Tag: young adult novels

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.)

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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.)

Book Review: A Soldier and a Liar, by Caitlin Lochner

a soldier and a liar
Image belongs to Swoon Reads.

Title:  A Soldier and a Liar
Author:  Caitlin Lochner
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Lai is a Nyte, a supernaturally gifted teenager with abilities that frighten the Etioles without abilities—but with numbers and power on their side. Lai is in prison:  by her own choice and for her own reasons. Going back to the military is not what she had in mind, but when a chance to join a special team of Nytes comes her way, she decides that it might suit her own agenda perfectly, if she keeps the truth of her power to herself.

She joins Jay, an uptight perfectionist haunted by his father’s expectations, Al, whose short temper keeps her own secret hidden, and Erik, a surly amnesiac desperate to find out who he really is. Their team has a chance to stop the rising rebellion between Nytes and Etioles, but will the secrets they’re hiding destroy their team before they can?

This is a dystopian story, but without the dystopian feel. The focus is on the two groups, Nytes and Etioles, and the conflict and rebellion between them. Each of these characters has secrets, big ones, and keeps everyone at a distance to keep their secret safe. This novel is about finding trust—for yourself and those closest to you—even in the face of danger. An enjoyable read not bogged down with romance and flirting (although there is a teensy bit).

Caitlin Lochner lives and teaches in Tokyo. A Soldier and a Liar is her debut novel.

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

Book Review: Mist, Metal, and Ash, by Gwendolyn Clare

mist, metal, & ash
Image belongs to Imprint/Macmillan.

Title:  Mist, Metal, and Ash
Author:  Gwendolyn Clare
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4.0 out of 5

In an alternate Italy, Elsa can create new worlds by writing in books. Special writing. Special books. Special talent…and one that puts her in danger when political extremists steal a book that can change the very nature of the world itself.

In the wake of a horrific betrayal, Elsa has one goal:  track down the book before the extremists can use it to wreak havoc. Getting revenge on her betrayer will be just a bonus. But Elsa doesn’t realize the secrets she’ll encounter along the way, some of which she’s even kept from herself.

I love steampunk, but I don’t actively seek it out—I don’t know why. I have not read the first book in this duology, Ink, Iron, and Glass, but I highly recommend doing that, as I spent the first third of the book being highly confused. I ended up loving the world and its nuances:  differences from our own, but some similarities, too. There’s a lot of action here, and a bit of romance, but it’s all woven together seamlessly. I like the intrigue with Casa as well.

Gwendolyn Clare is a scientist and a writer. Mist, Metal, and Ash is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Imprint/Macmillan via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Doing the wrong thing for the right reason in Lillian Clark’s “Immoral Code”

immoral code
Image belongs to Knopf.

 

Title: Immoral Code
Author:  Lillian Clark
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Five friends. An absentee father who’s a billionaire. One nefarious plot.

Nari is a genius digital hacker. Keagan is her sweet boyfriend who would follow her anywhere. Reese is a visual artist who dreams of traveling everywhere. San is headed to Stanford on a diving scholarship and wants to go to the Olympics. And Bellamy is a physics genius who gets into MIT—then finds out the father she’s never seen is a billionaire, destroying her hopes of financial aid.

Nari’s not going to let her best friend’s dreams be destroyed by some jerk who wants nothing to do with her, so she comes up with a plan:  hack into Bellamy’s dad’s computer empire and plant a code that skims enough money off millions of transactions to pay for Bellamy’s first year of college.

What could possibly go wrong?

This group of characters was fascinating. A group of individuals who form a fantastic team with an unbreakable friendship. I did not entirely care for Nari, who was very bossy and demanding (autocratic comes to mind), but I loved the rest—especially Reese and her vibrant hair. The relationships were complex and believable, and Keagan was my favorite character:  he’s the voice of reason, as well as being the lone “ordinary” soul in the group. Definitely a good read.

Lillian Clark grew up in Wyoming and now lives in Idaho. Immoral Code is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House Children’s/Knop Books for Young Readers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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