Archive of ‘Young Adult’ category

Review: The Walls Around Us

From Goodreads: On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries…

What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?

In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

Erin’s Thoughts: Oh my goodness, oh my goodness! This book completely wowed me! I should start by saying that the unreliable narrator is easily my favorite literary trope. I love the mystery of trying to figure out who and what to believe…what’s reality and what’s not. The Walls Around Us sings with unreliability in the best way. Nova Ren Suma has done a wonderful job of creating dual storylines, linked together, each with a distinct air or unreliability, all while keeping the plot moving. It’s truly an impressive piece of writing, and I’m eager to read more from her.

This is part ghost story and part murder mystery with a cast of creepy, detached characters to guide you through the book. I think it’s important to go into this book realizing that you will likely be confused.  Things will be unclear. That’s part of the fun of reading this. I found myself constantly trying to suss out what was what, even while I wasn’t reading. I very much anticipate this being a top book of 2016 for me!

Review: Ana of California

From Goodreads: A modern take on the classic coming-of-age novel, inspired by Anne of Green Gables

In the grand tradition of Anne of Green Gables, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and The Three Weissmanns of Westport, Andi Teran’s captivating debut novel offers a contemporary twist on a beloved classic. Fifteen-year-old orphan Ana Cortez has just blown her last chance with a foster family. It’s a group home next—unless she agrees to leave East Los Angeles for a farm trainee program in Northern California.

When she first arrives, Ana can’t tell a tomato plant from a blackberry bush, and Emmett Garber is skeptical that this slight city girl can be any help on his farm. His sister Abbie, however, thinks Ana might be just what they need. Ana comes to love Garber Farm, and even Emmett has to admit that her hard work is an asset. But when she inadvertently stirs up trouble in town, Ana is afraid she might have ruined her last chance at finding a place to belong.

Erin’s Thoughts: I received this book in my most recent Book Riot YA Quarterly Box – super fun bookish mail that is always more than worth the cost – and was immediately drawn in by the cover. I was also super intrigued by the idea of Ana in California being a modern take on one of my most beloved books, Anne of Green Gables. While there are certainly elements of Anne’s story in Ana’s, this is not a basic retelling of a classic.  Ana’s story is her own, and this book stands strongly on it’s own two feet.

I loved this book.  Loved it. I will be passing around my copy immediately. While this book came in my YA box and the main character is a young adult, it’s actually shelved as fiction – definitely a wonderful choice for adults and young adult fans alike. I completely fell in love with Ana. Her spunk, her art, her desperation to make a better life for herself. Ana isn’t the only vividly painted character either. The entire cast is diverse, lovable, engaging, and real. Plus, the small town of Hadley is a character in it’s own right. I truly cannot say enough great things about this book. Read it!

A Reading Funk

I could feel it coming. I would binge a few great books and then stare at my library pile with apathy. Indecision meant starting multiple books before setting them aside.

I was in a Reading Funk.

The fact that reading keeps me sane means a reading funk is no good. I picked up a few quicker romance reads and that kept me going for a few more weeks.

But then I was back to aimlessly staring at covers, my fingers slipping over the spines but ending up empty handed. It was time of the big guns.

The only thing that can save me from this situation is a good old fashioned reread.

Sometimes it only takes one more trip to Paris with Anna and Etienne to pull me out of my funk, but this time it felt bigger than that. I needed a series reread, but Anna wasn’t calling to me.

Sookie Stackhouse was calling to me instead. In the past few days I’ve read the first and second, and am starting on the third. I needed something fast, dramatic, and familiar, and this series gives me exactly that. I don’t know if I’ll reread the entire series (though that would surely help me recover from my lackluster beginning of the month) but I figure I’ll reread until I see an unread book on my shelves that jumps into my waiting hand.

What do you do when you hit a reading funk/slump? Power through? Take a break? Reread?

Review: Illuminae

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

From Goodreads: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Jennie’s Thoughts: I love Amie Kaufman’s Starbound trilogy, so when I saw she was co-writing another science-fiction series, I was all over the library hold button.

And man, oh man, does this book bring the suspense and drama and hilarity. The characters, even though we only see them through written communications, are real and snarky and funny and quirky. The relationship between Kady and Ezra made me laugh and swoon and squeeze with suspense.

And the plot, was heart-racing, and I mean that literally. This book had me on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t put it down. I wanted more, more, more with each page. It was some of the best science-fictiony elements all together in one awesome book.

I hate that I have a year to wait for the next in the series. BUT, don’t let that stop you from reading it right now, because I need to talk about how crazy awesome it was!

Audio Review: Etiquette and Espionage

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From Goodreads: Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education

Erin’s Thoughts: Absolutely enchanting, completely delightful, funny, and just plain fun.  I’ve now listened to the first three books in this series and I am desperate for the fourth to come out because they make my car rides and workouts amazing. I have to admit that I didn’t think that steampunk was really “my thing”, but these books have proven me wrong.  Carriger’s writing is full of humor and those great tongue in cheek moments that I always love so much.  The narration by Moira Quick is so well done!  Her voices make the characters completely come to life.  Plus, how could you not love a finishing school for intelligentsias, mechanical pups name Bumbersnoot, and ridiculous characters with names like Lord Dingleproops.  These books are such a treat! While the Finishing School series is Young Adult, I’m excited to check out Carriger’s adult series, The Parasol Protectorate and The Custard Protocol.

Review: Things We Know by Heart

Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

From Goodreads: When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.

After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all.

Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn’t want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they’re connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake.

Jennie’s Thoughts: When I was in high school, a friend committed suicide and his parents donated many of his organs, so from the moment I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. And once I picked it up from the library, I devoured it.

Jessi Kirby writes deep, heart-wrenching stories that are full of hope and love and amazing settings. And this book packed an even heavier emotional punch for me than her others. I loved Quinn and felt her devastation from the first page. I wanted to hug her, to shake her until her head hurt. And, from the moment Colton arrived on the page, I was hooked. The dynamics between the two created amazing tension!

I cried, I cheered, I cried some more. And I closed the book with a happy sigh. If you enjoy YA novels, I highly, highly recommend this one!

Review: Bone Gap

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

From Goodreads: Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

Jennie’s Thoughts: This was an unexpected read for me. See, up through the first fifty or so pages, I wasn’t sure I would even finish it. But then the magic of Bone Gap pulled me in and I read the rest in a mad dash. I had to know what would happen. I had to know what the heck was going on!

I don’t even know how to write a proper review of this, honestly. So, I’m going short and sweet: this might be an unexpected favorite of 2015.

It’s:
Creepy
Swoony
Crazy Intense
Feminism Hell Yeah
Bees
Sass
A kick ass horse
Love

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