Icon Tag: YA

Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Posted April 2, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn BennettStarry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Series: standalone
Published by Simon Pulse on April 3rd 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.
But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.
What could go wrong?
With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.
And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Zorie and Lennon have been best friends for a really long time, until the Great Experiment when their feelings for each other changed. But, last year when the two decided to go public, Zorie found herself stranded at homecoming by Lennon with no explanation and a single “I’m sorry” via text.

Now it’s a year later, summer time, and Zorie finds out from her step mom that she has been “invited” by a girl named Reagan on a glamping trip (camping for rich people). At first, Zorie doesn’t really want to go, but when she discovers a letter addressed to her mother that has something to do with her father – Zorie finds it as a way to escape until she can decide what to do about this new information. What Zorie did not expect was for Lennon to be joining the trip, nor the events that follow suit.

This was such a cute read. I absolutely adore Jenn Bennett’s YA romance. They are definitely a bit on the older side of the YA adult, but they are just so well done. I love that it’s sex and safety positive. I love that it generally has awesome parent’s (with the exceptions of Zorie’s father in this case) and such great, well developed characters.

I enjoyed the setting and the duo’s adventure as they make their way through the state park after getting stranded. I learned a thing or two about camping myself that I was not aware of. I love the relationship between the two characters and they were just both such great kids. The romance was sweet, wonderful and believable. Lennon had really great parents (two mothers). Zorie had an awesome relationship with her step-mother Joy and that just made my heart sing.

Thought I enjoyed the large part of this book, I had gripes with Reagan and her friends. I understood the girl had issues because she did not get what she has been training for all her life, but I did not like what she did to Zorie and Lennon. I also did not understand why the others just followed suit with her decision. It felt like it could have gone so terribly wrong and there just wasn’t enough repercussion for their actions. I also felt like Summer and Kendrick should have stopped her, because they did not seem like the type of kids from what I got out of them in the book, that would be capable of doing something like that.

Oh, and Zorie’s father really got under my skin with his actions and lack of thought for his daughter. I understand that he lost a wife, but Zorie lost a mother and he should have been a better parent in this situation – but he was not. I did adore that Joy – her step-mother was just such a fantastic character and was able to step right in.

Overall, this was just another awesome read from this author. Her writing flows, her characters are extremely likable for me, I enjoyed the story and the writing and looking forward to her next book.

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Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Posted March 20, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra ChristoTo Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Series: standalone
Published by Feiwel & Friends on March 6th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 342
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.
The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

To Kill a Kingdom is a loosely based Little Mermaid retelling. It follows Princess Lira one of the most dangerous sirens who one time a year, rips a prince’s heart out. Her collection keeps growing with now seventeen Prince’s that she has murdered. But when the Queen decided to punish Lira for taking a heart too soon before her Birthday, she turns her into the thing that Lira hates the most – a human.

Prince Elian loves the ocean and is the only place he calls home despite being an heir to one of the most powerful Kingdoms. He is a pirate that travels on his ship with his crew while hunting Sirens, and has given himself a name as a notorious Siren killer. When he discovers a naked woman in the middle of the ocean, he knows she is far more than what she appears – but she promises him help finding the Eye of Kato – a powerful weapon that can take down the Sea Queen.

As far as as sirens, mermaid books go, I think this is the best one I have read in a long time. The author does a good job with how she handled mermaids and sirens a like and I found it interesting and original. The writing was really good too and for the most part kept me engaged, despite some pacing issues.

That being said, I felt like this book could have made an interesting adult book. Sometimes the character roles make you forget just how old everyone is and when you finally remember, it sometimes felt hard to believe. Like Elian is about 17 to 18 years old and yet he is one of the most feared Pirates and spends his life killing sirens and building his name around it, at times his age felt off. Until, you remember that he was also completely naive when it came to Lira. He found a naked woman in the middle of the ocean, with no ships in sight, and she seems to know a lot about sirens as well as their action – and he couldn’t put that all together?

The pacing was good for the most part, I did love the world and the world building. I did wish there was a bit more, but I get how the story was supposed to flow and be fast paced. Of course, most of the story ends up being about the crew travel to a Kingdom that holds the Eye and the rest 10% or so dedicated to a battle. At that point I found that I was reading the story just to finish it.

In my honest opinion, for me the book sits at between 3.5 and 3.75 stars but because this was one of the better siren, mermaid books out there I did round it up to 4 stars it is definitely worth the read if you enjoy those type of books because thus far it is one of the better ones out there. I did enjoy it and I did find the writing really good and loved the world the author created.

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Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Posted March 20, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret RogersonAn Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Series: standalone
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on September 26th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fae
Pages: 300
Format: Kindle Edition, Audiobook
Source: Publisher, Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher, Library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.
Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.
Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

A few points about An Enchantment of Raven

  • The writing was gorgeous. The world was beautiful, Margaret Rogerson really has her way with words and she weaves together a stunning, vivid, dynamic world that really makes your imagination come alive.
  • Thought, the world and the writing are beautiful, where the book really hurt was the characters and the weak plot line. The story follows a 17 year old girl named Isobel, a human with painting as her Craft. They live in the world where summer does not seem to go away. The Fair ones hunger for human craft, and Isobel’s paintings are highly coveted. When Isobel gets her first prince – Rook of the Autumn lands – she paints sorrow in his eyes and puts Rook in danger. For Isobel did not know that showing emotion is dangerous and can get him killed.
  • Isobel is 17 years old, Rook is hundreds, if not thousands of years old. There is a bit of instalove between Isobel and Rook. I did not get the romance between the two and was quite frankly a bit confused about it. If Fair Folk are not meant to feel, how does Rook fall in love not once but twice? Also, if Rook is as old as he is and in love with a 17 year old, felt a bit off Isobel had moments of maturity but she also had bouts of juvenile tendencies as well. They have this heated kiss scene at which she comments afterwards that sex really turns people into imbeciles. Which I guess just reminds you that she is a 17 year old girl who just got grabbed by a Fair Folk that is hundreds of years old. I couldn’t get past that, mainly because he was so much more mature and experienced as her that the duo was making my head hurt.
  • There were a few other parts that confused me. The Hemlock plot line just felt kind of underdeveloped. At one point it is said Rook is losing his magic, I did not understand if he was going to recover and get it back and the whole conflict just felt a bit confused and one I found I really did not care for. The Ardan King is somehow poisoning the lands, but I did not understand how or why.
  • Isobel is a special snowflake, only she can save Fair Folk lands with her craft.
  • Overall, the writing was magic, stunning in it. But it faltered in characters, romance and a plot line that just didn’t completely work.

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I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, Charlie Thruston (Narrator)

Posted March 13, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Reviews / 18 Comments

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, Charlie Thruston (Narrator)I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, Charlie Thruston
Series: Jasper Dent, #1
Published by Audiogo on April 3rd 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller
Pages: 9
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?
Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.
But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view.
And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.
In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a pretty likeable teenager, he is both handsome and charming. But Jasper is also the son of a notorious serial killer Billy Dent with his own set of demons that keep him up all night. Billy Dent had the tendency of taking his kid to “work” and with that Jazz has learned how the killers work.

When a body turns up in the small hometown of Lobo’s Nod, Jasper is convinced that it’s a work of a serial killer. With Dear Old Dad still locked up in the penitentiary, it couldn’t possibly be his work of art, but something about the bodies is making Jazz really uncomfortable and familiar.

Now Jazz joins the police in a wild hunt as they try to identify and catch the serial killer before any more bodies pile up, after all, he seems to know how to think like one.

This was such a thrilling ride. Wow! I don’t usually like Young Adult Thrillers, but this one does not read like one. Jasper is flawed, super flawed and is battling a lot in his head and in his dream. He has seen so much bad done by his dad that he actually has to remind himself about humanity. Sometimes, it’s really hard to be in Jasper’s head as he battles with something on a primal level that has been ingrained with him through his Dear Old Dad (as he calls him)

This book wasn’t always an easy listen and made me super uncomfortable at times, but the writing was amazing. The story flowed, the characters were interesting. I especially loved Howie, Jasper’s best friend, he seemed so original and fun. It was creepy to see how some serial killer’s thing, it most definitely left me cringing. The storyline definitely kept me hooked and coming back.

The narrator for the audiobook was Charlie Thruston and he did an amazing job. I loved how he altered his voice for most of the characters and his impression of Billy Dent really hit the spot and made my skin crawl.

Overall, this was a fantastic read with great characters, great narrator, and a storyline that definitely gave me the chills when listened on audio. It really bought the whole experience to a new level.

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Review: A Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca

Posted March 10, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: A Kiss in the Dark by Gina CioccaA Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca
Series: standalone
Published by Simon Pulse on March 6th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When the lights go out at a Georgia high school football game, Macy Atwood finds herself in the arms of a boy who kisses her senseless – but is gone by the time the lights come back on. All she knows is that there was something special – and oddly familiar – about her mystery kisser.
Noah Granger, Ridgedale’s resident bad boy and newest transfer student, has no problem taking credit for the kiss, but Macy can’t shake the feeling that he’s lying. Especially since a photograph of Macy and former star football player Joel Hargrove resurfaced online moments before the blackout, a not-so random reminder of how hard she fell for Joel last year. And how doing so ultimately sent her lifelong friendships with Meredith Kopala and Ben Collins up in literal smoke.
Soon junior year’s wounds begin to reopen as Macy realizes the events that unfolded are somehow tied to her mystery kisser. Discovering how means finally facing what really went wrong with Meredith, Ben, and Joel – and finding out what Noah is covering up.
But the closer Macy gets to figuring it all out, the more she starts to worry that the boy who kissed her in the dark and the boy who is stealing her heart might be two very different people.

Macy had a rough junior year and is hoping to make the best of her senior year, including mending some relationships that were destroyed last year. When the lights go out at her high school during the football game, Macy finds herself in the arms of a boy who kisses her senseless. The boy seems to know her and everything about him is familiar, but she can’t quite figure out who is he.

Noah, the resident bad boy has no qualms about taking credit for the kiss and Joel – her junior crush who bailed from taking her to homecoming is acting weird again.

But Macy is also trying to build a bridge between her best friend Meredith and her former friend Ben after something happened during Junior year as she continues to try and find the boy who kissed her in the dark.

Okay, this book was… Okay.

First, I am very confused because the football game happens at night and when the lights go out, well am I the only one who is confused how Macy still did not see this person? Because I did not get an impression that this was a dome setting (maybe I missed the part?) because otherwise, Macy should have been able to see the person who kissed her. Not really up to how she was so blind that moment.

Two, Macy was a sweet character and easy enough to follow, but oh my god I did not understand how she was super oblivious. Like the signs were everywhere and the other characters knew, but no one apparently bothered to tell her what was going on. I found this beyond frustrating and I wanted to throttle her. She was always confused about Ben and Joel and was questioning their behavior and “mysterious” words the entire damn book and somehow could not see what is in front of her? I find it hard to believe. That, or the character herself really was that thick.

This book takes place during senior year, but we get chapters that tell us what unfolded during junior year. I liked Meredith and I felt so sorry for what she went through.

I thought the romance could have been so sweet, but a lot of the book focused on Macy navigating senior year and a lot of it was about homecoming. I couldn’t relate to the obsession of homecoming because when I was in high school about ten years ago, we didn’t have homecoming in my school. The romance kind of happens slowly and by accident, but the focus of the book felt like everyone around Macy were mad at her the entire time because she seemed to just…Not get it.

Overall, I found some of the book cute. It was a fast read. I just found some things to not make sense and the whole case with Macy being completely blind to everything was a little frustrating through the book. But, I did find that I still enjoyed it well enough. Also, I LOVED Macy’s parents and I was glad for positive parent representation in the book.

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Review: The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine

Posted March 7, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Review: The Cursed Queen by Sarah FineThe Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine
Series: The Impostor Queen, #2
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Glbt
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ansa has always been a fighter.
As a child, she fought the invaders who murdered her parents and snatched her as a raid prize. She fought for her place next to Thyra, the daughter of the Krigere Chieftain. She fought for her status as a warrior in her tribe: blood and victory are her way of life. But the day her Krigere cross the great lake and threaten the witch queen of the Kupari, everything changes.
Cursed by the queen with fire and ice, Ansa is forced to fight against an invisible enemy—the dark magic that has embedded itself deep in her bones. The more she seeks to hide it, the more dangerous it becomes. And with the Krigere numbers decimated and the tribe under threat from the traitorous brother of the dead Chieftain, Ansa is torn between her loyalty to the Krigere, her love for Thyra, and her own survival instincts.
With her world in chaos and each side wanting to claim her for their own, only one thing is certain: unless Ansa can control the terrible magic inside her, everything she’s fought for will be destroyed.

My Struggle with The Cursed Queen was real…

The Cursed Queen is a companion novel of The Imposter Queen. Although the two are set in the same world, they follow two different sets of character. In this specific book, we follow Ansa, who as a child lost her parents to Krigere invaders and was taken and raised by that tribe of people. All Ansa knows is blood and the thrill of being a fighter, nothing else seems to matter outside of her love for Thyra, the daughter of the Krigere Chieftain.

But on one mission Ansa faces of the Witch Queen and something happens. Now Ansa fears that she is cursed by the same magic of the Kupari Queen and must not reveal the war waging inside her. As Ansa battles the invading magic from destroying everything around her, Thyra is now the new Chieftain and her tribe is being escorted by Jasper, of another Krigere tribe in hopes of “combining” their forces under Thyra’s uncle Nisse.

Got it?

Okay, I had a lot of issues with this book. I knew it wasn’t going to follow the same sets of characters, but I wasn’t expecting to be trusted into a world where there seems to be that the Krigere have, almost like a civil war going on. It felt like we started in the middle of the story and it quickly got confusing.

It did not help that Ansa was a really hard character to warm up to through most of the book. She comes off childish, with loose loyalties, immature, and flip flops so much it was giving me whiplash. Ansa was easily manipulated and what was going on between Thyra and her uncle felt like way over her head. She seemed a lot younger than Thyra especially with the level of competence she kept presenting. I also did not understand her way of turning her book on people she cared for most, especially Thyra. She kept saying how much she loves her and would follow her, but continually through the book demonstrated the opposite.

Ansa’s loyalties were all over the place and she just did not know how to trust anyone. It was a wonder that most of the characters tried to alienate her from their plans, she couldn’t really be trusted. I found her character super frustrating and I did not like her very much. She finally grew as a character, but it was also like 90% into the book and by then I was already set on not caring.

I loved the world and Sarah Fines writing was still good, there was a lot going on in the book, but it did take a while for you to kind of get used to everything. A lot of stabbiness, a lot of blood and death.

The other thing that did not work for me was the romance. I prefer mine to develop over time, this one is just there and we are supposed to accept it. I like that there was a female/female romance in this, which gave this book diversity – but it was hard to accept the romance because of Ansa’s character. For someone who was so in love with Thyra, she had a funny way of showing it with the lack of faith she started to have in her.

Overall, this is advertised as a companion novel. If you want to know more about Ansa before the third book, go ahead, but don’t hold it with too much expectation. I DNF’ed it a couple of months ago, but in light of the third book I decided to finish it. I struggled, but hopefully others had/will have a better experience.

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Review: The Reader by Traci Chee

Posted March 5, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review: The Reader by Traci CheeThe Reader by Traci Chee
Series: Sea of Ink and Gold, #1
Published by Putnam on September 13th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 442
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.
Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.
Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.

The Reader follows a girl named Sefia, who lives her life on the run. After she watched her father get murdered, she flees her home with her aunt Nin. Unfortunately, the very people who came for her father have finally caught up with them and now they have aunt Nin. What do they want? The book that Sefia and her aunt Nin are protecting. In this world, reading is unheard of, but not only can Sefia read she also knows how to write. Now she must save her aunt Nin and find out why the people who are hunting her, want the book so badly.

This was… Interesting. I am struggling with writing this review. I loved the writing, I thought the author’s writing was really beautiful and you could just picture the world so vividly with her descriptions, it was a pleasure reading this book as well as experiencing it on audio.

That being said, I found the book to be confusing and a little weird. I wasn’t sure what was going on for half of the book and we get randomly thrown around for a while trying to figure out what is going on because we don’t just follow Sefia, we also follow Reed in real life and his stories, and we also follow a librarian named Lan and how he ties into all of this.

My husband and I did have a discussion about the world in the book being advance, but not knowing how to read or write. We both wondered if such a thing was possible. He seemed to think it was, but not likely. Also, I could not think of recent civilizations in history who did not have record keeping that managed to thrive without having to research a lot of it.

I liked Archer, the boy that Sefia finds on her journey and who then follows her as she tries to find Nan. She saves him from people who raised him basically to be a killing machine. Of course Sefia tells Archer that he never has to fight or kill again, yet there are times that it was almost like she expected that of him without much of an argument.

I never felt like there was a real plan revolving around rescuing Nin. Sefia does not know how to fight and towards the end of the book, they don’t really have a plan when they find themselves in a dangerous situation. No plan, just walk in there and expect everything to work itself out. Maybe they planned on talking themselves out of the situation? I mean, these people killed her father, but Sefia was just like “okay no plan, let’s just waltz in there and see what happens…” umm, okay?

Overall, the writing was beautiful and this had so much potential, but I felt the execution was lost somewhere and the plot at points felt undeveloped. I will finish the series eventually because I do feel invested, but I do not feel in the hurry to do so.

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Review: How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

Posted March 3, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 5 Comments

Review: How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring BlakeHow to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
Series: standalone
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on May 2nd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Glbt
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn't have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.
Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace's mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.

The story follows two girls, Grace Glasser and Eva. Grace just wants to have her own life, but she is emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie. Maggie, who does not know how to be a mother and jumps from boyfriend to boyfriend, with a constant change in their living environment.

Eva has just lost her mother and now lives with Grace’s best friend Luca and his mother Emmy. She used to be a dancer before she lost her mother, now she is just looking to pick up the pieces.

Key Points

This book took me a couple of months to finish, mostly thanks to Grace’s mother Maggie. I get that this was part of the plot and to add some sort of drama, but I am honestly so fed up with crappy parents in YA books that this completely turned the book upside down for me. I get that Maggie is not the only parent in this book and that Emmy is just wonderful, warm and understanding. The difference between the two single mother women is stark, but Maggie’s actions had been literally just gross till the very end.

The plot was slow moving. Outside of Grace constantly being angry over Maggies actions and Maggie acts unhinged, there wasn’t much going on. Not for a while anyway, but at that point I didn’t really care.

I loved that this book had LGBTQ relationship and it was interracial as well. I always adore the diversity in my books. Problem is, Grace and Eva never worked for me. Grace just had too much problems and Eva was this sweet broken girl who just could not seem to understand Grace’s problem. Like really, she didn’t. Grace warns Eva countless of times to stay away from Maggie and even after Grace tells Eva why she wants her to stay away from Maggie and everything her mother is capable of, what does Eva do? Not listen to her and something bad unfolds.

I loved Eva, but the relationship felt forced and I wished Eva would have listened to Grace – I felt like she should have.

Overall, I can see how people would love this book for what it is but the main element of unhinged mother did me in. There is something that happens in the end of the book that honestly drove the rating down even lower for me.

The saving grace (no pun intended) here for me was Eva, Luca and Emmy – I thought they were great characters. I loved Emmy’s kind heart and her dynamic with Luca. I loved that she cared so much for Eva and even Grace despite everything that happened.

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Review: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

Posted February 26, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan SpoonerUnearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Series: Unearthed, #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 9th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.
For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.
In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...

The Plot

Earth intercepts a message from an ancient Alien race that is supposed to be extinct, about the technology on their planet Gaia and how it can be an earths doom or salvation. I was super excited for this because space, aliens, another planet, sounds fun right? I found myself a bit confused. This book had some science fiction notes to it, but a large part of it felt like it took place on earth. Most of the book follows these two teenagers, each other on Gaia on their own accord to save one of their family members back home. Mia is a scavenger and wants to bring back a power cell in hopes to buy back her sister from a contract she locked herself in. Jules wants to save his father by unlocking the secret behind the second message that they uncovered, warning the earth about possible dangers. They enter a temple and together they must solve puzzles in order to uncover what this alien race is hiding. But everything is set in this rock temple that feels more like they are back on earth than anything. I really LIKED the concept of this book, I thought it had a lot of potential, but the plot in book one felt a little odd until the end. Most of the book we follow these kids solving these puzzles which can feel tedious reading about.

The characters

I had no issues with the characters for the most part. I like Mia and I liked Jules and I liked that the author kept them true to their nature most of the book. Jules is book smart, Mia is street smart. She knows how to lie and deceive in order to stay alive and ends up throwing Jules under the bus several times in hopes of keeping them alive when danger started nipping at their heels. The characters weren’t always likable for me, but I think that’s what drew me to them. They felt human, they both had a bit of a selfish reason to be there and both lied to each other in order to try and benefit themselves. But it was also nice to see them evolve as characters by the end of the book and realize that they are going to have to set their differences aside in order to save humanity.

Romance

The romance was awkward. Did not work for me at all. I would have been fine without it in this book. I don’t generally like relationships that are built on lies and both of these characters lied and deceived each other at the beginning of the book. Also, it was awkward with all the goo goo eyes the two were throwing at each other and felt a bit of instalove for me really.

Pacing

Oh gosh the pacing felt terribly off for most of the book. It was awkwardly slow. I didn’t care to read about the puzzles because I found that I was rereading what they needed to do in order to understand how they were solved. It’s different when you are watching a movie, over your brain trying to scramble to make sense of what is happening. Also, because this was from two POVS, Amelia’s and Jules there was a lot of stuff that kept being super repetitive and I felt like the author kept rehashing things we already knew over and over again, it got boring up until like 70% of the book when it finally started to pick up. I enjoyed the last 70% of the book, the pacing picked up, it got exciting, and I found myself pushing more to finish it.

The ending

I don’t even know where to go with this. It confused me. I can kind of guess what is going on in general, but the big reveal at the end was a bit odd and I am not too entirely sure if I care for it. Remember, I was really looking forward to the whole alien, science fiction part of this book and I am not really getting much from it yet. Hopefully the conclusion will be so much better, because I am looking forward to see how it ends.

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Guest Review: First & Then by Emma Mills

Posted February 17, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 27 Comments

Happy Friday everyone! I got Sophia Rose on the blog tonight, mostly because I completely forgot to post this lovely review of hers earlier. I read and enjoyed this book myself. Enjoy her review, happy weekend!!

Guest Review: First & Then by Emma MillsFirst & Then by Emma Mills
Series: standalone
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 13th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-flame

Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them: first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.
Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

I had heard First & Then described pithily as Pride & Prejudice Meets Friday Night Lights, but, as cool as that sounds, I think it was selling the book a little short. For one, Devon Tennyson, the heroine, is no Elizabeth Bennet even if she thinks she has everyone around her pegged particularly the school’s football god, Ezra, into the role of the prideful Mr. Darcy. Devon does have a thing for Jane Austen novels and takes a ‘what would Jane do?’ approach to things just like there is football on every page. However, this story is not about either of those things. It tackles family, friendship, relationships, self, and transitioning to adulthood.

I found this one a delightful mix of typical YA light contemporary romance with some thoughtful and deeper elements to engage me with Devon and the other characters. The story is narrated in Devon’s first person point of view. It’s not a complex piece and it has no deep conflict or action plot, but it was a heartwarming gently-paced character plot.

Many of the issues I have with YA were not present in this book. For one, I loved how the adults are portrayed. They were natural as were the teens when there is interaction between the two.

There is some angst and inner conflict for the teens in the story, but it wasn’t exaggerated. And there were a lot of wonderful and original teen characters who had their flaws, but they were real and not cookie cutters of the usual cliched high school social strata. Now Devon attempted to shove the other kids into these Jell-O molds, but she spent most of the book learning people can surprise you.

There were a few strong secondary plot threads that added a bit of mystery to the story when it comes to a few of the characters have secrets that left me curious to know what they were holding back. One of the secondary threads was Devon’s relationship with her cousin, Foster, who has come to live with them. I loved seeing that side story develop. Foster was a great character.

There is a romance, but I would say the focus of the story is Devon finding her way. For much of the story, Dev has a crush on Cas her best friend who doesn’t see her that way and has a crush of his own going. This of course blinds her to the quiet guy with the poor social skills who does have an interest if she would just pay attention.

So, this was a cute, heartwarming low-angst story that was well worth the read. I definitely want to pick up the associated book, This Adventure Ends.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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