Category: YA

Book Review: Fair is Foul, by Hannah Capin

foul is fair
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Fair is Foul
AuthorHannah Capin
Genre:  YA
Rating:  3 out of 5

Ella and her three friends are the queens of their circle and their school. They do what they want, when they want. They do and say whatever they please, no matter who it hurts, and they’re untouchable—until the night they crash a St. Andrews Prep party and Elle is roofied and raped by the golden boys of St. Andrews.

Intent only on revenge, Ella becomes Jade, dying her hair, erasing her identity, and transferring to St. Andrews. With her crew’s help, she’ll have her revenge, but revenge isn’t enough. Instead, she wants to destroy the golden boys—and take their lives. And one of them will help her, for his ambition is as ruthless as Jade’s own.

I’m not a fan of the idea of revenge being necessary—though the boys definitely needed punishment—and the right of the wronged. What happened to Jade was horrible, and the golden boys were evil, but…Jade was at least as evil as they were. The actions of Jade and her crew were unfathomable to me, and I couldn’t relate to her on any level, making her—and her friends and enemies—completely unlikable and unreal to me. However, I can see how this is just my thoughts on a trope. The revenge storyline is probably great for some people, but it’s just not for me, and I shouldn’t have even bothered to finish reading this.

Hannah Capin lives in Virginia. Foul is Fair is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: What Kind of Girl, by Alyssa Heinmel

what kind of girl
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.

Title:  What Kind of Girl
AuthorAlyssa Heinmel
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

North Bay Academy is rocked when Mike Parker’s girlfriend walks into the principal’s office and accuses him of hitting her. She has the black eye to prove it—but is she telling the truth? Mike’s the most popular guy around; would he really hit his girlfriend? And if he did, why didn’t she tell anyone the first time it happened?  Why did she go to the principal and not the police? Is it true…or is there more to the story?

This is an excellent book about a tough topic. It showcases what some girls experience:  like it’s not bad enough they go through dating violence. They also have to deal with people calling them liars, thinking they deserved it, and/or taking their abuser’s side. This is told in alternating viewpoints, but the story strands weave together seamlessly, creating a picture that has even more depth than what the reader first thinks.

Alyssa Heinmel was born in California and raised in New York. What Kind of Girl is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Echoes Between Us, by Katie McGarry

echoes between us
Image belongs to Tor Teen.

Title:  Echoes Between Us
AuthorKatie McGarry
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Veronica is the weird girl at school. Before, she had her small circle of friends to keep her grounded, but this year, she’s alone. Veronica sees ghosts. Well, she sees her mother’s ghost. With the blinding headaches—a symptom of her benign brain tumor—she’s afraid to tell anyone she sees ghosts. She doesn’t want to speak the possibility the ghosts are something more into existence—even when the ghosts start bothering the downstairs tenants.

Sawyer is a golden boy at school:  handsome and the star swimmer on the school team. But Sawyer is hiding dark secrets. His mom is an alcoholic, so Sawyer takes care of everything at home and his little sister. And Sawyer is addicted to thrill-seeking. That’s how he broke his arm—although he’s never told anyone the truth. But when Sawyer gets to know Veronica, he realizes that maybe he’s not the only one with demons to conquer.

Veronica is such a great character! I mean, denial is clearly her modus operandi, but I can’t really blame her for that. She’s strong and feisty, yet she struggles with what she’s lost and is afraid to let anyone else in. Sawyer is just as good at keeping others out, but his secrets affect more than himself. And I love the secondary characters and their friendships with Veronica and Sawyer. I’d love to read more about these characters!

Katie McGarry is a writer and a mom. Echoes Between Us is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Tor Teen in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: Don’t Read the Comments, by Eric Smith

don't read the comments
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press.

Title:  Don’t Read the Comments
AuthorEric Smith
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent. 

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

 At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

 And she isn’t going down without a fight.

Don’t Read the Comments is about serious subjects—cyberbullying and sexual harassment—but the tone and voice of the novel are light and personal. I loved both the main characters, and I think the author did an excellent job with both male and female viewpoints. Divya’s growth from someone who doesn’t read the comments the trolls post to a warrior who stands up and takes action is organic and believable. She doesn’t just change overnight. And Aaron finally realizes his own strength and dares to stand up for himself. I loved the voice in this, and I’m not a gamer at all and still found it thoroughly enjoyable.

Eric Smith is an author and literary agent. Don’t Read the Comments is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Night Country, by Melissa Albert

the night country
Image belongs to Flatiron Books.

Title:  The Night Country
Author:  Melissa Albert
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Alice Proserpine escaped the Hinterland with her friend Finch’s help and returned to the “real world” and her life there, without Finch. But being back among the normal isn’t everything Alice remembers. Her mother misses the magic, too, but her longing for a closeness with her daughter is more than Alice can give right now.

Especially when others from the Hinterland keep ending up dead—and missing body parts. And everyone thinks Alice is to blame—except her friend Sophia and her mom. But Alice is determined to find out who is killing Stories, no matter where she must go and who she is up against.

I think I liked The Night Country even more than The Hazel Wood. These are dark stories about dark fairy tales and the prose is mesmerizing—and dark—enchanting the reader with every turn. Alice is an awkward character at best, but you love her all the same, and the mystery and magic from the Hinterland is dark, terrifying, and fascinating.

Melissa Albert is an editor and an author. The Night Country is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Jane Anonymous, by Laurie Stolarz

jan anonymous
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Jane Anonymous
AuthorLaurie Stolarz
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Jane is a normal seventeen-year-old girl, busy with her manicures, her best friend, and that cute boy she’s kinda-sorta dating. Until the day she is kidnapped by a stranger and taken to live in a room with a bed, a refrigerator, and a bathroom. She’s given a set of rules to live by—and to earn rewards—given her meals through a cat door, and never sees her abductor. Only the boy trapped in the room next to hers gives her any hope.

Until the day Jane manages to escape. But when she returns home, her family and friends expect her to just return to her old life. But she can’t. So, she hides in her room—and hides from people—as she struggles to process. She writes about her experiences as her therapy, and slowly realizes that not everything in that house was it seems.

Jane Anonymous was a tough read. The horrific experience Jane goes through is terrifying, but the most difficult part of the book is after she escapes. The author does an excellent job capturing the chaos that is Jane’s mind, her struggles, and her growing realization of the truth.

Laurie Stolarz has sold over a million books worldwide. Jane Anonymous is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: A Love Hate Thing, by Whitney D. Grandison

Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press. 

Title: A Love Hate Thing
Author: Whitney D. Grandison
Genre: YA
Rating: 4 out of 5

Tyson Trice is from the hood. He lived his whole life in Lindenwood—until six months ago, when his father killed his mom, shot Tyler, then killed himself. Now Tyler’s staying with the Smith family in a Pacific Hills, a wealthy coastal community, and he knows he doesn’t belong. But he’s leaving as soon as he turns 18, so he only has six more months to kill.

Nandy Smith remembers Tyson from when they were children—and friends—but she’s spent ten years building up her walls and working to keep herself on top of the social scene in Pacific Hills and having a thug from the hood in her house is not going to ruin her summer. But soon she realizes there’s more to Trice than meets the eye—and the hate between them may be a disguise for something else.

I loved the voice in A Love Hate Thing. The contrast between Nandy and Trice seems so startling, but they are more alike than either wants to admit. Nandy’s switch from despising Trice to being sympathetic/nice to him and apologizing was pretty abrupt to me, and there were a lot of teenagers-partying scenes, but I thoroughly enjoyed these characters and this read.

Whitney D. Grandison loved Korean dramas, John Hughes, and horror moves. A Love Hate Thing is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Just Don’t Mention It, by Estelle Maskame

just don't mention it
Image belongs to Black & White Publishing.

Title:  Just Don’t Mention It
AuthorEstelle Maskame
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Tyler Bruce has it all:  a hot girlfriend, a fancy car, and no party is complete without him. Tyler has the attitude to go with his reputation and he doesn’t care what people say about him. But the attitude—and the walls he puts up—are all a façade, covering the hurt he’s lived with for years…since his father started physically abusing him years before. His dad is in prison now, but Tyler still has to live with the scars every day. And he doesn’t want anyone to know.

Until his stepsister Eden comes to stay for the summer and Tyler realizes she sees the real him, not the façade. His walls won’t work with Eden, but Tyler’s not sure he wants to give them up. There’s a vast difference between the Tyler Bruce everyone thinks he is and who he really is—but there’s no way for Tyler and Eden to be together.

I read the DMILY trilogy and enjoyed them, although the world of wealth they’re set in isn’t something I’m familiar with. Seeing the first of the story from Tyler’s eyes was interesting. He was largely unlikable here—although I do realize he had reasons for being how he was. But…just because someone hurt you, even horrifically, doesn’t give you permission to mistreat everyone around you. Sorry, but it doesn’t. And Tyler’s mom lets him get away with everything, which is incomprehensible to me, even though I’m sure her guilt was the reason why. I did enjoy reading this, and I know Tyler’s story throughout the original trilogy saw him become a likable person, but he just wasn’t that likeable here.

Estelle Maskame is a bestselling author who has been writing since she was thirteen. Just Don’t Mention It is a re-telling of the first book in her series Did I Mention I Love You from Tyler’s point-of-view.

(Galley courtesy of Black & White Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: Good Girls Lie, by J.T. Ellison

good girls lie
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:  Good Girls Lie
AuthorJ.T. Ellison
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

The Goode School, known as a Silent Ivy, is a prestigious boarding school that accepts only the brightest young women—especially daughters of the rich and powerful. The Good School is known for its traditions, like the secret societies and the honor code—lying will get you expelled. But a new girl has come to The Goode School. And she has a secret.

No one at the school bats an eye when the hazing begins—it’s tradition, after all—it’s just girls being girls and the girls would never do things they aren’t supposed to. No matter how cruel or vicious the reality is, the teachers and the head of the school turn a blind eye—until a girl ends up dead and all the secrets of the school are on the verge of being revealed. Secrets have a way of coming to the light.

I finished reading Good Girls Lie…and I’m still not sure who the bad guy is. The author does an excellent job of getting the reader into the characters’ heads—while casting suspicion on basically everyone, which kept me completely off-balance. The creepy boarding school setting is so well-detected I could practically smell the old buildings. If you need a tidy resolution to make you a happy reader, this might be the best choice for you, but it was absolutely a compelling, engrossing read.

J.T. Ellison is a New York Times- and USA Today-bestselling author. Good Girls Lie is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA. via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Weight of a Soul, by Elizabeth Tammi

the weight of a soul
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:  The Weight of a Soul
Author:    Elizabeth Tammi
Genre:  New Adult, YA
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Lena’s father is the chief of their Viking clan, but he’s always gone raiding, leaving Lena, her sister Fressa, and their mother behind to lead the clan. When Fressa dies suddenly and mysteriously, Lena is devasted, but after the clan mourns, it seems like she’s the only one still missing Fressa.

Determined to find out what happened to her sister and bring her back, Lena takes a dangerous journey to make a deal with Hela, the goddess of death. There’s a chance to save Fressa but fulfilling her end of the bargain will take Lena deeper into darkness than she can even imagine. For Fressa’s death is the start of a plan to cause Ragnarök—events leading to the destruction of the world. And Hela isn’t the only god involved.

The Weight of a Soul is vividly realized, with the setting coming to life and breathing on the page. The culture is fascinating and utterly believable. I loved the writing itself. I did not love Lena, though. I didn’t find her likable at all, and, while I sympathized with her grief over Fressa, her descent into darkness and willingness to ignore the grief and destruction she was causing made the book hard to read. Obviously, this is my own personal opinion, and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a read based in Norse mythology, Vikings, and…Loki.

Elizabeth Tammi was born in California, raised in Florida, and now attends journalism school in Georgia. The Weight of a Soul is her new novel.

(Galley courtesy of Flux via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)