Kendra C. Highley's Matt Archer: Monster Hunter is a young adult novel t...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
Kendra C. Highley's Matt Archer: Monster Hunter is a young adult novel that follows fourteen, soon-to-be fifteen, year-old Matt as he navigates a supernatural world full of monsters and a mysterious life-altering prophecy. With a hint of teenaged angst towards young love, and spine-tingling descriptions, Highley's novel is a book that will make the reader both giggle with anticipation, and squirm with what Matt encounters.
I loved the characters of Will, Matt's best friend, and Matt because they help each other navigate the difficulties of growing up. Will's wit matches well with Matt's increasing strength as the protagonist. Will is the sidekick to the still growing and learning hero, and he fits the description of best friend, confidante, and unrelenting support throughout the whole novel.
When I first started reading Highley's novel, I wrongly assumed that since Matt was only fourteen at the start this would be a naive and slightly adorable story. Let me warn you, however, if you have a weak stomach, perhaps you should steer clear of this one. The story gets increasingly harder to stomach as Matt progresses deeper into his monster hunt, but it is well worth it. Highley doesn't save us from any of the disturbing descriptions and I applaud her for that. Her novel has a certain originality thanks to her fearless attempt at creating a successful horror story for the young adult audience.
Highley also has a great sense of pacing in her novel. Very rarely is there a lull in the story. The only instance where the reader might pause is during the explanation of why the monsters exist and the part Matt plays in the hunt for evil. The rush of information is a bit overwhelming, but is useful for later on in the story. Highley weaves a story that is easy to follow and is hard to put down.
If you're looking for an exciting book with tons of action and a slightly original monster story, then you might like this one. Highley offers the reader an insight into an imperfect protagonist that is growing as the story progresses, metaphorically and physically. He is also someone who isn't emotionally impervious to his surroundings, which makes him very relatable and realistic, despite the fictional situation.(less)
Exposure by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes is the second installment in the Twisted Lit series. It is also an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. The prologue offers a unique introduction into the story, while the protagonist is a smart twist to Shakespeare’s most tragic play. Set in Alaska, Askew and Helmes pull the reader into a world as new and unique as their story line.
Skye Kingston, the protagonist, is a wallflower. She would rather take pictures than participate with her classmates. But as the school year progresses, Skye encounters situations that influence her growth as a character. What makes this adaptation so refreshing is that Skye is given a greater role in the novel than Shakespeare’s protagonists.
Skye is also a very special character because she gives the reader a voice in Macbeth. She witnesses the change the characters representing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Craig and Beth, go through. Skye is aware of their slow descent into madness, and as a result, she becomes the character that has the power to say something. The reader soon realizes that she is the hero that Macbeth never met.
The romantic side of Exposure is very interesting. The reader witnesses the poisonous relationship between Craig and Beth, but Askew and Helmes juxtapose this with a promising connection between Craig and Skye. This new perspective is intriguing because it hints that Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a limited story.
Askew and Helmes captivate their modern readers by offering more depth to the story of Macbeth. Only these co-authors can take a morbid and seemingly hopeless play, and make it into a story full of moral lessons about growing up and accepting consequences.
Exposure’s plot also raises questions about its origins, such as: what was Macbeth like before meeting his wife? What was his life like beyond his relationship with his wife? Was there ever an opportunity for Macbeth to redeem himself?
Askew and Helmes' adaptation adds a certain zest to the original play. Through well-paced writing, complicated romance, and a relatable protagonist, the reader has the ability to view a literary classic in a new and enjoyable way.
I would recommend Exposure to readers that are interested in modern adaptations of Shakespearean plays in the young adult age group.
The title Exposure hints at the dangers within the novel, and Skye’s love of photography. Most importantly, however, it represents the act of exposing oneself when s/he appears lost, or hidden.(less)
Strength & Justice: Side: Strength is the first installment in a young adult science-fiction series by Adrem Kay. Jeremy Itsubishi, the protagonist, leads readers into the world of Geminate City where danger and magic lurks. Kay touches on the Japanese culture via Jeremy's knowledge of the food and language of the culture. We are also given the opportunity to visualize some of the events in the novel by glancing at the six hand-drawn sketches scattered among the pages.
Jeremy is a 15-year-old smart-mouth with the habit of acting before contemplating the consequences of his actions. Though I liked Jeremy and his loyal personality, he is sometimes wearisome. While he occasionally acts and sounds much older than his age, there are moments when his whining and blatant misunderstanding of situations are a bit over the top. The reader watches as Jeremy's world quickly falls apart as the mysterious Repulsion Illness, a disease that rids a person of his/her magic, spreads. The fast-paced plot causes Jeremy to grow as a character. He does this by surpassing the comical facade that is presented at the beginning of the novel.
The relationship between Jeremy and his girlfriend Mandy is questionable. An aspect of Jeremy that irks me is how quick he is to place Mandy above every one else, even his mother. I understand the dependency the two teenagers have for each other, considering they are both from less than ideal homes, but I can’t help but wonder if this is a realistic portrayal of a relationship.
The biggest issue I have with Strength & Justice is the apparent plot hole near the beginning of the novel. Ellie, a minor character, barely appears before she is taken out again. Given her role in the memory that Jeremy recounts, I find it unsettling that the characters barely react to Ellie’s disappearance. As a result, this character feels like a last minute addition to the plot.
Putting aside the few flaws found in the characters, Kay has created intriguing and realistic characters. The reader will laugh along with the humor and will relate to the emotions portrayed by the characters. Kay's ability to write a novel that is both character and plot driven is intriguing, since I never know what will happen next.
Strength & Justice is a fun and original adventure that will have its readers guessing until the end of the story. Readers seeking a fast-paced novel that explores a world inhabited by magical abilities and a quirky protagonist will love this debut.(less)
When I first started reading “Three Cheers for Chunky” by Mike Ronny I w...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
When I first started reading “Three Cheers for Chunky” by Mike Ronny I wasn’t sure what to expect. On one hand, it was a relief to read and review a short story, on the other hand—I haven’t read a short story since last spring, and that was for school. On that note, however, I found Ronny’s short story to be a fun, light read with a surprisingly strong message.
Chunky is, well, overweight, as his name would suggest. He is challenged by his coach to go beyond what he would normally do when faced with a sports-related dilemma. Chunky is a character that many of us can relate to, since we tend to stick to what is easy and well-known. Very rarely do we take risks, and if current literature isn’t proof enough, we tend to stick to the sidelines and hope for the best.
But not Chunky. Thanks to his coach’s prompting, he goes and pushes himself to his limits. I liked the coach, he was well-known in the world of the story, but he wasn’t snarky, or rude. He earned the respect given to him and that is obvious in the heartfelt conclusion.
Though Ronny’s story is short and sweet, it was a quick read. The dialogue is colloquial, adding to the authenticity of the situation. Also, instead of weighing the story down with needless descriptions and backstory, the reader is given the most important facts, hints about Chunky’s life, and enough information to make the reader wonder what will become of Chunky.
I recommend this short story to anyone who needs a reminder that sometimes hard work pays off. That we have to push ourselves beyond our limits, sometimes for others, but mainly for ourselves. Also, this story may prompt the reader to remember those who’ve changed his/her life in some way. (less)
Jennifer L. Armentrout's Obsidian is a sexy, unique, and surprising piece of work. Honestly, this bo...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Jennifer L. Armentrout's Obsidian is a sexy, unique, and surprising piece of work. Honestly, this book is so hyped up that I thought it would be a let-down--but holy crap, no. NO. Obsidian has a strong female protagonist, an unusual storyline, and well, erm, very sexy descriptions.
Katy, the protagonist, doesn't have the easiest challenge on her hands. Her mom has uprooted their small family and moved to a middle-of-butt-crack nowhere town. There she meets extremely sexy Daemon and his very friendly sister, Dee. What ensues is a hilarious battle of flirting wits and a surprising protagonist that goes beyond expectation.
Though the novel mainly focuses on Katy and Daemon's turbulent relationship (as friends--sort of), there are instances of action and suspense that leave the reader feeling antsy. The heated moments of danger surrounding the characters roused fear from me and I felt connected to the characters, since their emotions were raw and not dramatized.
Armentrout's writing is fast-paced and entertaining. The descriptions that Katy offered of Daemon alone were enough to have me laughing out loud, or blushing. The chemistry between the characters is undeniable, yet Armentrout doesn't make Katy into the stereotypical female protagonist. I will admit, there were instances where Katy did let me down, but hey, the story does need to keep the reader focused, right?
I can't even begin to describe how I felt about Daemon, but I know I have to.
Daemon was an ass and I'm torn between saying that he is perhaps the sexiest male character I've ever encountered, or that he is too big a jerk to even examine. I've never really liked it when a male character is a total jackass towards the protagonist, but I think I'm so giddy from the novel's effect that I can sort of understand where Daemon's rudeness comes from. He is the sole protector of his little family and he does what he thinks is right.
But, of course, Katy isn't the type of girl to sit back and take his attitude: she dishes it right back. Let me just say: Awesome, Armentrout!
It was great seeing a female character not giving into (at least not in the first few chapters) the jerk of a male character. The conclusion promises a very heated series and I honestly can't wait to read the rest of the books.
Obsidian is the type of book that will leave you begging for more. I think I hugged my copy when I finished, it was that good.
If you want an original (of the supernatural variety) young adult novel with a surprisingly powerful protagonist, and a wicked little sexual tension, then you might want to check out Obsidian.
Alert, however, that this novel is for readers that are 14+.(less)
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher is a dark reminder of how bullying can sometimes lead to tragic conclusions. Pitcher's novel, however, is also a reminder of how grief can alter our perspective, and how sometimes the struggle we go through in search of the truth may destroy us more than we know. Reading Lizzie's change in the many diary copies that are passed around at school is chilling, since she goes from a hopeful and quiet teen, to someone whose dreams foreshadow her downfall.
Pitcher's novel starts with a bang. The word "slut" is written in black marker on Lizzie's locker, her best friend and protagonist, Angie, is the one who has the power to say something, to stop the bullying, but she is also hurt--after all, she is the one who was betrayed by Lizzie.
For a while, the story fizzled, fighting to regain that incredible hook, but it wasn't until the major twist in the novel occurred, just after the half-mark, that I became absolutely hooked.
While the themes of bullying, sexuality, rape, abuse, racism, gender identity, and suicide are incredibly touchy subjects, Pitcher dives in head first with her protagonist into each theme. She battles the prejudice surrounding homophobic reactions in high school, and is surprisingly powerful against the bullying that students, despite the recent suicides, still partake in.
While I do love that Pitcher explores all of these topics unflinchingly, I find that perhaps it is too much. Yes, it is true that in every high school there is some sort of bullying, but, for the sake of a linear storyline, exploring all of these topics makes the novel feel unsure of where it wants to go--therefore, leaving too many unanswered questions, too many unresolved issues, and too many conflicts that take away from the main themes of the novel, which I presume are bullying and suicide (and okay, okay, I know that many things can fall under bullying, but The S-Word does not have to be the book to bring these issues to light, too many issues can be overwhelming--or perhaps it is just the way Pitcher presents them.)
I couldn't really connect with the dialogue. It felt... dorky. I don't know how teenagers talk now in high school, but I felt like the dialogue was a forced kind of cool that I would have used when I was in middle school. It didn't feel age appropriate and instead of sounding cool and contemporary, it sounded weird and outdated.
Despite my misgivings with certains aspects of The S-Word , I was able to enjoy it (for the most part). I loved the romance and the hope that it symbolized, especially given the dark tone of the novel.
Angie, despite her Nancy Drew (with a twist) qualities, was realistic in that she truly felt the loss of her best friend. I liked her because she found a way to forgive herself, thanks to her wonderful character growth. Her internal struggle is heartbreaking and I think that that is the most powerful point of Pitcher's novel.
I will admit that The S-Word is very addicting. Even though I giggled like a fool at the dialogue and I wondered where Pitcher was taking the storyline, I needed to know more. I craved the truth and I wanted to see what Angie was up to. The pacing may have been a little too fast for me, but I still found my way through Angie's struggle.
Keep in mind though, dear reader, that perhaps the prose is a reflection of Angie's internal struggle--the confusion, the fast-paced aspect of it all, and the urgency within the pages that sometimes jumps from one place to another--these may all be a reflection of how much Angie has changed since Lizzie's death. After all, the twist that I mentioned earlier in the review will make you put the book down and say, "Damn."(less)
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
What I love about young adult contemporary romance novels like Jessi Kirby's Golden, is how engaging and addicting the story can be. Whether you're laughing, crying, or relating to the protagonist, you're part of the story being told.
That's powerful storytelling right there.
Kirby's novel is full of wit, romance, ghostly mysteries, and an almost impossible sense of hope--which contradicts the narrator's lack of spontaneity.
Parker, the protagonist, is one of those girls who has her life all mapped out. Thanks to her overbearing mother, she's always steered clear of trouble (which her best friend does not approve of), anything that may challenge her mother's goals for her, and anything Parker wants for herself--after all, mother knows best, right?
By setting out to solve one of her town's greatest and saddest mysteries, Parker learns that sometimes we need to push ourselves until we find what we love. By settling, we may never truly realize our potential.
Kirby captures realistic young adult romance and friendship. Parker and her best friend, Kat, bring the comic relief to a novel that could have easily been full of teenage angst. Their dialogue is so brilliant, it had me giggling throughout the whole book. The friendship is also inspiring because it shows how fragile relationships can be when it is time to go our separate ways in life. Also, it proves that sometimes we need that extra push from someone we trust to get us on the "right" path in life.
The pacing is brilliant and as the story progresses with the occasional sprinkling of descriptions that bring the town to life in my mind, we learn more and more that this isn't so much a story about coming to terms with the past, but how tragic it can be to not speak up and make our own choices. Golden is a wonderful example of how the mystery presented is simply a reflection of the protagonist's own personal struggle.
The conclusion of Golden is inconclusive in the sense that we are given hints and unreliable ideas of what has become of two of the most important characters in the novel. But I like this because when we meet Parker, she is robotic and never risks her plans by daydreaming about her surroundings and the people she has encountered. Her character growth isn't immediate. Instead, it is believable as she struggles with the trials and errors of real life.
I recommend Golden to readers of contemporary romance in young adult fiction. If you like characters who chase the near-impossible and challenge the ideas and goals set for them by parents, then you'll love this one. Kirby's novel is full of witty romance, quirky friendships, and a mystery that will lead Parker to a surprising conclusion.
But ask yourself, after reading Kirby's novel, who do you want to become?(less)
I received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Indelible is Dawn Metcalf's second young adult novel and while the ideas behind her novels are incredibly original, I fail to connect with her story telling. I won't lie, I was super enthusiastic to read this one--I mean, look at that cover and that description! Who wouldn't want to read something that both looks and sounds so appealing? And while Indelible will definitely be loved by many readers, I unfortunately found Metcalf's novel to be disappointing and weakly written.
The beginning shows a lot of promise, what with the mysteriously handsome and dangerous boy, the fun and youthful setting, and the idea of magic within the folds of reality.
Joy, the protagonist, starts off as an interesting character who has gone through some seriously dark stuff. At first I felt compassion for her--after all, here's this girl who is terrified, but has no one believing her. But then, I started to get annoyed. Not just with her character, but with nearly every character in the book. First you have the meddlers, then the naggy characters, then you have the very frustrating and slightly creepy love interest and protagonist. Let's just say that after a while, every character got on my nerve.
Okay, I understand where some of the characters are coming from, and perhaps my reaction to how they acted towards Joy might be biased, since my personality would never allow for people to treat me the way they treat Joy, but come on. If a girl doesn't want to talk about something, that's her business. This felt like a huge issue in the novel, as if Joy was fending off people telling her to tell them this or that, which drove me nuts and was a total turn-off. I find it very hard to connect with characters who are either very indecisive throughout a novel, or who let others push them around (without speaking up by the end of the novel).
Like I said before, the beginning of the novel is the redeeming quality, so naturally I enjoyed almost every aspect of it. The pacing was well done, since we're immediately brought into the heart of the situation where Joy's life changes forever. I like that Metcalf doesn't dwell on the mundane at the beginning, since her novel is full of creepy and fast-paced moments. She also creates a dark and uncomfortable tone by using effective descriptions and metaphors.
But as the novel progresses, the story begins to unravel like a badly knitted sweater. The pacing, once comfortable, becomes jerky, the storyline starts to take a few too many twists, A LOT of new information is introduced, which is very overwhelming.
Joy is frustrating because she never quite knows what she wants, the romance in the novel feels forced and lacks that raw power that is usually evident in great romantic novels, and everything just feels like one big mess.
Honestly, I don't know what to make of the novel. The beginning shows a lot of promise, but from the middle to the conclusion, it's almost like Metcalf is trying to make her story more original and more complex, so as to have a reason to write a sequel.
If you like original stories and very stubborn characters, then give this one a read. I may not have enjoyed it, but I know that others certainly will--mainly because of the magic, romance, and adventure. I wasn't a huge fan of her first book, but those who were, might end up loving this one.(less)
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
Liz Fichera's Hooked is a young adult novel that deals out originality like a pro card dealer, but not so much that the reader might be put off by the newness of the topics explored.
Fichera brings to light the difficulties that Native Americans may face, especially teenagers that grow up alongside the larger population of caucasian residents. Hooked is like candy for the reader, despite its admittedly eye-opening topic. When the novel concludes, the reader will have cavities from all the drama, but s/he will also have the sweet memory of the treat s/he has just devoured.
Fred is a Native American girl that has a killer golf swing. Unfortunately, she also has the bad luck of pissing off a very racist character. While Ryan, a character that has his own hardships, shows that wealth isn't always as great as it appears. These two characters are a perfect pairing because, despite the drama, they help each other grow into the strong individuals that conclude the novel.
I loved the little footnotes in the first half of the novel. They helped me understand what Fred was talking about. It was also pretty cool reading a couple of the Native chants and prayers, but I wish there were more facts included.
In her defense, Fichera does a wonderful job of writing both sides of the story--Fred's secluded world and Ryan's destructive world. I just wish that I could have learned more about Fred's customs, rather than what I already learned while I was in school.
The romance is riveting, both in a good and bad way.
These two characters are from worlds that belittle each other, so of course there will be conflict once they come together. I thought it was sad that the characters were not stronger than what is expected of them. Ryan's inaction drove me insane, while Fred's inability to understand was irritating. Despite their issues and teenaged behavior, because really, they are just teenagers trying to figure out issues that even adults tend to run from, Fred and Ryan are one of those pairings that make you go "Aww!" at one point, then, "Ugh!" at another--which is good, since it elicits a reaction from the reader.
The racism in this book is terrifying. Fichera brings to focus not just the hardships that Native Americans face financially, but the ones they face socially. What I liked most is how the descriptions of the racism in Fred and Ryans' world can be applied to almost any minority. Why do I like it? Because it brings awareness to more cultural groups, rather than limiting it to one specific culture.
I would recommend Hooked to fans of contemporary romance for young adults. Also, to readers who want a fresh romance that isn't too disimilar, but is enticing in its newness. Fichera writes a fast-paced, frightening, and romantic novel full of passion for sports, difficult romance, and obstacles that create great character growth. (less)
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Aprilynne Pike's Life After Theft is one of those ghost/haunting young adult novels that focuses more on character growth, rather than if the ghost and the female or male protagonist will fall in love with his/her tormentor. Pike's novel is a quickly paced tale of a ghost haunted by her choices and a protagonist who is, perhaps, too nice for his own good.
Life After Theft is fun and witty, but it is also emotionally moving. The reader isn't just dealing with a snarky ghost, Kimberlee, s/he is witnessing someone find herself, despite her death, and her dark deeds when she was still alive. This aspect of the novel is what brings Pike's novel up a notch.
But Jeff, the protagonist, grows as well. His life has already changed by the time we meet him, but it changes even more once he meets Kimberlee. She forces him to move beyond his comfort zone, while his love interest challenges him to take a person as she is, rather than base everything on past decisions.
Life After Theft is also an addicting novel, since Jeff and Kimberlee are always right on the verge of getting caught in the act. The close calls are cringe-worthy, but we can't look away. We absolutely need to know more.
The storyline is slightly predictable, but not so much that we aren't surprised occasionally by a revelation, or two. The characters all give life to the story as their secrets and pasts come to light. Basically, Life After Theft is a book that warns you against judging others by their outward appearances.
Which brings me to the dominant theme in this novel: redemption. Jeff is the kind of guy who believes that everyone has a bit of good in them, so it is only natural that Jeff is the personification of redemption. He not only tries to save Kimberlee, but he unknowingly tries to save others around him. Redemption is what moves Pike's novel; without it, the story would fall flat.
The conclusion, however, is a little abrupt. Especially the concluding sentence--it is jarring, like Pike just wants it to end. It all also feels a little too...obvious at the end--everything is spelled out for you. No magic; no "wow" moment. The story leading up to the conclusion is eventful and touching, but I couldn't help but feel disconnected from the conclusion.
I recommend Life After Theft to readers of contemporary literature with a light paranormal touch. If you like stories that have ghostly encounters and witty dialogue, then you'll like this one. Pike challenges her characters to give themselves more credit, and to face their demons.(less)
I received a copy from the publisher & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Laurie Plissner’s Screwed is one of those young adult contemporary novels that feature dramatic reactions, the sometimes dark truth behind religion, and what it means to be the shattered image of perfection that sometimes hides our true selves. Plissner’s novel is daring in how it deals with religion, youth, and the very popular and unfortunate trend of teen pregnancy.
Having read Louder Than Words, I was expecting a lot out of Plissner’s second novel. From the get-go, I noticed that it would be a completely different experience.
The third person, omniscient narrative immediately stood out as something that might annoy me. If the story is about Grace, the protagonist, and her unplanned pregnancy, then why are we seeing how everyone else reacts to her situation? Shouldn’t we be worrying more about what Grace is experiencing, rather than what others think? Doesn’t this contradict the message of strength, hope, and love that we are ultimately receiving at the conclusion of the novel?
Or, I may have not liked it simply because I’ve never been a fan of third person narrative…let alone omniscient narrators.
I liked the romantic aspect of Screwed because it helped bring the beauty out of the ugly situation. It gave light to an otherwise bleak moment in Grace’s life. And with jerks like Nick, her unborn baby’s daddy, Charlie, her love interest, is a refreshing male character. He both respects her and treats her the way Nick unfortunately doesn’t. And though it is a little unrealistic, it still made me giddy whenever they were around each other.
I also thought it was a nice touch to show Grace that one wrongly thought out decision doesn’t have to define the rest of her life. I’m not an advocate for abortion, nor am I an advocate for people to get abortions—I believe that this choice belongs only to the pregnant mother-to-be. So, it was nice to see that Grace’s choice to let the baby live was neither affected by her parents’ belief that it is only right to have an abortion, nor by her strict religious upbringing.
While I am a sucker for a dramatic read, this was flirting with the idea of too much drama. It almost felt like Plissner was trying to get a rise out of the reader. I know it is vital to affect your readers’ emotions, but sometimes subtlety works over the dramatic. The intensity reached the point of unrealistic for me, but hey, there are a few parents out there who are just as harsh as Graces—neighbours like hers though…not so sure.
In some ways, Screwed also reads like a fairy tale waiting to happen. Great and loyal love interest (where was he when Grace was being tormented in school?), a best friend who would do anything for her and loves her unconditionally (where was she when Grace was being tormented in school?), and a neighbour that proves to be her fairy godmother (Why is she in a less than stellar neighborhood, conveniently close to Grace?)—Grace has it all. She’s just lucky like that, despite her ever-growing belly. Also, throw in the slightly confusing and extended conclusion that made the novel drag.
Also, I was kind of mad that I didn’t get to see what happened to Nick. Yes, I believe it is hinted at, and yes this was Grace’s (semi, anyway) story, but still. Shouldn’t the reader get the satisfaction in seeing Karma at her finest?
I did love some of Plissner’s prose and descriptions—one of her best writing attributes—and the little notes Grace writes for the baby. I also loved her relationship with her neighbour and how at the end, there are hints of second chances.
But the pacing was off—there were often scenes that were simply skimmed over—and the characters were a little unbelievable and unreliable.
I recommend Screwed to fans of quick and dramatic story lines. If you enjoy pregnancy stories, you might like this too. Religion tends to play a heavy hand in this one, but in both a negative and positive light. I’m not a huge fan of religiously motivated decisions, but it’s not so extreme that it makes Screwed off-putting.
The romance is sweet and this is a very quick read.(less)
The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines is the first in The Vincent Boys series and it is the kind of ride t...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines is the first in The Vincent Boys series and it is the kind of ride that a reader needs to have a metaphorical helmet for. Between the sexual tension the characters harbor for each other, the mistakes made, and decisions taken, the reader will be left raw and lost.
Beau and Ashton are two characters that have a very cliched story to tell, but Glines still manages to draw the reader in. This story is reminiscent of the very popular Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire and if you've read it, then you might understand what the negatives and positives of this review will be. Though I loved the moments they were together, I found the time Ashton and Beau spent apart were so angst-ridden, I ended up finishing Glines's novel much later than I'd anticipated. Also, the way they handled their situation just reeked of future problems and unwanted attention.
Ashton, the female protagonist and one of the narrators, is, in my opinion, a weak character. She is sweet and obviously confused, but the way she deals with her problems is weak--despite the strong character she is supposed to possess beneath the layers of her faux perfection.
Beau, on the other hand, is a more gusto-filled narrator. I love his spunk and how honest he is, but I dislike his temper and possessiveness. Sometimes I wonder if authors have forgotten that women are not items, but people with the ability to choose.
For example, if a character decides to leave another character because s/he thinks it is the right decision, does the male character have the right to control the other character and tell him/her that, "No," you can't leave because, "you are mine,"?
Don't get me wrong, I know it is for romantic purposes. Hell, I swooned and wanted a Beau of my own, but then I sat here and thought about it all--then I thought about it some more today. I've noticed this trend and though it may appear romantic, do you want someone to not let you make your own decisions simply because you "belong to him/her?"
Of course, this doesn't simply involve Beau. This extends to Ashton as well. She is such a scaredy cat. Not only is the clearly right decision in front of her, but when it comes to her finally revealing her true self, she falls back on her facade. Her character jumps so much that I don't know what to think. She is unreliable and frankly, quite annoying. I kind of wanted Beau to have more of a narrative presence than her, simply because he at least lives without restrictions, even if he acts like a caveman when thinking about Ashton as "his".
With all that being said, I did enjoy the first half of the book and maybe the last chapter of the novel. Once the proverbial shit hit the fan, I think the story fell to pieces. As a result, the once enjoyable and sexy novel turned into a sordid affair full of weak characters and cattiness that is never really explained.
This dramafest is enjoyable if you read this for the pure pleasure of it, which can be done. But as I write this review, I find that Glines did such a good job in starting up a romantic story that it took me a day or so to see the flaws. Also, the preview for the sequel in the series prompted me to thinking that this trend of "you must be mine, no matter what" in older young adult romance novels is not going anywhere, any time soon. (less)
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Insomnia by J.R. Johansson is a debut young adult thriller that will keep the reader up at night. Its fast-paced prose and the curiosity Parker’s ability insights makes this a tough book to put down. Johansson’s writing will make the reader question Parker’s innocence in the growing dangers around him, and s/he will crave an answer to Parker’s most important obstacle: Will he survive long enough to find a way to beat his insomnia?
Novels like Johansson’s are the kind of books that make me wish for more male protagonists. Parker is your typical jock, he’s smart enough to pass classes, and has great charisma. The only catch? Parker has a hard time sleeping because he spends his nights experiencing other people’s dreams. Let’s just say that it’s been a long time since Parker’s had a good night’s sleep. Insomnia takes a turn for the eerie when Parker becomes obsessed with the idea of sleeping a peaceful night, thanks to the new girl in town, who is being stalked by more than her mysteriously dark and painful past.
Okay, this is where Johansson’s genius comes to light. Parker, our trusty protagonist, becomes the antagonist of his own story. As his world tunnels in on the bliss that is a full night’s sleep, we start doubting that he can be called a reliable narrator—after all, he can’t be such a good guy if he is being so creepy and stalkerish, right?
But what’s genius about this is that we still sympathize with Parker. Even if, just like he does, we question his sanity and whether he is truly on the good side of good vs. evil. We are made to question him, just like everyone else does; just like Parker questions himself. Why should we trust Parker if he can’t even trust himself?
As the story spirals out of Parker’s control, the prose becomes twisted to showcase his near-insanity. Reality morphs with his dream-state, and the darkness within him promises to swallow both Parker and the reader. And when some form of redemption reaches Parker, the reader breathes a sigh of relief because, really, Parker can’t be that bad, right?
That’s Johansson’s genius, among other aspects of her debut novel.
She makes us ask: What would happen if we didn’t sleep?
I recommend Insomnia to fans of young adult thrillers that touch on the supernatural, but not overtly so. If you enjoy creepy novels that beg you to figure out its secrets, then this is a must read.
Filled with dark humor (thanks to Parker’s incredibly witty best friend, who is the perfect comic relief in a very disturbing novel), great character growth—Parker’s attempt to reign the darkness within him makes him much more powerful than the scared narrator we first encounter—, and romance that staggers on several occasions, Insomnia is a novel that must be read late into the night.
Because, honestly, who can sleep after reading this?
I'm a fan of Sherry Soule because of how captivating her story lines are...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
I'm a fan of Sherry Soule because of how captivating her story lines are.
She has these immense ideas that, if put successfully onto paper, will steal the reader's attention for hours. The difference between Moonlight Mayhem and Beautifully Broken is extreme.
Beautifully Broken, the first in the Spellbound series, has a protagonist, Shiloh, that was a bit too emotionally unattached. In Moonlight Mayhem, the sequel, Shiloh is too emotionally attached to her father's death, but barely mentions her other friends.
Moonlight Mayhem will make an entertaining read for readers. However, my focus was occasionally stolen by misused words. I did enjoy, however, how the characters surpassed the high school cliches to work together on the problem at hand.
Seeing as this is a sequel, there's not much I can say without causing huge spoilers. So, read at your own risk.
(view spoiler)[What irked me was Shiloh's lack of mention or emotional response to the deaths of her friends in Beautifully Broken. It was like they had never even existed. I tried very hard to get past these issues and focus on the plot, which was quite good.
The mystery is exciting and, like her previous book, creepy as hell. I could relate to Shiloh's pain over losing her father, so that was a nice little moment. (hide spoiler)]
Would I recommend this book? Sure. The action is fast-paced and the emotional connection that Shiloh shares with her (still alive) best friend, Ari, is realistic. The story is riddled with creepiness and Soule strives to go beyond the cliches of the supernatural. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky was like reading a present version o...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky was like reading a present version of a J.D. Salinger or Jack Kerouac novel. Sure, this may sound cliche, but it is quite obvious just who must have inspired Chbosky as a writer.
Chbosky's debut and sole novel has a rare quality to it. The novel is real, honest, and has a keen insight into life as a teenager that reflects not just on the early nineties, but on any time frame later on (or perhaps earlier). Written in epistolary form, Wallflower follows Charlie as he navigates life as a teenager and dealing with death, love, sex, drugs, alcohol, and abuse.
This novel is memorable and can easily become a reader's favourite read.
What I loved the most about this book is how unassuming it is. It tells the reader the barest of details, but offers so much more.
1. I really wish I could say there are no negatives, but I have to follow my rule of always finding something off-putting about a novel. One of the problems I have with Chbosky is how slow and sometimes tedious his novel feels.
2. Charlie is such an interesting boy who is privy to nearly everything, hence his given name "The Wallflower", so I was left frustrated at times when I wasn't told more about a topic or what is going on around Charlie. I guess this is one of the pitfalls of reading an epistolary novel (and why I'm not the greatest fan). We, as readers, are limited to what the writer of the letter/journal entry sees, hears, or experiences, rather than reading about every minute detail or beyond the narrator's point of view.
1. Chbosky manages to capture the troubles of young adulthood so honestly that it goes beyond mortification (about sex, drugs, and other taboo subjects), and delves into the truth of high-school and what it is to be a teenager.
2. Charlie reads a lot of books that reflect on what he experiences throughout the novel. Chbosky manages to tell us so much about his character via the books he likes to read, that I was in awe of his ingenuity.
3. Three words: Funny, Sad, Real. For me, as I devoured page after page, these three words defined my initial reactions to Charlie's life every time he encountered something new. I think it's a gift to be able to create something so powerful, yet elicit such a response from readers.
4. I can honestly say that this book was not predictable for me. Unlike some people I talked to, the ending was pretty clear to me, but only when I reached it. For some, you may have to read it again to catch the gist of what is going on and why Charlie is the way he is. The ending is powerful and breathtaking, despite the horrible realization that the characters experience.
5. I can't state enough how much I love Chbosky for exploring such a touchy subject. He weaves a web that ensnares his readers and plays with them by keeping those around charlie at a slight distance, so that it is mainly just the reader and Charlie, (because honestly, who else can the reader trust in this novel but Charlie?), until the pivotal end. Chbosky shows the aftereffects of a serious moment in Charlie's life that changes him forever, without actually stating it or alluding to it until the very end.
6. When Charlie realizes how infinite simple moments can be, I found myself relating and figuring out how my own life had similar moments. I liked that Chbosky made me reflect on my own life as I read Charlie's tale.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is definitely one of those books I will keep on my bookshelf and re-read when I want to be enlightened. Chbosky is a wonderful storyteller, it's really too bad he's only written one book.(less)
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Shana Abé's The Sweetest Dark is a historical and paranormal young adult novel that follows an orphaned teenage girl during World War One. With the war highlighting the mysterious events happening at her new school, Iverson, located in a gothic castle, the reader will learn about the trials of a poor student finding herself in a world that tells her to be otherwise, and how magic can change everything.
Lora, the protagonist, is a feisty young girl with an unknown past. Besides being found and sent to the orphanage at a young age, she has no recollection of the events beforehand. Haunted by the musical callings of stones and metals around her, plus gifted with an unusual appearance, Lora is a mystery from the get-go.
I'm not a huge historical fiction reader and I've found that paranormal romances have started to become more and more alike--witches, vampires, zombies, werewolves--so I was more than a little apprehensive when I started The Sweetest Dark. Thankfully, it was an enjoyable read with a hefty amount of originality.
The beginning, though interesting because of Lora's uniqueness, was a little drawn out and I often found my attention drifting. I was already intrigued by the first few paragraphs, but I kind of wanted the pacing to go a little faster. I know gothic romance novels tend to focus on the minute details of the protagonist's life, but this felt more paranormal than gothic--so I grew impatient.
The writing, however, was beautiful and antiquated, which went great with the tone and year of the setting. The setting is dark and ominous, but the tone is rigid and respectful, like what is expected of Lora.
Which brings me to a point that has always irked me about historical novels, and other novels featuring women who dare belittle themselves to make male characters "want" them: the sexism of the time. I know, it's inevitable. Considering that The Sweetest Dark is set in 1915, Abé is accurate in her portrayal of women at the time, but it still makes me angry to see it so blatantly clear that women had close to no power.
What helped ease my annoyance was Lora and her stubborn attitude. She stood up for herself, if not verbally, but mentally, whereas others merely agreed with what they were told, or simply looked down on Lora for having a smart mouth.
Okay, moving on from that particular pet peeve.
The romantic aspect of The Sweetest Dark was nearly perfect. At the time the novel is set, the romance is scandalizing enough to make Lora and her lover want to meet in the shadows of the castle, which made it so much better. The slowly growing feelings between Lora and her love interest are sweet, tender, promising, and powerful. You can't help but hope for the best when it comes to their relationship.
The most surprising part of Abé's novel is the twist she throws at you. You're expecting the obvious answers; the most cliched and predictable turn. But no. Abé knows what she's doing when it comes to surprises and I will not ruin it for you--just keep in mind that not everything is as it seems.
Besides my conflicting views on how the women are treated in this novel, another negative is the redundant descriptions of Lora's world. Abé tends to repeat the same descriptions in the beginning, middle, and conclusion of The Sweetest Dark, and I couldn't help but disconnect from the story to wonder why she needed to explain yet again why the night was that one particular color.
Though the narrative is in first person when we are looking through Lora's eyes, the chapters do occasionally alternate from one character to another (the narrative is in third person when trained on someone else other than Lora). Whereas I've seen this technique before (i.e. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting), it was a little confusing having more than two narratives running through the novel. Two I can handle, but three starts to feel a little crowded.
Abé's novel is full of spunk, rule breaking, sweet romance, and unexpected magic. The Sweetest Dark will charm readers with its eloquent prose and gothic setting.
I recommend this one to young adult readers who love historical romance fiction with a large serving of the supernatural. If you're sick of vampires, witches, werewolves, and zombies, then you might want to give this one a look-see. As long as you're not as squeamish as me when it comes to sexism in our history, then you'll enjoy Abé's novel.(less)
Possess by Gretchen McNeil is a creepy story of a girl with psychic abilities that help her rid...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Possess by Gretchen McNeil is a creepy story of a girl with psychic abilities that help her rid people of demonic possessions. At first I was a bit skeptic of this novel, especially since it dealt with demons, exorcisms, and religion (I laughed when I watched the exorcist, so please try to understand my skepticism). But I was pleasantly surprised.
"Rule #1: Do not show fear.
Rule #2: Do not show pity. Rule #3: Do not engage. Rule #4: Do not let your guard down. Rule #5: They lie.
Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.
Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king."
McNeil's novel was a quick paced, fun read, though of course it had only a few flaws.
1. The protagonist, Bridget, was a bit stubborn and annoying. Characters would tell her that she needed to do something but she would protest instead of acting. Even near the end when she needs to pay attention, she still stubbornly fights against the facts. This annoyed me because of how naive and ignorant she was acting. This occurred several times.
2. Okay, sorry for this spoiler, but it's a pretty obvious thing: Bridget's mother and her love interest's father are in love. I'm not really disturbed with this, but others might not be so accepting of the fact that Bridget's soon-to-be boyfriend's father will be her step-father if her mother decides to marry him.
3. Though it isn't so obvious that it disrupts the story, there are some editing mishaps. Every once in a while I ran into awkward sentences that made me re-read the sentence twice to understand what was intended.
4. A bit predictable, but still a fun read.
1. The eerie tone was awesome. It was consistent and expertly done.
2. Ignoring the protagonist's annoying behavior, the other characters were intriguing.
3. The world created by McNeil is interesting because of how effectively she uses diction to create fear and intrigue for the reader.
4. McNeil's story is creepy as hell, which is incredibly hard to do effectively in a novel. But she uses a simple thing like an animal haunting a home and makes it a scary experience for the reader.
5. This isn't the first book in a series! Do you know how refreshing that is?
This was definitely one of those novels that was a surprise. If you want to get spooked, while enjoying an interesting story, then you should check this one out. I will definitely be looking forward to McNeil's work in the future.(less)
Cold Fury by T.M. Goeglein is a novel that begins in the middle of the action, rather than before it...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Cold Fury by T.M. Goeglein is a novel that begins in the middle of the action, rather than before it or after. The protagonist, Sara Jane, reveals to the reader that this will be an epistolary novel without the dates that usually go with journal entries. The reader is told nearly everything by her, whether important or not, making the story start off much too slowly. A less patient reader will probably lose interest after the first twenty or so pages, but more patient readers will be repaid with a lightning quick and electrifying adventure.
I devoured this novel in less than twenty-four hours. Even with chapters that are a bit on the long side, Goeglein's words flow like rapid bullets as the story progresses.
Of course, Goeglein's greatest downfall is not having a hook right away. In my opinion, his story begins fifty or so pages into the novel. I was wary that Cold Fury would turn into another example of how a promising book can go horribly wrong. Thankfully, once Goeglein reaches the beginning of Sara Jane's adventure, the story speeds up and flows wonderfully until the unexpected conclusion.
For me, Sara Jane is a bit of a brat at the start. What I like about her, however, is how she knows and understands that she isn't perfect. Her character growth is shown through her interactions with her few friends and the people around her. She isn't perfect, but she at least sees her potential.
The open-ended conclusion left me feeling like this might possibly be the best book in the series because the reader gets to learn more about Sara Jane and her family. Also, because we get that unspoiled first glimpse into her world as it comes crashing down on her. I'm wary of the other books, simply because I fear that the next installment will lack that sense of excitement, since we know nearly everything that we need to know now.
I recommend Cold Fury to those seeking a fun adventure that will have you rooting for the characters. I recommend patience with this one, since it does start off a bit tedious.(less)
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Spirit is the third book in Brigid Kemmerer's young adult urban fantasy Elemental series.
Okay, let me start by saying that this might be an awkward review for anyone who hasn't read this series (um, why haven't you?), especially since I'm a huge fan of Kemmerer's work--oh, and the fact that this is a sequel.
What you should note, however, is that while Kemmerer's books do make references to past events in the two other novels in the series, each book is like a story of its own as we, the readers, get to learn more about specific characters and their stories of character growth and romance. Because really, if there is something Kemmerer does well, it's romance.
Spirit follows Hunter, the protagonist, and a new girl in towns' perspective (the narratives intertwine within the chapters). Hunter isn't like the Merrick brothers, who have always been a slightly dysfunctional team. He's the jaded and literal fifth wheel as he navigates his increasingly cold and lonely world.
Spirit has all of the delicious aspects of the Elemental series: drama, romance, the supernatural, suspense, mystery, and intrigue. The prose is witty and quickly paced, pulling in the reader with every flirtation and provocative text between the two narrators.
Hunter isn't one of my favourite characters in the Elemental series, simply because he is slightly untrustworthy, and because he has so many dramatic issues. Spirit starts with a bang as we're immediately introduced into the main issue of the novel, but of course, Hunter avoids all the easy ways to avoid his future problems. Thanks to his "woe is me," stubborn attitude, he makes more problems for himself--though I guess this adds to the whole dramatic aspect of the novel.
While I was completely hooked, I was still frustrated to see such ignorance from the protagonist. And okay, he's a teenager who's been betrayed by the people that should love him, but perhaps if he stopped to look around for a bit, he might realize that people actually care.
One of my favourite aspects of Kemmerer's writing is how her characters, after facing crap storm after crap storm, somehow save themselves. Though they may have physical assistance around them near the end, it is the mental growth the characters experience that makes me love them. They learn from their mistakes and childish actions, making them stronger and more intriguing as the story progresses.
Kemmerer, seriously? Of all the characters... I fear continuing on this train of thought, since I don't want to ruin this for you guys, but holy crap, that conclusion.
Good luck putting yourself together again after that. Seriously, I wish you all the best.
If you are a fan of urban fantasy, low-key paranormal, drama, romance, and very, very sexy boys (yes, I'm aware of my age, but just go with it), then you might like the Elemental series. The novellas are short, sweet, and tempt you with upcoming stories, while the full-length novels are a delicious ride of dramatic high school fun--with a nature-influenced paranormal take, of course. (less)
The Anti-Prom is the first novel by Abby McDonald that I've read and I will admit that it was s...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
The Anti-Prom is the first novel by Abby McDonald that I've read and I will admit that it was surprisingly fun! I was expecting a light read surrounding the adventures of three girls boycotting the prom. Instead, what I got was a novel that touched on subjects that some teenagers experience nowadays in high school. McDonald's novel also acts as a reminder that we shouldn't be so quick to judge others, and sometimes we should give more credit to people we only have assumptions about.
"Three unlikely allies team up for a night of rebellion, romance, and revenge in a high-stakes dramedy from acclaimed young author Abby McDonald.
They’ve spent years at the same high school without speaking a word to one another, but that’s all about to change. Popular Bliss was having the perfect prom until she found her BFF and boyfriend making out in the back of a limo. Bad girl Jolene wouldn’t be caught dead at the prom, yet here she is, trussed up in pink ruffles, risking her reputation for some guy - some guy who is forty minutes late. And shy, studious, über-planner Meg never counted on her date’s standing her up and leaving her idling in the parking lot outside the prom. Get ready for The Anti-Prom, Abby McDonald’s hilarious, heart-tugging tale about three girls and one unforgettable prom night."
1. Meg's character was the loner of the group and her boringness seeped into her narrative. The novel is separated into three different narratives for each character and Meg's was the least entertaining one. I know that this was probably McDonald's intention, but it didn't stop it from being boring and drawn out.
2. I wasn't a fan of the ending. McDonald's novel follows how these three girls change and grow their relationships with each other, so why does she feel the need to end the story on a romantic note? I thought that was a cop-out then, and now, while writing this review, I still think it's a cop-out.
3. Bliss's character is selfish, prissy, and superficial. Sure, she changes during the adventures with the other two girls and when challenging her so called "friends", but I feel that she changes the least of the three girls and I found it a loss that she didn't change more.
1. Though Meg was boring, all three girls had different personalities. I think it's awesome that McDonald writes the narratives in such a way,since the reader can clearly see how the different characters think.
2. I have always loved one-night adventures where characters learn more about themselves and come out with a greater understanding of what their lives could be like. The idea of three girls who are relatively strangers driving around town may not be original, but it does make for a fun read.
3. The novel touched on some pretty serious stuff:
a) College and what to do with your life. b) Parental abandonment c) Unhealthy relationships d) Bullying
McDonald wins points with me for not only discussing these issues within her novel, but for exploring them and using them as building blocks for her story, rather than just glancing over them.
For some, this book may just be a quick, fun read. For others, this book acts as a sign that high school issues aren't just kept within the walls of any school in particular, but that influential authors are touching on important things like bullying. Authors like McDonald who write novels that explore issues plaguing one's teenage years, but help their characters grow from their experiences will always have me as a fan.
McDonald writes fluidly and though this novel isn't about girls who hate the prom, it does show a heartfelt story of three girls who help fix and find each other.(less)
Susane Colasanti’s Keep Holding On is an inspiring story that delves into the hard truth about bull...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Susane Colasanti’s Keep Holding On is an inspiring story that delves into the hard truth about bullying: parental or societal. Told in fast-paced prose, Noelle, the protagonist, describes her situation in much more gusto than would be expected in a child of abuse. She is not only emotionally abused by her mother, but she is abused by her peers who taunt her for being poor. But when a horrible event occurs that rocks the social order of the school, it is up to Noelle to decide if enough is enough.
Though predictable, Keep Holding On is one of those great young adult novels that more people should read. It isn’t the way the message is being sent that matters, it is the message itself.
Colasanti, in my humble opinion, does a magnificent job in creating a story depicting that we aren’t as alone as we believe we are. She shows us the power of friendship, love, and the ability to hold on.
I recommend this book to anyone seeking a quick read with a heavy message that will mean something to all of us, whether we want to believe it or not.(less)
Thirteen Days to Midnight, by Patrick Carman is a young adult novel that follows orphan Jacob F...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Thirteen Days to Midnight, by Patrick Carman is a young adult novel that follows orphan Jacob Fielding after his guardian's death and the legacy that is left for him. The premise of this novel is what drew me in since I was curious to see what Jacob experiences and his apparent connection with death. While Carman introduces his character in a pretty neat way, his story wasn't what I was anticipating.
"You are indestructible. Three whispered words transfer an astonishing power to Jacob Fielding that changes everything. At first, Jacob is hesitant to use the power, unsure of its implications. But there's something addictive about testing the limits of fear.
Then Ophelia James, the beautiful and daring new girl in town, suggests that they use the power to do good, to save others. But with every heroic act, the power grows into the specter of a curse. How to decide who lives and who dies?"
Various things, good and bad, stuck out for me as I read this book. At points I was confused while at others I was awed at what the characters were experiencing.
1. I know some authors include a prologue into a novel as a way of either preparing a reader for an upcoming moment of tension, or for giving the reader some information that may be vital for understanding the text. Carman, however, includes a prologue that is separated into two different one and a half page chapters. The first is an italicized third person view of what is apparently happening later on in the novel (though the scene doesn't make a reappearance and I think this will just add to the confusion), and the second is simply labelled "One Day Later", yet it is first person, with Jacob asking the reader a series of questions. Personally, I would have just included the latter chapter. One, because it is a cool introduction, and two, it feels more effective than blindly throwing the reader into a situation where the style of writing isn't even the same as the rest of the book.
2. The front of my hardcover copy of the novel says, "The Grim Reaper doesn't disappear...he catches up." I'm sorry if I ruin this for anyone, so (view spoiler)[, there is no "Grim Reaper". What there is is a death monster that Jacob carries with him ever since the car accident where he was spared and his guardian died. The monster is a result of a curse placed on a man hundreds of years ago and yes, it keeps the person that hosts the monster safe and immortal, but the wearer can't just toss it around from person to person and then take it back. In a way, the monster is an omen of death, but it is in no way a Reaper. (hide spoiler)] This confused the hell out of me at the end... it's just so complex.
3. The way that Jacob falls in love with Ophelia James is a bit too much, to be honest. It only takes him several days to fall in love with her and then risk not only his life, but his best friend's life as well in order to save her.
4. Ophelia's character, while I know that she was changing from influences I can't state, was so dramatic I wanted to reach into the book and slap her.
1. Each day is separated by a page that tells the reader how many days there are left until midnight (which is what the prologue is about). I think this is cool because I didn't have to read the same sentence stating what day it is and how many days are left with each new chapter. Of course, there are various chapters in each section.
2. The latter part of the prologue is awesome and I like that Carman uses the same tactic of superpowers and the curiosity that humanity holds for those things we don't have at the beginning and the conclusion. It is not just cool, but a great way to wrap up the story.
3. Even with all the little nuisances, Carman writes a fun story that moves along quickly. He doesn't focus on unimportant scenes that don't have any relevance to the story. Everything is connected, one way or another.
4. The ending is predictable, but I was still surprised by some aspects of it. I'm not spoiling it for you guys, so you'll just have to read the book to find out what it is!
Though Carman offers us a fast-paced and adventurous story, the concept of the novel is a bit confusing. I won't be surprised if future readers jump into this with one idea of the novel in mind, only to come out thinking, "huh, that's different."
Reading Stephanie Perkins’s novel, Anna and the French Kiss, is like taking that European backpackin...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Reading Stephanie Perkins’s novel, Anna and the French Kiss, is like taking that European backpacking trip you’ve always wanted to take, yet haven’t taken. You go in expecting what everyone else describes—the scenery, the experiences, the wonders of a new world— and, much like with life, your experience can always go either way. In my case, I received all that was promised tenfold. Perkins’s novel showed me the beauties of Paris through the eyes of Anna, the protagonist, who is blind to the obvious, yet manages to show us her gorgeous surroundings.
Full of romance and moments that will grasp at your heart, Anna and the French Kiss is a must read for teenage girls. Anna is an extremely relatable character who grows throughout her experience. Though slightly predictable, this novel will still clutch you in its grips and won’t let you go until the heartwarming conclusion.
Whereas other novels would suffer from so much drama and predictability, Perkins manages to blend the two cliches beautifully together to create something new.
Anna and the French Kiss is an experience that needs to be savored, as well as devoured. Perkins’s writing is nearly flawless as she takes the reader on a tumultuous ride of romance, growing up, the hardships of imperfect parents, and friendship.(less)
I came across Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani, the first in the Viola series, a year or so ag...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I came across Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani, the first in the Viola series, a year or so ago and finally got around to reading it while on my trip. This was a surprisingly quick read, yet it lacked a few qualities that would normally make a book stand out for me. What I surmised as I concluded Trigiani's novel is that yes, this book can be read in one sitting, but not because the book is fascinating, original, or gripping--it is simply an easy read.
While Viola in Reel Life is aimed at a teen audience, the prose feels like it is written for a much younger audience. While I love Viola's friends and the relationships she forms while she is at boarding school, Viola herself is hard to connect with, thanks to her unnatural prose. She is naive beyond comprehension and her narrative is at times redundant.
Viola's relationship with her first boyfriend lacks the emotions that one would equate to first love. This observation leads me to believe that Trigiani tells her readers what her characters are feeling, rather than show them the building emotions as her characters grow.
Though the ending is abrupt, I was somewhat sad to see the book finish. Personally, I think Viola has a lot more growth in store for her. I just hope that Trigiani manages it in a less unattached fashion.
There is a fun twist to this novel, however, and that is the short-lived mystery that literally haunts Viola until the conclusion. Though the story reads more as an angst-ridden novel, Viola in Reel Life does teach valuable lessons to readers caught in similar situations. Trigiani teaches us that not everything is as it appears to be, and to have faith during times where life isn't going the way we plan.
Though it is nowhere near perfect, I would recommend this book to younger readers. The writing might connect with younger teens and pre-teens, since it isn't anywhere near the maturity calibre of recently published young adult novels. Trigiani captures the difficulties of growing up and the importance of just letting go and accepting whatever life throws at you. (less)
Miranda Kenneally does something I love with her second novel, Stealing Parker. She makes it a compa...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Miranda Kenneally does something I love with her second novel, Stealing Parker. She makes it a companion to her debut novel, Catching Jordan, adds in little snippets about Jordan, but lets the novel sit on its own. Fun, light (despite the creepy aspect, though the coach is my age...awkward?), and extremely addicting, Stealing Parker is a homerun of a novel... give, or take a few minor issues.
Parker is a bad girl. But she's only that way after her mom's scandal rips her family apart.
What I liked was how Kenneally hints at why Parker is the way she is at the beginning of the novel, adding in little standalone lines that should make the reader think. That's one of the great things about this novel: Kenneally doesn't just tell the reader what's up, she nurtures the secrets, lets them slowly tease the reader, then offers one last clue so the reader can put everything together. That takes trust in the reader. A LOT of trust, and I respect her for it.
Parker was a reliable narrator. She was a careless and slightly boy-crazy girl that changed at the appropriate time. The pacing was good, so her character growth was believable and the reader can trust her to make the right decisions. Or at least, the right decisions for her.
The romance? The book is, let's see, twenty percent about friendship and the same for family, the rest is about romance. Though I loved the romance, I wish I could have learned a little more about Parker's family, or at least, I wanted to know what happened afterwards. But hey, it is Parker's story.
Religion plays a huge role in this novel and it kind of caught me off-guard. In all honesty, I'm not the biggest fan of books depicting religion as the way a person chooses to live his/her life because it feels like it is being pushed on the reader. I believe in God, don't get me wrong, but no matter what religion it is, I find it disconcerting when a novel tells me what a good Catholic or Christian girl is. (A novel that drove me crazy with this was All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin)
But the novel was so much fun, that I didn't let it annoy me. If you love romance, sports, and fun quick reads, then you might want to check this one out!(less)
I just finished reading two short plays by Tom Stoppard called "Dogg's Hamlet" and "Cahoot's Macbeth" from his collection titled The Real Inspector Ho...moreI just finished reading two short plays by Tom Stoppard called "Dogg's Hamlet" and "Cahoot's Macbeth" from his collection titled The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays. These two plays are slightly eccentric as they interrupt the accepted stories of William Shakespeare with a confusing language of their own called "Dogg". As this play, explained by the author, was written and dedicated to the Czechoslovakian playwright Pavel Kohout. Stoppard explains that "[d]uring the last decade of 'normalization' which followed the fall of Dubcek, thousands of Czechoslovaks have been prevented from pursuing their career" (Stoppard 142). Basically, Stoppard wrote this as a type of rebellion in the current time of Kohout.
The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols is one of those young adult novels that can be read in o...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols is one of those young adult novels that can be read in one sitting. It has its cute moments that make you go "aw" and moments that make you want to throw the book away. I've read The Boys Next Door by Echols, so I had a slight idea of what I was getting myself into. The premise looked cute and promising, but let me warn you, it isn't as it seems. I'll explain what I mean in my Negatives. Here's a synopsis that I think would better justify Echols's story:
(view spoiler)[Gemma has big plans for her next year in high school. She plans to try out for the majorette squad, she's on her way to losing the weight she's always wanted to lose, and she just wants to survive another couple of years so she can make her getaway. Then she meets Max and his friend, Carter. Just as she believes that Max, a very attractive Japanese-American, is flirting with her, Addison steps in. Addison is Gemma's "best-friend" who always seems to be abusing Gemma in some way, whether it is belittling her, or sabotaging her chances at love. Even though Addison and Max are dating, Gemma, who begins dating Carter, can't help but notice that Max flirts with her despite Addison and Carter. It's all a complicated mess. (hide spoiler)]
Okay, I know I sound like I disliked this book from my synopsis, but I actually didn't. I disliked a few things, but it was a fun and quick read.
1. The Characters. Not all of them, but some of them drove me up the wall. Especially the protagonist. I hate when protagonists have abusive friends who put them down with snide comments and deliberately embarrass them in front of others. What do I hate more? When these same protagonists don't stand up to their mean "friends" and instead call them "best-friend". I understand that this was a growing process for Gemma. I know that this whole Addison being a bitch thing worked out for the plot, but seriously, when an author has such an abused person as their protagonist then wouldn't it look like a weak person is running the show? Gemma had her best-friend, the guy she calls a good friend and had once loved until he stomped all over her emotions, and the rest of the school bullying her. And to top it all off, Echols "fixes" her protagonist by having her lose weight. I have never liked the message this sends to readers, and I never will.
2. I wanted to learn more about what happens with Gemma and her dad, but Echols (view spoiler)[ just has Gemma comment on her going to visit her dad. (hide spoiler)] It felt like this relationship was forgotten by Echols in the process of writing the book. It's almost like she was near the end and said, "Oh crap, her dad!" I wouldn't have minded meeting him and seeing how he was with the daughter he barely calls. If a character has such an intense anger towards a parent, shouldn't the author try to show both sides to the reader? Shouldn't the author resolve the issues between the parent(s) and the child?
3. I'm just going to say that this plot was transparent. I knew what would happen, but hey, it is a fun read, so didn't put too much pressure on this aspect of the novel.
4. The synopsis gives you the briefest of views into what's happening. The only hint that's given is the comment "her so-called best friend" when referring to Addison. It doesn't say how she met Max (and why she was in the vicinity in the first place, which is important). It doesn't say ANYTHING about her body-image issues, or anything generally close to what her life is like. All the synopsis says is that she meets a boy who asks her bff out, even though she liked him more than her, and oh-no's! what will she do?
1. With all the character issues written in the Negatives, I do want to mention how Gemma DOES stand up to her friend at the end and how she grows as a character later down the road. The Gemma in two-thirds of the book drove me insane, but the Gemma afterwards was strong.
2. Despite the annoying little misunderstanding (which, once you start reading the book you'll know what I mean), the story is cute!
3. The writing was straightforward and quickly paced. That's probably why I finished this one so quickly. It was well edited and had a good constant narrative voice. The novel is written in first person, past tense, which I loved.
4. I loved the fact that Max was Japanese-American. I mean, how fantastic is that? I've always thought of Japanese men as extremely attractive and to see one in a young adult novel was awesome! (I loved his family too!)
Basically, my biggest dislike with this novel was the protagonist and some of the other characters. How they treated her felt so melodramatic and I disliked that it took Gemma almost the whole book to stand up to them. But with that being said, I still liked the book and would recommend it to anyone who wants a quick, light young adult read. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Katie Sise's The Boyfriend App is a great contemporary young adult debut that explores the intelligent world of technology and how it affects its most recent generation. Through quickly paced prose, geeky romance (of the best kind), and witty dialogue (a definite must!), Sise tells a novel that goes beyond the cute synopses and dives into the importance of truth, friendship, and family.
Audrey, the protagonist, is plagued by her ex-best friend's bullying, the lack of financial funds for college, her secret crush, and the poor financial state her and her mother have lived in since her father's death. But then, one of the most successful technology companies announces a contest: any high school student who creates a successful and popular app will win $200,000.
There are a few things that were hard not to love in Sise's novel: the humor aspect, despite the darker themes; the growing experience Audrey goes through as she discovers that, to quote Voltaire, "with great power, comes great responsibility,"; and how Audrey's world is shaped by the characters surrounding and supporting her.
The characters are so unconventionally nerdy that it makes me love them that much more. They are shy, smart, creative, and I won't lie when it comes to Audrey's love interest, sexy.
The Boyfriend App evolves from a quirky, angst-ridden, and dark story, to one of character growth and, at times, unrealistic situations.
The romance is super sweet, if not a little obvious. I know it's a character trait when a protagonist is oblivious to the affection of those around her, but I still find it a little annoying when the truth is not only obvious, but the characters choose to live in their ignorance. But, putting aside my disdain for naive characters, the romance develops slowly and with a lot of promise.
Sise plays with her readers as she dangles the idea of a romance between Audrey and her love interest within reach, but doesn't completely give them the obvious conclusion right away. She lets the story develop and her characters grow before she gives us what we want for Audrey.
The contrast between Audrey's knowledge of the digital world and that of the real world is interesting. Whereas she is incredibly smart with the former, the novel allows for Audrey to grow and learn more about the latter. I like the comparison of the two worlds as they co-exist because at times, with all of the explanations Sise offers us about HTML Coding and what-not, it helps ground the reader in the here and now--the current state of things for Audrey.
She cannot escape her problems via her computer, so we shouldn't be able to escape either through her vast explanations.
Audrey's relationships with the characters around her are revealing. Her relationship with her cousin is touching, while her feelings for her love interest reveal how powerful and important friendship is to her. Her relationship with her mother is at times strained, but she is a teenager recovering from her father's death, so her tendency to shut her mother out is understandable, making her relatable.
What I didn't like about the novel was how unrealistic it was. Okay, a boyfriend app is a possibility, but as the original app evolves with a little extra oomph, Sise pushes the boundaries between reality and science fiction. Who knows? Perhaps in the future we will see apps that can control everything about you, emotionally, but for now it is a little hard to swallow. Especially in a contemporary young adult novel.
Also, and this is just a little comment on the continuity of the novel, there is a scene where the characters are scrolling and searching for a particular name in a list. My question is, if these characters are computer brainiacs, why couldn't they just hit: CTRL+F?
I know, I know. It's a little thing, but for some reason it really bugged me. I know computer geniuses and they never navigate computers the "normal" way--instead, they always have a CTRL+this or a CTRL+that shortcut.
Despite the aforementioned flaws, Sise's novel has a lot of raw emotion. Audrey is still recuperating from her dad's accidental death and the loss of her best friend. The Boyfriend App has a catchy title, but the themes within the novel are much darker than the title suggests.
A few of these themes are: Bullying, to the point of physical abuse, occasionally takes place; the addicting qualities behind technology in today's society; and depression is shown by Audrey's addiction to her computer, since it was the greatest shared interested she once held with her father.
The Boyfriend App is a young adult novel that readers of contemporary fiction will enjoy, even with the little touches of technology here and there, since they add character to the novel. I recommend this to readers who want a quick book to read that has a protagonist who starts off as weak, but comes out at the end as a powerful force. (less)
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
Katie McGarry's Dare You To follows Elizabeth Risk, or "Beth" as she prefers to be called, and her constantly changing world. She was the dark and snarky girl in McGarry's Pushing the Limits, but her character is offered redemption, love, and what she's always craved--trust.
What makes McGarry's novel even more heartfelt is the fact that, unlike many people in Beth's life, McGarry gives her a new beginning. Rather than push her aside as a secondary character, McGarry offers the reader a reason to trust Beth and for Beth to tell her story.
Beth is a lot more than the dark clothing she wears. She is more than her curse words and her inability to accept love that is given to her. She is a girl with a troubled past that shows the reader that anyone can change.
McGarry maneuvers the difficult task of creating a second chance for such a troubled character beautifully--as if her words were bandages for the cuts Beth's received over the years of her short life.
Beth's growth is slow, but understandably so. A character with a lot to fix can't go from troubled one chapter, to perfectly fine the next. Life does not work like that.
Though the world is tough for Beth, the reader needs to ask: Are the negatives we see from those around her how they truly are, or are her experiences laced with the negativity of what she's experienced? If McGarry didn't offer both sides of the story (Beth's and Ryan's), would we see an objective view of Beth's world, or would everything be dark and sinister until her ability to trust returned?
Ryan, the sexy and charming jock, experiences great character growth as well. Him and Beth are as dark as their hair color--he is the light to her dark. I liked Ryan the moment I met him, even if it all starts with a dare. He is a guy, after all. And though his home life is not perfect, he learns to be himself and accept the difficulties in his life. One of the greatest aspects of Ryan is that yes, he is intrigued by Beth, but that he forges his own path in a novel that could have easily just followed his and Beth's romantic destiny.
I'm a huge fan of books that offer both sides of the story and have both characters grow in their private lives.
The pacing in Dare You To is comfortable, since it assures the reader that there will be enough time to resolve the issues brought forth at the beginning of the story. McGarry offers questions to be answered and waits a good amount of time before answering. She creates suspense and an urgency to know the answers, but she does not bore her readers.
The romance made me crave a Ryan of my own. I won't give any spoilers, but I'm sure many of McGarry's fans will fall in love with Ryan, especially if they loved Noah.
Addicting, delicious, and heartfelt, Dare You To is another powerful installment in what is going to be a very promising series.
I recommend Dare You To to fans of contemporary literature for young adult readers. If you're searching for a change up and want a bad girl/good guy novel, you should check this one out. Also, if you're into novels that make you "aww" and want nothing but a good romance to keep you up at night, then McGarry is the author for you. (less)
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill is a funny, light, and romantic young adult contemporary romance that...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill is a funny, light, and romantic young adult contemporary romance that explores the wonders of London, and the difficulties of young love.
Morrill's protagonist, Julia, is a goody-two-shoes that would never break a rule in her life... until she and Jason are put together during their trip to London.
I expected cheesy and unrealistic storytelling, but what I got was a book that made me laugh until my throat ached, and had me blushing so intensely, that I could have been right beside Jason and Julie during their adventures.
Jason is somewhat intriguing because of his freckles and red hair, but he was kind of a dick. I won't lie, I'm kind of annoyed that I don't get to see how he is around the other students when the conclusion resolves various issues. For the most part of the novel, he was a jerk that ignored and harassed Julia. Even though he helped her break out of her shell, he was a bully.
But okay, Julia isn't perfect either. In fact, she is high strung, clumsy, and barely has any fun.
It is cute, however, how the two mesh and help each other grow as characters. Julia learns some valuable life lessons and rediscovers her childhood, while Jason confronts the demons from his past and matures, even if a little bit.
I loved Morrill's novel mostly because of how quirky it was. It was a VERY quick read. The dialogue was awesome and portrayed the character's personalities pretty well. I felt like I was reading about actual teenagers, rather than what the adult authors would perceive to be teenage behavior.
I would recommend Meant To Be to fans of Stephanie Perkins and young adult contemporary romance novels that take place in foreign countries. Though the characters aren't perfect, and the conclusion may leave the reader with many questions, Morrill's writing is captivating and delicious. (less)