Tag: young adult fiction

Book Review:  The Storyteller, by Kathryn Williams

Image belongs to HarperCollins/HarperTeen.

Title:   The Storyteller
Author:   Kathryn Williams
Genre:   Historical fiction, YA, mystery/thriller
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

It’s not every day you discover you might be related to Anastasia…or that the tragic princess actually survived her assassination attempt and has been living as the woman you know as Aunt Anna.

 For Jess Morgan, who is growing tired of living her life to please everyone else, discovering her late aunt’s diaries shows her she’s not the only one struggling to hide who she really is. But was her aunt truly a Romanov princess? Or is this some elaborate hoax?

 With the help of a supremely dorky, but undeniably cute, local college student named Evan, Jess digs into the century-old mystery.

 But soon Jess realizes there’s another, bigger truth waiting to be revealed: Jess Morgan. Because if she’s learned anything from Aunt Anna, it’s that only you can write your own story.

I enjoyed this read! It was sweet and fun and I was completely engrossed in the mystery—and both Jess’s story and Aunt Anna’s kept me intrigued. I liked Jess’s friends…but I couldn’t stand her boyfriend. Evan was a lot more relatable and fun. This makes a good weekend binge-read.

Kathryn Williams lives in Maine. The Storyteller is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of HarperCollins Children’s Books, HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Anatomy: A Love Story, by Dana Schwartz

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   Anatomy: A Love Story
Author Dana Schwartz
Genre:   Fantasy, YA
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Edinburgh, 1817.

 Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry.

 Jack Currer is a resurrection man who’s just trying to survive in a city where it’s too easy to die.

 When the two of them have a chance encounter outside the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society, Hazel thinks nothing of it at first. But after she gets kicked out of renowned surgeon Dr. Beecham’s lectures for being the wrong gender, she realizes that her new acquaintance might be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: if she can pass the medical examination on her own, the university will allow her to enroll. Without official lessons, though, Hazel will need more than just her books – she’ll need bodies to study, corpses to dissect.

 Lucky that she’s made the acquaintance of someone who digs them up for a living, then.

 But Jack has his own problems: strange men have been seen skulking around cemeteries, his friends are disappearing off the streets. Hazel and Jack work together to uncover the secrets buried not just in unmarked graves, but in the very heart of Edinburgh society.

I was a little bit disappointed in the last section of this (not just the ending). For the entire novel, Hazel is determined to do the right thing for people and in the end she just sort of slowly caves? Eh. That was disappointing. For most of the book, I really enjoyed her determination, but then she just kind of chickened out, which was disappointing.

Dana Schwartz lives in L.A. Anatomy:  A Love Story is her new novel.

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

Book Review:  Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves, by Meg Long

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves
Author:   Meg Long
Genre:   YA, scifi
Rating:  4.0 out of 5.0

After angering a local gangster, seventeen-year-old Sena Korhosen must flee with her prize fighting wolf, Iska, in tow. A team of scientists offer to pay her way off her frozen planet on one condition: she gets them to the finish line of the planet’s infamous sled race. Though Sena always swore she’d never race after it claimed both her mothers’ lives, it’s now her only option.

But the tundra is a treacherous place, and as the race unfolds and their lives are threatened at every turn, Sena starts to question her own abilities. She must discover whether she’s strong enough to survive the wild – whether she and Iska together are strong enough to get them all out alive.

It’s been a while since I’ve read any scifi, and I enjoyed this foray back into it. It’s not hardcore scifi, but the cultures and peoples of the planet make for a fascinating setting—a planet run by gangsters and a hidden society who are against the corporate-driven greed that infuse the planet—with plenty of room for interesting diversions. The writing was solid, and I enjoyed the buildup to the race itself, but I feel like there were a few issues left unresolved by the ending. This is a solid debut, though, and I’d be interested in reading more from this author.

Meg Long wanted to be a spy when she grew up. Instead she became a writer. Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is her debut novel.

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

Book Review:  At the End of Everything, by Marieke Nijkamp

Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.

Title:   At the End of Everything
Author:   Marieke Nijkamp
Genre:   YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

The Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is ironically named. No one has hope for the delinquent teenagers who have been exiled there; the world barely acknowledges that they exist.

 Then the guards at Hope start acting strange. And one day…they don’t show up. But when the teens band together to make a break from the facility, they encounter soldiers outside the gates. There’s a rapidly spreading infectious disease outside, and no one can leave their houses or travel without a permit. Which means that they’re stuck at Hope. And this time, no one is watching out for them at all.

As supplies quickly dwindle and a deadly plague tears through their ranks, the group has to decide whom among them they can trust and figure out how they can survive in a world that has never wanted them in the first place.

I enjoyed this kind of dark, kind of hopeful read. Some of the teenagers have done some truly awful things, some have just done thing the adults don’t understand, but they’re all there in need of rehabilitation. When the plague starts, they’re abandoned and left to fend for themselves.

The story is told in three main viewpoints, which gives a much more well-rounded perspective than a single main character would have done. There were moments of fear, panic, and pain mixed with the hope and determination, and this was a solid, entertaining read.

Marieke Nijkamp is a bestselling author. At the End of Everything is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour:  The Kindred, by Alechia Dow

Image belongs to Inkyard Press.

Title:   The Kindred
Author:   Alechia Dow
Genre:   Sci-Fi, YA
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

To save a galactic kingdom from revolution, Kindred mind-pairings were created to ensure each and every person would be seen and heard, no matter how rich or poor…

 Joy Abara knows her place. A commoner from the lowly planet Hali, she lives a simple life—apart from the notoriety that being Kindred to the nobility’s most infamous playboy brings.

 Duke Felix Hamdi has a plan. He will exasperate his noble family to the point that they agree to let him choose his own future and finally meet his Kindred face-to-face.

 Then the royal family is assassinated, putting Felix next in line for the throne…and accused of the murders. Someone will stop at nothing until he’s dead, which means they’ll target Joy, too. Meeting in person for the first time as they steal a spacecraft and flee amid chaos might not be ideal…and neither is crash-landing on the strange backward planet called Earth. But hiding might just be the perfect way to discover the true strength of the Kindred bond and expose a scandal—and a love—that may decide the future of a galaxy.

That was just a fun read! I liked Joy, and even Felix grew on me, although he was a bit self-absorbed at first. This felt kind of like a spoofy sci-fi movie, but not totally cheesy. I enjoyed the read, especially after Joy and Felix crash-landed on Earth. Realistic and believable, no, but fun and relatable, yes, so I’d recommend this if you’re looking for a light way to spend a few hours.

Alechia Dow was born is Massachusetts but now lives in Germany. The Kindred is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Heart of the Impaler, by Alexander Delacroix

Image belongs to Macmillan.

Title:   Heart of the Impaler
Author:   Alexander Delacroix
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:  3.8 out of 5

Vlad Dracula has long lived in the shadows cast by his bloodthirsty father, the voivode, and his older brother, Mircea. Despite their cruelty, Vlad has yearned to prove himself worthy of the throne his whole life. In the cold halls of the voivode’s palace, Vlad can only rely on his cousin and closest friend, Andrei Musat.

 When Vlad and Andrei meet Ilona Csáki, the daughter of an influential boyar, they each find themselves inextricably drawn to her. But then Ilona is betrothed to Mircea as part of a political alliance, and Vlad’s resentfulness of his brother begins to seethe into something far darker.

 Ilona has no desire to marry the voivode’s eldest son, but love and marriage are the least of her worries. The royal family’s enemies have already tried to put an arrow through her back—and if anyone discovers her blossoming feelings for Andrei and Vlad, she may just wish they’d succeeded.

 Beneath the shadow of impending war, the only battle that will be deadlier than the one for Ilona’s life will be the one for her heart.

 It’s not like I expected Vlad Dracula to be good…but I did expect him to be something more than a whiny, selfish brat. I mean, he was unlikable throughout the entire book, so I really had no idea why Ilona was attracted to him at all. I wish Ilona had been a bit more fully realized, too, as she felt very one-dimensional. I did like Andrei, though, and I cheered for him the whole time—especially hoping he’d realize the truth about his best friend and put some distance between them before it got him killed.

The Heart of the Impaler is Alexander Delacroix’s debut novel.

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

Book Review:  Bad Girls Never Say Die, by Jennifer Mathieu

Image belongs to Macmillan Children’s Publishing/Roaring Book Press.

TitleBad Girls Never Say Die
Author Jennifer Mathieu
Genre:   YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

  1. Houston, Texas.

 Evie Barnes is a bad girl. So are all her friends. They’re the sort who wear bold makeup, laugh too loud, and run around with boys. Most of all, they protect their own against the world. So when Evie is saved from a sinister encounter by a good girl from the “right” side of the tracks, every rule she’s always lived by is called into question. Now she must redefine what it means to be a bad girl and rethink everything she knew about loyalty.

I loved The Outsiders, so I was excited to read this. I found it to be a solid read, even if not on the level of The Outsiders (of course). I loved how all the girls had their idea of the “other” girls totally flipped as they realized their similarities. It’s always difficult to read things set in the past when women had fewer options, but I liked how Evie comes to realize she does have choices, she’s not forced to live with society’s expectations.

Jennifer Mathieu lives in Texas. Bad Girls Never Say Die is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/Roaring Brook Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  A Light in the Sky, by Shina Reynolds

Image belongs to Wink Road Press.

Title:   A Light in the Sky
Author Shina Reynolds
Genre:   Fantasy, YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Seventeen-year-old Aluma Banks has always dreamed of soaring freely through the skies astride a powerful winged steed of her own. But flying is a privilege granted only to the Riders of the king’s Empyrean Cavalry, the aerial warriors who defend the borders of their land from the fallen Kingdom of Laithlann.

 Each year, Rider hopefuls across Eirelannia compete in the Autumn Tournament for the honor of joining the Cavalry. Aluma, trained to ride and fight by her retired Empyrean Rider father, knows she has what it takes to prove herself worthy—if only her father hadn’t forbidden her from joining their ranks, in the hope of protecting his only daughter from the perils of war. To make matters worse, Thayer, Aluma’s best friend who could be becoming something more, is competing—and if he wins, he’ll leave her behind.

 When Aluma’s father is tragically injured just before the Tournament, she finds herself unexpectedly thrust into this year’s competition. But as Aluma begins to pursue her dreams, she learns devastating secrets about the king and his never-ending war with Laithlann. In her quest for the truth, Aluma discovers a power deep within herself that may be the only way to save Eirelannia and the people she loves from the darkness that threatens to consume them all.

 I enjoyed this creative fantasy read. Flying horses—created, not born, like Pegasus—and the soldiers who ride them, a publicized contest, an evil and overbearing king (of course), and a secret rebellion. Granted, the last two are, but when put together with the others and with characters I liked, this made for a fun read. I could have done without the love triangle, but it didn’t really surprise me. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Shina Reynolds lives in Texas. A Light in the Sky is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Wink Road Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  All of Us Villains, by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

Image belongs to Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Teen.

Title:   All of Us Villains
Author:   Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman
Genre:   Fantasy, YA
Rating:  4.0 out of 5

The Blood Moon rises. The Blood Veil falls. The Tournament begins. 

Every generation, at the coming of the Blood Moon, seven families in the remote city of Ilvernath each name a champion to compete in a tournament to the death. 

The prize? Exclusive control over a secret wellspring of high magick, the most powerful resource in the world–one thought long depleted. 

This year, thanks to a salacious tell-all book, the seven champions are thrust into worldwide spotlight, granting each of them new information, new means to win, and most importantly: a choice – accept their fate or rewrite their story.

 But this is a story that must be penned in blood. 

This was a pretty dark read. Every time I though I liked a character, they did something awful, stabbed someone in the back, killed someone…Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this read. It’s well-written, with strong characters and lots of action, but it’s just so dark.

Amanda Foody lives in Boston. Christine Lynn Herman lives in Brooklyn. All of Us Villians is their new novel.

(Galley courtesy of Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Teen in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:  You Can Go Your Own Way, by Eric Smith

Image belongs to Inkyard Press.

Title:   You Can Go Your Own Way
Author:   Eric Smith
Genre:   YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

No one ever said love would be easy…but did they mention it would be freezing? 

Adam Stillwater is in over his head. At least, that’s what his best friend would say. And his mom. And the guy who runs the hardware store down the street. But this pinball arcade is the only piece of his dad that Adam has left, and he’s determined to protect it from Philadelphia’s newest tech mogul, who wants to turn it into another one of his cold, lifeless gaming cafés.

 Whitney Mitchell doesn’t know how she got here. Her parents split up. She lost all her friends. Her boyfriend dumped her. And now she’s spending her senior year running social media for her dad’s chain of super successful gaming cafés—which mostly consists of trading insults with that decrepit old pinball arcade across town.

 But when a huge snowstorm hits, Adam and Whitney suddenly find themselves trapped inside the arcade. Cut off from their families, their worlds, and their responsibilities, the tension between them seems to melt away, leaving something else in its place. But what happens when the storm stops?

I know basically nothing about pinball games, but this was a fun read. I loved the banter between him and Whitney. Whitney….the people in her life kind of suck (except her mom). Seeing her realize that and change what she could was a positive journey. This was a really solid read, perfect for a lazy weekend afternoon.

Eric Smith lives in Philadelphia. You Can Go Your Own Way is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.)