Category: YA

Book Review: This is Not a Love Scene, by S.C. Megale

 

this-is-not-a-love-scene-cover

Title:  This is Not a Love Scene
Author:  S.C. Megale
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Maeve and all her friends are obsessed with their senior film project and their portfolios to get into film school. Maeve would be, too, but having MS means her options are different than her friends. Maeve loves filmmaking. And guys. Especially the guy starring in their senior project:  Cole. But leading men don’t go for girls in wheelchairs, right?

But the chemistry between Maeve and the always-in-motion Cole is intense, and suddenly Maeve is dealing with typical dating mishaps and juggling the film project and her disease. Maeve is so used to being rejected, that she’s just not sure she can trust Cole, who seems far too good to be true. But Maeve will have to deal with her own fears if she’s ever to find out the truth about Cole’s feelings for her.

Maeve is an incredibly strong character, but she does have some issues that made her a little hard for me to read. I loved seeing how she viewed the world and her experiences in a life with MS, but she can be quite awkward and a little needy. She also comes across as very selfish, to the point where she completely ignores the sometimes-major problems her friends are having in favor of obsessing about her own issues. I didn’t find her all that likable, but she is a very strong character.

S.C. Megale is a writer, a filmmaker, and a philanthropist. This is Not a Love Scene is her debut novel.

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

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Sundays are for Writing #18

I had another good writing week! Three days, two 10-minute sessions each day, for a little over 2,250 words.

I know that’s chump change to my old daily word counts, but I’m happy with the consistency.

I also outlined five scenes and completed two writing lessons, so I hit all my writing goals for the week!

Book Review: Belly Up, by Eva Darrows

 

belly up
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press.

Title:  Belly Up
Author:  Eva Darrows
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

It’s bad enough Sara’s boyfriend cheated on her and she found out when she saw sexting pics on his phone. But now he and the other girl are flaunting it around town, when all Sara wants is to get through the summer and spend senior year with her best friend, Devi, and get into an Ivy League school. Surely a drunken hook-up at a party will at least take Sara’s mind off her problems.

Or not.

She forgot to get the guy’s number, and when she finds out she’s pregnant, well, things change. She and her mom move in with her grandmother, and instead of starting senior year with Devi, Sara is the new girl at a new school. She meets some new friends and Leaf, a Romani boy who really gets her, and whose flirting makes her happy. Except she’s also the pregnant new girl. She should probably tell Leaf about that, but she wants to hold on to her happiness for just a little longer.

Belly Up wasn’t quite what I expected. Sara is an amazing character, and her voice is so much fun. This is an incredibly diverse book, and friendship is a main theme, as is love (and not romantic love, either). This was a fun read about serious subjects, and I recommend it.

Eva Darrows/Hillary Monahan is a New York Times-bestselling author. Belly Up is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: A Pack of Blood and Lies, by Olivia Wildenstein

 

a pack of blood and lies
Image belongs to Twig Publishing.

Title:  A Pack of Blood and Lies
Author:  Olivia Wildenstein
Genre:  YA/New Adult, paranormal
Rating:  4 out of 5

Ness is almost 18 when she’s forced to return to Boulder. She intended to forget about what happened there, forget about what happened to her mom, and forget all the domineering men in the werewolf pack that had no room for a female. She was happy to think she’d escaped with only her memories.

But now she’s back in boulder and those memories are standing before her. One of them is a friend, but one of them is Liam Kolane, son of Heath, the cruelest man she’d ever imagined. Now Heath is dead, and no one dares challenge Liam for the right to rule the pack.

Except Ness, who isn’t going to let him win without a fight. A fight to the death—if she can convince her heart that’s an acceptable cost.

I found this pretty predictable in most ways, but I enjoyed the read. Lots of chauvinistic alpha males swaggering around, but there are some glimmers of redeeming qualities among them. Coming from a patriarchal society, it’s understandable, even if mildly infuriating.

Bestselling author Olivia Wildenstein lives in Switzerland. A Pack of Blood and Lies is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak, by Adi Alsaid

brief chronicles
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN.

Title:  Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak
Author:  Adi Alsaid
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Lu Charles is not having a good summer. Her boyfriend broke up with her, and now she’s got writer’s block. Which is a big deal for a relationship reporter—especially since her scholarship rides on the gig.

Then Lu meets Cal. He’s funny and smart, and she’s intrigued when she learns he and his long-term girlfriend Iris plan to break up at the end of the summer before they go away to college—just like her relationship. Soon Lu is hanging out with Cal and Iris, fascinated with their relationship and a love that seems strong enough to stand the strains ahead. How can two people just choose to give that up? Lu smells a story, one that will hopefully end her writer’s block for good.

Lu is an interesting character. She’s smart and observant, but so stuck inside her own head—and her own pain—that reality sometimes escapes her. Cal and Iris’s relationship is enviable and looks like magic to Lu, still hurting under the weight of her own broken heart. Getting to know them will give Lu insight into her own self—but it’s not an easy journey.

Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City. Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak is his newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Devouring Gray, by Christine Lynn Herman

the devouring gray
Image belongs to Disney-Hyperion.

Title:  The Devouring Gray
Author:  Christine Lynn Herman
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

When seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders’ twin sister died, her world ended. Her mom moving to the tiny town of Four Corner, New York was just the icing on the cake. Things are…odd in Four Corners. The town is mostly forest. People practically worship Justin Hawthorn and his sister, May. And everywhere you look are secrets.

Like the weird grey landscape Violet sometimes catches glimpses of from the corner of her eye. Or the flashes of her sister’s blue hair. Or the dead bodies found in the past few months. Not to mention the Beast.

Everything in Four Corners is about power:  who has it, who doesn’t, and doing anything necessary to keep what you’ve got. But there are even more secrets here than Violet suspects, as power in town is balanced on the tip of a knife, and where it falls will change everything.

This story is told from multiple points-of-view, which made it intriguing. The setting is dark and gloomy. The characters are dark and broody. The history of the town is—you guessed it—dark and troubled. And that absolutely works for this story. I loved this atmospheric read—but I have no desire to visit Four Corners.

Christine Lynn Herman was born in NYC but raised in Honk Kong and Japan. The Devouring Gray is her new novel.

(Galley courtesy of Disney-Hyperion via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Lovestruck, by Kate Watson

lovestruck
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:  Lovestruck
Author:  Kate Watson
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

Kali is sixteen and convinced the Fates control everything, so what’s the point of even trying? That’s not a good attitude for a cupid-in-training, but Kali wants to be a Muse, so she’s phoning it in anyway. Until she breaks the cardinal rule for cupids—don’t poke yourself with the arrow—and falls in love with Ben, her hot, mortal target.

The God of Love is going to kill her—even if he is her dad.

Desperate to escape her fate, Kali will do anything to reverse the unbreakable spell: sneak out to see the Oracle, defy the gods (and the big-G-Gods), help her mentor…all while dating the (mortal) love of her life and trying not to break her best friend Hector’s heart.

The Fates have nothing on her.

Lovestruck is a quick read, and I really enjoyed it. I love the idea of the gods of mythology having jobs and lives and interacting with humans, and the cupid set-up is great—and makes just as much sense as falling in love possibly can. Despite being the daughter of a big-G-God, Kali’s feelings and thoughts are entirely human—and entirely teenage. Why am I here? What’s the point of life? Is that a cute boy? I thoroughly enjoyed all the characters and would love to read more set in this world.

Kate Watson was born in Canada and now lives in Arizona. Lovestruck is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: In Another Life, by C.C. Hunter

in another life
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  In Another Life
Author:  C.C. Hunter
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Chloe was three years old when she was adopted and became Chloe Holden. She wishes her biological mom had wanted to keep her, but she’s had a good, happy life. Until her parents’ divorce, when her mom moves her to Joyful, Texas—where joy is in short supply for Chloe’s mom, still bitter and angry from her dad’s betrayal.

Chloe runs into Cash—a hot guy from her new school—but his suspicion makes her wary. Who does Cash think she is? Chloe’s trying to parent her mother, and she could really use someone to rely on, but when Cash tells her he thinks she’s the kidnapped daughter of his foster parents, Chloe can’t deal with the questions this possibility raises.

In Another Life is a quick, read. It’s billed as a suspense novel, but I’d just say it has a little suspense in it. The focus is on the relationship between Chloe and Cash, but also on Chloe’s mom and her issues. I enjoyed reading it, but there weren’t any “I didn’t see that coming!” moments. Chloe and Cash both have some growing-up to do, and this novel explores the beginnings of that.

C.C. Hunter is a NY Times-bestselling author. In Another Life is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project, by Lenore Appelhans

manix pixie
Image belongs to Lerner Publishing Group.

Title:  The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project
Author:  Lenore Appelhans
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

Riley is a Manic Pixie Dream Boy—the trope’s token boy—in trouble for speaking out in his last novel role. He’s sentenced to do therapy in TropeTown with other Manic Pixies who have behaved outside of their roles. Riley isn’t sure therapy is going to help him, until he meets Zelda, another Manic Pixie, and decides maybe it won’t be so bad.

But the Manic Pixies have been causing trouble, and now they might be terminated. All the Manic Pixies will have to work together to save their trope from destruction, and Riley will have to choose between a secure future, and the chance to seize his greatest dreams.

I saw a comment that Riley might be a character from The Fault in Our Stars—although that’s never stated, obviously—but I’ve never read that, so I can’t comment on any similarities (I’m sure it’s a wonderful book, but I don’t read anything I know ahead of time will make me cry). This novel is ironic and lighthearted. It’s an easy read, and there are a few moments of surprising depth—like the lesson about other, now-retired tropes being terminated because of their racist characteristics—but at heart, it’s just a fun read.

Lenore Appelhans’s new book is The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project.

(Galley courtesy of Lerner Publishing Group via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Quiet You Carry, by Nikki Barthelmess

the quiet you carry
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:  The Quiet You Carry
Author:  Nikki Barthelmess
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Victoria Parker lost her mother to cancer a few years ago, but promised she’d always take care of her father. Now he’s remarried, and she has a stepsister a little younger than herself, and her dad’s been acting weird. She knows something isn’t right, but she has no idea how not right it is—until she finds herself locked out of the house at 3 a.m. because her dad called the cops on her.

Now she’s in foster care away from everything she’s every known. The small country school is a nightmare, but she soon has a few friends…but she doesn’t let anyone know she’s in foster care. And she definitely doesn’t talk about why. Her dreams of college are the only things keeping her going. Certainly not her hateful foster mother.

But Victoria can’t stop worrying about her stepsister. She knows she must protect Sarah from her own father, but she can’t do it alone. She’ll have to give up her secrets if she’s to keep Sarah safe.

This is a book about some hard topics:  abuse, foster care, the loss of a parent. Victoria spends a lot of time in denial, but the author takes care to show the reader why she’s in denial, and how she rationalizes things to herself. I found this story both horrifying and sad, but it’s very well-written and engrossing, and I highly recommend it.

Nikki Barthelmess is a journalist and an author. The Quiet You Carry is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of North Star Editions/Flux via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)