Tag: young adult

Book Review: The Red Labyrinth, by Meredith Tate

theredlabyrinth
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:  The Red Labyrinth
Author:  Meredith Tate
Genre:  YA, dystopian
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

As one of the unskilled, Zadie Kalver is treated like trash by the skilled. She wishes she had one tiny power—anything—to make people hater her less. Her small desert town lies in the shadow of the labyrinth—a massive maze built to protect the town—filled with death traps and enchantments, and a killer named Dax who snatches those who wander too close.

When Zadie’s best friend disappears and everyone forgets he even existed, she knows something is going on. And the only person who might be able to help her lives at the heart of the maze. Her only hope is an uneasy truce with the murdering Dex, the one person familiar with the labyrinth. They’ll have to avoid all the deadly traps inside—and keep from killing each other—if they are ever to get back the people they’re searching for.

I read this straight through in one sitting. The world, harsh as it was, fascinated me, and Zadie is a character I’d like to hang out with. I can’t imagine the strength it would take to survive what she’s been through, on top of being abused and treated like trash for being unskilled. She starts off a little naïve, but she grows quickly as a character, making this a riveting read.

Meredith Tate has a master’s degree in social work and now lives in Switzerland. The Red Labyrinth is her newest novel.

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

Advertisements

Book Review: A Pack of Vows and Tears, by Olivia Wildenstein

a pack of vows and tears
Image belongs to the author.

Title:  A Pack of Vows and Tears
Author:  Olivia Wildenstein
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

With Liam as the pack’s new Alpha, Ness thinks things will finally calm down. But August is back in town to pledge his loyalty to the new Alpha, and a mating bond manifests between August and Ness, meaning she finds everyone else unattractive—even Liam, her boyfriend. The bond will take months to fade, but Ness thinks her connection with Liam is strong enough to stand the test of time.

Until her cousin claims she helped him elude his death sentence, and Liam believes him and accuses her. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with the pack, but she can’t leave August behind while their bond is intact. When a new pack shows up in town and threatens her own pack, Ness must decide to leave them to their fate or to help the pack that has always treated her as an outsider.

I enjoyed this second book in the Boulder Wolves series, but some of the developments didn’t entirely surprise me. Liam flipping to become so controlling and accusatory—eh, not really a surprise, considering his background—although one revelation about him did surprise me. I liked August from the start of the first book, so I was happy to see him with a bigger role here. This is a solid read in an enjoyable series.

Olivia Wildenstein is a bestselling author. A Pack of Vows and Tears is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Denali in Hiding, by Caitlin Sinead

denali-in-hiding-cover-for-kindle
Image belongs to Caitlin Sinead.

Title:  Denali in Hiding
Author:  Caitlin Sinead
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Her whole life, Denali has struggled to keep her abilities a secret. If the American Psi Council found out she was telekinetic, her normal life with her mom and brother would end. When the Council does find out, Denali goes away to Nashquttin, an island where it’s safe for psis to use their power, and where Denali can learn to control hers.

Except the Council doesn’t know she’s also a viewer, and she saw a vision of a mysterious boy surrounded by bomb-making paraphernalia and knows he plans an attack in Washington, D.C. But the punishment for interference in the affairs of regular humans is severe—including a life sentence or death—and Denali doesn’t know what the right choice is. Should she risk everything she has—including the respect of her brooding trainer—to save a bunch of people she doesn’t know?

I enjoyed this read quite a bit. Denali is an excellent character:  she’s a teenager, with all a normal teen’s hopes and angst, but she also has an extra layer of conflict. Should she stop the bomb? Should she mind her own business and stay out of trouble? Tough call. And I feel there’s more going on with the Council than meets the eye. I’m interested in seeing where Denali goes next.

Caitlin Sinead has a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University. Denali in Hiding is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Voice in My Head, by Dana L. Davis

the voice in my head
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN.

Title:  The Voice in My Head
Author:  Dana L. Davis
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Indigo can’t take it anymore. Her twin sister, Violet, is terminally ill and choosing to end her life by medically assisted suicide. Indigo doesn’t want to live without her twin, and she’s sure her family would rather have Violet, everyone’s favorite, than her. Before she can jump from a building, she hears a voice claiming to be God, who says if the entire family takes Violet to hike The Wave in the desert, she will live.

As if hearing voices isn’t enough, Indigo also must convince her mom, who never thought Indigo was good enough, her brother, who’s keeping secrets, and her annoying, bossy, know-it-all older sister. Not to mention the New Age pastor who was going to help Violet pass. She’s not sure she can do this, even with the help of the voice.

This book covers some deep subjects with respect and empathy. Indigo is a vibrant yet troubled character, and her voice shows her mental conflict, as well as her struggles in her family. I found the book flippant about religion, but everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I didn’t like the ending, but it was very fitting for the story.

Dana L. Davis is an actor, a motivational speaker, a screenwriter, and a violist. The Voice in My Head is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin TEEN via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Two Like Me and You, by Chad Alan Gibbs

two like me and you
Image belongs to Borne Back Books.

Title:  Two Like Me and You
Author:  Chad Alan Gibbs
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Edwin Green’s still not over his ex-girlfriend. She’s famous. Like, really famous, everyone-knows-her-name famous. They split up a year ago—on Black Saturday—and Edwin’s been plotting to get her back ever since. His plan:  to get famous, too. That’s not working out too well, so he’s stuck in high school, surrounded by idiots.

Until he ends up paired with mysterious new girl Parker Haddaway on a history project. She introduces him to Garland Lennox, a WWII veteran stuck in a nursing home. But Garland wants Edwin and Parker to sneak him out of the nursing home and to France, where he’s determined to find the love of his life, a girl he met during the war. Soon Edwin finds himself all over the news, but as the media is joined by the French police, he’s not sure being famous is all it’s cracked up to be.

I love the voice in this novel! Edwin grows a lot in this novel and realizes some things about himself—and his life—that he’s never considered before. He starts out as someone who lets life happen to him, but he learns to be an active participant in his own life along the way. He ends up in some hilarious predicaments, thanks to Garland and Parker, but it’s a thrilling, fun ride.

Chad Alan Gibbs lives in Alabama. Two Like Me and You is his first novel.

(Galley courtesy of Borne Back Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: This is Not a Love Scene, by S.C. Megale

 

this-is-not-a-love-scene-cover

Title:  This is Not a Love Scene
Author:  S.C. Megale
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Maeve and all her friends are obsessed with their senior film project and their portfolios to get into film school. Maeve would be, too, but having MS means her options are different than her friends. Maeve loves filmmaking. And guys. Especially the guy starring in their senior project:  Cole. But leading men don’t go for girls in wheelchairs, right?

But the chemistry between Maeve and the always-in-motion Cole is intense, and suddenly Maeve is dealing with typical dating mishaps and juggling the film project and her disease. Maeve is so used to being rejected, that she’s just not sure she can trust Cole, who seems far too good to be true. But Maeve will have to deal with her own fears if she’s ever to find out the truth about Cole’s feelings for her.

Maeve is an incredibly strong character, but she does have some issues that made her a little hard for me to read. I loved seeing how she viewed the world and her experiences in a life with MS, but she can be quite awkward and a little needy. She also comes across as very selfish, to the point where she completely ignores the sometimes-major problems her friends are having in favor of obsessing about her own issues. I didn’t find her all that likable, but she is a very strong character.

S.C. Megale is a writer, a filmmaker, and a philanthropist. This is Not a Love Scene is her debut novel.

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

Book Review: Belly Up, by Eva Darrows

 

belly up
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press.

Title:  Belly Up
Author:  Eva Darrows
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

It’s bad enough Sara’s boyfriend cheated on her and she found out when she saw sexting pics on his phone. But now he and the other girl are flaunting it around town, when all Sara wants is to get through the summer and spend senior year with her best friend, Devi, and get into an Ivy League school. Surely a drunken hook-up at a party will at least take Sara’s mind off her problems.

Or not.

She forgot to get the guy’s number, and when she finds out she’s pregnant, well, things change. She and her mom move in with her grandmother, and instead of starting senior year with Devi, Sara is the new girl at a new school. She meets some new friends and Leaf, a Romani boy who really gets her, and whose flirting makes her happy. Except she’s also the pregnant new girl. She should probably tell Leaf about that, but she wants to hold on to her happiness for just a little longer.

Belly Up wasn’t quite what I expected. Sara is an amazing character, and her voice is so much fun. This is an incredibly diverse book, and friendship is a main theme, as is love (and not romantic love, either). This was a fun read about serious subjects, and I recommend it.

Eva Darrows/Hillary Monahan is a New York Times-bestselling author. Belly Up is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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.)

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.)