Icon Tag: YA

3 Mini Book Reviews

Posted September 14, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

3 Mini Book ReviewsWesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn
Series: standalone
Published by Swoon Reads on July 18th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

Sixteen-year-old Quinn Hardwick’s having a rough summer. Her beloved grandmother has been put into a home, her dad’s gambling addiction has flared back up and now her worst enemy is back in town: Wesley James, former childhood friend—until he ruined her life, that is.
So when Wesley is hired to work with her at Tudor Tymes, a medieval England themed restaurant, the last thing Quinn’s going to do is forgive and forget. She’s determined to remove him from her life and even the score all at once—by getting him fired.
But getting rid of Wesley isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. When Quinn finds herself falling for him, she has to decide what she wants more: to get even, or to just get over it.

A cute Young Adult Contemporary romance about a girl named Quinn Hardwick, who is having it kind of rough. Her grandmother is having Alzheimer and is put into a home. Her father’s gambling addiction seems worse than ever and she has a trip to London with her band that she needs to afford because it has always been her dream to go there. To top things off, Wesley James is back in town and he has ruined her life.

This was a cute read… I flew through it fast, but it was quite a bit frustrating. First, Quinn is 16 years old and Wesley James had an incident like 5 years ago when he was just a little kid, he said something and Quinn automatically accuses him of ripping apart her family. Uh, she is 16 years old and still blames him for something that happened at like 11? Come on Quinn, grow up. Every time her friend pointed out that there was no way it was Welsey’s fault she wouldn’t hear it.

So attraction grew, but I found Quinn frustrating and immature. There wasn’t much character growth here as she didn’t realize her mistakes till like 90% of the book and it was because her mother finally decided to say something after 5 years? Yea, not very believable.

3 Mini Book ReviewsHello, Sunshine by Leila Howland
Series: standalone
Published by Disney-Hyperion on July 11th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

A Prep School Girl with a Hollywood Dream
Becca Harrington is a reject. After being rebuffed by every college on her list, she needs a fresh start, so she packs up everything and moves to LA, giving herself one year to land an acting gig or kill herself trying.
Unfortunately, not everything turns out as planned, and after a few grueling months, LA is looking like the worst idea ever. As hard as she tries, Becca can’t land an agent, she's running out of cash, and her mom is hounding her to apply to more schools. In an act of desperation, Becca and her friend Marisol start posting short videos online—with the help of their adorable filmmaker neighbor, Raj—and the videos catch the attention of a TV producer. Could this be it? Her big break? Or will she have to move back home with nothing but some bad head shots and a monstrous credit-card bill?
Becca may not get the Hollywood ending she was hoping for, but perhaps she’ll learn there’s more than one way to achieve her dream.
Readers will love every page of this funny, romantic, aspirational, and ultimately triumphant novel about a girl who just wants to make it on her own.

Becca Harrington feels like a reject after being rejected by all the colleges on her list, so she drops everything and moves to LA where she gives herself a year to land a gig as an actress. To make matters worse, Becca ends up being dumped by her high school sweetheart after he drops her off at LA and ends up living in a small one room apartment as she struggles to get an agent to notice her.

Umm… I found this interesting, apparently, because I kept reading it. The book did take me a while to get through. I did not understand how Becca was so naive the entire time.

She shows up in the city and has every door slammed in her face because she does not know what she is doing and has no formal training. They kept saying she was a good actress, but I found it hard to believe. She shows up in LA thinking she can just walk into an office and get an agent to see her. No real history of acting, no head shot, just show up. Right.. no

The romance was weird. There was Raj who was in love with her and lived in her building and befriended her. Becca is still heartbroken over her ex boyfriend, but then she meets a fellow actor during one of her shoes and sleeps with him – thinking they can be the next big Hollywood couple. Ah! But wait, he warned her before they slept that he wasn’t looking for anything with her. So Becca flies off irrationally when he acts like she was just a one night stand the next morning because she was picturing them as a couple already. Raj is put on a second burner.. Not okay, I did not feel she deserved him and honestly wished he sent her packing.

Overall, okay read – but Becca keeps being frustrating the entire time because despite everything she still does not seem to get it even 90% into the book. Same mistakes, just as naive.

3 Mini Book ReviewsThe Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender
Series: standalone
Published by Point on August 25th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 329
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

In this asylum, your mind plays tricks on you all the time…
Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females—an insane asylum nicknamed “Hysteria Hall.” However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.
But the house still wants to keep “troubled” girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia gets trapped.
And that’s when she learns that the house is also haunted.
Ghost girls wander the halls in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia finds that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, as well, harbors shocking truths within its walls—truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free.
But she’ll need to act quickly, before the house’s power overtakes everything she loves.
From master of suspense Katie Alender comes a riveting tale of twisted memories and betrayals, and the meaning of madness.

I think it’s safe to say at this point I have read everything this woman has ever written.

This book was fun and creepy and just what I wanted, ghosts.

Delia inherits her grandmother’s house, and her parents take both her and her sister during the summer to help them fix the house. Delia is also in trouble because she tried to sneak out on a trip without her parents knowing and lied to them, now they don’t trust her.

After finding something strange in the house and trying to get out, Delia’s parent’s don’t believe her, lock her up and she dies.

Now Delia is stuck in the house unable to move on because something is keeping her and the other girls of Hysteria Hall trapped and she must find out who and why.

Interesting story, I was glued to the pages. There is another strange sibling relationship here that is rocky at the beginning (seems to be typical for this author) but ends up being resolved at the end as Delia’s tries to save her sister from the house claiming her as another soul.

Creepy, interesting, atmospheric and perfect for fall. A bit slow going, now much has been happening for a while, but overall, a good read.

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Series Overview: Bad Girls Don’t Die

Posted August 28, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Guys, I have been on the roll with ghost books lately, not sure why, it’s still August and summer but, for some reason ghosts is like it for me this month. So I read the entire Bad Girls Don’t Die series and here are my thoughts.

Series Overview: Bad Girls Don’t DieBad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
Series: Bad Girls Don't Die, #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on April 21st 2009
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 346
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents' marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude. When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes; she uses old-fashioned language; and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Their old house is changing, too. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in.
Alexis wants to think that it's all in her head, but soon, what she liked to think of as silly parlor tricks are becoming life-threatening--to her, her family, and to her budding relationship with the class president. Alexis knows she's the only person who can stop Kasey -- but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?

The book is about a girl named Alexis who is a bit of an anti-social and is leading a dysfunctional life in school and home. Kasey is an Alexis’ younger sister who is obsessed with collecting dolls and that creeps Alexis out. Things start to happen in the house and Kasey starts to act a bit strange and even worse when her blue eyes shift green. Soon Alexis finds out that something has possessed her little sister and that it might be linked to one of town’s saddest history. Now Alexis must find a way to get rid of whatever is possessing Kasey before her little sister commits any murder.

This was an entertaining read. I loved and enjoyed this author writing so much, I felt like she really knew how to tell a creepy, atmospheric ghost story and it took me to quiet a ride.

I felt bad for Kasey. I felt like she was a bit misunderstood and Alexis treatment of her little sister seemed a little heavy-handed. I definitely didn’t understand the relationship there as my sister and I at this age were actually pretty close. Kasey is definitely my favorite of the two sisters and really made me sad for her, as all she really wanted was to have some friends.

The flow of the story kept me on the edge of the seat and I never found it dull. I liked that Alexis ends up enlisting help in the most unlikely people and despite the fact that her family life is a bit of a mess things seem to work its way out in the end.

I do feel like there was something left out that didn’t get resolved or maybe I missed it ? But there was a scene in the basement where Alexis finds Kasey digging and she runs out of the basement holding something, but I don’t think it was ever mentioned what.

Series Overview: Bad Girls Don’t DieFrom Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender
Series: Bad Girls Don't Die,
Published by Hyperion on June 14th 2011
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 442
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Alexis is the last girl you'd expect to sell her soul. She already has everything she needs--an adorable boyfriend, the perfect best friend, and a little sister who's finally recovering after being possessed by an evil spirit, then institutionalized. Alexis is thrilled when her sister joins a club; new friends are just what Kasey needs. It's strange, though, to see how fast the girls in The Sunshine Club go from dorky and antisocial to gorgeous and popular. Soon Alexis learns that the girls have pledged an oath to a seemingly benevolent spirit named Aralt. Worried that Kasey's in over her head again, Alexis and her best friend Megan decide to investigate by joining the club themselves. At first, their connection with Aralt seems harmless. Alexis trades in her pink hair and punky clothes for a mainstream look, and quickly finds herself reveling in her newfound elegance and success. Instead of fighting off the supernatural, Alexis can hardly remember why she joined in the first place. Surely it wasn't to destroy Aralt...why would she hurt someone who has given her so much, and asked for so little in return?

Second book of the series and although I still enjoyed it, I do have to say it wasn’t my favorite.

Following the events of book one, Kasey is back from the insinuation that the paranormal agent had locked her up in so she could get better. After all, who comes away unscratched from being possessed?

Kasey ends up having a hard time being back in school and everyone starts to look at her funny and treats her differently because they know she has been to the looney bin. Kasey gets kind of mistreated and Alexis with her new found popularity and best friends does nothing to help her sister’s transition. I disliked Alexis in this one a lot at the beginning. Her treatment of her little sister was a little cruel and unfair and the fact that she did not ease her sister’s transition in school made me angry at her lack of concern. Alexis has a boyfriend now, Megan ends up being her best friend and the cheerleaders are no longer so bad.

When a new girl shows up at school, Kasey befriends her. Together they start a club called The Sunshine Club where any girl is welcome. The Sunshine Club has many rules and Alexis is worried that there is something sinister behind it all and that Kasey might be in trouble again, so both her and Megan join the club only to discover a ghost named Aralt is telling these girls what to do and is leading them to success. How can someone that seems to want nothing but good for the girls be evil?

This was creepy, it really was. Aralt wanted the girls to always be pretty and successful and these girls spend a lot of time grooming and primping in order to satisfy his wishes. The entire club turns into a kind of occult and I kept wondering how Alexis was going to be able to stop it especially when Aralt seems to be playing a great hand in Alexis own success with her photography and has been around for a while.

The ending was difficult but sets up the final book.

Series Overview: Bad Girls Don’t DieAs Dead As It Gets by Katie Alender
Series: Bad Girls Don't Die,
Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 15th 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 442
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

It's been three months since Alexis helplessly witnessed Lydia Small's violent death, and all she wants is for her life to return to normal. But normal people don't see decaying bodies haunting photographs. Normal people don't have to deal with regular intrusions from Lydia's angry ghost, sometimes escalating to terrifying attacks.
At first, it seems that Lydia wants revenge on Alexis alone. But a girl from school disappears one night, and Alexis spots one of Lydia's signature yellow roses lying on the girl's dresser the next day. Soon, it becomes clear that several of Alexis's friends are in danger, and that she's the only person who can save them. But as she tries to intervene, Alexis realizes that her enemy is a much more powerful ghost than she's ever faced before... and that its fate is tied to hers in ways she couldn't possibly imagine.
Not even in her worst nightmares.

Third and final book of the series and hard to review without spoilers of the series. After getting rid of Alart and watching Lydia Small die in front of her, Alexis can now see ghosts especially through her photography. Lydia is now haunting Alexis and again strange things start to happen when girls, Alexis knew are starting to disappear and are getting hurt or killed. Alexis thinks Lydia is behind the attacks, especially when she thinks Lydia’s bright light leads them to her and the ghost of the girl always seems to be there.

Soon Alexis realizes that this new ghost she is facing is much more stronger and powerful than before and she is going to rely on herself and an unlikely ally to put a stop to that.

This was kind of dark, a bit darker than the first two books and there is a death in this book that really brought tears to my eyes because I wasn’t expecting it. The story is well told, well written and kept me turning the pages. I read this in the middle of the night and despite the fact that it was super creepy, I could not put this one down. I think of the three I did find this one to be the strongest and one of my favorites.

 

I highly recommend this series if you are looking for ghost stories this October.

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Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Posted May 31, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review:  One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManusOne of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Series: standalone
Published by Delacorte Press on May 30th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
Pages: 368
Format: Kindle Edition
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.

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.
Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Well guys, I official don’t know how to review this book. I set on it for a day now and I think this will end up just me spilling my thoughts out the best way possible, without spoilers.

The book is about five teens that end up in detention together. Abby, the popular girl. Bronwyn, the good, smart girl. Nate the bad boy. Copper, the jock, and Simon the social pariah. Nothing too original. They end up in detention after a teacher confiscates their phones for breaking his rules. So despite the fact that after they present evidence that the phones are not theirs and this looks like a setup, the teacher refuses to believe them. Right, that happens…

So an incident occurs and Simon, the social pariah ends up dead. So despite the fact that the teacher was also in the room, the police are convinced that it was murder and the foursome is lying.

Which leads me to the title, it’s very misleading. All four of them are lying and Simon was about to expose them for their lies, but he dies (also, not a spoiler it’s in the blurb)

The book is also the first point of view with a section dedicated to each teen. So sometimes, when your mind wanders, and mine did often, you kind of forget who you are now reading. Especially since none of the teens really stood out.

So despite the fact that the police have no evidence and it’s blatantly obvious that the group was set up. They continue to grip at straws and drag these teens through the mud.

Which brings me to my next gripe. The adults in this book, are painted as major idiots. I get it, okay, teenagers can clash with adults. But this time I have to say, wtf?
The police? Idiots. The Lawyers? Idiots. The media? Idiots. The parents? Yeah, you get it.

It is just so damn frustrating what the cops/detectives put these teens through and the part where they violate Coopers personal rights made me so angry. Because one, they didn’t even bother looking elsewhere, they were so focused on destroying these young peoples lives. Like does that happen? Because the clues really kind of lead you that someone else might be involved, but they don’t even bother. So obviously they are completely incompetent and it’s up to the four to find the real killer.

So you can guess…

The cops did not solve the mystery in this book.

I love that for the teens that do end up reading this. The authorities are painted so damn badly in this, that it’s not only scary it just does not instill any sort of confidence in them or respect. See, that really bothers me.

Also

I hated the ending. No. I did not fully see it coming and when things were explained I was actually taken back by it. Because one, I was really angry and annoyed about how far one of the people involved in this let it get and the fact that another character in this continued their relationship with this person.
Like that person should have never let it get this far.
Second, the ending has been just horrible.

Which leads me to another issue.

I do not like the way bullying was handled in this book. I kind of felt like everyone was a bully in this book. The teens, the classmates, the media, the cops, the parents. Ugh. The treatment has been just horrible.

I can see the appeal of this book, so maybe I am over analyzing it. But, I do have to get one thing out there to adult authors who are writing YA books.

Stops making EVERY single adult in YA Books and IDIOT. You are doing no one a favor here, including yourself.

And dear god, if you’re going to deal with a form of bullying in your book. Deal with it better, cause this gave me a headache.

But I get the appeal and why so many people loved it. To me though, I felt there were quiet a few issues I wasn’t comfortable with.

 

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Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Posted April 28, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review:  Alex, Approximately by Jenn BennettAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Series: standalone
Published by Simon Pulse on April 4th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 391
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.
Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.
And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

If you guys are looking for a fun summer young adult read, look no further because Alex, Approximately might just be the right book for you.

It follows a girl named Bailey who is a completely classics movie buff. She meets a boy nicknamed ‘Alex’ online on a movie forum and they share a lot of things in common. Alex wants her to travel to California because they are going to have this big movie festival during summer and there is a movie he wants her to see, plus because they click so much, he wants to meet her. When her mother’s relationship ends up on the rocks with her current husband, Bailey feels like she has had enough drama and moves to California to live with her dad.

It just happens that Alex, also lives in the same city as her dad.

Bailey get’s cold feet and never tells ‘Alex’ that she is in town in hopes of scoping out the boy first, in case he is a creepy old man, and with her past she has every right to be careful.

Unfortunately the search for Alex hits home a lot closer than she thinks.

Can I just say I absolutely loved and adored this book. As far as romances go, this is like one of my top five favorites of this year so far. I had so much fun with this, with Bailey and Porter. I adored them.

When the two first meet at work, it’s a bit rocky. Porter comes off like an ass and Bailey does not want to cower in front of him.

In fact, right from the start he really pisses her off. The two end up arguing a lot, but when they don’t fight, sparks fly and magic happens. It turns out, Porter actually really likes her.

I just loved this I really did. I needed something light after reading a dark book and this helped a lot. Lately I’ve also been enjoying Young Adult Contemporary because I haven’t read a lot of them. Plus, it helps with the Adult Romance rot I am currently feeling.

Bailey and Porter were great together. Not only did I love their relationship. I enjoyed the positive family relationships as well as friendships that developed in this book.

I absolutely adored how everything unfolded and that Porter is actually Alex and how the two clicked offline, without actually knowing who the two really are. (This is not a spoiler, it’s in the blurb y’all)

There wasn’t much that I disliked about this book except for the part where Bailey felt a bit thick when it came to the big reveal. Porter kind of put the two and two together first and his reaction made me a bit grumpy, but I just couldn’t understand how Bailey did not see the missing puzzle piece when everything was sitting in front of her. Honestly, she should have put the two together a lot more quickly.

Also, the Davy storyline in this was a little rough and a bit weirdly unnecessary.

Overall, this was a great read – currently top 5 romance favorites this year. It was well written, with a wonderful storyline, great characters, positive relationships with friends, family and between Bailey and Porter.

I loved Porter, I really did. He really made the story for me.

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Review: Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland, Michael Miller

Posted April 10, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review:  Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland, Michael MillerShadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland, Michael Miller
Series: Kaitan Chronicles #1
Published by Delacorte Press on March 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 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.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can't resist her, even if her ship is an antique.
As for Nev, he's a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.
But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they're more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.
Nev's mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she'll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power--and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

I always enjoy experiencing new authors and since this was a science fiction book compared to Firefly, why not give it a shot?

I enjoyed the book for the most part. I really liked Qole, Arjan, Eton, Basra and Telu. I thought they were an interesting cast of characters all with their own special gifts and I loved how close knit they were.

I struggled with Nev at times, who is basically the male lead as this book is told from his and Qole’s POV. For someone so smart, he could be a bit thick at times when it comes to reality. I guess it isn’t completely his fault as it was how he was raised, but even in the end I still struggled with him a bit.

I think I am struggling with this review a bit also.

It’s about this world where they use Shadow to run things. There is a group of people that go out of their way and Shadow fish. Unfortunately, because of what the shadow does it eventually drives people mad and it’s a bit unstable when it comes to running everything so Nev believes his family can fix that. He needs Qole to submit to some testing, but all of it is for the greater good of everyone, as he assures.

I found the world building lacking at times. I did not understand how they used Shadow to run the things they did. (Maybe I fell asleep during the explanation?) I get it’s science fiction, but I found the explanation lacking. Interesting concept, but it felt a little weak without a supporting argument or explanation.

I wanted to know more about the world.

I felt the book was also a bit too long. The chapters weren’t quick and I found myself bored or falling asleep half the time. The pacing was way too slow at times. It picked up at the end, but I found myself not really caring. I also had a hard time with the ending because it did not seem plausible to me that 5 people can take on that many people.

Overall. I thought it was a decent read. A little long. The pacing a little too slow at times. But, Qole and her team were fun at times and the loyalty between them was heartwarming.

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Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd (Conception), Jim Kay (Illustrator)

Posted April 1, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd (Conception), Jim Kay (Illustrator)A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd, Jim Kay
Series: standalone
Published by Candlewick Press on March 12th 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Pages: 206
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd-- whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself-- Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

Guys, I am going to be honest here. I picked this book up because a ton of people asked me if I read it, with the movie out, I finally stumbled upon this book in the library and decided to give it a shot.

I went into this blindly. I never read the blurb or asked people what it was about and stayed away from detailed reviews. I was told when it comes to this book, that was the best way to go about it anyway. So I am having a hard time writing the review. I am going to keep it short and sweet and basically tell you that if you had not read it yet, read it. Don’t just pick up the ebook either. Go to your local library if you have to and get the physical book because the drawing in the book really add to the experience.

The actual idea of this book came from Siobhan Dowd, but it was Patrick Ness, who brought her vision to life after she was taken too soon by cancer. Patrick Ness did a beautiful job bringing her beloved characters to life, leaving us with a book that I will think span generations. When I read the book last night, I was rocked with emotion, but it wasn’t until the day after that I got to sit down, let it sink in and truly experience its effect.

The story is about a boy named Conor and his ill mother. It is haunting, it is beautiful, atmospheric and downright emotional. If you have dealt with loss, it’s grief and pain, I strongly suggest you read this. Even if you haven’t experienced loss yet, I strongly suggest you read this. But I think it’s safe to say most of us did at one point or another and this book just captures most of what we go through so well.

I expect this book will have a different experience and effect on everyone. Which is okay. I believe that’s the whole point anyway, as we each experience the monster and its interpretation differently in the moments of weakness and hopelessness.

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Review: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Posted March 30, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 32 Comments

Review:  The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola YoonThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Series: standalone
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 348
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Heat:half-flame

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

I admit that I picked up this book because of the hype surrounding it lately. I felt like this book was everywhere and after finally managing to get a copy from my library to read it, I was excited. Unfortunately, this is why I am also sad to say I feel like a black sheep on this one. I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted to and I did not understand the appeal of it.

Let me explain what worked and what did not work for me.

Instalove – Now this is something that I was warned about so it partially might have been my fault. I knew it was coming, but as I went into this book sort of blindly I was okay with giving it the benefit of a doubt. Still, it ended up not working for me. I would really have to suspend disbelief with this one and even thought I could in most cases, as a contemporary this did not feel realistic. Seriously, Daniel – the male in this book – basically stalks her. As someone who lived in the city, this was like beyond awkward for me to live and understand it. Also, half the time they talk about their flaws and what annoys them about each other. So not really sure how the whole can’t breath, can’t think about my life without you worked here.

Could not Connect – I did not feel the attraction between these two and just felt like I was on the outside looking in. I could not form any sort of attachment to any of the characters and had just the worse time connecting which I think really took away from the story when I found that emotional detachment.

Nothing Happens – almost nothing. This book could have honestly been summed up in 100 pages. Basically, it’s about these two unlikely teens in the city. Natasha is from Jamaica and is getting deported, thanks to her dad and Daniel is a Korean American from a very strict Korean family that has his life mapped from him. She is trying to find a solution to her deportations and while that is part of the story most of the book is honestly walking, talking, and some verbal fighting. I was bored, I was beyond bored. I just could not understand the appeal with this. If you like walking and talking books where that is literally almost the entirety of the book, then maybe? But with about 300 pages, my brain was starting to feel numb.

Family Dynamics – I did not like the family dynamics in this book. I could not wrap my head around Daniel and his brother’s relationship. There is so much hate there and the reason the author gave for it did not work for me I guess? Basically, it just felt like, this is it and there is no other way.

Open endings – UGH!! Okay, I DO NOT read books for opening, endings okay? Why is this now a thing? If I wanted an open ending in a book I would read it half way and just make up the rest of it in my head. This is just as bad as cliffhangers if not worse? In standalone novels, it feels like the ultimate killer. I almost gave this book 1 star because I ended up being SO MAD. Like what was the point of the epilogue if you are just going to leave it like that? It is the worse.

So what did I like?

I liked that these two kids came from two different worlds. I liked the different background cultures and I loved the different ethnic representation. This is probably why I felt so sad that I just couldn’t like it.

Also, I really enjoyed seeing how their interactions with other people in this book also effected these people in real life beyond their interaction. That was cool.

Overall, I really wanted to love this, but in the end I just did not understand the hype, and there was one too many things that just did not work for me.

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Review: The Dragon’s Price by Bethany Wiggins

Posted March 20, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review:  The Dragon’s Price by Bethany WigginsThe Dragon's Price by Bethany Wiggins
Series: Transference #1
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on February 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars
Heat:one-flame

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.

Fans of Julie Kagawa’s Talon and Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn will devour this action-packed fantasy adventure about a girl who chooses to surrender herself to a deadly dragon rather than marry an enemy prince.
When two warring kingdoms unified against a deadly menace laying waste to both their lands, they had to make a choice: vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon.
Centuries later, everyone expects the sheltered princess Sorrowlynn to choose the barbarian prince over the fire-breathing beast—everyone, that is, except Sorrow, who is determined to control her own destiny or die trying.
As she is lowered into the dragon’s chamber, she assumes her life is over until Golmarr, the young prince she just spurned, follows her with the hopes of being her hero and slaying the dragon. But the dragon has a different plan. . . .
If the dragon wins, it will be freed from the spell that has bound it to the cave for centuries. If Sorrow or Golmarr vanquish the dragon, the victor will gain its treasure and escape the cave beneath the mountain. But what exactly is the dragon hiding?
There are no safe havens for Sorrow or Golmarr—not even with each other—and the stakes couldn’t be higher as they risk everything to protect their kingdom.

I really don’t know where to start or how to feel about this book, so I am going to go ahead and break it down into parts and generalize I guess? I was on a fantasy kick and had got this one for review and despite it not rating high on goodreads, I was like, well it’s here, it’s about dragons? WHY NOT?

Hoo boy, this book and I were just off to a rocky start from the beginning

Lack of World building – Like this book just barely had any of it okay? It’s a fantasy book, set in a world and we don’t know much about it and it just felt like we were told this is how it is and we are supposed to accept it. There is a ton of other races mentioned in this book, but we don’t know much about them or why they are at war and the things we learn feel like bits and pieces of a bigger picture.

So we got these two kingdoms that are bound by a promise a vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon. Apparently it’s because many years ago a war waged and a dragon was released and now to keep the dragon bound by magic, this needs to happen every time there is an heir. There is a clause apparently because the horse lord heir does not have to take one of the Faodaran, they can reject them, feed an animal in place as a sacrifice and move on with their life until the next heir comes along. Or, the princess can reject the proposed marriage – should it come – and be fed to the dragon.

So Sorrowlynn (named because she was predicted to die by her own hand) does not want to marry the savage/barbaric horse tanned skinned horse lord and chooses the dragon instead – because she did not get the memo that ANY of the heirs can propose marriage.

Two things wrong here

One, as you might have figured Sorrowlynn is a white proper princess and the horse lords are tan skinned and are called savage/barbaric people… – sigh- am I the only one who sees racism here? I’m starting to wonder if this is the reason this book got the reviews that it did. I wanted to give it a benefit of the doubt, but every time she spoke of the horse lords, Sorrowlynn had a racism pouring out of her. Barbaric and savage were words used one too many times. Also, I think the author is a fan of game of thrones because this sounds a lot like Daenerys inspired storyline here?

So apparently Sorrowlynn binds herself to being dragons yummy yummy food before the young horse lord Golmarr steps forward and proposes marriage. Oh but when she learns that he can do that – even thought he hinted it prior – she is like oh okay I can live with that? Too late, you are bound and dragon food. Maybe Golmarr shouldn’t have spoken in riddles, since intelligence is not her strongest asset. Oh, but you know what is? Her virginity. If she wasn’t a virgin no one would want her and the royal family would go to war over it…Okay? Even thought the king absolutely does not like her very much, for reasons. So she is lowered into the mountain and Golmarr decides to throw his life on the line and help save the princess who was nothing but vicious towards him.

After a lot of walking and a lot of thoughts of suddenly wanting to kiss Golmarr we get to the special part of the book

Sorrowlynn who has no experience what so ever with combat, get’s lucky and slays the dragon. Not only giving herself the special kind of snowflake status, but inadvertently stealing his thunder and destiny.. Like thanks, you know? I get it, girl power and all that, but it was still kind of blah.

I felt like Sorrowlynn had zero personality. The only thing she was good at for most of the book is looking down at people. This is why I did not understand half the time why people were so willing to sacrifice their lives for her.

Overall, I felt like the writing was lacking a bit. It reads like a younger than Young Adult but there were a lot of subjects that read more adult. Lot’s of mentions of her special her virginity is and how Golmarr could not wait to marry her so he can take her to bed, ugh… Also, I found some inconsistency in the story but I cannot go into it without complete spoilers. Okay moving on.

The only reason I gave it two stars because the ending made me sort of happy, heh.

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Review: The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Posted February 24, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review:  The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam RiveraThe Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
Series: Standalone
Published by Simon & Schuster on February 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
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.

Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.
THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:
Mami, for destroying my social lifePapi, for allowing Junior to become a NeanderthalJunior, for becoming a NeanderthalThis supermarketEveryone else
After “borrowing” her father's credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.
With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…
Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

When I got a copy of The Education of Margot Sanchez, I was extremely excited. A diverse book that takes place in the Bronx, being from New York City myself, yes please?

I went in with high hopes, I walked away strongly disappointed.

Margot and I started off on the wrong foot of the bat. The character was superficial, selfish and walked around with rose colored glasses on. After “borrowing” (stealing) around $600 from her father’s credit card on new clothes – Margot a.k.a Princesa is forced to work at her father’s supermarket. It’s the last way she wants to spend her summer, as Margot would much rather spend her days on the beach in the Hamptons swooning over a boy named Nick. But, on her first day on the job she meets a Latino boy named Moises. Moises is an activist in the Bronx with a sketchy past who has managed to reform himself.

I wanted to love this I really did, but there were several problems I had with this book.

1. Junior – Junior is Margot big brother who basically got kicked out of college. Junior is an angry person who treats Margot like crap. Apparently that wasn’t always the case as Margot explains that Junior was once a sweet and caring brother and she doesn’t know what happened to him and thinks much of his anger is aimed at something she did. I thought that as well, as it felt hinted through the story – unfortunately the big reveal wasn’t surprising but why was never really explained. I wanted to know what drove Junior to take up with the people he did and why he got into so much trouble.

2. Margot – I did not like Margot from the beginning and that feeling never changed. She was suppose to grow as a character, but none of that happened till like 5% left over in the book. Even after everything she went through, she still ends up pulling this horrible stunt that sends a lot of things into motion. Margot disrespects her parents, ditches people who are her actual friends, obsessed over some boy, and is friends with two girls who are really bad influence. She can’t be real around them, so she pretends to be something she is not. She is completely thick when it comes to what is going on around him at home and at the story as well.

3. The dreaded love triangle – don’t hold your breath, the romance in this book was completely horrid. First, the two boys have no personalities, what so ever. We see them so little and get very little feel for them all together. I didn’t like the romance and I especially did not like the events at the beach in the Hampton’s between Nick and Margot. It was reckless, did not make complete sense and it was kind of left unresolved. I didn’t believe that it didn’t effect her in any way.

4. The parents – They kept claiming they raised Margot to be better than she is, they could have taken their own lesson from that. I didn’t like the parents in this story. Did it feel real? Maybe, but maybe there needed to be more background. We don’t know why Margot’s father did what he did, there wasn’t much explanation behind his actions and everything ends with an open ending…which brings me to point number 5.

5. Open ending – the ending just wrapped up kind of weird, kind of open. We don’t get to find out what happens between Margot and Moises. We don’t get to find out if she has ever dealt with what happened between her and Nick. Not with what happens between her parents and not even as how they were going to go and save the store. If there was some sort of a message the author was trying to send with this book, I felt like it completely missed the mark.

The writing was fast paced, so I kind of enjoyed it. Made it easier to get through the book. Overall, the authors writing is actually pretty good. It’s the execution of the plot, underdevelopment of characters that was it’s ultimate demise.

Rating Report
Plot
2 Stars
Characters
1.5 Stars
Writing
3.5 Stars
Pacing
3.5 Stars
Cover
3 Stars
Overall: 2.5 Stars

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Review: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Posted February 21, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 35 Comments

Review:  P.S. I Like You by Kasie WestP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Series: Standalone
Published by Point on July 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 330
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars

Signed, sealed, delivered…
While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!
Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

I really wanted another book that would engross me and force me to pull an all-nighter and I got just that with P.S. I Like You. West was a new to me author, but I have heard some really amazing things from blogger friends about her, so I wasn’t afraid to throw myself fully into the book from the start.

What I got was an adorable, fluffy, heart fluttering, young adult novel about two very unlikely teens who become pen pals through shared interest and the boredom and chemistry class.

It was super sweet. Lily was so awkward and her humor amused me throughout the book. I found her to be someone I could relate to from my days in high school.(and not just with that fact that she has my name ya’ll) When Lily writes the lyrics of her favorite song, in pencil, on her chemistry desk she never expected for someone to reply to her. Nor did she expect to start exchanging letters with this anonymous teen. I enjoyed reading the exchange and how to letters started about music and eventually, with words, the two hit much more meaningful subjects that hit close to home and expose different layers of themselves. I loved that they could use words on paper to express a different part of each other, especially since Lily feels like she is more awkward in person.

I don’t think it was meant to be a secret as to who the boy that she was writing to be. Even though Lily isn’t aware of who her pen pal is for a while, the readers catch up on what is happening fairly quickly. What we do witness is how writing, interesting and music peals away layers and builds a strong relationship at a deeper level.

This entire book had such a positive vibe to it. I loved that even though Lily has a big family that drive her crazy at times, that they provide such a great support network. I adored that the parents were so awesome and not evil like some Young adult books paint them to be. There was no absent parent, no tantrum over not understanding, just positive, healthy relationship that tugged on my heart strings. Lily’s relationship with her friend was also a joy to read, because I loved how it prevailed in the end and how close to two girls really are.

The one thing I did not understand was the need for the mean girl stereotype. I get it, they do exist, but I felt like West could have gone away with maybe a little less of it. It bothered me that she kept getting away with it, meanwhile in one scene Lily get’s in trouble for the other girls actions

I loved this book and its characters so much I found myself saying aww a lot, it has been just so stinking cute, I never wanted it to end. I also really wished we got the other POV. I would have loved the boy’s side of the story as well. I felt like he revealed a lot of layers of himself to Lily and it kind of made me want to know more about him. I don’t feel like we got that from just witnessing Lily’s POV. The story would have been even more compelling.

Overall, this book totally rocked my world and I am glad I picked it up. It was exactly what I was looking for and the storyline was fun and excited. I adored the dialogue and the characters and thankful for the humor thrown in

 

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