My interest went back and forth when I was reading Timeless. I was intrigued for the first half because it was mysterious with all of the time travelMy interest went back and forth when I was reading Timeless. I was intrigued for the first half because it was mysterious with all of the time travel and romance, but after a while the book really slowed down for me. Michele meets and falls for the man from her dreams, but it's tough to make it work considering he's from another time period. I enjoyed their scenes together, but eventually it felt like the story stalled and wasn't moving forward. I needed more from their relationship and from the mystery behind the time travel. I set the book down for a bit and eventually came back to it after debating whether I was going to finish it. Once I picked Timeless up again, I started to change my mind about quitting because the story changed pace and the romance and mystery became more intriguing. I started getting more answers as more questions developed. In the end, I'm really happy I finished reading Timeless because the story fleshed out. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, time travel stories, romance, etc. then I think you should give Alexandra Monir's novel a try. ...more
I still view myself as a new fan of high fantasy, but I know when it’s done right. The Girl of Fire and Thorns byReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
I still view myself as a new fan of high fantasy, but I know when it’s done right. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson is high fantasy done right.
Usually when I’m torn over a book I break it into a list of what worked and what didn’t work. I’m not torn about this book at all because I LOVED IT, but I’m going to make this review simple and break down everything that is awesome about The Girl of Fire and Thorns into a list. Sometimes lists are necessary, especially when reviewing a fantastic book.
Everything That Is Awesome About Rae Carson’s Debut:
*The World Building–I think my friend Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts said it best when she said that the world building in The Girl of Fire and Thorns is similar Kristin Cashore’s world building. Her use of imagery makes the world come alive on the page and very easy to visualize. It’s not simple, but it’s not overdone; the reader doesn’t need a map to know where everything is, like in many high fantasy novels.
*The Premise–I know some readers have been turned off by the fact that the Godstone resides in the bearer’s belly button, but it didn’t bother me. I like how original the idea is and how it played out in the novel. I was constantly wondering about the Godstone and what might happen with it, and I was pleasantly surprised at the end. I like that the reader figures this out with Elisa; it engaged me as a reader and made me feel more connected to Elisa. Religion plays a large role in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but it isn’t your average book about faith. Elisa needs to stay faithful and learn to have faith in herself, but the religion is different. It’s written in such a way that those who may shy away from books with religious themes will probably enjoy this. The way magic is mixed in to the story gives this religion a different flair.
*The Characters–Elisa is a breath of fresh air. She isn’t a perfect, beautiful, graceful character. She’s fat, unsure of herself, and in many ways naive which makes her more realistic. The growth of her character is outstanding and so much fun to watch. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her become strong and independent. The supporting characters are wonderful. I particularly enjoyed Lord Hector, Humberto, and Ximena. They’re vibrant and make the story so much stronger.
*The Pacing–Many of the high fantasy novels I’ve read are dense in story, lore, background, mythology, etc. Rae Carson’s novel is lengthy at 424 pages, but it’s fast-paced and easy to read. Many of the character’s names and the different settings are hard to pronounce, but it didn’t hold me back from enjoying and understanding the story. I had a hard time putting this one down, especially since the chapters are short and end in just the right way to keep me wanting more.
*The Ending–No, I’m not going to spoil the outcome of the story. I’m simply going to say that I’m happy about a “real” ending to a book kicking off a series. No horrible cliffhanger that makes you want to throw the book. The ending is perfect because it leaves me satisfied and wanting more at the same time.
If you haven’t read The Girl of Fire and Thorns yet, I highly recommend reading it as soon as possible. I’m teaching this in my YA Lit II class and couldn’t be happier about it; it’s going to work perfectly in my fantasy unit. The good thing for those of us who are just now reading this book is that we only have to wait until September 18th for the sequel, The Crown of Embers, to release!...more
Frost is currently a YA Fiction Cybils finalist which is what prompted me to read it. I started it yesterday evening and stayed up, completely glued tFrost is currently a YA Fiction Cybils finalist which is what prompted me to read it. I started it yesterday evening and stayed up, completely glued to my Kindle until 3am. I just finished it and am reeling. A couple pieces are keeping it from being a 5 star read, but I definitely recommend reading it if you enjoy thrillers. And I'm still thinking about that ending. . .
There are a number of YA novels about teen pregnancy on the shelves, but Hooked definitely stands out in the crowd. It’s about more than Thea gettingThere are a number of YA novels about teen pregnancy on the shelves, but Hooked definitely stands out in the crowd. It’s about more than Thea getting pregnant in high school. It’s about Thea’s first love, it’s about her relationship with her dad, and it’s about Thea discovering where she fits after high school.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read Hooked because I don’t care for the cover. It really doesn’t do anything for the story and what it’s really about. Personally, I think it looks tacky and the title looks like a tattoo. Once I started reading the book and looked more closely as the cover, I realized that the heart is crocheted. Thea learning to crochet becomes a large portion of the plot, so it makes sense that it’s represented on the cover. I just wish it was more prominent. Despite my feelings on the cover, I’m quite happy I read Greenman’s debut.
I think the best way for me to review Hooked is to break down what worked and didn’t work for me.
What Worked: I like Thea’s character because she isn’t really popular and she isn’t really awkward either. She’s right in the middle like most teens. Also, once she has the baby, I think her life is portrayed realistically, for the most part. She’s incredibly nervous about being a mother and hurting her baby. I’m not a mother, but I’m guessing many new moms worry about this, especially teen moms. Thea’s decision to keep the baby wasn’t an easy choice, but once she makes the decision she stands by it no matter what anybody says. Her dad is firm that she doesn’t miss out on her college education, which I’m happy is in the novel because even though not all teens get this opportunity when they have a baby, I’m happy the importance of education and having a steady job is stressed. Thea is a likeable character that I found myself liking more as she matured and the novel progressed. She discovers a talent she didn’t know she had, while trying to balance being a mother and holding down a job.
What Didn’t Work: I think my biggest criticism is that while her life is realistic, it only was to a degree. **This is a spoiler** Thea’s and Will’s parents give them a large sum of money to live on with the baby until they get settled. This didn’t work for me, because while I know their parents are wealthy, I just can’t picture that really happening. Eventually Thea needs to rely on her dad in a different way which I viewed positively and saw that as being more realistic. It was actually one of my favorite parts of the story; their relationship isn’t perfect, but we get to see both Thea and her father grow as characters.
Other than the story, I had some issues with the writing. There are a number of flashbacks in Hooked, but the writing/format lacks a signal letting us know we’re moving back and then forward again. At times like these I had to re-read the passage to figure out what was going on. Also, I was confused about the setting at the beginning because Thea and her mom are talking and Thea’s mom mentions a flat she sold. When I read that I thought maybe this takes place in England, but then locations in New York were mentioned. It wasn’t until much later that we learn Thea’s mom is from England. That would have been nice to know at the beginning.
Overall, I enjoyed reading Hooked. I’m sure many of my students will enjoy this and I’m looking forward to their thoughts. There were a couple of quirks to the story, but I’m happy I read it. If you like novels by Rachel Cohn, I’m sure you’ll like it too....more
I read some mixed reviews for this one, but I wanted to read it anyway, especially after my mom read it and told me how much she liked it. The blurb fI read some mixed reviews for this one, but I wanted to read it anyway, especially after my mom read it and told me how much she liked it. The blurb from Sarah Dessen helped too. I ended up really enjoying Moonglass. It’s a wonderful summer read, full of beaches, lifeguards, etc. Don’t let the beach atmosphere fool you. Yes there’s a budding romance, but Anna is really struggling with the memory of her mother’s death. This challenges her relationship with her father and her ability to grow as a person. It’s an emotional read that I didn’t want to put down....more
Prior to and during the week of The Near Witch‘s release, almost all of the blogs I follow had glowing reviews for this debut. After reading all of those reviews, and being in an odd mood on the day of the release, I decided to buy my own copy.
I think all of the reviews spoke of Schwab’s beautiful, lyrical writing and I completely agree. She created an atmosphere of mystery and magic, very much like a fairy tale. The imagery is fantastic and painted an easy to imagine setting. Overall, the writing is gorgeous and impressive.
My only complaint is that the story is too plot-driven. It was while reading this book that I realized how much more I enjoy character-driven stories. I never felt connected to Lexi or anyone in the story. I was interested in the mystery behind who’s kidnapping the children. And I was interested in the lore of the Near witch. My lack of connection with Lexi made the story drag on. I got to the point where I just wanted to know what happened. Despite the writing, and how much I was enjoying it, I found myself skimming the last couple chapters because I was growing weary and wanted to be done.
Honestly, it makes me feel down writing this review because I wanted to love this book. I did like it and will recommend it to my students. Reading is subjective and not every book is for every person. I already know which of my students will most likely love this book as much as the reviewers I follow did. I’d love to get some comments from those of you who read The Near Witch and loved it or feel the same as I do.
A few bloggers who enjoyed The Near Witch: The Story Siren Novel Thoughts Reading Teen ...more
Tahereh Mafi has written a wonderful debut that will appeal to fans of paranormal fantasy, dystopian, and romance. Her lyrical writing stands out andTahereh Mafi has written a wonderful debut that will appeal to fans of paranormal fantasy, dystopian, and romance. Her lyrical writing stands out and breaks the rules, but it works and drew me in.
There’s so much I love about Tahereh Mafi’s writing. First of all, I’m completely intrigued by her use of numbers. Not only does she incorporate specific numbers like Juliette going 6,336 hours since touching another person, she also almost always uses the numeric value instead of writing the number(s) out. I haven’t been able to find any interviews where she explains this, so if you know of any explanation I’d love to know about it. I enjoyed how Juliette crosses out some of her thoughts. Some readers may not enjoy this, but as Juliette grows more confident in herself, she does this less and less. Mafi takes many liberties in her writing. Many of her sentences lack punctuation, but it works because it adds more emphasis to Juliette’s words.
For readers that enjoy a steamy romance, Shatter Me is definitely for them! There’s crazy tension between Juliette and Adam. Much of this tension comes from Juliette’s strong desire to touch Adam while also being in fear of him and the possibility of touching him. Part of Juliette’s power makes it dangerous to touch her, which often left me thinking of Rogue from X-Men (one of my favorite X-Men characters). At times I questioned Adam’s intentions, especially since there’s this instant love or attraction between the two of them. Eventually I was able to look past any doubts in their instant attraction and enjoyed the tension between the characters. I do have to admit that Adam won me over.
I enjoyed Shatter Me as a dystopian, even with the paranormal elements, but I was disappointed by the stronger focus on the romance over the world building. The summary is a little misleading because it’s focusing on her power and confusion over the romance, yet so much of Juliette’s focus is on Adam and Warner’s obsession with her. This may turn off some readers looking for a plot with lots of action and dystopian elements. Those elements are there, but they aren’t as prevalent until closer to the end of the story. We also only get snippets of Juliette’s abilities which I hope become more of a focus in the second and third books. I see a lot of potential for this trilogy in all aspects of the story. I just hope the rest of the trilogy explains more about The Reestablishment and Juliette’s powers. ...more
I’ve read quite a few books recently that teachers and librarians should have in their libraries, but Something Like Hope is the first book I’ve readI’ve read quite a few books recently that teachers and librarians should have in their libraries, but Something Like Hope is the first book I’ve read in a while that, if I had the money, I’d buy for all of my teaching friends to read and include in their libraries. Some of us may not have a student like Shavonne right now (that we know of), but who’s to say we won’t in the future. Shawn Goodman wrote this poignant novel in response to his experiences working in juvenile detention facilities. Unfortunately, many people across the country have had experiences like Shawn. This is why it’s so very important for people to know about Something Like Hope. I hope that many readers (teens, parents, educators, etc) will read this novel.
Shavonne’s exterior tough attitude reminded me of some of the students I’ve had. She’s suffered from all types of abuse from when she was living with her mom, living in foster care and living in the detention center. It’s no wonder that Shavonne has built up this wall to protect herself; she’s constantly preparing herself for fight or flight. The abuse she suffers at the juvenile detention facility is the most haunting of all. Any time something happened to her or to another character, I wanted to bust through those doors and have someone arrested! Thankfully Shavonne finds some solace in Mr. Delpopolo. He’s straight-forward and honest with her, which both throws Shavonne for a loop, but is also something she desperately needs. Mr. Delpopolo shows Shavonne compassion, which so many teens–troubled or not–crave. The therapy Shavonne receives from talking to Mr. Delpopolo allows her to feel. She feels more than just pain and fear. She starts feeling sympathy and love and concern for her new roommate Mary. She starts feeling trust for those in the center who have helped her. Like the summary says, Shavonne starts feeling hope.
Knowing that Shawn has experiences like Mr. Delpopolo boggles my mind. I’ve listened to some of my students’ heart-wrenching stories, but I haven’t heard anything like Shavonne’s story. I had a difficult time not crying while I was reading Something Like Hope. Shawn deserves high-praises for the work he’s doing with troubled teens and for writing such a powerful and tragic, yet hopeful novel. It’s my hope that Something Like Hope gets the attention it deserves and consequently more troubled teens get the help they so desperately need. This is a five-star debut novel without a doubt!...more
I'm debating between 3.5 and 4 stars, but I'm rounding up to 4.
I’ve always admired dancers. They’re athletic, grReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
I'm debating between 3.5 and 4 stars, but I'm rounding up to 4.
I’ve always admired dancers. They’re athletic, graceful, hard workers and more. Before this year I haven’t read any novels with main characters that are dancers. Not only do has Audition released in 2011, but there’s also Bunheads by Sophie Flack and Ellen Hopkins’ newest novel, Perfect has a main character that dances. My dancers in class will be happy to see these new additions to YA, as am I.
Stasia Ward Kehoe grew up as a dancer, so I can imagine Audition was a very personal novel to write. Her expertise in dance is evident in how articulate she is in the language of dance. I, not being a dancer, didn’t understand all of the terminology, but I did appreciate it and respect it. Ballet dancers reading this novel will certainly appreciate Stasia Ward Kehoe’s expertise. Not only does she use correct terminology, Audition is full of beautiful imagery and scenes. Even with my limited knowledge of ballet I was able to picture the dancing and the dancers.
I’m a huge fan of verse novels, so I was really looking forward to reading Audition (besides it being about ballet). The students in my book club chose this as our next novel after I told them about it, and most of them started it before me. For one of the girls, this was her first verse novel and she told me she was struggling with it. She wasn’t sure if it’s simply because she’s not used to verse, or if the verse was just choppy. I kept this in mind while reading Audition, and for the most part I enjoyed the verse. As I read more of the book I began to notice that many of the scenes and the writing are choppy. Sara would be describing a scene at the studio, and then on the next page we were back at the house or with Rem. These sudden changes in setting are jarring and caused me to re-read more pages than I cared to. The verse isn’t always as fluid as I prefer, but I still enjoyed Stasia Ward Kehoe’s writing and will read more of her novels.
The story is about Sara and how she’s basically thrown into this new life of dancing. She’s from a small town and is a promising dancer. After she scores well at an audition, she is accepted at a dancing school at the Jersey Ballet. Sara goes through a whirlwind of emotions during this transition and is really unsure of herself as a dancer and who she is outside of dance. Eventually Sara isn’t sure if she wants to continue dancing, if this is really her dream. Readers will appreciate Sara’s hesitation whether they’re a dancer or not, because many of us face these decisions in our lives. Who are we? What do we want to do with our lives? Will our choices let down our family? In the midst of this, Sara falls for Remington. While I appreciated Sara’s angst about ballet, I simply couldn’t connect with her relationship with Rem. Sara and Rem have a fast infatuation that never really made sense to me. Part of this may be the fact that Rem really doesn’t have much dialogue–he and Sara don’t do much talking. This is mostly because of the nature of their relationship, but also because the scenes with Rem focus more on Sara’s thoughts. I understand the reasoning for this, but it also caused these scenes to fall flat for me. As a result, Audition didn’t become the book I wanted it to be.
I’m looking forward to hearing my students’ thoughts, especially after seeing the different ratings they’ve been giving it on Goodreads. Audition is one that I enjoyed, and even though some areas were weak, it’s a book that I still think others should read....more
I want to start off saying that Matt Blackstone did send me a copy of his book, but that hasn’t altered my thoughts on the book. Gae Polisner, the autI want to start off saying that Matt Blackstone did send me a copy of his book, but that hasn’t altered my thoughts on the book. Gae Polisner, the author of The Pull of Gravity, was telling me about Matt’s book in a Facebook thread. One of my former students, Joe, saw the thread and looked up Matt’s book. He added on to the thread that he really wants to read this book, so I suggested that we read it as our next alumni book club pick. From there, Gae sent Matt a message saying he should add me as a friend because of what Joe and I were saying (and because Matt and I are both English teachers!). You can figure out the rest :)
To the review–I really did like A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie. It has wonderful boy appeal, tons of humor and wit, and it’s touching at times also.
The character development is strong, which I’m always a fan of. Rene is fourteen years old, but he really hasn’t reached the maturity of a fourteen year old. Although as I type that, I’m thinking to myself, how mature are fourteen year old boys?? To be fair, I have had some fairly mature boys in my English 9 classes. As I was getting to know Rene’s character, I pictured him being at the level of a 7th or 8th grade boy. He wants to mature and like the other guys, Gio in particular, but he still has his digital Batman watch, wears a cape, and imagines himself fighting crime as he’s walking home. All of these nuances make Rene very likable as a character. Within the first few pages I was giggling enough that my husband glanced over at me with a “What are you reading?” look. I, of course, told him all about it :) Rene is hyper aware of the people around him. He has names for the different types of kids in school like the Cutters (they cut class) and the Smartypants. His example of what the Smartypants are like reminded me of a girl I knew in middle school who, during a Girl Scout retreat, corrected my pronunciation of the word “jaguar.” This would be a funny story, but only if you could actually hear the story and how it sounded when she said it. She would be a member of the Smartypants clique.
I haven’t read too many books with characters that suffer from OCD. For this reason, I was looking forward to reading A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie to see how it affected Rene. Most times I giggled when he’d get going about something. He gets so distracted by his compulsions, that Rene often misses what others are saying or he just completely misunderstands them. This happened often with his teacher and with his friend Gio. These conversations are when I was laughing the most because it would really take some patience and understanding to interact with Rene. Honestly, though, I thought sometimes that his actions as a result of the OCD resembled how my students with autism act. The examples I’m thinking of are how paranoid Rene would get that the kids at school were talking about him and when he’d get completely sucked into his imagination. This is a great book for teens to read because they’ll have a better understanding of what people suffering from OCD are going through. They’ll know what everyday life can be like for them. I can’t imagine living my life like Rene; it’s exhausting to think about what he goes through.
Reading this book will not only provide you with plenty of laughs, but it will also give you the opportunity to connect with a deeply layered character. The supporting characters are wonderful as well, and I’m sure you’ll be rooting for them. As a final comment, I’m not going to give the ending away, of course, but I really did like it; it’s full of hope....more
Joshua C. Cohen is an author to watch! Leverage is an edgy, emotional, gripping debut. It will appeal to those whReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
Joshua C. Cohen is an author to watch! Leverage is an edgy, emotional, gripping debut. It will appeal to those who enjoy sports, but it’s about more than sports. It’s about loyalty, courage, and standing up for what’s right, even when the odds are against you.
Kelly at Stacked has been telling me to read this for months, but I can’t say why I put it off for so long. I’m actually made at myself for waiting so long to read Leverage. When I told my students about the Y.A. Cybils finalists, one of my Y.A. Lit students asked if he could read it for his project (sports in Y.A.). He reported back to me as he was reading it, and eventually another student in class went to our library to get himself a copy. Once my student finished Leverage, he came into class telling me all about it and preparing me for some of the events/scenes in the novel. After this interaction with him, I started it right away. Just like my student, I came into school and kept up our conversation, this time sharing my thoughts about the story. This kind of interaction/relationship with my students is why I love sharing books with them.
I’m happy one of my older students read Leverage first because it’s a mature read. I knew something bad was going to happen as the prank war escalated, but even after my student’s warning, I never expected it to get as bad as it did. Without spoiling the novel, one scene in particular is horrific and haunting. I had a feeling something like that might happen, but I hoped it wouldn’t. It’s a graphic scene, so if you’re working with younger students, you might want to read Leverage first before you hand it to one of them. Or at the very least, let these readers know that it’s a mature and sometimes graphic novel. While I was heartbroken after this event, I understand why Cohen included it. It really sets up the characterization of Danny and Kurt.
I really enjoy novels that switch points of view, because it allows for more understanding of the events in the story. Kurt and Danny are written so well, that I couldn’t choose which character I preferred more. Both characters are flawed and motivated by their emotions. Kurt has a past no person would wish on another, and Danny is searching for praise and perfection. Kurt’s goal is to leave his past behind, so he’s working out constantly in hopes for a football scholarship. Football also allows him to release his anger and frustration. His helmet helps him speak without a stutter, which makes him feel more powerful and in control. He can also hide his scars, both physical and emotional. Danny’s mother died, so now it’s just him and his dad. His dad doesn’t seem to take Danny’s sport seriously, he sees gymnastics as a hobby. Danny’s hoping to become captain one day and receive a scholarship, but he also wants his dad’s approval and recognition. Danny and Kurt may play different sports and be vastly different physically, but both have similar aspirations. It’s not really until the heartbreaking scene that these two characters come together and work towards justice. It’s this scene that really shows how flawed Danny and Kurt are, but even while I was yearning for them to do something, I understood their hesitation. Joshua C. Cohen not only created complex characters, he has written a novel that makes the reader question what he/she would do if placed in Danny or Kurt’s position. Once you think about this from the character’s perspective, it’s difficult to judge them for their actions and/or inaction.
Leverage isn’t a novel for the faint of heart, because like Kelly told me, it will devastate you. And while much of the novel is dismal, I knew there would be some hope towards the end. Although the ending itself, I’m not so sure about. Parts of it didn’t feel very believable to me, but that might depend on the reader. If you decide to read Leverage, be prepared for an intense reading experience and an emotional connection to the characters. Leverage is a story about bullying to the extreme, and it’s one that I highly recommend....more
The cover and the summary really grabbed my attention, and made me think of Blue is for Nightmares by Laurie Faria Stolarz. Now I know that those two books really aren’t anything alike. I enjoyed Tessa Gratton’s writing and style. She switches between the perspectives of Silla and Nick, but also adds in journal entries from a girl of the past. The romance between Silla and Nick wasn’t too overdone. The journal entries kept me turning the pages because they added just enough mystery that I wanted to finally see the connection between the past and present. For about the first 300 pages I really enjoyed this book, blood and all. The 100 pages lost me though. It became much too gory for my taste, and it felt like the characters kept re-hashing the same worries and concerns. Honestly, though, I think it was the abundance of gore at the end that really turned me off. I’ve discovered that I’m simply someone who doesn’t always enjoy horror stories....more
I went to the Dark Days of Supernatural author event at Schuler Books & Music knowing that I wanted to buy a copy of Starcrossed and get it signedI went to the Dark Days of Supernatural author event at Schuler Books & Music knowing that I wanted to buy a copy of Starcrossed and get it signed. The summary piqued my interest and the cover had me in a daze. The picture simply doesn’t do it justice; you MUST see it in person! The cover is like Aphrodite’s cestus, it has me completely entranced and in love. Anyway, once I heard Josephine start speaking about how her ideas came together to write this book, I knew I was going to like it. She told us she was thinking about what would the Illiad be like in modern day? What if you tied in a little Romeo and Juliet? I was with my friend who also teaches English and our wheels started turning. Starcrossed could work as a wonderful ladder helping teens connect with those classics.
Helen’s story starts off with mystery. She’s living with her single dad because her mom up and left. All of the pictures are gone, but Helen does have a necklace with a heart charm that her mother gave her. The bigger mystery at the beginning of the story is when Helen starts talking about how odd she is because she’s constantly growing taller and has more strength than normal. The tension increases when the Delos family moves to town and Helen can’t explain why she hates Lucas so much that she wants to kill him. Plus, there’s the whole walking through a desert in her dreams until her feet bleed while three ladies wail and cry tears of blood. Yep, I was hooked.
I’m not an expert on mythology by any means, so I can’t say how accurate the mythology included in Starcrossed is. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s pretty accurate considering Josephine’s author bio says she studied the classics and at the signing she spoke about the research she did. It made me want to learn more about Greek mythology. Including this history, however, didn’t make for a fast read. I often found myself slowing my pace down and re-reading sections to make sure I understood what the characters were explaining. The pace in which she includes it was great because I never felt like I was reading a book on Greek mythology. Everything fit and felt like it was the right place to include some history.
There are many characters in Starcrossed to keep track of, but so worth it. I enjoyed Helen as a character. She isn’t very self-confident at first because she doesn’t understand what’s happening to her. As the story continues and Helen learns more about herself, her self-confidence grows. She’s very determined and compassionate, which I loved. The story between Helen and Lucas had me hooked the moment they meet–it wasn’t quite the introduction I expected! And it blossoms from there. I’m guessing there’s going to be a sequel, and I can’t wait to see what happens between them considering the secrets and truths at the end of the book. The supporting characters are excellent. I especially love Ariadne and Hector. Ari is a healer and someone Helen can confide in. Hector is stubborn and aggressive. Both of these characters’ traits really help drive the story forward.
My only nit-picky complaint is the length of the chapters. Some were 30+ pages long. I don’t know why chapter length is an issue with me, but it is. I’m sure some readers could care less how long the chapters are, but for me and most of my students it’s an issue. If there’s a second book, hopefully the chapters will be a little shorter. Other than that minor detail, I really enjoyed Starcrossed. I’m looking forward to more books by Josephine Angelini! ...more
This debut has received a ton of hype in the past few months and it completely lives up to the hype. I absolutely devoured this story; I couldn’t putThis debut has received a ton of hype in the past few months and it completely lives up to the hype. I absolutely devoured this story; I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up late and read until my eyes were so heavy I had to close them, then woke up early enough to pick it right back up and finish it (thank goodness for the weekends!). Michelle Hodkin is most certainly an author to watch because she not only weaves an engrossing tale, but she incorporates the perfect mix of mystery, snark, romance and humor–extra emphasis on mystery.
Michelle Hodkin hooks us with an eerie letter from our main character, Mara Dyer, only Mara says “My name is not Mara Dyer, but my lawyer told me I had to choose something. A pseudonym.” The letter goes on to mention murders and warning us so we’re not next. Talk about grabbing our attention, right?! The thing is, now that I’m done reading this book, I’m wondering what her name really is because everyone calls her Mara. This is part of what I love most about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer–the mystery. I know readers are calling this paranormal, but I’d rather call it magical realism or something. There are some strange things happening to and around Mara, many of which we don’t fully understand until the end or are still left wondering about until the next book. Normally I prefer an ending that leaves the book feeling like it could be a stand alone, even in a series, but this ending worked for me. Was I confused and did I want answers immediately? Yes. But the ending kept me thinking for days. I let one of my students borrow my ARC so I could discuss it with someone. An ending like that is worth the mystery and me eagerly waiting for the second book, even though the first hasn’t even officially released.
I’m a big fan of the characters in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Mara Dyer isn’t a reliable narrator, but she’s snarky, mysterious and just as confused as I was. I love that I, as a reader, am on the same page as Mara when it comes to the confusion over everything. She doesn’t remember much of the accident when her friends died and she lived. She and her family move to Florida to get away from everything which is when life gets a little weird for Mara. This is also when she meets Noah, who I adore. Oddly enough, some of the strange events happen whenever Noah is around. There’s something unique between these two that I can’t wait to learn more about in the second book. At first I didn’t think I was going to like Noah because he came off as the typical bad boy. That’s not the case. Just like Mara, there are some complex layers to Noah’s character that make him stand out from the rest of the paranormal genre love interests.
Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to write a review for The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer without giving away major plot points. There are scenes with dogs, alligators, a gun, and a guy named Jude I want to talk about. But if I do, you’d be mad at me because I’d give away all the good parts, or at least some of them. This is a book that needs you to suspend your disbelief, and if you can then you’re sure to enjoy it. I flat out love it. I don’t say this very often, but I would re-read this debut because it’s that good and I want the answers to my questions. I definitely recommend getting yourself a copy, and make sure a friend reads it as well so you can try to work out the details and mystery to Mara’s story....more
I’ve read some pretty good books this summer, but Virtuosity is one of the few that I read in one sitting. The book begins near the end of the story aI’ve read some pretty good books this summer, but Virtuosity is one of the few that I read in one sitting. The book begins near the end of the story and it had me hooked because Carmen appears to be at a crossroads in her musical career. From there we transition to the present and Carmen isn’t stalking, or so she says, her competition. Paralleling these two very different, but very intriguing scenes piqued my interest and didn’t let me go.
Carmen is a phenomenal violinist who has records out and has even won a Grammy. Now she’s preparing for a very prestigious competition, but she’s worried that Jeremy is better. This is probably my ignorance, but I kept thinking, Carmen, you won a Grammy! You’re obviously awesome, so don’t worry about Jeremy so much. I’m guessing if Carmen was a real person and knew I was thinking that, she’d probably scoff at my ignorance and be really annoyed with me. The kicker is that Carmen isn’t only feeling the pressure from herself, but she’s feeling the heat from her teacher and her mother. She’s become a jumble of nerves and is relying too heavily on her anti-anxiety drugs to calm her down so she can be a better performer.
Like I said, the anxiety and pressure Carmen’s feeling stems quite a bit from her mother. Her mother is her manager, and Carmen doesn’t even call her mom; she’s called by her first name, Diana. Obviously, there are some serious mother-daughter issues in this book. They are layered and twist in an excellent element to the plot. Diana is written so well that she was making me anxious. I kept feeling this urge to yell at her to back off and give Carmen some room to breathe.
Another relationship that really made the story come to life is Carmen’s relationship with Jeremy. In some ways it reminded me of Adam and Mia’s relationship from If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman. It isn’t nearly as steamy and angsty, but I don’t think it’s meant to be. Virtuosity focuses more on Carmen finding herself and whether she truly enjoys the violin anymore. It’s more about her recognizing her strengths and weaknesses and the true colors of those around her. I enjoyed their relationship because it made for an interesting twist in their rivalry and focus.
This is an early review, but Virtuosity is an awesome book that deserves some glowing, early buzz. I hope you’ll remember to pick it up in October or pre-order it now. Jessica Martinez is an author to watch; I’m already looking forward to her second book when her first hasn’t even officially released....more
Kathy McCullough has written an absolutely adorable MG/YA debut novel. Delaney is tough on the outside, but she’s actually really sweet deep down. HerKathy McCullough has written an absolutely adorable MG/YA debut novel. Delaney is tough on the outside, but she’s actually really sweet deep down. Her witty sarcasm and sense of humor had me giggling and smiling the entire time I read this novel. She and her father have a strained relationship, most of which results from Delaney not knowing that her dad is an f.g. I love that Dr. Hank is a fairy godmother, because I’m sure most of us wouldn’t expect a man to hold that title. It increased the amount of humor in the novel while also keeping the story sweet and heartwarming. Delaney doesn’t know about the ins and outs of being a fairy godmother, so she needs to learn to trust and rely on her dad to learn the ropes. I definitely recommend reading Don’t Expect Magic....more
This flash review was originally posted at Y.A. Love
I need to say first that The Sweetest Thing had me going through all sorts of cravings. Sheridan iThis flash review was originally posted at Y.A. Love
I need to say first that The Sweetest Thing had me going through all sorts of cravings. Sheridan is an absolute perfectionist about her cakes, so her descriptions were quite detailed which made my mouth water more times than not. Christina Mandelski has written a novel that girls who like novels by Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti will enjoy. Sheridan is a character that a variety of readers can relate to, whether they aspire to be a baker, feel like an outsider, lack a relationship with their mother, or simply want to read a novel and empathize with a character. While I enjoyed Mandelski’s debut, I did at times find myself irritated with Sheridan. She is so stubborn about connecting with her mother and not cooperating with her father or friends. It makes for a layered conflict, but it could have been resolved sooner without hurting the novel. Still, Sheridan is a character that girls can learn from. My girls in book club chose this as our first novel, and I’m really looking forward to discussing it with them this week. ...more