I really don't know what to think about this one. Addy has always been Cheer Captain Beth's faithful lieutenant, until a new Coach comes to town, push...moreI really don't know what to think about this one. Addy has always been Cheer Captain Beth's faithful lieutenant, until a new Coach comes to town, pushing the girls harder, training them for stunts they've never attempted before. But Beth gets jealous, girls get injured, someone dies, and everything starts falling apart, just as the squad is poised for greatness ... or is that not quite right?
Told solely from Addy's frantic point of view, this story moves quickly, and leaves many details darkly uncertain. I can't tell if that's what makes it great, or just different. I mostly liked it, but lately I've been pretty depressed my stories where everybody is constantly lying and scheming against each other (even if they're doing it as masterfully as they do here), so this just wasn't really my speed right now. I think if you were into that kind of thing, though this would be a great read.(less)
I got a free ebook copy of this title through the Kindle First program.
I've heard this described as Girl With the Dragon Tattoo for teens, but I haven...moreI got a free ebook copy of this title through the Kindle First program.
I've heard this described as Girl With the Dragon Tattoo for teens, but I haven't read that, so I'm not sure how apt the description is other than one of the characters calls the heroine, Lumikka Andersson, by the name Lisbeth Salander. Lumikki is a student at a magnet high school in Tampere, one of Finland's smaller cities, who stumbles into a mystery about a bag of blood-stained money and quickly finds herself involved in a dangerous world of crime bosses and drug dealers.
It did take me awhile to get used to the sparse writing style, and then all of a sudden, the plot took off and I had to know what happened next. I'm still not sure it's as strong a book as the gripping action would suggest. I might read the other books in the series when they're translated. This volume wrapped up fairly neatly, but I'd love to see if subsequent titles explore more of Lumikki's background, which seems to be infinitely more complicated than we're originally led to believe.(less)
Taking place 8 years after the events of Graceling we follow the story of the young Monsean Queen who seems to have been plunked down in the middle of...moreTaking place 8 years after the events of Graceling we follow the story of the young Monsean Queen who seems to have been plunked down in the middle of a gothic mystery. Stuck in her tower office where she must deal with an inordinate amount of paperwork, Bitterblue is sure her advisors, who are shells of themselves after the abuse they suffered at her evil father's hands, are hiding important things from her, but they all refuse to acknowledge that anything could be wrong. Luckily, Po, Katsa, and other familiar characters start to arrive and Bitterblue begins to take matters into her hands as the mystery slowly unravels.
Like the previous books in the series, some pretty heavy matters are discussed, so this is a book for mature teens, but since Bitterblue is the same age as the previous heroines, it should still have a similar appeal. In this volume we finally discover the extent of Leck's evil deeds, and it's very hard on everyone. That may be part of why the resolution is so satisfying; there are so many people looking for and very deserving of relief.
I've loved this whole series so much and I was glad to see it have a strong finish.(less)
I blame hormones a little for the high rating because this really is just Graceling all over again with the names and insignificant details changed, a...moreI blame hormones a little for the high rating because this really is just Graceling all over again with the names and insignificant details changed, and not quite as well told. However, my very pregnant body is craving this kind of high fantasy with training wheels, and I loved Graceling, so I was perfectly fine with a rehash of the same issues.
In this case Fire lives in the Dells, a land that has Monsters instead of Gracelings. Monsters are creatures of all species that have unnatural colorings and are mesmerizingly beautiful. You can probably guess that Fire's hair is a shimmering array of reds, golds, and even some pink. Monsters also have the ability to read minds and overtake the wills of at least the weak-minded. Fire is the only remaining human monster and lives in fear of her power on the estate of a powerful lord who also happens to be her best friend and occasional lover. All is not right in the kingdom, and when Fire decides to lend her help, her life changes dramatically.
There's also a character from Graceling that makes an appearance here (it turns out that the Dells are on the other side of the impassable mountains from The Seven Kingdoms), which makes me wonder how much of this story will come in to play in the third book.
Since this could be a stand alone story, you don't need to read it immediately after Graceling, and since it's basically the same story, I would in fact recommend that you wait awhile. But that also makes it easy to say that if you like Graceling you should like Fire.(less)
I was pretty lukewarm about Maggie Stiefvater after finishing The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, but a friend recommended I try this because it was be...moreI was pretty lukewarm about Maggie Stiefvater after finishing The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, but a friend recommended I try this because it was better, and she was right.
Blue Sargent is the only one in a house full of psychics who isn't a psychic, but she goes with her mother every year to an old church where the spirits of those who will die in the next year walk on St. Mark's Eve because she makes it easier for her mother to communicate with the spirits. When Blue is able for the first time to see one of these spirits, a boy from the local prep school, she is thrown deeper into her family's supernatural world, but also of this boy of privilege and his best friends.
I still can't articulate why I like this one. The characters are interesting. The supernatural part of the plot is just believable enough without being too vague. There's an interesting dichotomy between rich and poor. There's a lot going on in this story and yet it all ties together well. (less)
Celaena Sardothien was sentenced to the Endovier work camp at 17 for getting caught as Adarlan's best assassin. Now, one year later, she's freed from...moreCelaena Sardothien was sentenced to the Endovier work camp at 17 for getting caught as Adarlan's best assassin. Now, one year later, she's freed from the brutal camp by the Crown Prince and Captain of the Guard to serve as their contestant in the competition for King's Champion. If Celaena can win and serve as King's Champion for 4 years, she will earn her freedom. If not, she'll return to Endovier, where she will likely die within another year.
Generally I like YA fantasy because it can usually be described as fantasy light and that's a fairly accurate description of this one. There's definitely magic, but it's on the periphery. The names are strange, but not so strange I can't keep them straight or make an educated guess as to how to pronounce them. This one also has some strong romantic elements with a love triangle developing pretty quickly, although, again, it's not the main focus of the book.
The main focus is Celaena's quest for freedom. Not surprisingly, her life as been a hard one, and all she wants is an escape from the constant warring that has taken so much from her. If defeating other warriors and serving as the King's right hand person will win her the ability to flee from this turmoil, then Celaena is determined to win the competition.
I really can't decide if I just like this series or love it, but I'm definitely reading more of it. I heard someone compare it to Jennifer Nielsen's Ascendance Trilogy, which isn't a bad comparison, although that one was pure adventure and this one definitely has more fantasy and romance elements and is for slightly older readers.
Ezra Faulkner was the Prom King tennis star at his Orange County high school, until the night he discovers his girlfriend is cheating on him and he ge...moreEzra Faulkner was the Prom King tennis star at his Orange County high school, until the night he discovers his girlfriend is cheating on him and he gets in an accident that totals his awesome car and shatters both his knee and his ability to play tennis. When school starts the next fall, he's not really sure where he fits in, but finds himself returning to his grade school best friend, who's now captain of the debate team, and definitely part of a different crowd than Ezra's tennis friends.
The beginning was really rough for me, mostly because Ezra's in a really dark place. He's survived a horrendous car accident, and other than his shattered knee, really has a charmed life, but all he can see is people's stares and the loss of the thing that defined him. I wanted to slap him so much in the early chapters and snap him out of his pity party, but once he starts moving on with his life the story gets interesting. There is also a love story here that makes up a major part of the action, but in trying to describe the plot, I think it just muddies the waters. This is really a book about trying to figure out what kind of person you really are. Ezra's decided to leave the tennis team behind, but he's not sure he fits in with Toby's debate team friends either. In fact he really has no idea where he would fit in socially, and the book is really about exploring those options.
This is a solid gender-neutral contemporary YA novel, which is probably why I've seen it listed as a John Green/Rainbow Rowell read-alike. That recommendation is a little reductive, but I can see where it comes from. It also makes me think of the TV shows Veronica Mars and The OC because it's about southern California high school students and the social divide between the popular crowd and everyone else. Teens looking for a solid contemporary read that isn't pure romance or pure sports will find a lot to like here.(less)
As a former Classical Studies major, I love that there's an adaptation of The Odyssey for younger readers and the concept of telling it from the persp...moreAs a former Classical Studies major, I love that there's an adaptation of The Odyssey for younger readers and the concept of telling it from the perspective of a captured Trojan teenager is sort of wonderful. Alexi is a great character. I would not have trouble recommending this to 7-10th graders looking for some good action. It's a little graphic in its depictions of violence, so I'd think first before recommending it to younger kids and the older ones could really just find a good translation of the original.
This is the first book in a series, and while I think it's strong, I'm not the target audience for the series, so I probably won't keep reading it.(less)
A solid continuation of this series about the dark side of fairies. In this installment, 17-year-old Val runs away from home when her mother betrays h...moreA solid continuation of this series about the dark side of fairies. In this installment, 17-year-old Val runs away from home when her mother betrays her and befriends some street kids who run errands for fairies, and then things start to go sideways.
I like how the stories are gritty and realistic and yet tie back into a sense of wrong and right and doing the right thing without getting saccharine or overly simplified. Still, I found my attention drifting a lot while listening to this one and I can't tell if it was me or the story.(less)
I was expecting to hate this book. I heard from a couple friends that it ruined the series. I don't get that. I thought it was fine and in keeping wit...moreI was expecting to hate this book. I heard from a couple friends that it ruined the series. I don't get that. I thought it was fine and in keeping with the rest of the series. Yes the ending is not completely happy, but could that really be expected here given the broken world we were working with?
Ending a big series like this is hard. Beginnings are easy because they're all about the promise of what's to come, but the end is where all that promise has to be fulfilled, and sometimes that's too tall an order to deliver on. That's not to say I'm trying to make excuses for this book. I'm just trying to guess why others have been so upset. I won't say it was perfect or anything, but it made sense to me and fit with the rest of the series, so I don't any reason to get worked up about it or feel like it ruined the series.
The plot without getting too spoilery for those who've read Insurgent, starts shortly after the previous book ends. Evelyn and the factionless have taken over the city and Tris awaits her fate for assisting Marcus to release the video to the entire community telling of the outside world and their purpose in creating the community. Not surprisingly Tris, Tobias, and others are intrigued by the idea of communicating with the outside world, which brings its own challenges and a re-evaluation of who the enemy really is and how best to overcome them.(less)
Three years after the Queen Bee of their clique disappears mysteriously, the four remaining girls, no longer close, start receiving messages from a my...moreThree years after the Queen Bee of their clique disappears mysteriously, the four remaining girls, no longer close, start receiving messages from a mysterious person who seems to know all the dirty secrets that their long-disappeared friend knew. And with how difficult surviving the social rigors of their elite prep school is, the girls have plenty of new secrets too.
I have a suspicion that I would love the TV show if I ever took the time to watch it, and I can see why so many love the books, but for me, taking the time and effort to read (or listen to) all the petty drama is just a little too soul draining. It's hard for me to identify with how hard it is to be a spoiled rich kid at some super fancy suburban prep school. But it seems like Sweet Valley High for a new generation. (less)
Stephanie Perkins is so good at YA romance with just a touch of substance. In this one 17-year-old Lola is dating 22-year-old bad boy musician, Max, o...moreStephanie Perkins is so good at YA romance with just a touch of substance. In this one 17-year-old Lola is dating 22-year-old bad boy musician, Max, of whom her parents don't exactly approve. Meanwhile, Cricket, the boy who broke her heart 2 years ago, has just moved back in next door and Lola doesn't know how she'll survive running into him every day.
Like Anna and the French Kiss, Lola has a slightly unconventional setting, the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco where the title character lives with her gay dads (her mother is the troubled sister of one of her dads - so he's also technically her uncle). The neighbors have a daughter who's trying to make the Olympic skating team and they're descendants of Alexander Graham Bell. So different than French boarding school, but a similarly dreamy setting. Anna and St. Clair are minor characters in this book as they've decided to go to school in the Bay Area and work at the same movie theater as Lola and became friends with her there.
I also loved how I kind of hated Lola (among other things, she's a consummate liar) and yet was still rooting for her. Solid choice for YA romance readers.(less)