Tag Archives: YA

Book Review: Someone Elses Summer by Rachel Bateman

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3-out-of-5-stars

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

Description: “Anna’s always idolized her older sister, Storm. So when Storm dies in a tragic car accident on the night of her high school graduation, Anna is completely lost and her family is torn apart. That is, until she finds Storm’s summer bucket list and decides to honor her sister by having the best summer ever—which includes taking an epic road trip to the coast from her sleepy Iowa town. Setting out to do everything on Storm’s list along with her sisters best friend Cameron—the boy next door—who knew that Storm’s dream summer would eventually lead to Anna’s own self-discovery?”

Review: I’m not sure that “epic” is the word I would use to describe this road trip, maybe played out? I really liked the idea of Anna taking over her deceased sister’s bucket list. The road trip was light and entertaining but unoriginal. I felt like this book didn’t have an aspect that makes it stand out from other YA coming of age/road trip books. Anna and Cameron fall in love (obviously) but I never felt connected to their characters and quite frankly I didn’t really like Cameron. The characters weren’t really fleshed out. For example, we keep hearing how Piper is Anna’s best friends but all of their conversations and interactions are superficial. I wish there was more character development to help me become vested in the story. I honestly think my favorite character was Storm, who you never actually meet in the book but only hear about. Storm seemed to be the most dynamic character of the bunch. While I enjoyed the beginning half of the book I quickly grew uninterested. Overall, this book is a standard coming of age story that many teenage girls will enjoy.

 

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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Book Review: The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

“The Whole Thing Together” by Ann Brashares

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3-out-of-5-stars

Description: “Summer for Sasha and Ray means the sprawling old house on Long Island. Since they were children, they’ve shared almost everything—reading the same books, running down the same sandy footpaths to the beach, eating peaches from the same market, laughing around the same sun-soaked dining table. Even sleeping in the same bed, on the very same worn cotton sheets. But they’ve never met.

Sasha’s dad was once married to Ray’s mom, and together they had three daughters: Emma, the perfectionist; Mattie, the beauty; and Quinn, the favorite. But the marriage crumbled and the bitterness lingered. Now there are two new families—and neither one will give up the beach house that holds the memories, happy and sad, of summers past.

The choices we make come back to haunt us; the effect on our destinies ripples out of our control…or does it? This summer, the lives of Sasha, Ray, and their siblings intersect in ways none of them ever dreamed, in a novel about family relationships, keeping secrets, and most of all, love.”

Review: I really struggled to read this book, I found it slow, confusing and lacking dimension. All of the interesting aspects of the story are briefly mentioned and are glossed over. The story felt like it was rushed.

This story is about a variety of personalities, how they cope with life and how they manage to live together. Due to so many characters it was difficult to keep track of who is who (sorry Mattie and Emma) and to feel connected to any of them. The characters and story of Ray and Sasha are more developed but I found the whole romance to be disturbing. Even though Ray and Sasha are not biologically related the budding romance between them creeped me out.

I wish the author cut the number of characters in half and gave them more details and focus. The characters had a lot of potential for growth but due to the overwhelming number of characters, all with personal struggles, I found it difficult to get to know them. A lot is mentioned and hinted at in the book but not much is flushed out.

While I will be purchasing this book for the public library I work at due to the author’s name (teens will still want to read it) I do not think I will personally recommend it to anymore.

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley

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Book Review: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

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2-out-of-5-stars

Description: “An original addition to the beloved Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, “Lost in a Book” follows the lonely, bookish Belle as she finds an enchanted book in the Beast’s library called Nevermore that carries her into a glittering new world. There, Belle is befriended by a mysterious countess who offers her the life she’s always dreamed of.

But Nevermore is not what it seems, and the more time Belle spends there, the harder it is to leave. Good stories take hold of us and never let us go, and once Belle becomes lost in this book, she may never find her way out again.”

Review: There might be some burning pitchforks after me after this review but here it goes! There was a lot of hype surrounding this book and I became very excited when I heard about it (I even went to 2 stores to purchase it only to find out that it was sold it!). I was a huge Beauty and the Beast fan growing up and cannot wait for the movie! I must say that I had high expectations for this book, a lot of friends told me it was amazing, and maybe that is why I was so let down.

I found the story to be overplayed (love vs death, enchanted book, etc); to me it came off like a typical girl getting sucked into a fantasy world, blinded by beauty and is too dumb to realize what is happening. Belle is supposed to be a book smart character but does not see or listen to the warnings she is given in Nevermore. I became frustrated that she would fall for Death’s trickery so easily, I felt that she should have seen what was coming. Even until the middle of the book I was still holding out hope that Belle’s wits would persevere (not so much).

The story unfolds quickly, almost too quickly in my opinion. Due to the fast pace it was hard to feel a connection with the characters. I wish the book slowed down and built up more anticipation. Also, the character of Beast was lacking, he is not present for the majority of the story and I felt like he could have had a lot more depth than what was shown. It was hard to figure out why Belle was so drawn to Nevermore when she constantly spoke about her love for the servants and even her blossoming friendship with the Beast. Overall I felt like this story was rushed and not fully developed. I wanted to like it but just couldn’t get into it. This book is a quick read, I was able to binge read it in 2 days.

Even though I was not the biggest fan of “Lost in a Book” I do have several friends that adore it! They enjoyed it because it was not a retelling per se but still keeps the original characters present. Jennifer Donnelly is a great author and I did like how it wasn’t your typically retelling. There will be many Jennifer Donnelly and Beauty in the Beast fans that will find a treasure in this book!

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Book Review: You Know Me Well by David Levithan & Nina LaCour

You Know Me Well by David Levithan & Nina LaCour

Description: Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour, the award-winning author of Hold Still and The Disenchantments, and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.”

Review: This is a great coming of age novel, not only for the LGBT community, but for all teens. There are love obstacles in this book (like most YA novels) but they aren’t overdone or blown out of proportion. I felt the teenage angst was appropriately portrayed. While I no longer feel it, I was able to enjoy the melodrama and it took me back to the feelings I had as a teenager. This novel poetically describes the struggles of trying to be yourself and find out who that is. The only issue I had was that at times it was hard to figure out who was speaking, I personally prefer when the character speaking is clearly stated. Don’t let the fact that this story has a LGBT element stop you from reading and recommending it, people from all walks of life can enjoy the beauty of this book! I would recommend it to adults and teens who connect with the LGBT community, who are struggling with their own identity and who enjoy realistic YA fiction.

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley

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Book Review: Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten

Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten

Description: The Haves. The Have Nots. Kate O’Brien appears to be a Have Not. Her whole life has been a series of setbacks she’s had to snake her way out of — some more sinister than others. But she’s determined to change that. She’s book smart. She’s street-smart. And she’s also a masterful liar.

As the scholarship student at the elite Waverly School in NYC, Kate has her work cut out for her: her plan is to climb the social ranks and land a spot at Yale. She’s already found her ‘people’ among the senior class ‘it’ girls — specifically in the cosseted, mega-wealthy yet deeply damaged Olivia Sumner. As for Olivia, she considers Kate the best friend she’s always needed, the sister she never had.

When the handsome and whip-smart Mark Redkin joins the Waverly administration as head of fundraising, he immediately charms his way into the faculty and students’ lives — especially Olivia’s although she doesn’t share what’s going on. It becomes increasingly obvious that Redkin poses a threat to Kate, too, in a way she can’t reveal and can’t afford to ignore. Mark has his own plan for a bright future and never doubts that he can pull it off. How close can Kate and Olivia get with Mark without having to share their dark pasts?”

Review: This book was a quick, fast-paced psychological read. I am usually good at figuring out the psychological twists and turns but this book threw me. I was on the edge of my seat while reading it, Teresa Toten did a great job of building suspense. While the author did a great job of developing the main character, Kate, I felt like the other characters could have been more fleshed out. I’m the type of person that wants to know what motivates someone, I was intrigued by so many of the characters and wanted to know more. I hope she writes another book about one of the other characters. There are so many layers to this book and the author reveals them in a way that is griping. This book left me guessing and wanting more. Don’t read this if you hate open ended books! I would recommend this to friends who are looking for a quick read and enjoyed Gone Girl.

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley

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Book Review: Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

Description: Nanette O’Hare is a hardworking high school student, a good daughter, a best friend and a great soccer player. Yet, Nanette feels like there must be more to life than going through her every day routine. A teacher sees Nanette as a kindred spirit and gives her a book called “The Bubblegum Reaper.” Nanette becomes consumed by the mysterious book about a boy who decides to “quit.” Her teacher helps her get in touch with the reclusive author; it is through the author that she makes new friends, finds her first love in a troubled teen and begins to question her very way of living.

Review: “The Silver Linings Playbook” is one of my favorite books (waaaaaay better than the movie), when I saw that the author wrote a new YA novel I was dying to read it. Unfortunately, the book didn’t have the same magic as “The Silver Linings Playbook,” at times I honestly thought I was reading a John Green novel (think “The Fault in our Stars” without cancer).  I really did want to like this book, I love YA novels that are philosophical and forces you to think. The reason why I didn’t like it is because I found it preachy and the story line obvious (who would have thought the troubled poet would get himself into trouble and meet a sad end?!?). The characters are very stereotypical – the troubled violent teen who writes angsty poetry, the teenage girl who has it all but yet it’s still not enough, the reclusive author who won’t answer questions, a boy  who gets bullied by his classmates and a group of high schoolers who only care about getting drunk and hooking up. I wasn’t able to connect with the characters; I wanted to shake them, tell them to suck it up and deal with it (which might have to do with the fact that I’m now in my mid-20s and can see past high school agony). While I wasn’t able to connect with them many teens who have dealt with bullying, peer pressure and divorce will feel for them.  Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the book I do know some teens who will enjoy it. The book depicts the ups, downs, ins and outs of being a teen. It portrays the confusion and varied emotions that hit in the high school years. Although it depicts these emotions nicely I don’t think it shows how to best handle them and might leave teens with more questions and answers (just like the author of “The Bubblegum Reaper”). I would recommend this book to young adults who like John Green and those who question society norms but are mature for their age.

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley

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Book Review: Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

Description: “Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.”

Book Review: YA dystopian novels (and their movie counterparts) are overdone, I decided to give this one a shot because of A) the author and B) it sounded intriguing. I  found this book to be a refreshing change from the recent dystopian novels, there was no instalove or love triangles or wars. There is some violence (aka branding a person) and intense scenes in the story.  The first half of the book was a little slow and bland but picked up in the second part. It was an enjoyable read but not one to write home about. Celestine as a character is a little weak, I’ve read some other reviews that declare her to be unbelievable but I felt her back and forth questioning (of who to trust/what to do) is extremely realistic. She grew up with strict societal rules stating that all Flawed are lesser beings, now everything she grew up believing has been turned upside down.  I did find her slightly frustrating though; she was wishy washy and I kept hoping she’d come in her own as a strong female character. The idea of branding people in specific places based upon their crime was interesting and brought me back to my English Lit classes (“The Scarlet Letter” anyone?). I wish there was more information on the other characters, I found them more intriguing than Celestine. Each character had an agenda that was fueled by something personal, I would love to find out more about them (especially the grandfather). I also wish there was more backstory of why/how these society rules came about (more than just one sentence). I will be reading the next book because I am curious about what happens. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to people who liked the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley

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Book Review: The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever by Jeff Strand

The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever by Jeff Strand

3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary: Justin, Bobby and Gabe are amateur film makers who decide they are going to make the greatest zombie movie ever within a month. While they have the passion to create the movie they have to overcome many obstacles, such as borrowing $5,000 from a grandmother that expects interest, a house fire and a car accident. Will these 3 friends be able to pull off making the zombie movie of the century? Or more importantly, will they still be friends after it?

Review: Jeff Strand strikes again with a hilarious book that appeals to a vast audience. This book won’t win any awards or be declared a classic but it will make you laugh. The characters aren’t all that relatable and you don’t really connect with him but you can’t help but love the quirky characters. The plot line, while not believable, goes along at a good pace and keeps the reader guessing what crazy antic is going to happen next.  It’s nice to read a YA novel that isn’t full of epic adventures and love triangles.  This is a great book to get reluctant readers, especially boys, to pick up a book.

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley

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Book Review: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie

2.5 out of 5 stars

Summary: Sunshine is an adopted 16 year old who felt that she never truly fit in due to her close relationship with her mother and her love of vintage clothing. Sunshine and her mother move to Washington for her mother’s job but Sunshine feels ill at ease in their new home; the place smells damp and musty, she constantly feels a chill, hears noises and thinks the house is haunted. Her mother does not believe any of it,. Sunshine starts documenting the strange occurrences in hopes to convince her mother but when she shows her mother photographic proof her mom is unable to see it. Sunshine and her mother even have a haunting experience with the spirits but in the morning her mom is unable to remember it. Sunshine takes photographs of the ghost of a young girl who wants to play with Sunshine’s board games and stuffed owl. Sunshine notices that her mother is starting to act strange and she is unsure what is going on, all she knows is that the house is haunted and something isn’t right with her mom. No one believes Sunshine until she meets Noah; Sunshine and Noah start to document and research the haunted house. As they research the supernatural events they find out some interesting information about Sunshine, her mother, her family history and what happened in the house. The two must join forces to try and save the little girl’s spirit and to defeat the evil demon threatening her mom.

Review: I will start off by saying that I have never watched the YouTube channel, maybe I would have had a greater appreciation for the book if I had watched it first. I love a good horror/ghost story and was very excited by the premise of the book. The first half of the book is “creepy” (a word that is overused in the story) and has all the ingredients of a good haunting. I raced through the beginning of the book and was really excited by the character dynamics and the supernatural elements. Unfortunately, the second half of the book is anticlimactic and is more about Sunshine and her destiny than it is about the haunting. I found that things fell into place too easily, was too predictable and the creep factor wasn’t there any more. The second part of the book lost the element of surprise, which is what made the beginning so good. Ultimately, this is more a story about family and friendship than it is about ghosts and demons. I would recommend this book to teens who enjoy the YouTube channel and like lite paranormal stories, I would not recommend this book to hardcore paranormal/horror fans.

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley

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Book Review: I Was Here – Gayle Forman

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

3 out of 5 stars

Cody and Meg were the best of friends but Cody is taken by complete surprise when Meg commits suicide. Cody never saw any signs even though Meg’s suicide note declares that she has been thinking of death for a while. Cody visits Meg’s college and her Seattle hangouts in hopes of finding answers. Along the way Cody meets Meg’s roommates and her brief love interest, Ben. Cody goes on a quest to open encrypted computer files and to understand why Meg commits suicide. Cody is taken down a path that she never imagined Meg taking.

If I was handed this book and did not know who the author was I would have referred to it as “average” plot and writing; nothing exciting or out of the world about it but not a horrible read either. Unfortunately for Gayle Forman her name makes you believe that you are going to get something special, something that really reaches out and speaks to you, this is not one of those books. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad book! I found it to be a quick read, interesting enough and a lot of the descriptions of suicide and the aftermath it causes were spot on. What this book was missing was that extra special something that I was hoping for (and expected out of Gayle Forman). Also, I may or may not have thrown this book when Ben confesses his love for Cody UGH UGH UGH!! The love story portion was a huge turn off for me (and other readers as well),  the book could have stood perfectly fine without a love interest and if anything it adds an unnecessary superficial element. Although I did not find the romantic element beneficial I did enjoy several elements of this book. Forman does not glorify or vilify the act of suicide; Suicide is a very difficult subject and I believe the aftermath of it is shown clearly in this book. I also really enjoyed the “Author’s Note” at the end of the book where Forman talks about the inspiration for this book and even discusses the thin line between being suicidal and thinking about death. I might have even enjoyed the brief “Author’s Note” more than the actual book. Even though I was not personally blown away by this book I can see many teens enjoying it and relying upon it. I love the fact that a very popular teen author wrote about such a sensitive subject, one that sometimes gets over looked or examined in the wrong way. Teens will grab this book because it is written by Gayle Forman but I believe in the end they will come away with a better knowledge and understanding of what it means to truly think about or commit suicide. I would recommend this book to some more mature teens that would be able to fully grasp and understand the subject matter in this book.

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