Origin by Jessica Khoury was an intriguing and original story set in a setting that had me completely captured.
I was super annoyed with Pia for most of the book because she was such a spoiled brat and she complained all the time and I literally just wanted someone to give her a good kick in the butt. But at the same time, Jessica Khoury built up the setting and the characters so well that I totally understood why Pia was such a spoiled brat. It’s like being an only child of 50 parents. She always gets what she wants and I kind of admire Jessica Khoury for creating a character that annoying. Granted, Pia did grow a lot in Origin. She found out a lot of secrets that made her second guess everything she knew and she finally learned how to stand up for herself, which I really admired.
I loved finding out the mysteries the jungle held as Pia did, not to mention all the secrets in Little Cam. I was shocked by many of the events in Origin – betrayal, lies, death, murder – there’s a lot of sadness and hurt and betrayal in Little Cam and I really felt for Pia having to go through it all.
While the romance in Origin could be seen as a bit insta-lovey, I could totally understand their instant attraction. I thought Pia and Eio were made for each other – they both don’t quite fit anywhere and I just thought they really worked together.
I’m going to warn you animal lovers now, there is definitely a moment of very upsetting cat death in Origin. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. It definitely broke my heart.
But I really liked the story of Origin. Some parts of the story dragged a bit, but I loved the idea of a science compound in the middle of the jungle experimenting with immortality and I thought Jessica Khoury did a great job at building up the mystery. I was rooting for Pia the whole way to stand up for what she knew was right and I loved what followed after.
And, strangely enough, I think (although I can’t say for sure) that Origin is a standalone, which is definitely refreshing. And even if it’s not, the ending of Origin is perfectly done and I closed the book feeling satisfied and vindicated.
Although Origin was not without its flaws, I thought it was an excellent debut and I’ll definitely be reading more from Jessica Khoury. Origin was full of intriguing secrets and upsetting truths and characters that you can’t help but root for.(less)
Okay, so I will admit first and foremost that The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann is not my typical read. I have a lot of trouble gothic steampunk faerie stuff (although not usually all at the same time) in young adult books, and that even has kissing to sway me over, but with middle grade? I almost kind of expected to be totally put off by it and just throw in the towel at some point.
But The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann totally proved me wrong. Even just the freaking prologue was brilliant and mysterious and intriguing and dark. And just the combination of those elements really drew me in, and then the story itself held me fast.
I loved what Stefan Bachmann did with faery lore. I mostly stay away from faeries, and I’ve read maybe one book (an adult fiction title) about changelings, but The Peculiar was filled with so many interesting details that were obviously taken from lots and lots of research, but with his own creative twist on it all.
The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann really made me do a 180 on my feelings about gothic steampunk faerie stuff. I was in complete awe of his storytelling ability from the very beginning and I absolutely can’t wait to read more from Stefan Bachmann. Trust me, The Peculiar is not a middle grade book to be missed! The Peculiar is dark and beautiful with quality writing and a story that will keep you on your toes.(less)
Well, I typed up this very long review of 34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues and then I closed Microsoft Word, whoops. Devastated and what not. Which is kind of how I felt while reading 34 Pieces of You, ironically.
Because 34 Pieces of You is a brilliantly done book. The story is heartbreaking and touching in every possible way and the writing style itself is freaking beautiful and the way Carmen Rodrigues organized it is so creative and purposeful. Everything about 34 Pieces of You spoke to me.
There’s so many issues in 34 Pieces of You. Carmen Rodrigues touches on drugs, alcohol, sex, overdoses, suicide, self-mutilation, sexuality, rape – a lot of real life issues that affect teens in a direct way. But she doesn’t smash these issues in the face and tell you to look at them. The issues, rather than the focus of 34 Pieces of You, are just another part of the story that’s being told.
I loved the way Carmen Rodrigues told 34 Pieces of You from three different perspectives with huge time jumps all over the place as well as the notes Ellie left behind. You would think that would get confusing, but I had absolutely no problem following along with 34 Pieces of You and each POV change and time jump made the story even more beautiful.
34 Pieces of You had me in legit sobs. For the last quarter of the book I had to keep taking breaks because I couldn’t see the words through my tears. When I closed 34 Pieces of You, I immediately ran through the house crying to get on Goodreads and Twitter to tell everyone how beautiful and heartbreaking and sob-worthy 34 Pieces of You truly is.
And, for those of you who like kissing, there is a bit of a romance thing going on in 34 Pieces of You. And it was an awesome romance because it was so organic and slow-building and wasn’t super rushed. I thought Carmen Rodrigues did a fantastic job with that.
34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues is dark, but beautiful story. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read a book that will make them feel. 34 Pieces of You is a brilliantly written book with such depth and importance and I can’t wait to read more from Carmen Rodrigues.(less)
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron brought out a lot of mixed feelings in me while I was reading it. There were bits of The Dark Unwinding that I really liked, but other bits I felt just didn’t seem to fit.
The first 100 or so (possibly even more) pages of The Dark Unwinding really seemed to drag on. It was strange and creepy and I didn’t really understand what was going on, but I also couldn’t really bring myself to care that I was confused.
But I have to hand it to Sharon Cameron. Once The Dark Unwinding got past all the creepy scenes with Katharine and her Uncle participating in play time, The Dark Unwinding really started to pick up the pace and bring on the unexpected twists. I also really liked how Sharon Cameron tied everything together – seemingly pointless bits in the beginning came back at the end.
Despite my initial creeped out feelings, I do have to say that the characters in The Dark Unwinding were really interesting. I loved the Uncle’s obsession with numbers and all the other details that Sharon Cameron added to her characters.
Overall, The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron became an interesting and enjoyable read, but the beginning was rough for me. I had a lot of trouble getting into The Dark Unwinding, which really negatively impacted my view of the book. While I definitely liked the characters a lot, I’m not sure The Dark Unwinding is one that I would want to reread.(less)
The Dead Girls Detective Agency by Suzy Cox was an enjoyable read with plenty of humorous moments, although it had its fair share of depressing moments as well. Because, you know, there’s nothing really funny about being pushed in front of a subway train.
While The Dead Girls Detective Agency wasn’t brimming with depth, I really enjoyed reading it and I found myself sneaking pages in while at work. The concept of The Dead Girls Detective Agency is really interesting – I can’t imagine having to solve the mystery of my own murder.
I did like the characters. They were a tad stereotypical, but I thought they all worked with the story. Even though Charlotte was kind of self-absorbed and annoying, I feel like I would totally be annoying if I were dead and stuck watching everyone live their lives while I had to solve my own freaking murder. I would totally be annoying. Lots of whining would happen. So I understood Charlotte and her annoyingness at times actually served as a way for me to relate to her, in a way.
The other girls Charlotte was stuck with definitely felt a bit flat to me, but I didn’t really feel like it hindered the story. They all served a purpose, so even though they were all different teenage stereotypes, I wasn’t annoyed by any of the girls’ presences because it moved the story along.
Basically, if you’re look for a quick and enjoyable read with an interesting concept, I recommend giving The Dead Girls Detective Agency a shot. I really liked how Suzy Cox built up this whole new afterlife that I haven’t seen before and I will be reading more from her!(less)
Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson is an awesome debut full of awesome Norse mythology, kickass females, and swoon-worthy guys.
While a few parts of Valkyrie Rising did seem to drag a bit, for the most part I read Valkyrie Rising in one sitting. It was action-packed and I was sucked in to the story. The stakes just kept getting higher and higher in Valkyrie Rising and I was definitely rooting for Ellie to kick everyone's ass.
I know next to nothing about Norse mythology and I loved what information Ingrid Paulson gave us in Valkyrie Rising. She worked a lot of the mythology into the story without it seeing like sort of an info dump and more just a natural part of Ellie's tale. Even though I'd never heard of Valkyries, I was still able to follow everything.
And, okay, I am SUCH a sucker for the brother's best friend romance. It makes me giddy and I absolutely loved the way it was done in Valkyrie Rising. There was quite a bit of swooning.
There were several twists throughout Valkyrie Rising - some I expected and some I definitely didn't.
Basically, if you're looking for an action-packed book featuring a kickass protagonist, a swoony romance, and mythology you probably don't know too much about, check out Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson for sure!(less)
Let me start off this review by talking about how hilarious Claire Legrand is. I know that’s an unconventional way to start off a review, but she is totally HILARIOUS. I don’t know if you followed along with her blog tour (this post in particular being my favourite), but after stalking her around the internet, I was super excited to read The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls.
And Claire Legrand’s personality totally comes off in The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. It’s a legit middle-grade with a freaking phenomenal dark and spooky atmosphere (not to mention story line) and I could just not get enough of her writing.
I mean, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is CREEPY. And messed up. And disturbing. But something about The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls hooked me and I could not stop reading, no matter how many times Claire Legrand mentioned bugs and things that otherwise give me the goosebumps.
If you’re a middle grade fanatic, or a horror enthusiast, or just a lover of a good book, please check out The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand. Her debut is full of originality, amazing characters, an atmosphere that will have you turning on the lights, and a story that will leave you half laughing and half gasping at the sheer what the whatness of it all.(less)
Reading The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna was like going away on a vacation and not wanting to go home, ever. I loved every second of The Lost Girl and I never wanted to put it down.
The characters – Amarra, Ray, Mina Mia, Ophelia, Neil, Alisha and basically every other character in The Lost Girl – were wonderfully done. Even the side characters were developed, they had lives and personalities and they weren’t just there to add plot. The side characters were a part of The Lost Girl.
But Eva and Sean…I just loved this so much. Eva was stubborn, she was human, she wanted to live her own life and not Amarra’s life and I love a protagonist with spunk, with the balls to stand up for herself. And Sean! Talk about a swoon worthy love interest. His depth of affection for Eva was so evident and his determination to keep her alive… I just loved them together and I have a feeling that they’re definitely on my top couples of 2012 list.
And the STORY. Usually I am a very character driven girl –if I don’t like the characters, I don’t like the book. But even if the characters in The Lost Girl had sucked (which they didn’t), I would have been so captured by the story. There were so many elements of The Lost Girl that worked for me.
The Lost Girl was a very sci-fi ish book – I mean, echoes created of people and the possibility that when the person dies, their soul is transferred to the echo – not really realistic, right? But The Lost Girl was so modern and that made the whole thing realistic for me. I mean, Eva still used a cellphone – there were no wacky technologies of the future, just a modern teenage girl.
And the range of emotion that I felt while I was reading The Lost Girl…I felt the hope of Mina Mia, the grief of Alisha, the anger of Ray….not to mention the helplessness Eva felt to the strong determination she felt. And I sobbed. There were several moments while reading The Lost Girl that I choked up and had to take a deep breath because I couldn’t continue, but I had to continue.
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna is a beautifully written book with a story and characters that are guaranteed to break your heart and fill you with hope at the same time.
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna is easily one of my favourite books of 2012. At the top of the list, even. I highly recommend Sangu Mandanna to anyone – if you love dystopian, if you’re burned out on dystopian, if you love romance and swoon, if you’re a fan of kickass protagonists or a fan of sci-fi – it doesn’t matter. The Lost Girl is the book for you.(less)
Dark Eyes by William Richter is a seriously intese book. The whole thing was full of wackadoodle craziness, basically. And I totally mean this in a good way.
However, Dark Eyes did start off a little slow for me, because I had a lot of trouble understanding why Wally living on the streets instead of at home with her mother that loved her. I couldn’t comprehend it. I totally know every home environment is different, so I kind of just rolled with it until I could accept it.
But then the story in Dark Eyes really picked up and people were getting shot left and right and there were SO MANY TWISTS my mind was blown. I mean, Dark Eyes read like a script of an awesome YA mob movie. It wasn’t like I was simply reading the words, I could actually visualize it very well. It definitely added to the reading experience of Dark Eyes.
Like I said though, I did have some issues with Wally and her reasonings. Half of Dark Eyes I just wanted to shake her and tell her to look on the bright side. Luckily her story was fascinating enough that I wanted to keep on reading to find out more about her mother and the guys who were after her. I love a good YA mystery!
For real, if you’re a fan of action-y movies and what not, definitely check out Dark Eyes by William Richter. The characters didn’t do much for me, but the story was intense and action packed, and the writing was very well done.(less)
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne is basically apocalyptic genius. I’ve read maybe two other books that take place during an apocalyptic situation, which is not a lot, and Monument 14 was an original and intense and slightly traumatizing (in a good way) addition to the genre.
Because Monument 14 is legit. First things first – male protagonist! And Emmy Laybourne pulled the whole male character thing off very well, I thought. I was able to connect with him and root for him and his love interest. Anyway, hurrah for male protagonists because they’re super rare!
I loved the story in Monument 14 as well. Even though it largely (basically entirely) took place in one setting, Emmy Laybourne was able to keep Monument 14 fresh and interesting with the kids’ various attempts to survive and the disasters/fighting that occurs. Plus, you know, a bit of a tragedy and other various central plot elements.
Ugh, and that ending. I am a dystopian/apocalptypic/post-acapolyptic fangirl and I have to say, I loved Monument 14. There were parts where it seemed light – which was good because they’re young children and teenagers – but it was so weighed down by the possible loss of their parents and being stuck in the superstore forever and gah, my emotions were running rampant all throughout Monument 14.
Basically – definitely check out Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne. I’m dying for the next book in the series!(less)
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield was a beautifully written debut and haunting in its subject matter.
I’m such a huge fan of murder mysteries and beautifully written prose, so I was kind of a sucker for Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone from the get-go. I just fell in love with Kat Rosenfield’s storytelling – the way the past (usually involving the history of the town or Becca and James’ relationship) was mixed in with the future to help connect certain events.
And the ending and the killer and how the mystery was solved and the lives ruined. I don’t know, it was just so…much. I had my suspicions about little parts of the whole thing, but the way Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone came together – I never saw it all coming.
I loved the alternating points of view – Becca’s and Amelia’s. They were both connected through their immense desire for things they weren’t given. They both had dreams, like Becca and her dream of going far away and Amelia’s acting career. I just thought it really helped connect the two in a way that made sense, even though they never knew each other.
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield is a book I had to read in small doses. The writing is beautiful and overwhelming at points. If you’re looking for a haunting contemporary with beautiful writing, be sure not to miss Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone.(less)
Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle has an awesome premise and was a pretty entertaining story overall, despite some initial problems that put me off the story.
Kissing Shakespeare asked me to suspend my disbelief in a major way and I had a little bit of trouble doing that. I mean, this weird guy is like hey, come up to the roof with me and go back in time and seduce William Shakespeare. I just couldn’t let go of my disbelief and it kind of ruined Kissing Shakespeare for me at first.
But I definitely got Kissing Shakespeare more as the story went on and I enjoyed it a lot. I loved Pamela Mingle’s descriptions of Shakespearean England – I’m a big period movie fan, so I loved that aspect of Kissing Shakespeare.
Another aspect of Kissing Shakespeare that I really enjoyed was that there was not a huge focus on the romance. I mean, it was always there, but the plot was still the main focus of Kissing Shakespeare, which I enjoyed.
I feel like Kissing Shakespeare is one of those books where if I look too closely, it would ruin some elements of the story for me. But just based on how I felt while reading Kissing Shakespeare, and when I closed the book, I really enjoyed the story and the descriptions.
If you’re looking for a fun story that takes you back in time with beautiful descriptions, definitely do give Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle a chance.(less)
Between You & Me by Marisa Calin is a kind of a ballsy book. There were a lot of risks taken with Between You & Me – and a lot of subjects discussed – that are usually overlooked in young adult literature and I really admire Marisa Calin for that.
The screenplay format of Between You & Me was definitely a change from the typical novel and felt very refreshing to me. It was a risky move, but I thought the screenplay format worked very well with the story of Between You & Me.
The storyline in Between You & Me touched on a lot of different issues, including sexuality, coming to terms with it, feelings for teachers, and just the ups and downs of relationships and unrequited love altogether. I loved how Marisa Calin touched on female sexuality in a way that we so rarely see in young adult literature and the genderless YOU just helps to push it further.
Phyre was an interesting protagonist and I loved seeing her process of coming to terms with herself (and the screenplay format really helped to visualize that). It’s not easy figuring out who you are, especially when you’re conflicted with feelings you never thought you’d feel. The fact that Phyre’s feelings were towards a teacher never really bothered me – the story really felt more about the struggle with her feelings than anything, at least to me.
I loved YOU. I just did. I thought YOU was a fantastic character, even though we know next to nothing about YOU’s identity on paper. But we got such a strong sense of who YOU actually is and I thought YOU was brilliant.
Overall I thought Between You & Me by Marisa Calin was a beautifully written contemporary that touched on important issues. I applaud Marisa Calin for the way she decided to write her story and for the way she addressed female sexuality. If you’re a fan of contemporary and you want to try something a little different, I definitely recommend Between You & Me by Marisa Calin.(less)
Guys, the protagonist of Rebel McKenzie by Candice Ransom wants to be a freaking paleontologist – isn’t that all you need to know? No? Okay, fine. Let’s discuss Rebel McKenzie by Candice Ransom because I have lots of things to say.
Rebel McKenzie had me in absolute stitches. I was literally cracking up on almost every single page due to the crazy, wackiness of Rebel and the people AND the animals in her life. Yes, even the animals. Doublewide the cat made me laugh so hard I cried. But seriously, Rebel is surrounded by a ton of amazing characters with quirks and personalities and each with their own individual story that Rebel shares in her own unique way. And, you know – the cat’s name is DOUBLEWIDE.
And Rebel was SUCH a 12 year old girl. I loved her mannerisms and attitudes – and the family dynamics throughout Rebel McKenzie. I don’t have an older sister, and I definitely don’t have an older sister who is fourteen years older than me with her own son, but I thought the way their relationship was portrayed was brilliantly done.
I loved the storyline of Rebel McKenzie. I’m not usually a big fan of beauty pageants in books because they seem to be either so focused on the beauty pageant itself or the rebel (hah) girl who is forced into the beauty pageant for whatever reason…but the way Candice Ransom worked the pageant into the story – it didn’t overpower anything, and it worked very well.
I definitely recommend Rebel McKenzie by Candice Ransom for fans of middle grade looking for a fun time and a lot of heart.(less)
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley was one of those books where I was just being plain stupid before reading it. Because SO many people were reading it and loving it and I had a moment of rebellion and decided not to read Graffiti Moon.
Boy, was I an idiot. I am so sorry that I put off reading Graffiti Moon because I was just in shock at how much I loved it. And I’m such a contemp fan. Someone, please make me feel better and tell me you’ve felt rebellious too!
Anyway, The writing in Graffiti Moon was phenomenal. I really liked switching between Lucy and Ed’s point of view and how it overlapped with one another, rather than just giving one side to the story. I thought the poetry in Poet’s chapters was very well written, but didn’t interest me as much as Lucy and Ed’s stories.
And guys – the way Ed and Lucy interact, and their history, is hysterical and so freaking real. Cath Crowley got it. I loved the building romance in Graffiti Moon. It’s not a Bam! They meet and they’re into each other kind of book. It’s gradual – well, as gradual as over the course of one night can be, but I swear it feels much longer than that.
The descriptions of all the art in Graffiti Moon made me want to go find all my stuff from high school and start drawing and painting again. Also Lucy does GLASSBLOWING guys if I ever took up an artistic profession, it would be glassblowing because it is so so so amazing and if I had known she did it, I would have read Graffiti Moon immediately.
I’m not sure how well written this review really is, but it doesn’t matter, because Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley does all the explaining itself. Just pick it up. You’ll see.(less)
The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin was a fun and engaging, and incredibly magical, middle grade story from the get-go. It had so many elements of my favourite middle grade story – magical settings, mystery and intrigue, and an awesome protagonist.
This might be slightly off topic, but first of all, I LOVE the title – The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy. I think it does a great job of setting up the tone of the book and it’s just one of those titles that I love saying to myself. Plus, the cover is awesome. It’s the kind of cover that even my boyfriend thinks is amazing.
I honestly loved Lorelei, the protagonist. She was a little hard to connect with at certain points – especially in the beginning, but I was rooting her on and cheering for her throughout all of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy. I love a headstrong and determined protagonist and Lorelai definitely had those qualities.
And the story of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy! I love retellings that still have their own unique twist on the fairy tale and I thought Nikki Loftin did a fantastic job. I could definitely feel the Hansel and Gretel inspiration while reading The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, but it also did an amazing job of standing by itself.
In a nutshell – I loved The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin. It’s a beautifully written tale with magic, mystery, and intrigue, not to mention a protagonist to root for. If you’re a fan of middle grade stories, be sure to grab a copy of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy. With a cover like that, and a story so magical, how can you resist?(less)
I want to marry My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. It was one of those books where I wanted to raise it above my head and shout “Hey, this is me! In book form!”
Because My Life Next Door totally is. I mean, I don’t mean that the story necessarily relates to me if you gave it to me in outline form, but the overall feel and writing style and setting and characters and lots of family dynamics and all the little things adding up – my perfect kind of book.
IN ANY CASE. The writing style of My Life Next Door was beautiful and lyrical – I wanted to read it slowly, so I could really, really read it.
And the BUILD UP. There was so much build up in My Life Next Door. Just from reading the summary, you KNOW something happens. But the romance and the family is so beautiful and you’re just reading this perfect summer love but at the same time you’re like OH MY GOD WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN AND WHEN. I was so tense throughout most of My Life Next Door.
The characters in My Life Next Door were so well done. I loved Samantha, and even her mom, and all of the Garretts of course, because they were all REAL. They all had personality and a story.
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick is not a debut you want to miss. It truly has it all – the perfect combination of summer, love, family, and the tragedy that’s always lurking right around the corner.(less)