The plot is fast-paced, amusing, tension filled, and something that kept me entertained from start to finish. A paranormal boarding school is...moreThe Plot:
The plot is fast-paced, amusing, tension filled, and something that kept me entertained from start to finish. A paranormal boarding school isn’t that unique of a setting, I will give you that, but Scott manages to bring it alive in a new way. I’ve always been partial to boarding school stories too. The Book Geek said it has a Harry Potter meets X-men vibe, and I couldn’t agree more.
I can’t go too deep into the plot without giving away spoilers from the first book, however. Just trust me when I say, if you like fantasy YA, you’ll really enjoy this series. But I will say this, I pride myself in being able to predict what will happen next in a book. Okay, well, maybe not pride myself, but it happens a lot. In this book?
There was a lot I did not see coming. That impressed me so much.
Becca, Becca, Becca. This girl is strong and her sarcastic (even sometimes snarky behavior) is something I very much enjoyed. It really helped bring the voice out in the story and made the narration flow. The best part about her, in my opinion, was how realistic she was. She was flawed ad insecure, and I admired that. I admired how she began to fight through those insecurities and how she was willing to fight for those she cared about, no matter the cost. Not to mention the clear character growth she has is very rewarding to watch.
Alex: If there was ever a swoon worthy character, it’s him. I love me a good boy, and Alex is sweet and adorable and supportive. I love that in a book boyfriend, because that’s what I’d want in real life too. Yes, bad boys are awesome, but good boys are even better.
There are quite a few other characters in this book, and Scott does a great job of balancing them all and giving them distinct enough characteristics that they can hold their own. My favorite new addition to the story was Steven.
Oh. My. Stars. Alex/Becca for life, everyone. This is a romance I can get behind wholeheartedly. While I like the bad boy on occasion, I’ve been getting rather sick of them, so Alex is a refreshing, amazing change of pace. He’s kindhearted and even sensitive. Becca and he have a healthy relationship, though it’s not entirely drama free (where would the fun be in that?).
That said, romance isn’t the main focus on this story (which I also appreciate in a book). It’s a constant, yes, but the plot revolves around Becca finding a way to stop Darragh.
Read this series. If you love fantasy, read it. If you love a good twist, read it. If you love a good boy, you want to read it for Alex. Trust me on this one.
I've never been one for medieval fantasy stories, but the premise intrigued me and I decided to give it a try. This isn't at all what I expected for a...moreI've never been one for medieval fantasy stories, but the premise intrigued me and I decided to give it a try. This isn't at all what I expected for a classic medieval fantasy. It's not filled with the typical formulas for the genre and the world building is fantastic. It wasn't stiff like a lot of medieval fantasy seems to be either.
I loved Kindar. She was fierce and strong, but not crazily strong or anything like that. She had problems, she was real, but she strived to solve her problems. I loved that she wasn't waiting for a Prince Charming to do everything for her either. That's my type of girl.
If you read Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta and loved it, then this is a book you'll enjoy.(less)
I have to say: I know Lexa. I even read this pre-agent/pre-book deal and loved it. Lexa gave me an ARC before the book was published (though I’ve sinc...moreI have to say: I know Lexa. I even read this pre-agent/pre-book deal and loved it. Lexa gave me an ARC before the book was published (though I’ve since bought one as well). When I first read this book though, I didn’t know Lexa very well. So my opinion of it wasn’t based on how awesome of a person she is :)
Now, on to the review …
Élan has a rather horrible mother. Her mom spends all her time away from home on TV as part of a psychic duo. To fill her time, Élan goes around exposing fake psychics with a couple of her friends. When her mom goes missing in Egypt, Élan feels like she has no choice but to go to Egypt and look for her. Her mother doesn’t have all the time in the world either — she’s diabetic. Without her insulin, she’ll die.
The pacing is ideal, in my opinion. Élan doesn’t just sit around waiting for someone to help her: she takes action and searches for clues. It doesn’t take long for the creepiness to start either — and wow, does it get creepy. The whole premise of the SOUL CUTTER is so remarkably original in my opinion. There’s twist and turns. I was in agony as the story continued on because of how much I wanted Élan to succeed — to survive.
Élan is a heroine I can get behind. She’s strong, sensible, and willing to do what’s needed to get done. She’s loyal too. If I were in her shoes, I wouldn’t go to Egypt to find my useless mother. My favorite aspect of Élan is how she can be petrified, but still keeps going. She doesn’t like her fear get the best of her. I also liked how, even though there was a boy involved, she was got things done on her own. She wasn’t perfect, of course no one is, and when she needed it she would accept help, but she didn’t relay on others.
Ramsey *swoons*. Ramsey, Ramsey, Ramsey! Smart, savvy, handsome, sensitive, and sometimes a little arrogant — gotta love him. I admired how complex of a character Ramsey was. How I thought I finally understood all of him, but then another layer of him would come undone.
Soul Cutter — another complex character. Another filled with twists and turns. When I thought I understood him — thought I knew what he was up to — Lexa would throw me for a loop.
Élan/Ramsey — yeah, this needed to happen in my opinion. I liked how the romance was developed slowly. They didn’t fall for each other instantly, but only after they started to learn each other’s secrets. Only after they witnessed each other at their worst — and best. It was really endearing.
Excellent. Third person POV is something that’s really difficult for me to connect with and so often I find there’s no voice in third person. There’s exceptions: Neil Gaimain and Laini Taylor are honestly the only ones I can think of right now. Other than Lexa Cain, that is. Élan and Ramsey both share POV in this story, and each has their own voice. I can’t imagine this story working as well in first person POV.
And the setting! The setting was so vivid in the story. Lexa has a skill at setting the atmosphere. It’s so captivating. To have a horror story succeed, the atmosphere has to be set just right — and that’s what happened in the story. Plus, have I mentioned it’s set in Egypt? I’ve always been fascinated by Egypt, and I loved all the new aspects I learned about the country and its culture through this amazing book.
I had huge expectations for this book. Almost everyone I know that's read this book really loved it. I heard things like it's beautiful! and a perfect...moreI had huge expectations for this book. Almost everyone I know that's read this book really loved it. I heard things like it's beautiful! and a perfect contemporary YA! -- so how couldn't I have high expectations?
Here's the thing ... when I first started to read it, I wasn't too terribly impressed. It read a lot like Amelia Anna's Dead & Gone to me. A lot. Both MC's were seniors, super smart and perfect students, and attached to mysteriously gone girls. In Amelia Anna's Dead & Gone it was a girl the MC didn't know, who was killed and left in town. In this book, it's a popular girl from town no one knows what happened to.
There's nothing wrong with two books being so alike. It happens. Sometimes authors have the same ideas. But ... I just kept thinking that this is so alike and I couldn't really enjoy it for itself because of that. I was positive I knew what was going to happen. I knew as soon as the coffee shop owner was introduced what his connection would be (lucky guess) so I figured I knew the rest. It was going to be just like Amelia Anna's Dead & Gone....
Until it wasn't. At all. Once Parker stops reading the diary and starts actively searching for the truth, everything changed. It got so, so good and things happened that I didn't see coming. At first glance, this is a typical YA Contemporary and similar to other coming-of-age mystery stories. But the deeper you go into it, the deeper the book is. Parker's insights could apply to anyone in high school -- not just the overachiever.
The ending was perfect. I loved all the poem tie-ins. I loved how Parker's character came alive and grew. I also really liked the romance element. It was slowly developed and completely believable. I only wish there was more of that :)
Overall, stellar book! Can't wait to read ore of Kriby's books!(less)
This isn’t my usual read — what with the whole druggie/alcoholic aspect of it all. I’m general...moreYou can find this review here on my book blog YA Asylum.
This isn’t my usual read — what with the whole druggie/alcoholic aspect of it all. I’m generally not a big fan of that type of thing. It always makes me mad and I tend to want to slap the characters and say just stop doing it already! Get over it! Which isn’t fair, because it’s not that easy, and it’s really just because of personal things that make me feel that way — it reminds me of a still unresolved issue. But thankfully, Bea’s problem didn’t bother me. She was strong, and I respect that. I wish more characters were like her.
And yet — even with the addict factor – the concept still interested me. This is going to sound bad: but rape generally catches my attention. Bad, right? It’s just one of those things that — if done correctly — can be so, so powerful and potent and healing, like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.
Sadly, this has little to do with the rape of Willa. I mean, it does have everything to do with it, but we don’t really delve too deep into that issue. It’s more about the drugs, addiction, and redemption. There were some stereotypical things that kinda bothered me at first: the stoner, the stupid jocks, the gay BFF, the spoiled rich girl. The gay BFF was fabulous though, so I can forgive this. Even if it is a super common feature in YA, I like it.
I read it in one sitting, the pace is quick, and the dialogue is killer. Seriously. This book has some of the best dialogue I’ve ever read. There was a tendency to make the same point twice. Something like “he was looking at mom, watching what she was doing.” Well … that’s the same thing. I thought it was just Bea’s voice, but her dad and Chris (gay BFF) talked like that too. The only thing that really drove me batty was the use of exclamation marks. They were everywhere. Sometimes three at the same time. Elmore Leondard’s 5th rules of writing is: Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. Okay, so that’s really harsh — but, you get the point.
All in all, I sort of knew who did it, but not really. Samms laid the foundation for the ending well, and I was very satisfied. I bet some of you are worried, is it the typical YA mystery reveal? Where the killer goes blabbing on and on and on unrealistically? It’s not. That alone is reason to read this. The killer dialogue is another. The quick pace another. And Bea’s another good reason. I liked her a lot. When the second book in the series comes out, you can be sure I’ll get my hands on a copy.
Lesson Learned: When a preppy girl offers you speed, even if you don’t have any friends, say no(less)
Please note: I got this ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review. And an honest revie...moreMore of my reviews can be found here on YA Asylum.
Please note: I got this ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review. And an honest review I will give. For more information refer to my Review Policies & FTC Disclaimer.
I loved this collection of short stories. They were all beautifully written and creepy in all the right ways. World-building is done fabulously in each of the short stories, along with character development. I really liked all the main characters and each of the concepts are really interesting.
This is the first short story to appear in Girls & Monsters. I would say it's a fusion of YA & NA. The characters are seventeen, then later nineteen in the story. To be honest, I've never held an interest in mermaids before. They've always seemed cuties and whatever -- just not my thing, this might have to do with the fact that the first (and only time) I saw the Little Mermaid, my aunt's evil freakin' Chihuahua bite the crap out of me. Since then, I've been pretty sour towards the idea of mermaid anything. When I saw the opening for this story: Limnade: Greek mythology, mermaid living in fresh water. My reaction was: uh-oh.
Luckily, I really enjoyed this short story. Mermaids are best like this, in my opinion. Evil, disgusting creatures. I loved the way the Limnade mythology warped the town of Lakeside View. Elizabeth, the MC, was a really relatable character that I felt for and I instantly got attached to the Jo/Liz relationship. There were authentically creepy moments in this story. I have never enjoyed open bodies of water, particularly lakes and rivers, and this just justifies that dislike all the more. Who's to say the next lake someone begs me to go to doesn't have a Limnade?
The ending broke my heart a bit.
Horror Level: I would say this is horror-esque. There are generally creepy things going on in this story and the atmosphere is set right for a horror story. There's nothing gory or grotesque about this story though -- so if you're reluctant to pick up a gory horror, don't worry.
This story can be interpreted in a few different ways. It could be a dark paranormal tale of a girl trying to find herself, only to be hindered by the spirit of a black dog that won't leave her alone. Or it could be the story of a girl battling mental illness, trying to find a way to fix herself. It depends on which you prefer and what you take out of the story, which is something I really like. I love stories that have double meanings, that you can twist to fit what feels right for you.
Scarlet is a protagonist I can really sympathize with. She knows something is wrong with her, that she's different, and wants to badly to be normal. She's not one of those girls that keeps thinking: Oh! If only I can be normal! and goes off and laments about it in a quiet corner. Scarlet puts herself out there. She goes, alone, to London for a group tour. That's a really scare situation to place yourself into, if you're an introvert like Scarlet (and me, and I know how scary this can be because I've done it myself, in London no less).
My favorite part of this story was the voice. It's third person present tense with some flashbacks in first person past tense. Usually switching up POV like that bothers me, but not in this case. The voice was so dark and vivid in the third person present tense -- I was thoroughly impressed with this. I also thought it was really clever for the evil voice to nickname Scarlet Scars.
And the way this story ended? Yeah, that's how I like 'em.
A BLUE STORY
This is a Bluebeard retelling. I'm not a huge fan of this fairytale. Generally speaking, the girl who is supposed to stay away from a certain room is always so stupid. Every retelling I've ever read, I figured the girl kinda got what was coming. If you're dumb enough to find yourself in that situation, am I going to care when you finally do the equally dumb thing of going into that room? Particularly when ever Bluebeard in the retelling is a huge creeper? No. I'm not going to care. Please knock yourself out. I enjoy a good character death.
Hence why I was so relieved this wasn't the usual Bluebeard retelling. The MC, Katherine (I'm partial to this name to start out with), isn't an idiot. There's twists in this story that are a different take on the fairytale. I must warn you there is animal deaths. I know that's a deal breaker for some people. This might sound horrible, but I generally care twice as much for an animal that dies in a movie or book than when a person does. How can you not love a dog? Seriously? And what could that poor puppy ever have done to anyone else?
I'm off topic. The writing was really good in this story. There were two or three lines I could've lived without and this ending wasn't my favorite out of the Girls & Monsters collections. But I still liked this story.
I love that this story takes place in Europe (Germany, to be exact). It's always interesting when the characters are in a different environment. This story was a little bit like a sci-fi fairytale, if there could be such a thing. The main character, Chris, lost her parents and now lives with her older sister. One day, they lose their only living relative, their grandmother, who lives in Germany.
They have to go clear out her place, which is the very last thing Chris wants to do. In fear of the monster she knows that lives under her grandmother's bed. It's an interesting story and there are some creepy moments. Girls & Monsters as a whole is a collection I really enjoyed, but this wasn't my favorite story. It seemed to rush together at the end. Plus: bugs. I just really don't like them.
WE LEFT AT NIGHT
Zombies. Need I say more? I suppose. I love zombies and this short story was put together so very well. The tension and the wtf is going on moments. Brooke comes alive as a character, as does her family. Her dad is kind of useless, since he breaks down and says some pretty harsh things and her mom is kind of crazy in my opinion. She's a nurse so she goes out of her way to help people, which made me feel sorry for Brooke and her little brother, Rory. (And, yes, Whovians, I thought Rory Williams too.)
This was probably my favorite short story in the collection. Brooke's voice was vivid, the tension was brilliantly executed, and there are zombies.(less)
Pros: The start is so interesting. There's high tension, James (the MC) comes off as s...moreMore of my reviews can be found at YA Asylum.
Pros: The start is so interesting. There's high tension, James (the MC) comes off as sweet and loveable, and you're going to want to know what happens next.
Cons: It's what I classify as a False Start, which is a dream, a flashback, a flash-forward, or anything like that. You know, that thing that's done to grab your attention and keep you reading when the real start isn't as intense. In this case, it's a flash-forward. The first chapter actually takes place near the end of the book.
Pros: It's an interesting concept (kid in juvie) for a contemporary. I haven't read a lot of YA books like it.
Cons: Well ... after that intense flash-forward first chapter, it's not so eventful and the pace is pretty painful. It was all too easy to put this book down and walk away. Once you hit the 50% mark (I read this as an ebook), the book really picks up it's pace.
My favs: Mr. E, James, Freddie, & Tony.
Hated: Louise, James's family, the guards, the evil nurse.
Pros of James: He is a very good boy, though he did something dumb.
Cons of James: He shows no emotion whatsoever throughout the first 50% of the book, which was a little maddening. I just wanted him to react to all the things that are happening.
Pros: There are a lot of literary references throughout this book. The writing is rather simplistic, which makes this an ideal read for reluctant readers in my opinion.
Cons: There are a lot of literary references throughout this book. Yeah, it's a pro and a con. There's a lot. This technique isn't out of the norm for YA contemporaries, but I really think it's more effective if the author focuses on only one author. Whereas with this one, there were probably half a dozen (if not more) books and authors referenced. And if you haven't read the Outsiders this book is a spoiler for that.
I really think this book is ideal for male readers that are transition between MG to YA. Also, I think a reluctant reader would really enjoy this. (less)
I'm not going to lie, when I first started to read this I had forgotten what the premis...moreMore of my reviews can be found at YA Asylum.
I'm not going to lie, when I first started to read this I had forgotten what the premise was and was too lazy to look it up again. All I knew was it had something to do with angels. I like angels as much as the next girl, but unless you're going to pull something new and strange out like Laini Taylor did, it'll be hard to impress me. Plus, the title didn't bestow a lot of confidence in me about this reading choice. I couldn't help but think: A shimmer? Is that like a gallon? When did shimmer become a form of measurement? Is it supposed to be a form of measurement or am I missing something?
Then I read the first page, and I really, really didn't want to stop reading.
It takes a while for the plot to get going in this book. We're first introduced to Rayna (Ray) and all her problems -- what with the whole everyone-thinks-I'm-insane -- but the whole angels and suicide and saving the world part enters a little late in the story. Even then, with the suicides, we go back to character development of Ray, Lee, Cam & Kade before the stakes are raiser higher. Usually, this type of thing would bother me and infer pacing problems, but it didn't this time. I enjoyed Ray, Lee & Kade enough that it didn't bother me.
Is the plot very original? No. Heaven and Hell at war. Good angels v. bad angels, etc. That's been done before, but that didn't hinder my enjoyment of this book either. Basso was able to give a flare of originality through the characters (mostly Lee) and I was really pulled in by the voice.
THE CHARACTERS: Rayna A.K.A Ray is a heroine I could get behind. Does she do some stupid things here and there? Yeah, but they are understandable. The poor girl has been through a lot and she still pulls herself together remarkably well. She narrates the story and I just loved her snarky--but not too snarky--voice and how her sometimes unstable mind can really play tricks on the narration.
LEE! Oh, Lee, he might be my favorite minor character I've read this year. For reals. It doesn't hurt that he's a Whovian. That's right, Whovians! You'll enjoy this book, trust me. If nothing else, because of the Doctor Who references. He curses in Doctor Who references, which is the most clever and acceptable way I've ever seen someone avoid using curse words in YA. But when he gets mad enough, he does let out a shit and damn.
Doctor Who Tangent: If you bring Doctor Who into the story, you've got to get it right! So, this is nit-picky, but it's Doctor Who, not Dr. Who. I let that go, since it was from Rayna's POV and she's not a Whovian so she wouldn't know. But the first Who reference was when Lee said: "Oh Tardis! Look at the time!" And, personally, I would've either kept it T.A.R.D.I.S (since it stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space), or capitalized it TARDIS. But whatever. All other references were pretty spot on.
Now, let me just address Ray's dad: ARGH! I wanted to drop kick this man and slap some sense into him. Throwing your children in a mental health facility is not how you handle the situation. No fucking way. I don't care if she does have mental problems, you do not ship her off like she's nothing.
He was doing what he thought best, a single dad raising two girls, yadda, yadda--bullshit. Seriously. What a horrible excuse for a father. I was just waiting and waiting for Ray to blow up on him and tell him off like she should've. I mean seriously, come on! So what she sees angels? So what? She's not hurting herself or others, there's no reason to lock the poor girl up. If she was trying to hurt herself or others--I'd get it. A little.
This, of course, it's a reflection on Basso's story. The fact that she could make me feel so strongly about her characters and care so much about Ray is just a testament to how good this story is.
Kade & Cam will be addressed below.
There are two things you need to know right off the bat: there's a love triangle and insta-love. Yeah, I know. That sounds bad, doesn't it? But don't run away yet. Hear me out. I actually enjoyed the romance element of this story more than I thought I ever would something that involved bother insta-love and a love triangle.
There's teams. It's pretty clear that it's a team mentality that the author wants to stir up in the readers. Either your team Kade or team Cam. Even more cliche, it's clearly Dark/Bad Boy (Kade) v. Light/Good Boy (Cam). That still sounds bad, does it?
But I was really into this, guys. I was from the start, as soon as I realized I had walked -- unknowingly -- into a love triangle. Usually, like 9 times out of 10, you'll find me rooting more for Good Boy over Bad Boy, but I'm really not a hard-core team girl. Except with this story.
This could taint your reading of this book, but I'm going to tell you anyway: I'm 100% team Kade. At first, I thought I'd be team Cam, but then I realized something really important. Cam is a great, big straight-laced, mindless drone/huge asshole. Ugh. That boy. I wanted to push his head into a locker then slam the door shut to see if I could decapitated--wow, that's a bit too harsh. Sorry. I don't usually have such violent thoughts (well, maybe…). Not everyone is going to feel this way about Cam, I'm sure, but to me -- ugh. It was almost as bad as what's-her-name-15-year-old and creeper-21-year-old-predator from Cross's Killing Me Softly.
The Ray/Cam was the insta-love part. I really, really, really don't know why Cam was suddenly so into Ray. I mean, he finds out she can see him wings and then it's suddenly BAM! I'm in looove. It's like: "Oh, baby, you can see my wings and just--oooow, that's hot stuff right there." And that just dumbfounded me. I guess Cam is supposed to be good looking or whatever and that's why Ray was into Cam, but she was too into him too quickly for my taste.
Now Kade/Ray -- that was developed. It was a little weird at parts, I'm not going to lie, but I enjoyed it. I really thought I'd be against these two as a couple, because Kade seemed too much like the classic hot Bad Boy, but he surprised me. He's a fabulous character. And though he seems like an asshole, but he's not. Which is funny because Cam doesn't seem like an asshole, but he totally is.
This was another good part of the book. I enjoyed Basso's style, she had a good voice, and I loved her metaphors and similes.
One problem: Guess how we figure out what Ray looks like? Let me give you a hint it made me do this:
Yeah, if you guessed through a mirror, you'd be right! This is a HUGE pet-peeve of mine. It's been done to death, to death! Think of a more original way, please, for the love of all things good, please stop doing this!
I was enjoying the book so much up until that point. I must admit, though, this is the most acceptable (I cringe by saying that word in association to a mirror reveal) way that I've seen this done. Still. I hated it.
Whovians: read this!
And everyone else, too. It's good, I promise. It's really hard to put down as well. If you like the Hush, Hush series, you'll like this as well. It's a debut, so show some love.(less)
I first read this book back when I was actually Melinda's age -- fourteen. Now, considering the nature of this story (rape), some might think that's a...moreI first read this book back when I was actually Melinda's age -- fourteen. Now, considering the nature of this story (rape), some might think that's a wee bit inappropriate. But I don't. Now did I really grasp what was going on in the book back then? Probably not. I was a pretty dense tween, but I did feel for Melinda even back then. I was a really shy kid and rarely spoke up in class (though, not for Mellie's reasons) so I really connect with her.
You don't find out exactly what happens until over halfway into the book, but you can tell something went really wrong somewhere along the way. Why'd she call the cops to a party? Why do all her friends hate her? Why won't she say?
To have something so horrific happen at such a crucial part in your life.... Think about it. You're thirteen, you're at a party, IT attacks you. You're wrong, drunk, confused -- how would you react? Honestly, I don't even want to think about it.
And that's why I'm grateful for Speak. It makes you. It shows you what goes on in someone's head when IT happens.
This is something I hear about the book a lot. Melinda not talking is frustrating. I suppose whether or not you enjoy the book depends on if you are frustrated for the right reasons or the wrong ones. It frustrated me because I cared about her. Because her silence was hurting her so much -- both emotionally and physically. Her lips ... that part of the book has always stuck with me. Her cracked, bloody, slightly gross lips. They're a wonderful way to represent how her silence is hurting her.
If you don't understand why she can't speak up -- how hard that is for someone who has been through what she has -- or care about Melinda, then the silence will probably kill you. I guess I shouldn't call this the wrong reason. But it's hard for me to understand how someone can think like this. Really. She was thirteen. It was that crazy summer between junior high and high school.
That exciting, huge point if life when you think you're done being a kid. When you're going to go to a new school -- weren't you nervous/excited/sososcared/sosohopeful/sosoeverything about that? Will you make new friends? Will you be friends with your old ones? Will you be popular? A loser? A social leaper?
Add to that what Melinda had to go through -- with being blamed and hated and pushed down at your lowest point.
My favorite part of this edition is the poem Laurie added. It was assembled from emails she got from people who read the book. It's so powerful -- to hear how much victims teens really relate to Melinda and her journey. Teens that have gone through the same thing or so much worse.
There is so much meaning behind everything in this book. It's so brilliant that way. When you start to read it, you can tell the style is different than the norm and it'll be a literary book. But it's not one of those unreadable literary books. A normal person could easily enjoy it.
Since Mellie doesn't talk, the entire book is pretty internal. What nightmares are going on in her head, what she's feeling, what she refuses to think/feel about.
Melinda's character arch is completed. Everything is so satisfying in the end. Laurie's endings are very similar to Courtney Summer's. When the book is done, it's done. It's such a powerful ending.
The final line is beyond perfect. Another perk of the special edition Laurie talks about writing a sequel to Speak. Maybe she could call it Spoke. She says she's open to the option, she's just waiting for Melinda to speak to her again. You get glimpses at Melinda in her other books, but ... even though a lot of things are left up in the air I like the way it ended. I don't want to mess with it. Melinda lives happily ever after in my head. Very happy. Rating: (less)
I reviewed a complimentary e-book copy received from the publisher via NetGalley. I was told that the bo...moreMore of my reviews can be found at YA Asylum.
I reviewed a complimentary e-book copy received from the publisher via NetGalley. I was told that the book is aimed at and suitable for reluctant, struggling and dyslexic teens. As a dyslexic, I found this very interesting.
FIRST IMPRESSION: The start was interesting, I'm was curious about Anna and her situation.
THE PLOT: It's fairly simplistic. There's a few twists but nothing jaw dropping or hard to see coming. I would say the weakest part of the book is the abrupt ending. I imagine this is a first in a series but even then I would have rather had a more certain ending.
A lot of plot points were resolved very quickly and suddenly. Sometimes the problem was introduced just a few pages before it was solved. It's a short story, so to some extent that was necessary. To others, I think it would have benefited to the story to give a few of the plot points another page or two to live.
THE CHARACTERS: I sympathized with Anna a great deal and really wanted good things to happen for her. Her father was a mix and I wasn't certain what to make of him -- which is good, I think. It left me thinking about him and their situation.
Rob is the other major player in this book. He wasn't really developed but I was interested. I think, if this is a series, then I'd like to see if he is given more dimensions.
THE ROMANCE: This isn't a heavy player, but there is some light exchange of feelings between Rob and Anna. I did feel it and would like to see it explored further in a future book. What developed between them was realistic and what I liked best about it is that it forced Anna to question how things were. If the world her father made her live in was right.
There was also some Max/Anna and that just creeped me out. I have issues with major age differences like that, but it was meant to be inappropriate and not something the readers want so that was achieved.
THE WRITING This is where I really struggle with reviewing this book. I'm dyslexic (and rather proud of that fact, thank you) but I was lucky to have a lovely and wonderful mother that took a lot of time and effort to make sure I got all the help I needed with my dyslexia. I'm aware this doesn't happen for everyone and help tutor others that weren't help as early in life as I was. So I tried to read it from the point of view that I would have had as a struggling reader.
The word choices and simplistic sentence structure would suit a reluctant reader well. The length of the book really helps as well. I know some might think it's too short (and some plot points suffered because of the length and fell into place rather abruptly because of it) but length is key for a reluctant reader. I would have honestly picked this book just because of the length, back when reading wasn't my favorite thing. If it's too long it's too intimidating.
But there was an awful lot of telling and that's where I struggled. It was always "Anna felt -insert feeling-" "Anna thought -insert whatever she thought-" "Rob looked -insert emotion-". There was no showing. No leaving room for the reader to try and figure it out for themselves. There was no trust between writer and reader -- no allowance of the reader to take a leap from point A to point B. I've been thinking whether this is appropriate or not. I've decided it isn't.
Reluctant readers and dyslexic certainly doesn't translate to dumb readers. If you give them a show, they'll be able to take the leap to understand what it means. I'm not saying use bigger words or more complex sentences but it wouldn't have been that hard to switch a few of the tells to a show. Instead of "Rob looked excited" it could have been said like: "Rob sat up straight and a smile crossed his lips as his eyes landed on Anna" -- a simple show that express how Rob felt. It would, I believe, encourage the reader. It makes them feel more a part of the story and even a good about themselves when they realize later that they were right.
I would recommend this to a reluctant reader. It would be an easy and quick reader and would help them build their confidence. I would have liked to see more trust in the reader's ability to make intuitive leaps, though. (less)
I didn't know what to think when I first started this book. The writing style was diffe...moreMore of my reviews can be found at YA Asylum.
I didn't know what to think when I first started this book. The writing style was different and we meet Anna at a very young age. It's like a MG that progress into a YA.
If you like coming-of-age stories where it's all internal plot -- Anna trying to figure out who she is and what she can do -- then you wouldn't mind this plot. Personally, that's not my type of story. I like it when there's a coming-of-age mixed with some other type of plot, like Emily's Dress & Other Missing Things.
The pacing was lagged here and there and I'm not a 100% sure what the point was of all the scenes, but it was an overall interesting enough story.
There were a lot, but not all of them were important. I really liked Toy, Anna's BFF. It wasn't hard to figure out her secrets, but she was different and always brought something to the story when she appeared in it. Anna was a broken girl with no other real friends and a difficult upbringing, so I felt for her.
There's a lot of uses for boys, but there's not a lot of romance in this. I must admit, I didn't read the back of this book until I was done, and I laughed a little. It mentions a Sam and how he changes everything. Can you really bring a character up in a synopsis if he doesn't appear within the first 160 pages of the story? When the story is only 225...? I mean, if that's the real starter of the plot or whatever then ... this books got more plot problems than I had thought. But I have a feeling that's something marketers whipped up, not Scheidt. I don't think that was the story she was trying to tell.
In the end, you wouldn't read this book for the romance factor. So if you're looking for sweet, happy romance this isn't for you.
I liked it. It was different and the short chapters did make it easy to read.
If you like coming-of-age YA contemporaries similar to Lovely, Dark, & Deep or Speak, then this would be a good book for you. (less)
FIRST IMPRESSION: It's funny and intriguing -- I really, really, really want to know why she has to kill h...moreMore of my reviews can be found at YA Asylum.
FIRST IMPRESSION: It's funny and intriguing -- I really, really, really want to know why she has to kill her bff the princess.
THE PLOT: It's a fast pace, fun, cleverly plotted story. There are twists and turns, though I admit I called all but one. It wasn't particularly difficult to figure out what was going on with the princess and why, but that didn't take away from this book in my opinion. Kyra, the light hearted funny voice, and the adventure was well worth the read.
The was one part in particular that amazed me. When Fred & Kyra first start to share amusing tales, Fred teaches Kyra a drinking song. I've never before read a book and been able to hear how that song went. I didn't even realize while I was reading it how it sounded like a song until I got to the end of the lyrics. I loved that. There are so many precious moments like this throughout the story.
THE CHARACTERS: Kyra is my type of her heroine. She's clever, witty, and can totally take care of business without waiting around for someone (particularly a man) to come and save her. Though she's not perfect, she does jump to conclusion rather quickly and can obviously get herself into a whole heck of a lot of trouble. But flawed characters are the best, in my opinion. I just loved how this young, brilliant girl was the one who started the Master Trio Potioner business, how she didn't need her family's help to become the girl she was, and how strong willed she was even in the face of what appeared to be utter doom.
Fred is perhaps my favorite love interest of 2013. I immediately liked him. I don't mind the serious time, the ones that look into your eyes and can seemingly see through to your soul (Perry from Under the Never Sky for instance) but I do love a handsome goof every once and a while. He didn't ever try to hold Kyra back either, even though he clearly wanted her to stay. He was a very respectable character and I adored him.
Rosie & Langley were my other favorites. I was thinking Charlotte's Web when I heard an enchanted little piglet would be in this story (Rosie) but, thankfully, it was nothing like that. And Fred's dog, Langley, was precious, too.
THE ROMANCE: The Kyra/Fred couple has one a slot as one of my favorites of 2013 (along side Zoe/Will of Nobody But Us). It was cute and light, which I appreciated. I do like the deep and I-feel-like-I-need-you-every-second-of-the-day type of romances every once and a while, but I prefer romance to be a secondary (or even third or fourth) subplot to the story. It's always best if the romance can add to the characters and help them realize things about themselves or develop, and I feel like in this case Kyra learned a lot about on-the-run girl she had become by her encounters with Fred. Plus, the were always amusing. I loved their banter.
THE WRITING: The writing was quick and fun, I really enjoyed Zinn's style. I also really liked her world building in this story. It wasn't heavy at all, even though it's a medieval story, and still I had a very clear picture in my head of what the Kingdom of Mohr was. My favorite part? The women ruled and a girl could start her own business.
You need to read this book. I can't imagine anyone not enjoying it. I'm not just saying that because, tragically, Bridget Zinn is no longer with us. I'm saying it because the book is that good. I suppose if you don't like laughter and a fun, high action, adventure, then you might not enjoy this but ... who doesn't like those things? (less)
FIRST IMPRESSION: The story has a very strong voice and even though all my friends said they cried when t...moreMore of my reviews can be found at my YA blog.
FIRST IMPRESSION: The story has a very strong voice and even though all my friends said they cried when they read it, I wasn't going to. I knew what to expect. It was going to be okay.
THE PLOT: We've all heard it before: dying person has a bucket list. But the way Downham goes about the list is so ... painfully beautiful that you forget about all the other stories out there. Tessa's tale is so engaging, so enduring, that it's ridiculously hard to put the book down and even harder to stop thinking about once you're done.
THE CHARACTERS: TESSA the main character is so unique, so conflicted, so amazing that I fell in love with her myself. She faces such a difficult fate and goes through so many emotional situations, but she still keeps moving forward. I loved how she obsessed over numbers -- counting days, things she saw, numbering her list, it was all so interesting.
ZOEY is the best friend, and I love her, too. My feelings for her were like a roller coster, one minute they were high in an 'I-totally-love-this-girl' way and then the next they were shooting down in an 'I-hate-her-so-much' fashion.
ADAM is the love interest, and a very special one at that. He has his own hard time dealing with his life, but he still can't keep away from Tessa, even though he knows it can't end well. Through the story, I grew to love him.
CAL is the little brother. Conflicted, adorable, and a magic lover -- what's not to like?
The characters were what really made the story a tragedy. Even though I knew it couldn't end well, I couldn't help but love each of them. Which really just made it harder in the end.
THE ROMANCE: I loved this part of the story. How unexpected it was for them. I've mentioned before that I'm a sucker for star crossed lovers, and you really can't get any more star crossed then a dying girl and a healthy boy. There was real tension in this subplot, real emotions, and really beautiful moments.
THE WRITING The writing is amazing. Downham really paints a vivid picture of life for Tessa and doesn't shy away from the gritty and horrible parts of her sickness. She focuses on everything around Tessa, bugs, birds, weird extra, little, things you'd never really think about and it just makes it all so real. The end of the book is where her talent really shines. The way she captures Tessa's declining health is perfect. I wasn't able to stop reading.
Usually, near the end of the book, I'll glance at the page number a lot to know how many pages are left. That way I can sort of gage what will happen next (this subplot will be wrapping up, this question should be answered soon, etc) but with this book I wasn't. I just focused on the words, turning the page, and hoping it wouldn't end.
CONCLUSION: I cried. By around page 280, there were tears in my eyes. They stayed until the end. I feel a burn in my eyes when I think about the book. I can honestly only think of one other book that made me cry (LOVELY BONES) and it was just a few tears. This book ... there were a lot more than just a few. (less)
FIRST IMPRESSION: The writing is worth reading. Not a whole lot happens at the start and you can tell tha...moreMore of my reviews can be found at my YA blog.
FIRST IMPRESSION: The writing is worth reading. Not a whole lot happens at the start and you can tell that's going to be the atmosphere of the book -- Wren thinking about how depressed she is and possibly not doing anything about it. But the writing, the skill McNamara has, is worth reading regardless.
THE PLOT: There's not one. Aside from Wren being wrecked and trying to unravel herself and get better. There's not a lot of forward motion. There's a lot of lamenting, of hitting a wall and not being able to get around it, and just ... depression. High moments. Low moments. The plot isn't why you'd read this book.
It took about a 100 pages for me to really get into something aside from the writing. By around page 150, I thought the story could wrap up nicely. The book is around 350 pages, so it doesn't. It just keeps going. There a lulls were the writing is all that kept the book in my hands, then there's action that makes me actually interested in the outcome. The story dragged near the end. I thought there were parts that could have been cut altogether to make it tighter and more ... eventful.
THE CHARACTERS: They make the book worth while. WREN is the main character, she's fragile, broken, and self-centered. She's not the most original character. I can think of a few other MCs just like her -- Claire from EMILY'S DRESS & OTHER MISSING THINGS or What's-her-name (I want to say ... Anne?) from REVOLUTION by Donnelly. They were both whirling from a lose, by mega-sad.
CAL is probably my favorite character in the story. He's unique, special, and always interesting. I felt for him and respected his strength.
MARY is my other favorite. She's such a unique, weird, artistic character that can drag even gloomy Wren out of herself. I was so sad when she left the story.
WREN'S DAD was someone I had a like-loath relationship with. Sometimes he was awesome, other times he'd say things that weren't so awesome -- borderline sexist remarks. Over all, I liked him.
WREN'S MOM was a bitch. I couldn't stand her. I was just hoping someone would punch her.
MEREDITH was ... ughhhhh inducing.
Even if I didn't like the characters, the fact that McNamara could make me feel so extreme about them was great.
THE ROMANCE: This was another reason to read the story. Wren and Cal's weird little dance. I felt it more from Cal's side, and wanted it to work out for his sake. I knew that it was probably Wren's only chance of becoming someone again. Plus, it was a tragic romance and I love those. There's some hope that somehow everything will magically work out but ... with his sickness, you know it can't last forever.
THE WRITING Completely and utterly the biggest reason I read this book. It was powerful and beautiful all at once. It made an otherwise already-been-there-done-that story different and lovely. Just like the title says, the writing is lovely, dark, and deep. McNamara has a talent for describing depression without being blatant about what it all means. How one moment Wren can have so much energy and the next she can't get herself out of bed.
CONCLUSION: This book is going to stick with me. (less)
FIRST IMPRESSION: For me, the start was more interesting than the one in Paper Valentine. It set a dark...moreMore of my reviews can be found at my YA Asylum.
FIRST IMPRESSION: For me, the start was more interesting than the one in Paper Valentine. It set a dark tone for the rest of the book and left me dying to know more about Mackie.
THE PLOT: In the first section of the book, I was so interested in Mackie and the strange world that Yovanoff created, that I didn't even care that I wasn't sure what the overall plot to the book was yet. Then it become clearer and clearer with the more Tate talked. The pacing was well done in my opinion, but that was because I enjoyed the world building, the strangeness of the town, and Mackie so much that I didn't mind all the times the story seemed to veer slightly off track so we could learn more about all of that. If you're more of an action-action-action-plot-plot-plot girl you might have some problems with the pacing.
I could tell how the book was going to end, but I enjoyed the ride enough that that didn't bother me.
THE CHARACTERS: Mackie may be my favorite male protagonist ever. He was so likable, so broken, so strange that I adored him and sympathized with him from the start. I liked how he wasn't human and how conflicted he was over that.
Roswell, the Morrigan, and Tate are some of my favorite supporting characters as well. For the exclusion of Mackie's dad, Alice, and perhaps the pure evilness that is the Lady, everyone in the story was a multi-layered, three dimensional character. At first, Roswell didn't make a lot of sense to me. I figured Mackie's dad most have paid him somehow to stay friends with Makcie and never ask questions but when his real reason comes out, I was impressed with him. The Morrigan was such a weird, cute, odd, odd, odd character. I couldn't think of another like her, and that's what I like the best. Tate was a fierce, fierce female lead and that exactly how I like them. Better yet, she can take a hit and hit back truly hard.
THE ROMANCE: This was a minor player in the grand scheme of things, but what little there was, I liked it. You don't often see romance from the male's POV in YA, and though I'm a girl and don't really always understand the in-workings of boys, I think that Yovanoff was pretty spot on.
THE WRITING Yovanoff is one of my favorite writers. She's really good at explaining the weird and diving into deep emotions. This is her debut (I read Paper Valentine prior to this book) and (not to sound mean or anything) but it showed. There were aspects of that I didn't see in Paper Valentine.
Unneeded repetition is, perhaps, one of the things that bothers me the most in writing. There are times when it is necessary, when it helps to build the tension, or the voice of a character, or really drive a point home, but most of the time it isn't. Yovanoff would constantly say things in three. Example: " Then she reached out and slapped Alice right back, soft and quick and mocking" page 221. If it just happened to be a weird OCD thing that Mackie had to do, then maybe I would have understood. But it wasn't. The Lady did it when she talked, too.
Aside from that, I enjoyed Yovanoff's writing. She has become a favorite of mine.
CONCLUSION: This book is really strange and odd and nefarious, I would recommend it to anyone that likes that in a story. (less)
I loved this book sooooo much, but I need to give it a day to settle before I can write a sensible review. If I do it right now I'll fan girl spazz ou...moreI loved this book sooooo much, but I need to give it a day to settle before I can write a sensible review. If I do it right now I'll fan girl spazz out because I LOVE GRETCHEN MCNEIL SO MUCH!!! She is probably my favorite writer currently!
**spoiler alert** The Good: I did finish the book, so it was interesting enough to read to the end, I guess. There really wasn't anything special or un...more**spoiler alert** The Good: I did finish the book, so it was interesting enough to read to the end, I guess. There really wasn't anything special or unique about the story, most of the elements in it have been done before (or perhaps repeated, since Pike was one of the first big YA writers, I'm not sure which one it is). It wasn't hard to see where the story was going, but it was an enjoyable enough ride.
The Bad: The dialogue was really not great. All the characters talked the same way and I guarantee you no teenager talks like these kids do. It was all so formal. For example, when Jimmy and Shari were talking while Shari was trying to keep the air bubble from killing Jimmy. He said something like, "Did she succeed?" (Meaning, did Amanda succeed at killing him?) Really? You're in a daze, you might be dying, you're talking to your dead sister, and that's how you're going to talk? Um, no. I doubt that, a lot. Peter and Shari's dialogue was the same, their word choice, their odd hinges of formalness.
Everything was really stereotypical, too. Drunk cop (Garrett) has a drug addict daughter. Switch baby thing, that's been done a million times. It just... wasn't so great.
I really don't like it, either, when it turns out the book was written by the main character. Which Remember Me apparently was, which was dumb. (less)