Abithica is far from what I expected, being a more adult than young adult. The main character, a body-jumping someone who winds up in teenager, and al...moreAbithica is far from what I expected, being a more adult than young adult. The main character, a body-jumping someone who winds up in teenager, and almost adult Sydney’s body, looks at herself as a parasite. Her mind is one of self-hatred and rules. If she follows her rules, then she doesn’t get hurt, she doesn’t get attached, and maybe her parasitic time in a body will leave the host a little better than when before she jumped in.
Of course, nothing ever goes according to plan and rules really are made to be broken, so this now-Sydney does open up, does get attached, and even falls in love. At times, the dialogue can be a little ooey-gooey, but Lane, the love interest, really is kind of swoony. Maybe a little pushy, but very much a man’s man and a sweetheart. His adoration for his younger and traumatized sister Shae shows exactly what kind of man he is. And he’s a man who loves completely; whether that love is directed at his sister or the now-Sydney, Lane’s love is enduring.
Sydney (now-Sydney as I like to call her) is one heck of a character. She’s torn between hating herself and wanting happiness. She’s as human as you or me, but not, at the same time. Her internal monologues drive the book. The secondary characters are all entertaining as well. Lane and Shae are wonderful and I have a soft spot for Sydney’s mother Faith. Her theory about the shoes people wear is beyond funny.
The majority of the book takes place around now-Sydney, but there are parts with a group call the Legnas. As much as I liked seeing this deeper, darker group that the old Sydney is somehow affiliated with, the rift between them and the now-Sydney is so great that it almost makes Abithica feel like two different stories. By the end, the two stories roll into one, but for a while there, the connection seemed miniscule.
Abithica is a tale of redemption and acceptance and love. While many are calling it young adult novel, it reads as adult. Now-Sydney’s voice is very much that of an adult and her thoughts, emotions, and actions are those of an adult. The overall premise of the book is interesting and even thought-provoking. It makes you think about people and life and how we’re more than just skin, bones, and brains. It’s nearly impossible to put down because now-Sydney’s voice begs you to continue, for her sake and her own. I was perfectly content with the ending, but wouldn’t mind seeing where things could go from there, expanding upon the revelations that arise from Abithica’s close. (less)
Bandits is a sci-fi adventure that takes the reader to an entirely new planet and introduces a society unlike anything we’d know on earth. LM Preston...moreBandits is a sci-fi adventure that takes the reader to an entirely new planet and introduces a society unlike anything we’d know on earth. LM Preston has a way with developing and describing the world of Merwin and dangers inherent with being a Zukar – the gangster-like thieves that populate the planet. Daniel, the main character and a Zukar himself, is a far cry from what one would expect a thief and almost-assassin to be. The word thief invokes a shady sort of character, but Daniel is young loving, but quite a serious young man. He adores his younger brother Nickel and even though he harbors a great deal of bitterness towards his recently murdered father, he still cares for him.
The characters surrounding Daniel, including Nickel, the boys’ cousin Faulk, Daniel’s best friend Gabe, and Gabe’s sister Jade, all add a little something extra to the story. Faulk has more than a few comedic moments and he also helps to get a bit of romantic tension going. Gabe and Jade add depth to Daniel as a character, with the history the three of them share, but they, themselves, don’t have as strong a voice as the lead. The group’s interactions range from being humorous to saddening, but at times, the dialogue between them felt forced and stilted. The strongest sections are most definitely when the action comes into play though.
I don’t want to say Bandits is a ‘boy book,’ because it really isn’t, but it will certainly appeal to male and female audience. Where many YA books focus a great deal on a love story, Bandits focuses on the action, the adventure, and the search for answers. A romantic aspect is present, but never the entire focus. The gizmos and gadgets fascinated me, as did the creatures the group encounters. Learning exactly what Daniel and Nickel’s father died for was both a surprise and a pleasure.
Bandits features pirates, thieves, insanely weird, yet awesome creatures, and a group of wonderfully insane, but heartfelt characters. The book is published by a small press, and it could have used a bit more editing to tighten it all up and eliminate some repetition, but th issues I had didn’t detract too much from the overall story. If you are/know a teen who loves a good adventure with some great action sequences, then Bandits is the one for you/them.(less)
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is one of those books that is completely unexpected and almost swathed in mystery. I had only the...more4.5 stars
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is one of those books that is completely unexpected and almost swathed in mystery. I had only the slightest clue what it would be about, but was thoroughly absorbed the moment I began. Jacob is a sixteen year old loner – not by choice – who spends a great deal of his time with his Grandpa, Abraham Portman; a man who escaped nazi-invested Poland as a child and moved into a peculiar home off the coast of Wales. Grandpa Portman claims the home was full of peculiar children with special gifts, but Jacob lost faith in that story years ago.
After Grandpa Portman’s death, at the hands of what Jacob thinks is a monster, he ventures – with his father – to the island where the home stands. This is when things start to get better and better. The sense of mystery, and even a little trepidation, jumps off the page. Jacob isn’t sure if he’s just a little crazy or if he should believe the stories his grandfather told him. He flips between the two thoughts and being a part of his uncertainty creates an eeriness. I never knew what to expect or what was going to happen. Each detail is revealed slowly and with care. Learning more about Jacob’s grandpa unravels the mystery about the island and the children, but also about the person that Abraham Portman once was.
The photos that go along with the peculiar children are creepy and help to bring the story to life. Ransom Riggs has this descriptive writing style that vividly introduces the island of Cairnholm and makes it a character all on its own. I don’t want to give anything away because Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a book that screams ‘read me.’ Like its title, it is a peculiar book, full of peculiar children, and peculiar happenings, but it is also a daring and imaginative story that will captivate the reader and fully immerse you in the dreary, rainy world of Cairnholm.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is part character driven, part historical foray, and part paranormal mystery, but completely fascinating and beyond interesting. Ransom Riggs has tied two forms of art together to create quite the story. It is the perfect balance of creepy and coming of age; meaning, it may give you nightmares, but it will also make you smile. Any book that can do that cannot be bad.(less)
Griffin Rising is a short and fast read with a new take on angel lore. Griffin, a Tiro, or apprentice, finds himself facing down the trial that will e...moreGriffin Rising is a short and fast read with a new take on angel lore. Griffin, a Tiro, or apprentice, finds himself facing down the trial that will either lead to him continuing on as a guardian angel or stripping him of the life he’s known and turning him human. Darby Karchut quickly makes Griffin a character to root for. His rough past and the abuse he’s suffered made me immediately care for him. His new mentor, Basil, comes off as very fatherly and sweet. The father/son relationship that Basil and Griffin share is the backbone of the story, making it more coming-of-age than paranormal. And I’m okay with that.
Tidbits about the Terrae Angeli – earth angels – are dropped in along Griffin’s journey to discover who he is and what his existence means. It’s a joy to see a boy who has suffered far too much grow into a strong, confident, and driven young man. Griffin’s happiness gives the story a great deal of heart and had me smiling nearly the entire time I was reading it. Katie, Griffin’s new girlfriend, is a sweetheart. The two of them embody the magic of first loves.
The opening of Griffin Rising sets up the story, but seeing it all play out is an experience not to be missed. There’s character growth, good-natured joking, some life-saving actions (along with a little flying), and a bad guy that I desperately wanted to punch in the face . . . then drop in a puddle of mud. Griffin's, Basil's, and Katie's journal entries also serve as a great view into their thoughts, both about one another and about their current lives. I was particularly taken by Griffin's and Basil's reactions to their early times together.
Darby Karchut’s debut is fantastic, fast-paced, and humorous. Griffin Rising is easy to relate to, hard not to enjoy, and the perfect read for a lazy summer afternoon. If you’re looking for an adventure with a boy you have to cheer for, this is the book to pick up!(less)
Alice Bliss is one of those sincere, slow-moving, but rewarding and well-written novels. It centers on the Bliss family – 15 year old Alice in particu...moreAlice Bliss is one of those sincere, slow-moving, but rewarding and well-written novels. It centers on the Bliss family – 15 year old Alice in particular – who are struggling with life after the family’s patriarch and Alice’s father, Matt, ships off to war. The novel is very much a character-driven story; its driving force being Alice and her actions, reactions, and emotions about her father’s deployment; with her mother Angie, her younger sister Ellie, Gram, Uncle Eddie, and best friend Henry all contributing to Alice’s life without Matt in it.
Alice comes off as very young in the beginning of the book, so much so that I didn’t realize she was a high school student. As her voice takes hold though, it’s evident. Her love and closeness to her father are also brought into striking focus. Alice adores her father and life without him is killing her. She is close to Matt, he understands her, he shows his love for her in ways that Angie never does. This brings out the age old quarrels in the mother/daughter relationship. Alice and Angie do not get along. They love each, but they don’t really like each other all that much. Matt’s absence only heightens the tension in their relationship.
Alice wavers between sadness and anger towards her father, missing him, but hating him for leaving her. She loses the person she was before he left, just as her mother does. The two of them don’t know who they are in the absence of the person that means so much to them. For Alice, this time is full of growth. She begins to realize that she’s not a little girl anymore. She’s strong, despite her tears, weak, in spite of her independence. It’s this push and pull that fully immerses the reader in her life.
The people surrounding Alice, Angie, and Ellie are all as much a part of the Bliss family as the soon declared, missing-in-action, Matt. Henry, Alice’s best friend, is there for her from the very beginning. He’s the rock she didn’t realize she needed. He’s also key in Alice becoming the young woman that she so clearly is. He pushes her, cares for her, loves her in ways she never imagined. Their relationship is full of tenderness and everything blossoming relationships should be. Gram, like Henry, is Alice’s rock; a buoy in the sea of broken pieces of her life. Then there’s Uncle Eddie. What Uncle Eddie lacks in tact, he makes up for in his clear devotion to his family, picking up where Matt left off and being there whenever Alice, Ellie, or Angie need him.
Laura Harrington skillfully captures the ups and downs of family and the good and bad in every relationship. Matt is overseas, fighting a war, missing in a war, and Angie can barely bring herself to cook dinner for her children. She’s shut down because she’s lonely and scared and has no idea how to raise a hormonal, attitudinal, and angry 15 year old, while still caring for a precocious 8 year old, a house, working her job, and paying the bills. She’s lost. This feeling resonates well throughout Alice Bliss, bringing the reader to a precipice of emotion.
Told in the passage of days, weeks, months, with letters to and from Matt interspersed throughout, Alice Bliss will grab ahold of the reader’s heart and squeeze until you can do nothing else but hold onto its characters and hope for the best. Each chapter, each day that passes, brings more sorrow and more uncertainty for the Bliss’ that are left behind, but the resounding message of hope, despite insurmountable odds, is felt in every turn of the page; in every imagined or remembered word from a father to a daughter, a husband to a wife.
Alice Bliss is a heartbreaking and moving portrayal of a family trapped in a war that’s both far from home and right at their front door. Laura Harrington has broken down the walls that separate those unaffected by war from those who live with it every day, by dropping every insecurity, every fear, every nightmare, and every hope in the laps of readers with Alice Bliss. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll yearn for closure that seems so out of reach, but you’ll appreciate how each downfall leads to an ultimately uplifting end.(less)
Forgotten explores an almost backwards memory situation with London Lane remembering the future, but never the past. The only people she reco...more4.5 stars
Forgotten explores an almost backwards memory situation with London Lane remembering the future, but never the past. The only people she recognizes are those who are in her future, those she’ll see tomorrow or the day after that, or who she’ll encounter years down the road. This can be slightly confusing at first, but gets easier to understand as the plot progresses. As great as it may sound to remember the future, it’s not. London is faced with knowing how relationships turn out, how each person she comes across will impact her life, and how the gorgeous Luke Henry – a new student who is kind and friendly to London – is not someone she remembers from her future.
London is easy-going, despite her recall issues, but can also be a little self-absorbed. Her voice is strong, somewhat sarcastic at times, and good-natured, but she acts a bit snooty towards her mother and can come off as a little abrasive. She can’t remember the past, so it’s understandable that she’d have some day to day anger. She has to prep for school each day by reading notes she wrote the day before. The only people who know about her problem are her mom and best friend Jamie. It’s a tough situation, only made more complicated by her recurring nightmare of a funeral that reveals more and more each time she has it. The nightmare pops up the same time that Luke Henry shows, adding to the mystery of what’s really going on.
One of the things I loved about Forgotten was that London’s mother was there, she was active, and she was a participant (despite London not really wanting her to be, at times) in London’s life. Jamie, London’s best friend, was also a great aspect, at least in the beginning. After London’s and Jamie’s falling out, Jamie becomes very unlikable, but it’s a testament to London’s character that she refuses to give up. Watching London forge on, without her best friend but with the knowledge of how things pan out, is surprising and very inspiring. It demonstrates how powerful friendship and loyalty are to her. It shows that London is a caring person who values everything and everyone in her life.
Forgotten is a quick, unputdownable read. The premise is gripping and though-provoking, with glimpses into morality and right and wrong. London’s entire existence is based upon what information she allows herself to know, meaning: London’s world is unreliable. She can lie to herself and change her perception of her life and her relationships. And she does just that. It makes for an interesting and captivating read. Add a sweet and then sizzling romance, along with a memory mystery, and you’ve got yourself a fantastically intriguing and unforgettable (pun totally intended) read.(less)