24 November 2014

Review: Roomies

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Publication date: December 24, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman year roommate assignment, she has no idea what she’s in for. Elizabeth’s first email to San Franciscan Lauren begins a strange friendship that not only changes each girl’s summer, but also begins to spark questions that make the girls wonder if they will ever be able to live together. Meanwhile, relationships with family and friends are becoming more difficult each day for Lauren and Elizabeth, and suddenly, the only people they can rely on are each other.

The point-of-view in ROOMIES rotates between Lauren and Elizabeth. Normally, this can become confusing, but each chapter is labeled, making it very clear who is narrating. In addition, I loved how different Lauren and Elizabeth are, yet, both girls are realistic, and anybody reading this book can relate to their fears and insecurities. The authors did a great job of addressing all the questions that come with trying to form a friendship with a person you don’t actually know. Each girl wonders about what the other looks like, whether or not they will get along, and what will happen when they make the big transition from home to college. ROOMIES has a perfect balance of romance, friendship, and family, and I would recommend it to anybody who is a fan of contemporary fiction.

21 November 2014

Review: Made for You

Made for You by Melissa Marr
Publication date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins

MADE FOR YOU by Melissa Marr is a modern murder mystery that explores a classic plot through a new and updated angle with just a hint of paranormal. After narrowly escaping her own death at the hands of a psychotically deranged killer, Eva begins a journey to discover the identity of the murderer that has started to kill her friends one by one. After waking up in the hospital after her brush with death, Eva discovers that she now has the ability to foresee people’s deaths by touch. With this newly found skill, Eva and her old childhood friend Nate race to uncover the identity of the murderer before the rest of their friends are killed. She’s on an emotional roller-coaster of grief, adrenalin, romance, and fright that will only snowball to a jumbled mess of emotional confusion as the story goes on.

I have never read a murder mystery book, and it scared me in a way I never thought possible. It was exciting and fast paced throughout, and the anticipation was palpable. I think the author did an amazing job of portraying the emotions and thoughts of each character as the story was portrayed through many different character’s viewpoints. It highlighted the tragic problems affecting our society regarding murder and mental health problems. My greatest problem with the book was Eva's "gift". It was not explained and I don’t think that she reacted realistically when discovering her ability. An idea that had so much potential did not play out in the way I hoped, and it just seemed like an easy way for the author to continue the plot. The murderer’s reveal was not as dramatic as it could have been, nor were there any foreshadowing or hints to who it was, which seemed as if the author did not make a definite decision on the murderer until long after she began to write it. Because of the events of this book, I would rate it ages 14-15+ with a slight trigger warning.

19 November 2014

Review: The Young Elites

The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Publication date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Putnam

In a fantasy world where a disease has swept through the lands, killing many and marking others, those marked are known as malfettos and thought to be sinful. Some malfettos, such as Adelina Amouteru, developed certain abilities after being marked, and are known as Young Elites.

I've never been a particular fan of fantasy novels, if I'm being completely honest; books with completely different worlds never really "clicked" with me-- so you could say I was going in to THE YOUNG ELITES slightly apprehensive. For the most part, it was the same as it always had been-- the fantasy world of THE YOUNG ELITES did not particularly draw me in; it was rather the book's protagonist, Adelina, that kept me reading. Rarely have I ever kept reading a book solely for the main character-- in fact, this may be the first time I've done so. Unlike most main characters, Adelina doesn't seem to always make the right choice... And her intentions aren't always the purest ones, either. Contrary to the typical "Mary Sue" main character, who can do no wrong, Marie Lu has written Adelina with the capacity to make the wrong decisions-- and to feel the consequences and impact of them. It was refreshing to read about a more in-depth protagonist, and the fact that Lu can concoct such a detailed character highlights her exemplary writing skills. I'd recommend this book to anyone ages 12-17 who are bored and done with the typical Mary Sue heroine, and want a more twisted and intricate protagonist.

17 November 2014

Review: Famous Last Words

Famous Last Words by Katie Alender
Publication date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Point

FAMOUS LAST WORDS will keep you on your toes the whole way through! It’s about a girl named Willa who has just moved to Los Angeles (bonus creepiness points when murders in the book take place in your actual city!). Her stepfather is a famous Hollywood film director, and he owns the most beautiful and grand house in the Hollywood Hills. The house once belonged to a famous movie star who apparently killed herself many years ago. Willa has to balance fitting in at her private school, with visions of drowning girls and unexplained noises in the night. Someone- or something- is trying desperately to get her attention. Willa begins to connect her, shall we say, “visitor,” with a serial killer stalking young actresses in LA, and must piece together everything that’s happening before it’s too late.

I found this to be a mysterious read in a fun setting that was totally believable and interesting. The characters are super fun too, mostly because they’re all so unique to one another. I also really appreciated that the author didn't save everything important until the last chapter! When everything started to get really crazy and intense, there was still about 50 pages left. I also liked the combination of a murder mystery with ghosts and the unknown. Keep in mind, this book is not for the squeamish! It’s a little creepy…not going to lie I had to read it in the day time. For 12 and up, or frankly anyone who thinks they can handle it!

14 November 2014

Review: Stranger

Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith
Publication date: November 13, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile

The book, STRANGER, by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith, is very exciting and suspenseful. The book switches between points of views, and although it could sometimes be confusing, it helped show the ideas that the characters were forming. The different views allowed more insight into the characters' lives.The plot is also a great idea. The story takes place in what is known as Los Angeles to us, but is now, generations later, Las Anclas. The main character in the story is a man named Ross Juarez, who has brought an ancient artifact into Las Anclas, and people are chasing him down to get it. This story has a great mix of suspense, action, and deceit. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes action-packed thrillers.

12 November 2014

Review: I'll Give You the Sun

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Publication date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Dial

I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN is the emotional journey of two twins who grow apart and find their way back together. Jude and her brother Noah are completely different, but still share an incredibly strong bond as children. Jude is an extroverted social butterfly and Noah is a reclusive artist, but they are inseparable as children. A few years later they have completely switched places and they rarely talk to each other. Neither feels whole without the support of a twin, but family tragedy, jealousy, secrets, and unfinished stories keep them from healing and forgiving. After struggling through the issues that keep them apart, the twins finally get the courage to accept both each other and themselves.

I found this book incredibly poetic and beautifully written. The plot alternates between present day and flashbacks to weave an intricate story with twists and turns I didn't see coming. The author does a good job of making sure the transitions between past and present tense are clear and not confusing. I also liked the character development throughout the book and the author did a very good job distinguishing between the different voices of the twins, who alternate in telling the story. I do think that the internal monologues of the characters could have been condensed because they made the book feel overly long and sometimes the plot dragged. There is some content regarding sexuality and I would recommend this book for 15+ readers.

10 November 2014

Review: Trust Me, I'm Lying

Trust Me, I'm Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer
Publication date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte

TRUST ME, I'M LYING by Mary Elizabeth Summer is the epitome of an adventurous mystery, packed with action, riddles, and a heated love interest. Julep Dupree may seem like your average sophomore attending the prestigious private school of St. Agatha, but this is far from the truth. This average school girl persona is only one of her many disguises. This of course is common for a con artist like herself and a skilled grifter. But when out of the blue, Julep comes home to a ransacked apartment and a missing father, her world is turned upside down. She must now use the con artists skills her father taught her to solve the clues left blatantly behind. Julep Dupree must now manage the chaos in her life, upgrading from harmless school scams, to finding her missing father before its too late.

TRUST ME, I'M LYING is a remarkably clever book that will have the reader playing detective from start to finish. With an unexpected plot and an array of hidden clues, Summer’s book is bound to intrigue. Manipulation, deception, and trickery are hefty tools used in the story to add to the great suspense. The novel manages to keep a fast paced rhythm throughout the story, never failing to be eventful or thrilling. This well sought out mystery is packed with riveting action and a hint of romance to appeal to a large range of crowds. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who can appreciate a good mystery and challenging riddle. Summer does an outstanding job giving her character, Julep, a both youthful soul, but wise and intelligent outlook on life. As the reader, you will find yourself growing attached to the main character and experience her journey first hand. I believe this book is appropriate for ages twelve and up.

07 November 2014

Review: The Walled City

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Publication date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown

THE WALLED CITY is a lawless, run down town filled with violence and vagrants, ruled by the feared Brotherhood. Jin stays invisible, always trying to stay safe and keep a secret. Dai is trying to attain a well-protected object before the clock runs out. Mei Yee was sold into a brothel in the Walled City two years ago and is losing hope on gaining her freedom. How will these three teens come together to race the clock and escape the lawless labyrinth?

THE WALLED CITY has become one of my favorite books. The plot line is extremely unpredictable and suspenseful, and I thought that the many conflicts introduced and solved throughout the book were very creative. It was fascinating to me to find out that the Walled City in the book was, in fact, a real place in China. I thought that the personalities of all the characters were extremely relatable and accurate, and that the story was well-developed. Although this book is very well written, I do feel as though the conflict in the end dragged on a little longer than necessary. Other than this, though, the book is a must read. I would definitely recommend this book for ages 13 and up, as there is some violence and a few sexual references.

05 November 2014

Review: Talon

Talon by Julie Kagawa 
Publication date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

TALON is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world of mythical creatures, bordered by a false sense of normalcy. The human society in which this story is based gives the book a relatable edge, but still provides the escapism of a wonderfully created alternate world filled with dragons. I love the story sculpted by Julie Kagawa. It brings the glory and impressive nature of dragons to a world that we can relate to and enjoy. The mystery and excitement of the characters and relationships in the world of TALON make it irresistible to put down. I love reading books such as Eragon, and other novels with fantastic worlds that really capture your attention, and this book really does that. It takes a teen dragon out into society for the first time to discover that the world is not exactly as she expected.

03 November 2014

Review: Snow Like Ashes

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Publication date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Blazer + Bray

Sixteen years ago, The Kingdom of Winter was conquered, leaving its citizens as slaves to The Spring Kingdom. Now the Winterians’ only hope is the eight surviving refugees. Among them is Meira, an orphan-soldier, and her best friend and future king, Mather. Meira takes it upon herself to try and help her kingdom, but when a mission doesn't go as planned, Meira comes to realize that her destiny is not, and never has been, her own.

Sara Raasch kills it with her debut novel SNOW LIKE ASHES. It was by far the best fantasy book I read in long time. Raasch reminded me once again why I love reading so much. She captured me within the page of the book and not once did I feel bored. I had a lot of trouble putting this book down, and when I did, I found myself struggling to not reach for it within the next second. SNOW LIKE ASHES is a fresh, new book in the YA fantasy world full of original characters and ideas. I would recommend this book to any fantasy junkie looking for something new and different. Ages 13 and up.

31 October 2014

Top 10 Books for Halloween

Top 10 List: 
Scary Halloween Reads

Beware of Long Lankin, that lives in the moss. . . .When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdon, little do they know that their arrival will reawaken an evil-a horrifying truth that devastated Auntie Ida's life the last time two young girls were at Guerdon Hall and has held the village in its dark grip for centuries.

Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents' marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude. When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes; she uses old-fashioned language; and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Alexis knows she's the only person who can stop Kasey -- but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?

Will Henry is an orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a gruesome find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet.

In Mary's world there are simple truths: The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Jasper Dent is the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view. And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod. In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows? 

Bridget Liu can hear 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. 

There's a serial killer on the loose killing girls . With the entire city in a panic, Hannah Wagnor soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again. 

Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything. 

They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself.

This book follows seven teenagers, all with one thing in common: the love of Justin Blake's horror movies. All except for Ivy Jensen that is, still struggling with her past and numerous phobias, Ivy is certainly out of place in this haven for horror fanatics. As the seven teenagers arrive at the Dark House, the setting for some of the most horrific of Blake's movies, the teens are lead farther and farther from the safety of their own homes, and closer and closer into the the grips of the Nightmare Elf. By the time Ivy and the rest of the teens realize what exactly they have gotten themselves into, it is too late to escape the Dark House, all they can do is run and hope they can escape before it is too late.

Review: Legend

Legend by Marie Lu
Publication date: November 29, 2011
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

The book LEGEND by Marie Lu was a great, action-packed book. It had a great storyline and was very suspenseful. I would recommend this book to any reader who likes action or fantasy books. In the book, the main characters Day and June are from nearly opposite worlds, June grew up in a wealthy military family, while Day grew up in the slums and is the countries most wanted criminal. When June's brother is murdered, Day is the prime suspect, and she decides to chase him down. Did Day do it? Read the book to find out. You will enjoy it!

29 October 2014

Review: Full Ride

Full Ride by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Publication date: November 12, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

I would give this book 4.5 stars out of five because it had a wonderful plot throughout and a great beginning, middle, and end. Margaret Peterson Haddix spins an entrancing tale about a girl whose high school years are stripped away due to her father’s life of crime. As the story develops and we learn more and more about the protagonist, Becca Jones, we empathize with her plight and become even more drawn in to the story. By the end of this novel, you have a personal stake in the outcome of Becca, because she is so like everyday kids. Also, I would say that the perfect age to read this book would be anywhere from 12-16. This age group will be kept interested for hours by the fascinating story Haddix tells.

27 October 2014

Review: The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Publication date: May 7, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

A thrilling sci-fi novel, THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey, consists of aliens attacking the world in five different waves or sequences. It follows the personal stories of several different characters, but mainly stars Cassie, a sixteen-year-old girl. Cassie's parents died in a previous wave, however she is unclear about the fate of her five-year-old brother Sammy who was "saved" by the government. Cassie believes that she is the last human on earth. Then Cassie meets Evan, a mysterious boy who nurses her back to health. However, Cassie soon discovers that all is not what it seems.

This book was so exciting that I couldn't put it down! There are so many zombie apocalypse novels, but I had never read about an alien apocalypse. Throughout the story, there are many flashbacks and view point changes that were timed so well and made the story thrilling. I think the author executed his ideas quite well. Because of the subject, language, and violence, this novel would be most suited for 14 and up.

24 October 2014

Review: The Kiss of Deception

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Publication date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt

Mary E. Pearson's THE KISS OF DECEPTION is a story about a runaway princess who has to find her way in an unforgiving world without the advantages, or shields, that come with her upbringing in royalty. She finds herself at odds with the danger and uncertainty of her surroundings. As the novel progresses, Princess Lia grows from a dependent princess, to an independent young woman capable of making decisions for the better, not only for herself, but those around her as well. She learns about sacrifice, loyalty, and deception as she struggles with pursuit from killers, and hunters, and everlasting secrets. I loved the characters in this book and the complex relationships described. I felt like I struggled through my love and dislike of all of them along with Lia. I also really liked the details and imagery of the story making me feel like I was in the adventure, in a whole different society than our own.

22 October 2014

Review: Skink-No Surrender

Skink-No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen
Publication date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Richard and his cousin Malley have always been close, so when he learns she has run off with a guy she met in an Internet chat room, he is baffled that she left without letting him know. When Malley contacts him, however, he senses that her little trip may have skidded off track. Disappointed that the law seemed to have hit a wall in locating her and the guy, Richard teams up with an unlikely partner, a seventy-two-year-old eccentric called Skink who is really the former governor of Florida, declared dead after disappearing into the Florida swamp a few years back.

I was really looking forward to reading this book, because I am a very big fan of Hiaasen and some of his other books I read a while ago, such as Flush and Hoot. In SKINK NO SURRENDER, my absolute favorite parts were whenever Skink was involved. He provided the humor and most of the action in the novel. He is also such a bizarre character that reading about him doing even the most mundane things were all so interesting. Hiaasen’s novels always feature criminals who commit a series of crimes against the environment, and this novel is no exception. These parts are really interesting and quite different from most YA novels I've read outside of Hiaasen’s books.

20 October 2014

Review: The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Publication date: December 18, 2012
Publisher: Hyperion

This is the story of Ruby, a sixteen-year-old girl with special abilities living in a futuristic, dysfunctional America. After escaping Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp” for kids like her, she joins a group of kids who escaped from their own camp. Together they try to find East River, a safe haven for kids like them, but East River just might not be what it seems.

THE DARKEST MINDS is not your typical dystopian. Alexandra Bracken reels us in by starting the book off with a young, naive Ruby who grows and matures quickly throughout the first three chapters. She captures us within her story using her detailed writing style that makes us feel as if we are really there. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good dystopian series, great for all fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.

17 October 2014

Review: The Accidental Highwayman

The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp
Publication date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Tor Teen

Kit Bristol, the main character in Ben Tripp's THE ACCIDENTAL HIGHWAYMAN, was your average servant; he did the housework, the shopping, and pretty much ran the life of his master, until one day his beloved mentor and savior, returns home wearing the all-black clothing and signature mask of infamous highwayman Whistling Jack. This incident, combined with the fatal gunshot wound that kills his master, forces Kit on an adventure that will change his destiny forever. Having donned the clothing of Whistling Jack, Kit is sent on a quest to save Morgana, the Princess of the Fey and the betrothed to the King of England himself! Accompanied by the princess, the fastest horse in all of England, a circus acrobat, a senile old man, a chimpanzee, fairies, and many other impossible companions, Kit races against the clock to reach safe ground, before the King of Fey, the One-Eyed Duchess, or all the King's Army and all the King's Men can catch them.

THE ACCIDENTAL HIGHWAYMAN, is a fast-paced adventure about finding oneself in unpredictable and dangerous situations. Although the language can sometimes be a little medieval, it is well worth breaking out the dictionary. The characters in the story are all well-developed and totally relatable, even though the book's readers aren't fairy princesses and wanted criminals (hopefully).

15 October 2014

Review: Even in Paradise

Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot
Publication date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins

EVEN IN PARADISE by Chelsey Philpot is a sweet, realistic fiction novel. It is centered around Charlotte Ryder, a junior at St. Anne's boarding school who gets caught up in the glamour of classmate Julia Buchanan's glitzy world, never suspecting that everything may not be as perfect as it seems. I really enjoyed this book. The writing is fluid and easy to follow. The dialogue is believable, as are the emotions. It is a fairly quick read, but quite sweet. I feel that the use of the last name Buchanan made the reference to The Great Gatsby a bit obvious, but that didn't detract from the book as a whole. I would recommend this book for teenagers thirteen and up, which is the same as the book's recommendation.

13 October 2014

Review: Stitching Snow

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
Publication date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Hyperion

Stitching Snow tells the story of Essie, a girl living on the freezing cold planet of Thanda. Her days are filled with coding and repairing her seven pet drones who run the local mines. One day, a young man named Dane crashes near Essie's home, and she agrees to help repair his ship. Essie soon learns that Dane is on a very specific mission, and soon she is pulled into a war she has worked her whole life to avoid.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought the plot line was very interesting, and that the many connections to Snow White were fun to try and figure out. I also loved how all of the robots had different personalities that impacted the story in some way. Additionally, I thought that the characters were well developed and that they each had a specific identity, and that the futuristic society that the author created was very complex and fascinating. Although this book was amazing, there is one thing that I believe can be improved upon. I thought that the beginning and the introduction were confusing and left me with quite a few questions; all of which were answered in the middle of the book of course, but I feel that the introduction could have been a bit more clear. I thought that the author did an amazing job captivating me with this book, and the writing had me not wanting to stop reading. I recommend this book for ages 13 and up, and if you remember the story of Snow White, you will have a great time discovering the futuristic twists that R.C. Lewis has incorporated.

10 October 2014

Review: Chasing Power

Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst
Publication date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury

CHASING POWER is an action novel about a very unique family that has been both created and torn apart by powerful and ancient magic, but sixteen-year-old Kayla has no knowledge of her family’s complicated past. She only knows that she and her mother must hide her telekinetic powers or her father will find and destroy Kayla, just as he did to her sister Amanda. All of Kayla’s caution evaporates when a boy seeks Kayla’s help in rescuing a kidnapped woman, and Kayla finds out there is much more to the story of her family.

This book is intriguing, because it examines the effects of power on family relationships and the emotional toll it can take. It also has a fun, detailed plot filled with action, romance, and the supernatural. It is an easy, but enjoyable, read that is descriptive with a great storyline and a twisting plot (which was unfortunately revealed in a little too much detail on the back of the book). The plot did occasionally drag or seem overly long, but overall this was a great read.