Category: YA

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.)

Book Review: Scared Little Rabbits, by A.V. Geiger

scared little rabbits
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.

Title:  Scared Little Rabbits
AuthorA.V. Geiger  
Genre:  YA, suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

Nora was thrilled to be chosen for the Maker Project:  three weeks at the elite Winthrop Academy where she’ll have the chance to put her coding skills to use on the dazzling new project she’s sure she’ll have an idea for. But everyone seems to know each other already and have formed their groups, and Nora’s left on the fringes, watching.

Until Maddox befriends her and they have a great idea for their project. But Maddox’s girlfriend is atop the hierarchy at the Maker Project and making her angry is the last thing Nora wants to do. Then someone winds up dead…and Nora is left wondering if anyone is who they say they are.

I’m not a huge social media person, but I can see where the InstaLove App would be hugely popular, especially for wallflowers like Nora. I liked her well enough, even if her social awkwardness was sometimes a bit much. Surely she wasn’t really that naïve? I enjoyed this book for what it was and read it in one sitting, but nothing in it was completely unexpected (except maybe the scene with Nora and the pool).

A.V. Geiger is an epidemiologist. Scared Little Rabbits is her newest novel.

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

What I Read in November (2019)

Books Read in November: 22

Books Read for the Year: 210/175

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Discerning the Voice of God, by Priscilla Shirer (spiritual). Loved this!

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, (classic). Can we talk about how much I disliked EVERY SINGLE character? Seriously. I read this 20+ years ago and had forgotten just about all of it. Wishing it had remained that way…

The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness (TBR). Honestly…I thought this sucked. It just wasn’t to my taste at all.

On the Shoulders of Hobbits, by Louis Markos (nonfiction). This was a really fascinating read about faith and fiction.

The Pearl Thief, by Elizabeth E. Wein. (cultural). The first I’ve read by this author, and I enjoyed it.

For Review:

we met in december

We Met in December, by Rosie Curtis. This was such a fun read! I enjoyed discovering London and all Jess’s adventures as she falls for her charming flatmate.

the family upstairs

The Family Upstairs, by Lisa Jewell. This was a creepy read, and one almost unbelievable to me. If everyone sees the signs their life is becoming a cult, why not take action, before people die?

the bake shop

The Bake Shop, by Amy Clipston. I thoroughly enjoyed this Amish romance about Christiana, who opens a bake shop in the Amish marketplace, next to the cranky Jeff, who just can’t seem to get his words to come out right.

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Day Zero, by Kelly deVos. Jinx’s dad is a doomsday prepper, so she’s spent years training for the end of the world. When it happens, though, Jinx is stuck trying to take care of her little brother, her opinionated stepsister, her stepbrother…pretty much everyone, as they struggle to find her dad, accused of causing the destruction. But the truth is far harsher than the rumors.

navigating the stars

Navigating the Stars, by Maria V. Snyder. Sci-fi, YA, romance…Terra Cotta Warriors are found on other planets, and Lyra’s parents are the experts studying them. How cool is that premise? I couldn’t put this one down!

tracking game

Tracking Game, by Margaret Mizushima. I wasn’t really a fan of this K-9 murder mystery. The writing wasn’t solid enough, and the MC was…I don’t know. I just couldn’t connect with her.

chasing the shadows

Chasing the Shadows, by Maria V. Snyder. Loved this second book in the Sentinels of the Galaxy series even more than the first!

mercy road

Mercy Road, by Ann Howard Creel. An excellent historical fiction about Arlene, who joins an all-women team on the front lines of World War I as an ambulance driver.

the confession club

The Confession Club, by Elizabeth Berg. When a group of friends who meet weekly for dinner start confessing secrets in their get-togethers, they aren’t expecting the depths of each other they’ll explore. One of them is in love with a troubled homeless man. Another is hiding the truth from her husband. Will The Confession Club help them deal with their secrets? I thoroughly enjoyed this read!

this really happened

This Really Happened, by Annmarie McQueen. This is told in alternating timelines: Erin’s day-to-day life when she comes to university, where she meets her group of friends and falls in love with one of them, and blog posts she writes in the future, after a tragic accident.

A Silken Thread

A Silken Thread, by Kim Vogel Sawyer. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale sent in Atlanta a few years after the Civil War. The Atlanta Exposition is the setting, and I found it fascinating.

a christmas haven

A Christmas Haven, by Cindy Woodsmall. A sweet Amish romance about Ivy, who wants to leave her faith to start her party-planning business, and Arlan, who’d do anything to keep his sister safe.

the chosen one

The Chosen One, by Walt Gragg. I cannot recommend this military fiction. The POV was too distant, and the (very) few female characters were ridiculous caricatures.

safe harbour

Safe Harbour, by Christina Kilbourne. Harbour has been living in a a tent outside Toronto for months, waiting for her dad to arrive with their sailboat. But winter is approaching and her dad still isn’t here, and Harbour will have to find a way to survive the bitter cold.

lake season

Lake Season, by Denise Hunter (review forthcoming). When Molly’s parts died in a tragic accident, she, her brother, and her sister decided to fulfill their dream of turning their childhood home into an inn. Then Molly finds an unsent letter from 30 years before, and decides to find who wrote it—and deliver it if she can.

synapse

Synapse, by Steven James (review forthcoming). This thriller about a minister and her AI robot seeking to stop a terrorist attack was riveting from the very first page!

southern harm

Southern Harm, by Caroline Fardig (review forthcoming). Another of Fardig’s charming Southern tales has Quinn and her sister investigating a 30-year-old murder that just might hit closer to home than they suspect.

Scared Little Rabbits, by A.V. Geiger (review forthcoming). This ended ip being a total guilty-pleasure read!

Just Because:

Call Down the Hawk, by Maggie Stiefvater. A spin-off series to The Raven Boys? I’m in! Loved this read. A bit…quirky, but the wry humor had me snorting with laughter. Some beautiful sentences in there, too.

Book Review: Safe Harbour, by Christina Kilbourne

safe harbour
Image belongs to Dundurn Press.

Title:  Safe Harbour
Author:    Christina Kilbourne
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Harbour is fourteen years old and living in a tent in a ravine outside Toronto with her dog and what feels like a million cans of tuna. She’s not homeless—she’s just waiting for her dad and their thirty-six-foot sailboat to arrive. She can’t tell a soul about her past, not if she wants to remain safe. So she ignores the overtures of friendship from homeless Lise as she waits for her dad.

Then summer turns to fall and her dad still hasn’t arrived. The eccentric reading list he left her didn’t cover how to survive in a tent in the winter, and soon Harbour’s confidence in her father fades, and she’s forced to accept Lise’s help if she wants to survive.

This was an excellent read. Harbour doesn’t seem like she’s only fourteen—she has a much more mature voice—and with everything she’s been through, I can see why not. Her struggles were so vividly portrayed that I almost felt cold when she did. There are a lot of scenes that show an intimate look at being homeless—and surviving—and this book was both sad and full of hope.

Christina Kilbourne is from Ontario. Safe Harbour is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Chasing the Shadows, by Maria V. Snyder

chasing the shadows
Image courtesy of the author.

Title:  Chasing the Shadows
Author:    Maria V. Snyder
Genre:  YA, sci-fi
Rating:  5 out of 5

Lyra Daniels is dead. To be fair, she was only dead for sixty-six seconds, but now she has a new name (Ara), a new job—and the rest of the world has to continue to believe she’s dead, so murdering looter Jarren won’t know she’s still alive and out to get him. Because he’s blocked their planet from communicating with the rest of the galaxy, and now everyone thinks they’re dead, which is what going dark like that usually means.

A spaceship is coming to check it out, but it will be almost two years before they arrive. And Jarren isn’t the only threat Ara and her team face:  they still have a deadly alien race to contend with and figuring out what exactly the Terra Cotta Warriors do—along with how they got there and why—is also at the top of the list.

It’s all in a day’s work for Ara. Good thing she got crazy good at worming through the Q-net after she died. Because that may be the biggest mystery—and the most important to figure out—of all.

Just like Navigating the Stars, I was hooked from the first of this. Ara grows up a lot in this book—dying will do that to you—as she starts to look beyond herself and her own wants. And everything isn’t easy for her. The rest of the security team doesn’t always listen to her or respect her opinions, which is hard to swallow for someone used to doing what she wants and asking forgiveness after. The growths of all her relationships was well-done and compelling. And I love the mystery of the Terra Cotta Warriors!

Maria V. Snyder is a bestselling author. Chasing the Shadows, the second book in the Sentinels of the Galaxy series, is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Navigating the Stars, by Maria V. Snyder

navigating the stars
I do not own this image.

Title:  Navigating the Stars
AuthorMaria V. Snyder
Genre:  YA, sci-fi
Rating:   5 out of 5

Lyra Daniels just wants to stay in one place and finish school with her friends. But her parents, the leading experts on the Terra Cotta Warriors found on twenty-two planets, refused to leave her behind when they set off to study a new discovery—and the time dilation leaves decades between Lyra and her best friends.

Lyra spends her days worming into the Q-net, which made traveling the vast distances of space a reality. The only person on board the ship near her own age is a security officer who keeps poking his nose into her business and threatening to throw her in the brig.

But when the planet they just left goes silent, Lyra’s not the only thing capturing the attention of security—missing data files and looters—and soon Lyra realizes there’s far more going on that two parents trying to ruin her social life.

I love Maria V. Snyder’s books, and this one was no exception. The concept was fascinating, and the details were even more interesting. Lyra’s attitude made me laugh frequently, and her escapades kept me shaking my head, but I could not put this book down!

Maria V. Snyder was a meteorologist before she became an author. Navigating the Stars is the first book in the Sentinels of the Galaxy series.

Blog Tour: Day Zero, by Kelly deVos

9781335008480.indd
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press.

Title:  Day Zero
Author:    Kelly deVos
Genre:  YA, dystopian
Rating:  3.8 out of 5

Jinx Marshall grew up preparing for the end of the world—because her doomsday-prepper dad made her. Krav Magna, survival skills, and drills filled her days, but she thought all that was over when her parents divorced. Until the end of the world happened, and her father is accused of starting it all.

Now Jinx must take care of her little brother, her opinionated stepsister, and her cute stepbrother as she struggles to locate her vanished father, all while evading the law. But she can’t stay more than half a step ahead of the people after her, and safety seems even farther away with every step she takes.

I’m…undecided about this read. I loved the premise, but a few things were a little hard to believe:  the black-and-white nature of the politics (everyone’s either one thing or the other, with no shades of grey), Jinx’s trusting nature (which seems implausible, considering how she was raised), and her propensity to stick to a plan…even if it’s going down in flames. This was intriguing at times, eye-rolling at others, but I’d probably read the second book in the duology.

Kelly deVos is from Gilbert, Arizona. Day Zero is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Girls Like Us, by Randi Pink

girls like us
Image belongs to Feiwel & Friends.

 

Title:  Girls Like Us
Author:    Randi Pink
Genre:  YA, historical
Rating:  3 out of 5

Georgia, 1972.

Izella and her sister Ola do everything just as their mother, a very religious woman, tells them. Cooking, cleaning, serving…and most of all, staying out of trouble and not getting pregnant. Except Ola didn’t listen to that last one, and now Izella must get her out of trouble somehow.

Their neighbor, Missippi, is also pregnant, through no fault of her own—and she’s too young to understand what the ramifications are. When her father sends her to Chicago to a woman who will take care of her until she has the babies, she meets Sue, also pregnant and the daughter of a pro-life senator.

Four different girls. Four different stories. All facing the same issue.

This book was not what I thought it would be. It’s rougher than I would like not, not fully polished, and while it’s about an emotional topic, I never felt an emotional connection with any of the characters. I found Izella and Ola basically unlikable, although I did like Missippi and Sue. The sisters’ choices show their ignorance of reality—perhaps due to their almost-cloistered upbringing—while Missippi is a character I felt sorry for, making the best of a horrible situation. Sue, on the other hand, is full of great motives, but zero follow-through. She talks a good game, but her rebellion vanishes in the face of opposition.

Randi Pink lives in Birmingham, Alabama. Girls Like Us is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Feiwel & Friends via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Library of Lost Things, by Laura Taylor Namey

the library of lost things
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press.

Title:  The Library of Lost Things
Author:    Laura Taylor Namey
Genre:  YA
Rating:  5 out of 5

Darcy Wells is a literary genius. Her name is Darcy, after all. As long as she can remember, she’s found comfort and solace between the covers of her beloved books—and escape from her mom’s hoarding. But when a new property manager starts making changes at their apartment complex, Darcy is afraid the complex balancing act of her life will topple.

Darcy’s vibrant best friend is the only one she lets in—to her secrets, her life, and her apartment. But when Archer Fleet walks into the bookstore where Darcy works, she finds herself drawn to the wounded guy. He’s experienced a life-altering accident, and he’s struggling to make sense of his new reality, but he truly sees Darcy—who is, for once in her life, at a loss for words.

Darcy wants to let him in—but can she overcome her fears to take a chance on life and love?

I loved this book from the first page! Darcy is a wonderful character:  flawed, struggling, and so strong it breaks my heart. Marisol’s and Darcy’s friendship made this book, but the rest of the characters were fantastic, too. From Mr. Winston (the bookstore owner) to Tess, Darcy’s mom, Archer’s best friend…I loved all these characters, and though the book’s portrayal of mental illness was spot-on. I could not put this book down!

Laura Taylor Ramey is a former teacher who writes young adult novels. The Library of Lost Things is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Speed of Falling Objects, by Nancy Richardson Fischer

the speed of falling objects
Image belongs to Inkyard Press/Harlequin Press.

Title:  The Speed of Falling Objects
Author:    Nancy Richardson Fischer
Genre:  YA
Rating:  5 out of 5

Danger “Danny” Warren is nothing like her father, a popular survivalist TV star…but she used to be. And she wants to be again. Danny lost her eye in a childhood accident and had to re-learn how to move and relate to spatial relationships. Danny knows that if she’d just been enough, she’d have a relationship with her father now.

So when her dad calls with an offer to join him on the set of his next adventure in the Amazon, Danny is all for it. She’ll get to prove to her dad that she’s still the adventure-seeking girl she was—and getting to hang out with the hottest teen actor on the globe isn’t a bad thing, either. Until their plane crashes in the rainforest and Danny finds out a horrible secret about her father—while fighting to stay alive and find safety.

I enjoyed this book so much! Danny’s feeling of never being enough is something I think we can all relate to, so that made this book completely relatable. Her larger-than-life father is kind of a jerk, but Danny loves him anyway, although finding out who he really is was a tough experience. A movie star crush, a rainforest adventure, a strong female main character—this book had it all!

Nancy Richardson Fischer used to write sports biographs, but now she plans fun adventures and writes. The Speed of Falling Objects is her newest novel.

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