Tag: YA

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

alht
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.)

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.)

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.