Tag: YA

Book Review: The Dark Intercept, by Julia Keller

the dark intercept
Image belongs to Macmillan-Tor/Forge

 

Violet Crowley is the sixteen-year-old daughter of the founder of New Earth, the safe home of people with the right to leave the sordid conditions of Earth behind. The Intercept keeps New Earth residents safe, and it monitors emotions and occasionally uses them to keep that safety intact. Julia has never known anything different, but when Danny, a cop and her long-time crush, is almost killed on Old Earth, Violet decides to investigate what he’s up to, and ends up finding out secrets she never imagined.

I enjoyed The Dark Intercept very much. The concept was unique and intriguing, and the book takes a hard look at what people are willing to put up with for their idea of safety. Technology is taken to the extreme in New Earth, and the idea is terrifying. Violet is pretty typical for a teenager, with her crush and her preconceived ideas of what’s really going on. She matures some in the book, but she still has a tendency to forgive all of Danny’s lies and actions, which is a bit annoying. The characters are rather one-dimensional, but I feel they will develop more as the series continues.

Julia Keller is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. The Dark Intercept is her new novel.

Galley provided by Macmillan-Tor/Forge via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Rosemarked, by Livia Blackburne

rosemarked
Image belongs to Disney-Hyperion.

Zivah has barely become a healer when she is tasked with caring for the ill soldiers of the nation oppressing her own. Eager to save as many soldiers as she can—to keep her people safe—she cares for the commander, who survives, but Zivah falls victim to the plague. She knows she’ll die from the plague, she just doesn’t know when.

Given the chance to continue helping her people. Zivah agrees to a spying mission with Dineas, a warrior broken by torture who lives only to overthrow the empire intent on crushing both their people. The two will have only each other to rely on as they journey into the heart of enemy territory, desperate to find any chance of saving their people.

Rosemarked is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. From the first page, I was enthralled by the world, the plot, and especially the characters. The concept of the rose plague is fascinating—a deadly virus that kills most of its victim, leaving only some alive as carriers destined to die, and a few lucky immune, both forever marked by the virus. Zivah struggles with pitting her beliefs against her loyalty to both her people and Dineas, and her conflict weaves throughout the story. Dineas is so emotionally scarred all he can see is revenge, yet he is conflicted after getting to know some of the enemy. The dynamic between the two is absolutely riveting. You MUST read this! I cannot wait for the next book.

Livia Blackburne is the New York Times-bestselling author of the Midnight Thief series. Rosemarked is her newest novel, the first in a new series.

(Galley provided by Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Firebrand, by Sarah MacTavish

firebrand

Way back in…March, I think…I went to a local author event, mainly because Rachel Caine was going to be there, and I love her writing. I’d heard her speak before, and was pleased to have another opportunity. There was another author there, Sarah MacTavish, and I really enjoyed her talk as well. So, I ended up buying her debut novel, Firebrand. And it’s been sitting in that particular TBR pile until last week. Yes, I stockpile books…and then don’t have a chance to read them for months. I have a problem, okay?

When I did pick it up, I finished reading it in less than 24 hours. It was that good. It’s set right before the Civil War, and its about two young abolitionists and the struggles they face. I like historical fiction, but I thought this YA historical was extremely well-written, and I found myself rooting for the characters. (Also, I’m from Texas, not too far from where part of the book is set, and I had no idea about some of the things in the novel.) This book deals with difficult events and topics, but it’s history:  if we don’t learn from it, we’re doomed to repeat it.

Saoirse Callahan and her family are struggling to survive on their small Texas farm that’s a far cry from their home in Ireland. Tempers are short, and after the death of one of her brothers, the whole family seems on the verge of collapsing. Then a series of fires sweep the region, and rumors of a slave uprising spread, leaving vigilante justice in their wake. Saoirse is desperate to find out what really happened, but her questions land her family in even deeper trouble.

Westleigh Kavanagh is safely an abolitionist in Pennsylvania, until he realizes his father’s new boarder is a runaway slave. Westleigh is determined to keep the man’s secret, even from his father, who, as sheriff, is bound to uphold the law, no matter what his personal beliefs are. Then Westleigh finds an old journal, and uncovers secrets his father has long kept hidden from him, secrets that lead him to the Callahans in  Texas.

Book Review: The Breathless, by Tara Goedjen

the breathless
Image belongs to Delacorte Press.

Roxanne Cole died a year ago, and her family still hasn’t come to terms with her death. Ro was the light of the Cole family, and everything has been dark since her death. Her boyfriend, Cole, vanished the night she died, and no one has seen him since, but when he shows up at the door to Blue Gate Manor asking where Ro is, Mae doesn’t know what to think.

Her sister’s death hit her hard, and Mae is still struggling, but to Cole, Ro was just alive yesterday. When Mae finds the little green book that was never far from Ro’s hands, she also finds dark secrets about her family’s past, and realizes that Ro might be gone now, but that doesn’t mean she has to stay gone.

The Breathless is a creepy Southern gothic mystery that tells three stories:  the present-day tale of Cole and Mae struggling to deal with Ro’s loss, Cole’s memories of his relationship with Ro, and a dark time in the family’s past. The setting adds an eerie layer to an unsettling story, as Mae finds out just what was in that little green book. The storyline about the family’s past does deal with a history of racism that was common in that era, but does not glorify it, instead it reveals the results of such violence and hate.

Tara Goedjen was raised in Alabama and now lives in California. The Breathless is her debut novel.

(Galley provided by Delacorte Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Midnight Dance, by Nikki Katz

Midnight-Dance
Image belongs to Swoon Reads.

Seventeen-year-old Penny loves dancing at the Grande Teatro, a school where she and eleven other girls are training to become the best dancers in all of Italy. She loves to dance. And she loves the Master, the handsome owner of the school. Or…does she?

When Penny starts seeing flashes of a life she doesn’t remember living, she starts asking questions, which lands her in trouble with the Master. But Cricket, the kitchen boy, helps her and she realizes that her life is not what it seems. Desperate to find out the truth, Penny searches for answers, but the Master is one step ahead of her every move. If she does not find the answers she seeks, her memories will be stolen from her forever.

The Midnight Dance starts off when Penny first notices something strange, and the reader sees everything through her eyes, sharing her confusion and fear. This dark novel is both captivating and creepy, told in alternating timelines as the Master’s past is revealed. Penny struggles with the mystery and with the pain of having her memories removed, but she keeps fighting despite the overwhelming odds. I enjoyed this very much, and am looking forward to more from this author.

Nikki Katz has a degree in rocket science. The Midnight Dance is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Swoon Reads via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The House at 758, by Kathryn Berla

 

the house at 758
Image belongs to Amberjack Publishing.

As if being 16 weren’t bad enough, Krista is still dealing with the death of her mother. Her father has moved his new girlfriend in and wants Krista to start acting normal again and find something to do. Her best friend is going to Maine for the summer. And Krista feels like she has no one to talk to about her pain.

So, she spends her time in a tent on top of the house, shoplifting, and watching a mysterious house. She’s not ready to act normal again. Then she meets Jake, who works at the store she shoplifts, and her dad tells her that her grandfather, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, is coming to visit. Krista starts to feel better, but if she never deals with the past, will she ever feel normal again?

The House at 758 took me by surprise. First, I feel like Krista is my spirit animal. Living in a tent on top of the house because you don’t want to be around people? Sign me up for that! Krista is hurting desperately, but she doesn’t want to ask for help. She’d rather brood and act like everything is okay, because shouldn’t people know what she’s going through? Dealing with dark emotions like grief, anger, and guilt isn’t easy, and Krista fights against it for a long time, until she starts to realize that there is more than one side to every story. This was an engrossing read that drew me into Krista’s head and kept me rooting for her to make a breakthrough and start to see light again.

Kathryn Berla is the author of Dream Me, Twelves Hours in Paradise, Going Places, and The Kitty Committee. The House at 758 is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Amberjack Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Select, by Marit Weisenberg

select-cvr_large
Image belongs to Charlesbridge Teen.

Julia Jaynes is part of a group of highly-evolved humans living in Austin, Texas. Rich, beautiful, and powerful, they keep to themselves and try not to draw more attention to their media-popular circle. Then Julia saves her sister from drowning, and the media attention she causes makes her powerful father punish her by sending her to public high school.

There Julia meets John, a tennis prodigy and a nice, regular guy. When Julie discovers she can read his mind—sometimes—she uses the power to encourage John, and her feelings start to grow. Living with the regular humans isn’t as bad as she thought, but Julie is desperate to get back in her controlling father’s good graces, before their circle disappears from society for good.

So…the cover of this book is what caught my eye first, and the premise is fantastic. I read all of it, but Julia was a bit too erratic for me. Does she hate her father? Does she love him? Does she want to stay with the super humans? Does a life of freedom with the regular humans sound more appealing?  What is really going on with the evolved humans and Julia’s powerful father? And why did he separate the younger members and try to destroy the more powerful ones’ talents?

I don’t actually know the answers to any of these questions, and that bothers me. Julia can’t make up her mind, and a first-person narrative should have some insight into the character, but it doesn’t. (I saw several comparisons to Twilight in other reviews, and that is sadly accurate.) I loved the premise of this book, but the execution and character development was lacking.

Despite her name, Marit Weisenberg is only a quarter Norwegian. She lives in Austin, Texas. Select is the first book in the Select series.

(Galley provided by Charlesbridge Teen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)