Violet Ambrose has a special ability: she can find bodies of those who have been murdered. It doesn't usually matter, since it is often dead animals,...moreViolet Ambrose has a special ability: she can find bodies of those who have been murdered. It doesn't usually matter, since it is often dead animals, but when high school girls start showing up dead, it becomes a major issue. Violet tries to solve the case while trying to resolve her newfound feelings for best-friend Jay. As the story progresses, the stakes get higher, and Violet herself becomes a target.
I had a fun time reading The Body Finder. I thought the romance between Violet and Jay was well-done, and far more fleshed out than in a lot of other teen paranormal romance books. I also thought the serial killer plot-line was more clever than I was expecting. Overall, a terrific book for anyone who likes serial killer stories or paranormal romance.(less)
Princess Azalea has recently come of age, and must marry a man to become the future king. However, on the night of Azalea’s first Yuletide Ball, her m...morePrincess Azalea has recently come of age, and must marry a man to become the future king. However, on the night of Azalea’s first Yuletide Ball, her mother dies giving birth, and Azalea must look after her eleven sisters, all while the King becomes emotionally distant and goes to war. Flagrantly ignoring the rules of mourning, the girls discover a magical closet that reveals a beautiful world where they can dance each night. However, the Keeper of this place hides a dangerous secret, and as the girls continue to go night after night, the more entwined they become in Keeper’s dark designs.
Entwined is a reimagining of the Grimm tale, “The 12 Dancing Princesses.” Dixon’s prose is breathtaking, and really gives new life to an old tale. The princesses each had their own personalities, due to Dixon’s attention to characterization. Dixon also has a sense of humor, and peppers the story with laugh-out-loud moments. The zany speech of characters like Princess Bramble and Lord Teddy added to the overall charm of the dialog.
The princess’s relationship with the King is complex. At first, it’s almost painful to read the differences between them, and the pain of feeling unwanted. However, Dixon doesn’t leave it at that. The relationship slowly blossoms throughout the story, and turns out to be integral to the plot resolution.
There is romance in this story. When I first picked up the book, based on current YA publishing trends, I dreaded the inevitable romance that Azalea was sure to have with the most worthy suitor. However, it was not over played, and came across very sweetly. It was refreshing to not be hammered over the head with declarations of love, or endless paragraphs pining over the love interest’s preternaturally perfect face and body.
I loved reading Entwined. I think the highest praise I can give a book is to say that I’d read it again. I would gladly read Entwined over again, and hope that Heather Dixon gives us more charming, funny, and sweet tales in the future.(less)
When Jess is assigned to be the new, super hot Russian guy's buddy at school, her reaction isn't what we would expect. All of the other girls swoon ov...moreWhen Jess is assigned to be the new, super hot Russian guy's buddy at school, her reaction isn't what we would expect. All of the other girls swoon over him, but she decides immediately she hates him. There's a thin line between love and hate, however, and when Pietr shares that he has a crush on her, she knows that she reciprocates. The only problem is that her friend (who used to be her enemy, but then lost her memories...it gets complicated) also has it bad for him. Romantic tension and frustration ensues, along with a werewolf/Russian spy plotline.
I was really looking forward to reading this, but just couldn't get into it. Jess makes comments about the girls in the vampire books she reads being too stupid to live, but I thought she had the same problem. Pietr even tells her at one point that he's a werewolf, but then she's surprised by it later in the story? The romance also developed way too quickly for me. Jess also encourages her best friend to date Pietr, but then hooks up with him regularly behind her back. It just made no sense whatsoever. The story was a giant leadup to what I can only guess is a series that will hopefully become more interesting when it gets into the meat of the Russian/werewolf intrigue. I really wish there had been more of that in this book and less of the silly high school romance politics.(less)
Alison has just woken up in a mental institution. Groggy at first, she gradually remembers that she flipped out after somehow killing the class sweeth...moreAlison has just woken up in a mental institution. Groggy at first, she gradually remembers that she flipped out after somehow killing the class sweetheart, Tori, with her mind. Nobody can find a body, and Alison questions her own sanity regarding what happened. That isn’t all, though. Alison learns that her lifelong strange perceptions are actually something called synesthesia, where her senses are crossed in strange ways. Letters have colors and personalities, and too much stimuli seems to set her off. Could this condition be related to Tori’s disappearance, or is something else at work?
I was sucked into Ultraviolet immediately. Seeing Alison navigate the world within the mental hospital was engaging, and reminded me of Girl, Interrupted. Alison certainly sounds like she’s sane enough, until she goes off the deep end again. We’re really led to believe her throughout the entire book, but then we’re given a reason to doubt, over and over again. This is the unreliable narrator done very well, and in the right context.
This book really can be considered science fiction. I won’t give anything away, but there are strong science fiction elements at work the further you get into the story. But you pretty much know there might be early on, from the way Tori dies.
The synesthesia was the coolest part of Alison’s story for me. I loved the language Anderson used to describe Alison’s perception of the world and everything in it, and how it is a really integral part of the story. Synesthesia alone is cool (for people like me who don’t have it), but Alison’s is off the chart. I would love to be able to experience music and the stars the way that she does.
I think that Ultraviolet goes above and beyond the standard YA fare, so I encourage people who love mental institution or science fiction books to give it a go! It made an R.J. Anderson fan out of me.(less)
I was hoping for more from this book. I knew from the review that the main character was hanged and showed signs of life on the dissection table, savi...moreI was hoping for more from this book. I knew from the review that the main character was hanged and showed signs of life on the dissection table, saving her and convincing her peers of her innocence. I would have liked less background story and more drama in the dissection room. I did like that Hooper included facsimiles of some of the original pamphlets that documented the case. Overall, readable but nothing special.(less)
Unfortunately, I did not like this book nearly as much as I enjoyed Looking for Alaska. Both have similar characters, so maybe I wasn't as charmed the...moreUnfortunately, I did not like this book nearly as much as I enjoyed Looking for Alaska. Both have similar characters, so maybe I wasn't as charmed the second go-round. Also, I began to get really tired of Quentin's constant repetition of the fact that he never truly knew the real Margo. The first few times were a character revelation, but as the book went on it just became a constant refrain. To me, the best moments of the book are the times Quentin spends hanging out and getting to better know his close group of guy friends. Overall, an enjoyable read, but not outstanding.(less)
I see that most people seem to have really liked this book, but it really rubbed me the wrong way. It felt very flat and predictable. I would have lik...moreI see that most people seem to have really liked this book, but it really rubbed me the wrong way. It felt very flat and predictable. I would have liked to have had a sense that there was real danger at hand, but the writing lacked the necessary tension to pull off the New York City apocalypse scenario. (See: The City's End Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York's Destruction) I generally really enjoy books like this, but it just didn't draw me in. I love the cover art, though!
That said, I'll most likely read the next book in the series when it comes out. I think this author has a lot of potential, and I sincerely hope that she grows as a writer.(less)
Code Name Verity is a book I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own. Then I started seeing the hype, with people saying how the ending had them cr...moreCode Name Verity is a book I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own. Then I started seeing the hype, with people saying how the ending had them crying and what a wonderful book it was. I still didn’t intend on reading it. Then NetGalley sent out a link and I was on the hook. They made it too difficult to ignore this book. Am I glad I read it? I guess I am, just so that I won’t always be sitting around, wondering if I missed out on some incredible story. However, minus the outside forces, Code Name Verity just didn’t really do it for me.
I had a hard time getting into this story, which is weird because Nazis and World War II history are actually interests of mine. What did it was the slow pacing of the storytelling. The first half of the book is Verity, aka Queenie, writing down all of her secrets for her Nazi captors. But this meandering prose focused largely on her friend Maddie, a girl who just wants to fly. I probably would have been okay with the recap, except that Wein does something funny with the point of view. When Queenie relates the story, she tells it from Maddie’s perspective, and speaks about herself as if she’s a secondary character. The twisted POV combined with intricate details about flying and airplanes bogged me down and made this a story I had to work at. I’d hoped I’d reach the event horizon early on, at which point I’d get sucked into the narrative, but that didn’t happen until about the final fifth of the book.
On the plus side, Wein seems to have paid a lot of attention to detail in constructing the story. She talks on this a bit at the end, and her historical fidelity really came through. My biggest problem with historical fiction is that it too often comes across as a false voice, or anachronistic, but it was notable how true Wein was to the era. Points for that.
I don’t need to tell you that Code Name Verity already has a slew of fans–a quick Goodreads glance will do it for me. However, the story was a struggle for me to read, and in the end I didn’t feel the payoff was equal to the work it took to get to that point.(less)
The first book of the House of Night series reminded me of a Twilight/Harry Potter mix. It's about vampires and has a romance aspect, but it is also a...moreThe first book of the House of Night series reminded me of a Twilight/Harry Potter mix. It's about vampires and has a romance aspect, but it is also a "chosen person" with a special forehead mark that was introduced to a new, super cool school for people with special powers. While there, she gathers around herself a fun group of loyal friends/adventurers, and establishes a rivalry with a stuck up, obnoxious blonde.
The book was fun for what it was. I could have done without quite so much moral proselytizing about such things as kissing in the hallways and teenage drinking. I could overlook this, though, and enjoy the story. (less)
Every once in a while, I want a book that is light, makes me laugh, and has a happy ending. Something that brings some chuckles and smiles, then is ea...moreEvery once in a while, I want a book that is light, makes me laugh, and has a happy ending. Something that brings some chuckles and smiles, then is easy to move on from when you’re finished. That’s what Aaron Karo’s Lexapros and Cons was for me.
Lexapros and Cons is a story about a teen boy overcoming his mental disorder. More than that, though, it’s a coming of age story. Chuck grows up and learns about how to deal with himself and the people around him, which prepares him to be able to move forward with his life and to break from his cycle of OCD habits. This is a narrator driven book, so it was important for us to be on board with Chuck from the beginning. Even though he makes some poor choices along the way, I think Karo succeeds at fleshing out a protagonist that readers root for.
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for some, the ending of the book seemed to wrap up too easily, and with too much “and the all lived happily ever after.” It seemed unrealistic, but if you’re just in it for the ride and don’t mind overly happy endings, you’ll probably love this. While it wasn’t a life-changing story, I definitely got a kick out of Lexapros and Cons.(less)
I can't sing the praises of Holly Black's Curse Workers series enough. I loved the previous two books, White Cat and Red Glove, and Black Heart does n...moreI can't sing the praises of Holly Black's Curse Workers series enough. I loved the previous two books, White Cat and Red Glove, and Black Heart does not disappoint. Instead, it does what a great ending to a series should do: it gives the reader plenty to think about, has a compelling and interesting plot, wraps up questions and plot points satisfactorily, but leaves enough open at the end that the reader can imagine where things go from there.
Black's series is one of the most original in YA literature today. There's nothing outwardly magical or mystical about the world it takes place in--it could be our own except for the fact that some people have the power to curse or to charm. But admitting that you know you have that power is an admission of guilt, because you must have used your power at some point to find out. Since it is illegal, all people with these abilities are automatically criminals, no matter their character or intent. It's out of overreaching laws like this that great crime organizations and families are born. Just like the Prohibition Era gave birth to Al Capone, the criminalization of curse and charm work has created the Zacharov empire.
In this installment of the story, Cassel has found himself between a rock and a hard place: he has the choice to either work for the Feds or for Lila Zacharov's father. Neither is an acceptable resolution for Cassel, who wants to be good and make the right choices in life, but both factions want to claim him and to use him for their own purposes. Cassel also needs to figure out how to help his mother, who is currently on the lam, and how to win back Lila after she's been worked over so many times. When your entire family is criminals, who can you trust?
Holly Black's plotting is incredible. She's created a story with all sorts of twists and turns, that seemingly paints the main character into a corner. Then, she's able to pull out a resolution you never see coming, but that completely fits within the nature of the world. I am in awe of Black's ability to tell a great story.
If you're looking for a YA series to read that won't let you down, but will suck you in and blow your mind, read this one. If you've read the previous two and are wondering about Black Heart, just read it already. It's amazing.(less)
Three manuscript notebooks describe horrors witnessed by a twelve year-old monstrumologist's assistant in late nineteen-century New England. Orphaned...moreThree manuscript notebooks describe horrors witnessed by a twelve year-old monstrumologist's assistant in late nineteen-century New England. Orphaned Will Henry works for Dr. Warthrop, a driven, half-mad scientist who studies what the rest of us would call monsters. Late one night, a frightened grave-robber brings the corpse of a nightmare he discovered during his dark work, leading to a story of the discovery of and fight against an ancient man-eater, the Anthropophagi--a creature with no head and a mouth in its chest, believed by most to be a mere myth. Horror ensues as the doctor and his assistant become both hunter and prey.
I was surprised that the story revolved around this single monster from ancient literary sources, one that most people don't even know nowadays. Yancey does not shy away from grizzly scenes and bloody violence. At times, the story dragged to me, but I think it was due to the gothic literary genre in which he is working, so I found it forgivable. This is a dark adventure that probes the depths of human evil and morality. (less)
Unlike a lot of other people, I’m nowhere close to being done with reading vampire books. I just want them to be good. Happily, Julie Kagawa’s latest...moreUnlike a lot of other people, I’m nowhere close to being done with reading vampire books. I just want them to be good. Happily, Julie Kagawa’s latest venture, The Immortal Rules, got me going right from the start, and kept me enthused all the way through. Nothing in the story is groundbreaking or especially new, but Kagawa’s writing pops with enough energy that I did not care at all.
In the beginning, much of the story had overtones of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire. Some of the dialog was even reminiscent, such as when Allie is first turned. However, where Louis constantly bemoans his lot, Allie simply accepts what is and moves on. It was refreshing to have a character that didn’t waste our time whining about being a vampire (Why do so many vampires do that! Dude, I’d LOVE to be a friggin’ vampire). Instead, Allie is a powerful woman, unafraid to face conflict or her destiny. Allie reminded me a bit of Buffy, which is probably what Kagawa was going for. There’s a sassy quality about Allie that offsets her power and makes her more relate-able.
The plot consists of different “chunks” of story, changing up Allie’s journey and keeping things moving along. The setting takes place in a dystopian future where humans are in service to vampire overlords, and a disease has caused many humans to die out or turn into “rabids,” monstrous mindless beasts that will tear apart anything living. Again, not really anything new, but I enjoyed reading Kagawa’s world-building nonetheless.
I think fans of Kagawa will eat this book up, and those who didn’t go for her Iron Fey series may become fans based on this book alone. I’m excited to keep reading about Allie’s journey in future books, and will never be over reading about vampires if people like Kagawa keep writing books like this.
One last note: Allie is definitely Japanese. So why the Anglo girl in the cover art/book trailer? Come on Harlequin, enough with the whitewashing.(less)
When Abby finds the body of school star, Jefferson Andrews, dead, her thoughts immediately turn to convincing everybody that her drugged-out, unpredic...moreWhen Abby finds the body of school star, Jefferson Andrews, dead, her thoughts immediately turn to convincing everybody that her drugged-out, unpredictable sister Maya is not the killer. Everybody suspects Maya did it: the police, the kids at school, even Abby’s parents. But Abby has always protected Maya from the bad things around her, so she launches an investigation of her own, taking her through the worst neighborhoods in town, and uncovering Jefferson Andrews’ dark side. But will it be enough to keep Maya out of prison?
Schrefer has written an engaging mystery that will lead the reader on what feels like a wild goose chase as we follow Abby’s decisions and maneuvers throughout the story. Maya is definitely a troubled sister: the yang to Abby’s ying, but we can’t help but feel sorry for her as we view her through Abby’s eyes. At times, it seemed that Jefferson got what he deserved, although no teenager really deserves to be murdered. As the story progresses, characters are brought to the forefront to suggest who may actually be the killer.
The ending fell a bit flat for me, though. The killer was who I had suspected, but I didn’t like the execution of the big reveal. It’s a fine line between laying down too many clues, and making the reader take a leap of faith to force puzzle pieces to fit together. I think others may be really happy with the way the story resolves, though. It just didn’t suit me personally. I will say that the murderer is one of the most chilling YA killers I’ve read. Watch out for red herrings in this one!(less)
The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen was one of those books that I thought I’d try out on a whim, and I wound up getting sucked in and absolutely...moreThe Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen was one of those books that I thought I’d try out on a whim, and I wound up getting sucked in and absolutely loving it. Written as entries in a therapy journal by 13 year old Henry, the pages drip with honesty and humor. Henry’s family has fallen apart since his brother did something utterly heinous a year earlier (you’ll need to read to know what that is), and now his mother is in a psych ward and Henry and his father have relocated to a new area, seeking anonymity. Henry is afraid of what high school can be and wants to avoid being noticed, having witnessed the horrors of bullying through his older brother, but somehow he winds up with some very nerdy, but completely loyal, friends.
Henry goes through many emotions in his journal entries: the pain of missing his brother, anger at what his brother did, loss of his family and mother, hope that he can someday move on, happiness and surprise at finding some unexpectedly great friends at the lowest point in his life. The friends and neighbors conform to some stereotypes of completely dorky people, the kind that Henry wants to avoid: a pocket protector-wearing Chinese foreign student; a chubby, cross-eyed misfit girl; the elderly Indian neighbor who buys everything off the Home Shopping Network; the skanky-dressing middle-aged alcoholic woman who lives upstairs and hits on his dad. But instead of playing up the stereotypes for laughs, Nielsen exposes the humanity and good within each of them, transforming them into charismatic and real characters.
There’s plenty of pain in this book, but underneath everything is a tone of hope. What Henry’s brother did will affect his family forever, but Henry slowly learns how to cope with the tragedy and to recognize that he can get help from his support system. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen was unexpectedly touching and fun, and I’m very glad I decided to try reading it.(less)