, which is something an isolate and lonely Sloane Emily needs in her life. Even though this book takes place at sports camp, it's not just about sports. It's about their lives back home, their families and everything they're trying to escape.
For me, this book was a fun sports read. I don't feel like there are enough books about sports, especially not enough books about girls playing sports out there in the YA realm. This book had it's flaws, I personally didn't think it was necessary to pair off the two main characters with romantic interest, but the story was still an enjoyable read. For something cute and fun, this book will do nicely.
I received an advance reading e-book in exchange for an honest review.
Roomies is the type of contemporary that I'm just bound to like. It's about friendship, family and figuring out who you are in relationship to both of...moreRoomies is the type of contemporary that I'm just bound to like. It's about friendship, family and figuring out who you are in relationship to both of those things. Roomies is the story of Elizabeth, from New Jersey, and Lauren, from San Francisco who are assigned to be roommates their freshman year at Berkley.
The book is told partially in prose and also in epistolary form, with emails back and forth between the two roomies. As their lives get more complicated with college looming, the pair find it easier to confess their secrets to a nameless person that the people around them. For me, someone who has had an email friendship, this rang true. Before text messaging was all the rage, I used to send long emails to one of my best friends from college and this is how we communicated 90% of the time. Sometimes it is so much easier to write down your fears, your doubts, your life frustrations than to speak them out loud and make them real. "And I'm starting to think that what people's parents are like is HUGELY important. Because you either turn out like them or you go so far in the opposite direction for whatever reason that you end up being totally unlike them."
Elizabeth is struggling with her mother's promiscuity and her father's absence. Whereas Lauren has a seemingly perfect set of parents, just with a lot of siblings and responsibility piled on her and not much money to go around. They aren't that similar. But isn't that the wonder of the college roommate system? If you don't already have someone (I did), then you could end up with anyone and you have to build a relationship from scratch, which is what we see happening in this novel.
Both characters are imperfect people. But that's what makes them compelling and believable. When they mess up, you can imagine yourself making the same mistake. The emails are full of honesty, and the authors let us see not only what the characters say but what they wanted to say, the things they're not sure how to word or if they're allowed to say. It's the type of real honesty and willingness to let their characters say things they shouldn't that really makes this novel something special. And even though there is romance, this is first and foremost a book about friendship and family, important things that are often neglected in YA books because they're less glamorous and more messy. I'm glad Roomies accepted the messy aspects of life, opting for emotional honesty and creating a novel that is both wholly readable and achingly realistic. I received an advanced reading e-book in exchange for an honest review. (less)
I'm always pleasantly surprised when I read a dystopian/post-apocalyptic type book that's still good. It's a genre that feels full and it's b...more4/5 stars
I'm always pleasantly surprised when I read a dystopian/post-apocalyptic type book that's still good. It's a genre that feels full and it's been so well-done in some series, that it's hard to compete with what has come before. Until We End is a solidly good book. I had one major problem with it (and I feel like a broken record because once again my problem was the romantic relationship) but that does not detract from most of the book.
Seventeen-year-old Cora was raised by her father to be a survivor. He was one of those crazies, stockpiling food, building a self-sustaining greenhouse, keeping a cabinet full of guns, that the neighbors gossiped about. Until the world really did end, a highly contagious virus sweeping the country, and the neighbors all died. Six months have passed since Cora's father disappeared, leaving her alone taking care of her eight-year-old brother.
The book begins with a drought forcing Cora to leave the safe confines of her home, venturing to the local spring in an attempt to keep their greenhouse functioning. At the spring, she is ambushed by an army-deserter named Brooks who carjacks her at gun-point and forces her to take him back to her house to claim her stash of food. But when Cora returns to her house it's been ransacked and her brother Coby is gone.
Family relationships are typically the best drivers of dystopian/post-apocalyptic books. That's a connection that's solid and strong, something worth tearing the world apart for. Like Katniss with Prim, Cora's devotion to her brother is what forces the plot forward in this book. I believe in her relationship with Coby. I believe that she wants to save him, protect him and give him what childhood she can salvage.
I also like that Cora's survival makes sense. Cora was literally raised from her childhood to deal with this exact situation. Even though she doesn't always handle it well (who would?), she has the skill-set to survive. She's not just lucky. She's trained. Too often books are dependent upon coincidences to cobble together a plot that makes sense. But this book actually calls out coincidences and the main characters question them.
As I already said, I didn't believe in the romantic relationship that developed in this book. I could give you a whole list of reasons (how it started, who the main characters were before the apocalypse, etc) but I'll let you be your own judge of that. Overall this book is still worth reading, well-plotted, compulsively readable with twists that you won't see coming.
I received an advance reading e-book in exchange for an honest review.
At times, I really enjoyed Poor Little Dead Girls but at times it dragged. When Sadie is awarded a scholarship to a fancy boarding school she...more3/5 stars
At times, I really enjoyed Poor Little Dead Girls but at times it dragged. When Sadie is awarded a scholarship to a fancy boarding school she's worried about the normal things - classes, making friends, being the poor scholarship girl, her roommates, etc. But when Sadie is kidnapped by a secret society and tricked into joining, the really scary part of Keating Hall is only beginning to unveil itself.
This book had a strong beginning. It starts off by showing a strong, caring relationship between Sadie and her father, then builds on that start when she arrives at Keating Hall. The first few chapters are filled with mystery and secrets as Sadie slowly starts to discover pieces of her dead mother's past at the school.
Where this book falters in the mundane "teenage" clothes, drinking and relationship drama it includes. I'm not saying these choices are always bad in YA books (in fact some books use some of these elements brilliantly, i.e. Spectacular Now). In this book it just reeks of falseness. There's this big mystery, a few dead girls and we're getting shopping montages with designer dresses.
After the beginning the book never really found its stride again. There would be passages where you thought "this is picking up again" only to have something ridiculous happen like a girl get her period at a fancy ball and have no tampons or the main character would say something idiotic. I also struggled with the main love interest because it never really developed in a meaningful way, they just were kinda thrown together but we were supposed to believe in their relationship because it served the story.
At times this book is fun, with a nice mystery that needs to be solved. Other times, this book loses the plot. I suspect some people will enjoy this, as there is a lot that can be enjoyed but overall I didn't connect with the book in the way that I hoped.
I received an advance reading e-book in exchange for an honest review.
Rebel McKenzie feels like a book for kids and as a middle-grade book, that's probably a good thing. One of my friends (Cough Megan at Book Brats Cough...moreRebel McKenzie feels like a book for kids and as a middle-grade book, that's probably a good thing. One of my friends (Cough Megan at Book Brats Cough) keeps talking how a lot of middle grade books feel like they're being written for adults who are sentimental about the innocence of youth rather than for actual children who are in the midsts of it.
There is no real sentimentality in Rebel McKenzie. It's a book very much in the present, with a main character who is flawed and funny. Whereas adults might clutch their pearls at Rebel's tactics and her tendency to be mean-spirited, I think kids will relate to the smart girl who wants to be taken seriously, humiliate the neighborhood bully and be a good aunt to her little nephew all at the same time.
The story starts with Rebel attempting to run away to join a kid's paleontologist dig. When that attempt fails, her much-older sister shows up and asks Rebel to come stay with them for the summer to babysit her nephew Rudy. This is where the adult in me started to say "Wait that doesn't seem believable" but then I remember that was pretty much how all my games as a kid went. (Seriously when I played Barbies the parents went away for the summer leaving a house full of teens and kids, shenanigans ensued and they had to flee to the cave in the woods aka my bunk-bed). That's not something that's going to faze a kid, reading-wise, they'll just be glad to have parents out of the picture.
Rebel is not a perfect main character, but she's a realistic one. In order to raise money for the paleontologist dig, Rebel decides to win the Frog Level Volunteer Fire Department's beauty pageant. And Rebel uses any means necessary, even tricking her new-found friend. With a unique talent (burping...), and a non-beauty queen personally, can Rebel beat the neighborhood bully/beauty queen, her new homely friend, and become the serious paleontologist she dreams of?
As you can imagine, Rebel's antics do not go unchecked and there's a nice little moral to the story by the end. After all this is middle-grade and we don't want our little girls taking out their best friends in beauty pageants, but it's a fun ride of a book.
I loved the newsletters, cartoons by Rudy and other children-friendly insertions of this book. Middle Grade can be so fun!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.