Tag: YA

Book Review and Blog Tour: Tigers Not Daughters, by Samantha Mabry

tigers not daughters
Image belongs to Algonquin Young Readers.

Title:  Tigers Not Daughters
AuthorSamantha Mabry
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

There are four Torres sisters: the oldest, Ana, is determined to live life her way. Jessica, flouts convention and puts walls around her heart. Iridian clings to words. And Rosa is free spirited and drawn to the wild. The girls live with their father, a widower who relishes his control of every aspect of their lives, but after Anna falls to her death from her bedroom window at the age of eighteen, the family splinters.

Jessica, now the oldest, tries to keep her family together while subsuming as much of Ana as possible into her own life. Iridian withdraws from the world. And Rosa becomes obsessed with an urban myth. But when mysterious things start happening around the Torres house, the girls start to wonder if Ana is haunting them. And if she is, what is she trying to tell them?

Tigers Not Daughters was a little hard for me to get into, but I’m glad I did. I didn’t like all the characters—Jessica in particular seemed particularly selfish and not in the least self-aware—but it was wonderful to see them come into their identities as sisters and family and women who could stand on their own two feet. I’ve seen this touted as a cultural  lodestone, but, honestly, I’ve read much more vibrant novels on the Latin-American culture. It was secondary at best in this novel, with the focus being on the girls themselves.

Samantha Mabry credits her tendency toward magical thinking to her Grandmother Garcia, who would wash money in the kitchen sink to rinse off any bad spirits. She teaches writing and Latino literature at a community college in Dallas, where she lives with her husband, a historian, and a cat named Mouse. She is the author of A Fierce and Subtle Poison and All the Wind in the World. Visit her online at samanthamabry.com or on Twitter: @samanthamabry.

(Galley courtesy of Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Sparrow, by Mary Cecilia Jackson

sparrow
Image belongs to Tor Teen.

Title:  Sparrow
AuthorMary Cecilia Jackson
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Sparrow—Savannah Darcy Rose—thought she would be safe after her mother died. She thought she could finally stop hiding. She’s a gifted ballerina with a tight-knit circle of friends, she’s starring in a new production, and her future looks bright.

Then she meets Tristan:  handsome, wealthy, the most popular boy in school. Sparrow is in love, but Tristan isn’t quite as perfect as he seems, and soon Sparrow finds herself keeping secrets from everyone. She’s not the kind of girl who tells, but after a brutal assault, she must learn how to open up to those around her.

This wasn’t an easy book to read. You could see the disaster looming…but you were helpless to divert it. Sparrow’s backstory is horrifying, and the emotional scars she bears lead to physical scars in her present. I loved her strength and determination—and the strong friendships made the novel shine.

Mary Cecilia Jackson loves being a Southerner and reading. Sparrow is her debut novel.

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

Book Review: What the Other Three Don’t Know, by Spencer Hyde

what the other 3 don't know
Image belongs to Shadow Mountain Publishing.

Title:  What the Other Three Don’t Know
Author:  Spencer Hyde
Genre:  YA
Rating:  3.8 out of 5

When Indie lost her mom to the river, her world crumbled around her. Now she’s the loner, the quiet one, the one no one else notices—living only for the day she can leave her small town behind and go where no one knows her. She never wants to set foot near the river that took her mom again.

But for her journalism class, that’s exactly what she must do:  take a rafting trip with three almost-strangers from her class. India would rather do anything else, but she has no choice. What she doesn’t realize is the other three have secrets just like she does. And this rafting trip will bring all of them to the surface.

I enjoyed What the Other Three Don’t Know, but it was fairly predictable. And…the “secrets” weren’t exactly earth-shattering. I thought the four teens bonded really quickly, so that felt a little off to me, but their banter alone made the book worth reading.

(Galley courtesy of Shadow Mountain Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)

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

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.)