Posts Categorized: YA

Waiting on Wednesday – Dead Little Mean Girl by Eva Darrows

June 22, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday, YA 5 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Dead Little Mean Girl by Eva DarrowsDead Little Mean Girl by Eva Darrows
Published by Harlequin Teen on March 28th 2017
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Awesome

Quinn Littleton was a mean girl—a skinny blonde social terrorist in stilettos. She was everything Emma MacLaren hated. Until she died.

A proud geek girl, Emma loves her quiet life on the outskirts, playing video games and staying off the radar. When her nightmare of a new stepsister moves into the bedroom next door, her world is turned upside down. Quinn is a queen bee with a nasty streak who destroys anyone who gets in her way. Teachers, football players, her fellow cheerleaders—no one is safe.

Emma wants nothing more than to get this girl out of her life, but when Quinn dies suddenly, Emma realizes there was more to her stepsister than anyone ever realized.

A meaningful and humorous exploration of teen stereotypes and grief, Dead Little Mean Girl examines the labels we put on people and what lies beyond if we're only willing to look closer.

About Eva Darrows

Eva Darrows is Hillary Monahan is also an international woman of mystery. Holed up in Massachusetts with three smelly basset hounds, she writes funny, creepy things for fun and profit.

border24

I love this author and I love the idea behind this one, and how there is always more that meets the eye with anyone. Hillary/Eva wrote up a fantastic article about the story behind this story that is worth a read over on Barnes & Nobles Teen Blog so be sure to check it out here. This one doesn’t come out for ages but I’m ready and waiting!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

border24

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

Divider

Book Review – The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater

June 9, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2016, YA 1 Comment

Book Review – The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie StiefvaterThe Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #4
Published by Scholastic Press on April 26th 2016
Pages: 448
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Shiver, Forever, The Raven Boys

three-stars

The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

In a starred review for Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Kirkus Reviews declared: "Expect this truly one-of-a-kind series to come to a thundering close."

The Raven Cycle series

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1) [PurchaseReview]
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2) [PurchaseReview]
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3) [PurchaseReview]

style-3 review

SPOILERS AHEAD

 “He was a book, and he was holding his final pages, and he wanted to get to the end to find out how it went, and he didn’t want it to be over.”

We finally come to the end of the Cycle, whether we like it or not. The search for Glendower, for the lost King buried somewhere along the ley line in Virginia, comes to an end. Gansey has been searching for Glendower since he was stung to death by hornets and was miraculously brought back. “You will live because of Glendower. Someone else on the ley line is dying when they should not, and so you will live when you should not.” They are the words that have haunted him and kept up his mysterious search even when it seemed that all hope was lost. But he’s not the only one on this strenuous journey: Ronan, the dream thief, Adam, who gave his free will to Cabeswater, and Blue, who saw Gansey’s ghost before she even knew who he was and knew that he’s either Blue’s true love or she’s the one that kills him.

“What a strange constellation they all were.”

I’ve always praised this series for its fascinating way of blending magical with the contemporary and making it something anyone could believe in. Somewhere in the middle of The Raven King though, the magical hold these stories had on me died. That carefully created magic suddenly became frenzied and befuddling, leaving me grasping at straws to understand it, meanwhile watching as the story left me in its dust. The other magical aspect of this novel though is the vast amount of characters and how incredibly well developed each and every one of them are. The stories had always been centered around finding the lost King, waking him, and having him grant them a single wish. Slowly, as time progressed the friends began to realize that while they were still on an active search for Glendower, they no longer needed his aid because they had each other and they were more powerful together than they had ever realized before.

“This was where they were now: Nightmares were real. There was no difference between dreams and reality when they stood here in Cabeswater together.”

And as far as the romances, what an accomplished example of true friendship and romance going hand in hand. One never overpowered the other; they existed together in perfect harmony. Blue and Gansey. I adored reading about the short time on page that they did spend together in each others company. They nestled together like two puzzle pieces. Ronan and Adam. While these two didn’t come as a great surprise, it was still a delight to see it come to fruition. While Ronan has always kept his feelings under-wrap, I felt it essentially dulled the spark that I wanted to feel between them. That powerful realization of when they both recognize where their friendship has come to felt subdued and I wanted so much more for those two.

When Maggie Stiefvater started this series, The Raven Boys set the scene for powerful things to come. Magical things. And while the magic continued to linger, all of the predictions that were made and the expectations that were set all seemed to become entangled and left without any satisfactory explanation. I felt it was anti-climactic and made everything that came before inconsequential. These friends endured loss and suffered greatly in their adventures to discover Glendower and the buoyant tone the ending set felt almost contradictory to what the other novels established. The fervor and seriousness of the first installments set expectations for the ending which ended up vastly contrasting from what was given. I liked the impression left, that the friends’ journey wasn’t over and that many adventures were still to come, but it was hard to truly appreciate it when my mind was still wrapped up in how their previous adventures had “ended”. Add to that was the lack of closure for several other characters: Blue’s father, Gwenllian, the Grey Man and Maura, and Noah. Noah played such a vital part in this story yet he not only wasn’t given a mention of an ending but I expected the group to at least have some momentary thought for his sudden absence in their lives after so much time. Even Adam’s unworthy parents were given a semblance of an ending and that was wholly unnecessary.

My issues and my praises for this novel stack up pretty evenly in the end. I can only imagine how difficult it is to write such a sprawling story with so many highly-developed characters only to have to find some adequate way of bringing their stories to an end. Stiefvater sets this story up with the expectation of extraordinary magic only to have it taper off into something less extraordinary by the end. The Raven Cycle is a highly imaginative tale that showcases Stiefvater’s impressive abilities of bringing any character to life. Despite it all, I’m still sad to have to say goodbye.

Divider

Audiobook Review – Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

June 2, 2016 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016, YA 1 Comment

Audiobook Review – Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria AveyardRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Narrator: Amanda Dolan
Series: Red Queen #1
Published by Harper Audio on February 10th 2015
Length: 12 hours and 40 minutes
Genres: Fantasy, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-stars

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn't know she had. Except . . . her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

style-3 review

“Many things led to this day, for all of us. A forgotten son, a vengeful mother, a brother with a long shadow, a strange mutation. Together, they’ve written a tragedy.”

In Victoria Aveyard’s dystopian fantasy, the world encompasses two different types of people: Silvers and Reds. The Silvers are royalty, the rulers, maintaining their authority with the aid of the supernatural powers they possess. Reds are the working class and are treated poorly by Silvers, possessing no powers of their own to fight back. This split between people has always been this way, until a Red discovers that she possesses the powers of a Silver.

Mare Barrow, age 17 and a Red, knows her freedom is coming to an end soon. At the age of 18, she’ll be conscripted to fight in the war against the Kingdom of Lakeland because she doesn’t possess any useful talents to keep her home. She’s been resigned to her fate, however, when she discovers her best friend Kilorn will be conscripted as well, she becomes determined to find a way for the two of them to escape knowing he wouldn’t survive a war. She plans to use the skills she does possess, thievery, to obtain enough money to buy their freedom but the plan goes awry when she pickpockets, and is caught except miraculously the boy allows her to escape and gets her a job at the palace instead. It’s revealed that she possesses powers that even she wasn’t aware of, and she becomes a powerful pawn between the Silvers and the Scarlet Guard, the leaders of the Red rebellion.

The first half of this book introduces us to the life of a Red, and it’s bleak. The Silvers are painted as brutal tyrants that punish Reds for the smallest of crimes, where food is scarce, and poverty is the norm. The majority have accepted their lot in life, not being able to see any way of overcoming the Silvers. The Scarlet Guard is the heart of the rebellion against the Silvers, and its their help Mare seeks in escaping her and Kilorn’s conscription into war. The world itself isn’t described much outside of Mare’s small village, and while this may be due to the fact that the story was told from her point of view and her view is certainly limited, it would have been nice to be given some semblance of a backstory. All in all, it was still enjoyable and mildly entertaining, at least until the lovey bits were introduced.

Tropes and cliches were fairly common, yet like I previously mentioned it still managed to be an entertaining and far from painful read. Yes, there is a love triangle. Yes, there is also a fair amount of insta-love. No, it didn’t make me want to stab myself in the eye so there’s that at least. There’s the requisite special snowflake that becomes a catalyst for change. There’s constant lies and deceit and basically no one can be trusted. There was also a large amount of unlikely scenarios that required a suspension of disbelief. If you’re a fan of fantasy and capable of not taking a story too seriously, this is quite the entertaining read.

I’m always leery these days when books come with all the comparisons, and especially when those comparisons have been attached to an ample amount of books already. X-Men, Game of Thrones, Red Rising, Hunger Games, Divergent, etc. And sure, I can see the comparisons, but it never became such an obvious rip-off to completely turn me off from this story. All books are inspired by something, it just depends on the way each author spins it to make it unique and their own. Aveyard may not have completely dazzled me with her debut, however, she aroused my curiosity enough especially with the unexpected ending to continue following this story.

“Rise, red as the dawn.”

Divider

Early Review – The Mark of Cain (Long Lankin, #2) by Lindsey Barraclough

May 6, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, YA 0 Comments

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

Early Review – The Mark of Cain (Long Lankin, #2) by Lindsey BarracloughThe Mark of Cain by Lindsey Barraclough
Series: Long Lankin #2
Published by Candlewick Press on May 10th 2016
Pages: 496
Genres: Horror, Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Long Lankin

two-half-stars

A spine-chilling companion to Long Lankin, here is the story of a wronged witch’s revenge, spanning generations and crossing the shadowy line between life and death.

In 1567, baby Aphra is found among the reeds and rushes by two outcast witches. Even as an infant, her gifts in the dark craft are clear. But when her guardians succumb to an angry mob, Aphra is left to fend for herself. She is shunned and feared by all but one man, the leper known as Long Lankin. Hounded and ostracized, the two find solace only in each other, but even this respite is doomed, and Aphra’s bitterness poisons her entire being. Afflicted with leprosy, tortured and about to be burned as a witch, she manages one final enchantment—a curse on her tormentor’s heirs. Now, in 1962, Cora and Mimi, the last of a cursed line, are trapped in an ancient home on a crumbling estate in deepest winter, menaced by a spirit bent on revenge. Are their lives and souls forfeit forever?

Long Lankin Series

Early Review – Long Lankin (Long Lankin, #1) by Lindsey Barraclough

Long Lankin (Long Lankin #1) by Lindsey Barraclough [PurchaseMy Review]

style-3 (2) review

‘I am bound here, for as long as there are Guerdons in the world, I must be in it. And they have returned to the marshlands – to me.’

 It’s been four years since Cora and Mimi lived to tell the tale of Long Lankin. The two girls survived, however, the scars they acquired are hidden beneath their skin. After their father recently came into an inheritance, their Auntie Ida’s rundown mansion, he tells them that they’re moving to the village of Bryers Guerdon. Right back to where it all happened. Long Lankin may no longer be a threat, but he wasn’t the only one left to fear. 400 years prior, a woman by the name of Aphra Rushes loved a leper who was known by the name of Long Lankin. She was sentenced to death at a young age for murdering an infant and his mother, a spell with the intent to cure Lankin which had gone awry. With her dying breath she placed a curse on the Guerdon line, who were responsible for her death. Flash forward to the Halloween of 1962 and her ashes have risen up from the ground to fulfill the curse that she placed on the Guerdon family before she was covered in pitch and burned at the stake.

‘I am the dust of charred bones and ash.’

I’ve considered Long Lankin to be one of my all-time favorite gothic horror stories and news of a follow-up story had me most eager even if I didn’t understand the necessity. There’s a wonderful air of mystery to The Mark of Cain, a constant sense of impending catastrophe. The writing itself is eloquent and I delighted in the eerie events depicted: the old derelict mansion that was unsettling on its own yet the girls’ memories of their time spent there made it even more so, their temporary guardians that caused more discontent than comfort due to their forever absent father, and the strange items that they would find around the house like the bundle of twigs tied with red twine or the archaic symbols sketched on the doors. The pacing felt constantly off and I ultimately feel it should not have taken all 496 pages to reach the point we did. The slow-pacing could have been easily made up for if that sense of impending catastrophe was heightened just a smidge more.

The story is told mainly from the point of view of Cora who is now fifteen years old and is struggling to maintain a sense of normalcy for her eight year old sister Mimi. The only trouble is, since Mimi was taken by Lankin she returned a changed child, able to see things normal people cannot. Including the current terror haunting them in their new home. Because we’re told this story from the POV of Cora, there’s a bit of a disconnect of knowledge that keeps the reader in the dark since Mimi refuses to discuss anything with Cora. What I’m assuming was intended was to add even more mystery to this story, but it only caused the story to falter leaving it feeling all very subdued as if Cora wasn’t actually experiencing it all firsthand. Regardless of the fact that Mimi is only eight years old, having the story told from her point of view would have been a vast improvement.

I’ve come a long way in the horror genre since I read Long Lankin back in 2012. In that review, I even admit to being “a big weenie” which I definitely wouldn’t describe myself in terms of horror stories anymore. Back then it took some serious encouragement to read horror and now I’d consider it one of my favorite genres. Long Lankin was a most unsettling read, yet The Mark of Cain just didn’t manage to leave me with the same impression. I think it would be appropriate to actually describe this as more Gothic vs. horror for curious readers. This may not have completely worked for me, but this is a Gothic thriller that will no doubt please many.

Divider

Audiobook Review – Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach

March 10, 2016 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016, YA 1 Comment

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

Audiobook Review – Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy WallachThanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach
Narrator: Francisco Pryor Garat
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on February 23rd 2016
Length: 6 hours and 24 minutes
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: We All Looked Up, Strange Fire

four-stars

Tommy Wallach, the New York Times bestselling author of the “stunning debut” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) We All Looked Up, delivers a brilliant new novel about a young man who overcomes a crippling loss and finds the courage to live after meeting an enigmatic girl.
Tommy Wallach, the New York Times bestselling author of the “stunning debut” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) We All Looked Up, delivers a brilliant new novel about a young man who overcomes a crippling loss and finds the courage to live after meeting an enigmatic girl.

“Was this story written about me?”
I shrugged.
“Yes or no?”
I shrugged again, finally earning a little scowl, which somehow made the girl even more pretty.
“It’s very rude not to answer simple questions,” she said.
I gestured for my journal, but she still wouldn’t give it to me. So I took out my pen and wrote on my palm.
I can’t, I wrote. Then, in tiny letters below it: Now don’t you feel like a jerk?

Parker Santé hasn’t spoken a word in five years. While his classmates plan for bright futures, he skips school to hang out in hotels, killing time by watching the guests. But when he meets a silver-haired girl named Zelda Toth, a girl who claims to be quite a bit older than she looks, he’ll discover there just might be a few things left worth living for.

From the celebrated author of We All Looked Up comes a unique story of first and last loves.

style-3 (3) review

I’ve always liked that phrase, “kill time.” As if time were some kind of evil dragon that needed to be slain. Unfortunately, like everything else in the world, time dies of natural causes, year by year, hour by hour, second by second. It’s a veritable time massacre going on out here.

Parker Santé has been mute since his father died in a car accident they were both involved in. It’s been five years. He’s still a bit angry with his lot in life so he spends the majority of his time alone, killing time, frequenting hotels because he’s found its easy to steal from rich people there. After skipping school, he spends his day at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel where he meets a most intriguing girl by the name of Zelda Toth… after he tries to steal her money. Despite their rocky introduction, the two quickly form a solid yet palpable connection that develops through the power of storytelling. Parker’s talent for writing fictional stories and Zelda’s own personal story: that she’s far, far older than she actually looks.

This is my second Tommy Wallach story and most certainly won’t be my last. His stories have never fallen into the category I find myself typically reading, yet he manages to tactfully write the most authentic and captivating characters. Parker possesses a depth that goes beyond the typical story we’ve all read about where the kid loses a parent and subsequently removes himself from the normal world. He was unexpectedly hilarious in that sarcastic way I do love so much. What stands out from this already charming story are Parker’s short stories. At first, I found the idea of them to be somewhat of an ill-fitting piece of the puzzle and that they would essentially detract from the main story; at least I did until it returns to the main story and I suddenly wished to go back to his magical storytelling. They are captivating to say the least and Wallach’s ability to write multiple amazing stories within a single story is most notable. Zelda seemed to be the biggest issue for most readers, yet I found her to be well-written too. Instead of the manic pixie dream girl that at first glance seems like we’d be getting, there’s a depth to her as well, and a compelling background that makes her far from conventional.

Thanks for the Trouble is a contemporary story about experiencing life and learning to recognize the things we take for granted. It’s not completely contemporary though, with a magical realism flair that never gives you exact answers but instead leaves you contemplating. For the most part, contemplating what it would be like to live forever, and if it would be as fantastic as one would initially think. You never quite know what is real and what is make believe with this one but that is exactly what makes this such an enchanting read.

Divider

Early Review – Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

January 22, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, YA 1 Comment

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

Early Review – Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel SavitAnna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on January 26th 2016
Pages: 240
Genres: Historical Fiction, WWII
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-stars

A stunning, literary, and wholly original debut novel set in Poland during the Second World War perfect for readers of The Book Thief.

Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.

And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.

The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.

Destined to become a classic, Gavriel Savit’s stunning debut reveals life’s hardest lessons while celebrating its miraculous possibilities.

style-3 (2) review

‘There is no labyrinth as treacherous as that with neither paths nor walls.’

When seven-year-old Anna is placed in the company of a neighbor while her father attends to some business, she never thought that would be the last she would see of him. The year is 1939 during the very beginning of World War II and the Germans are beginning their round up of scholars and Anna’s father is a professor at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Unsure what to do, Anna turns to a mysterious stranger she names Swallow Man after he displays his proficiency with languages including the ability to speak to birds. Intrigued by this man, Anna begins to follow him and the two stay together, walking across Poland, for many years.

“A riverbank goes wherever the riverbank does. […] I’ll be the riverbank and you be the river.”

During this duo’s travels, the Swallow Man teaches Anna many lessons, cultivating her ability to survive with or without him. The two that bear repeating most: “To be found is to be gone forever,” and “One can’t be found as long as one keeps moving.” And keep hidden and moving they do. Within this short novel, years pass and it becomes more and more difficult to continue to survive in a world that has transformed around them, blanketing them in war. Throughout their time together, the Swallow Man persists in fascinating Anna with his perpetual crypticness and continues to keep the reader curious about the circumstances which brought him to this point.

‘It was very difficult for her to take her attention away from the thin man, even for a moment. Somewhere, tickling the back of her brain, she felt a certainty that if she wasn’t constantly watching this fellow, she would miss whole miracles, whole wonders – things that he let fall incidentally off himself as other men might shed dandruff.’

There was something supremely enchanting about this well-written story. It combined the heartrending historical aspects of The Book Thief with the magical realism of The Snow Child. Unfortunately, Savit built up a mesmerizing tale of survival only to lose steam and fizzle out at the end. The hazy inscrutability that is cast over this story leads to the magical feeling of mysteriousness but by the end, I was expecting that haze to clear and it never did. View Spoiler »

Divider

Book Review – Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

December 12, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 0 Comments

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

Book Review – Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay KristoffIlluminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Pages: 608
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Unearthed, Lifel1k3

three-half-stars

For fans of Marie Lu comes the first book in an epic series that bends the sci-fi genre into a new dimension.

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

style-3 (4) review

 The day started off like any other day, except for the fact that Kady just broke up with her boyfriend Ezra. Oh, and also the fact that their planet was invaded that afternoon by corporate rival, BeiTech Industries, after it was discovered that they were operating an illegal mining colony. The frantic evacuation of their planet forces the duo back together temporarily as they flee from certain death. The residents succeed in launching three ships to get as many individuals to safety as possible, but the tension doesn’t relent as there’s a BeiTech dreadnought hot on their heels. To make matters worse, there’s a virus circulating quickly on board and issues with Alexander’s artificial intelligence system. Kady takes it upon herself to hack into the ships computer system in order to find out what’s going on because of the ongoing secrecy. What she finds out fails to inspire hope, but she’s willing to do what must be done in order to survive.

The first thing you need to know about Illuminae is that it’s told in epistolary form. Not just your basic journal entries à la Georgia Nicholson either, but is instead a full spectrum combination of all possible epistolary formats: emails, interview transcripts, memos, security footage, pseudo-Wikipedia pages, and most especially instant messages. With that kind of formatting, I am absolutely 100% the targeted reader and find this method of storytelling to be oh so much fun. The blend of multiple genres only increased the entertainment. Science Fiction, Romance, Horror, plus some form of rampant plague and ZOMBIES. Well. I would have thought it’d be too much, but it was fantastic. This is one page-turning thrill-ride that I did not want to get off of. There are twists and turns that were constantly throwing me for a loop, and oh man, my EMOTIONS. I’ll just leave this here and let you non-readers try to ponder the meaning.

There was an immense amount of hype surrounding this one, including starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus which immediately makes me impressed before I’ve even picked up the book. But admittedly, I was nervous. I find myself in the black sheep camp more often than not and my hopes were high with this one. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, with reservations, as the ending felt like an odd piece of the puzzle. View Spoiler » Even with my reservations, this was a thoroughly engrossing adventure and I will most definitely be picking up the next installment in hopes of getting some answers to my lingering questions.

Divider

Book Review – The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

December 4, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 2 Comments

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

Book Review – The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn BennettThe Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 3rd 2015
Pages: 304
Genres: Contemporary, Mental Illness
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Binding the Shadows, Banishing the Dark

two-stars

A mysterious graffiti artist, an anatomy-obsessed artist, and a night bus that will bring the two together.

Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci's footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital's Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he's hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix's own family's closet tear them apart?

style-3 review

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart introduces two uncommon artists that meet one another on the Night Owl bus. Beatrix “Bex” Adams is intent on spending her summer perfecting her scholarship entry, an intricate drawing of a cadaver. Jack Vincent is also an artist, but of the more secretive sort, seeing as his graffiti/art goes up on the walls of buildings all over the city. Bex’s focus from her scholarship entry to Jack and his intriguing nature and otherworldly good looks immediately switches and predictability ensues.

I’m a huge fan of this author and her adult Urban Fantasy series, Arcadia Bell. While I’m not a frequent reader of YA Contemporary I was still anxious to see how Bennett did with the switch to YA. Suffice it to say, it breaks my anatomical heart to not have loved this as much as I had hoped. Initially, this reminded me heavily of Graffiti Moon but I failed to fall for Bex and Jack as much as I fell for Lucy and Ed. So, if you’re looking for another love story + graffiti, this isn’t it. At first, I did love Bex. I loved her tales of kids at school calling her Wednesday Addams because of the way she dressed, her affinity for braids, and naturally because of her similar last name. I loved her quirkiness and her desire to do art that was outside of the norm. I loved her conviction and determination to win the scholarship. I wanted her romance with Jack to not completely devour all things interesting about her, but it did. She transformed into a total manic pixie dream girl with Jack fitting in completely as the manic pixie dream boy.

‘When the jacket stood back up, it grew arms and legs and a face that probably competed with Helen of Troy’s in the ship-launching department.
Jack.’

‘He was a walking figure study in beautiful lines and lean muscle, with miles of dark lashes, and cheekbones that looked strong enough to hold up his entire body.’

There is honestly nothing worse than a heroine waxing poetic about a boys looks,  ad nauseam. A sufficient description without going overboard or sounding like a swoony idiot would have been preferable. So Jack goes around the city of San Francisco in his 1958 Corvette tagging up the place. He has a “retro-rockabilly” look and wears mala beads but claims to be a bad Buddhist. As anticipated, he has a mysterious past where something somber happened but he can’t talk about it because sad.

Then there’s Bex and her sudden obsession with all things Jack. There’s one point in the story where the duo hadn’t been talking because Jack was going through his sad things. A new piece of Jack’s art appears with a single word: ENDURE. Bex begins mulling over the meaning and of course immediately made it all about her.

‘ENDURE. Did it mean anything? Was he expressing something about whatever he was going through? Was it a sign that he was ready to communicate again?’

Oh, come on. His art/graffitti/whatever you want to call it clearly has personal meaning for him and he was doing it long before he met you. The answer is the very definition of the word: to suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently. The whole psuedo-mystery surrounding Jack’s past (including his romantic past) could have all been resolved over a nice, simple heart-to-heart. But that’s too rational to actually happen and where would we get the requisite drama? I don’t know, I don’t mean to hate on it so much but it was all just so predictable, pretentious, and overdone.

But before I morph into a complete asshole, I’m going to end on a happy note and talk about the one thing I did appreciate about this story: the sex-positive message. We have two teen characters that actually make it a point to have a discussion about sex before diving straight in. There’s also a parent that’s open about sex talks and brings home mass quantities of condoms… just in case. View Spoiler »

I’m clearly not the targeted reader and sometimes I feel I do books a disservice by attempting to explore these genres that I don’t typically read, just in an attempt to branch out. Nothing wrong with reading outside of your comfort zone but I think it’s time to accept that YA contemporary love stories are simply not my cup of tea.

Divider

Book Review – Traffick (Tricks #2) by Ellen Hopkins

November 21, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 1 Comment

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

Book Review – Traffick (Tricks #2) by Ellen HopkinsTraffick by Ellen Hopkins
Series: Tricks #2
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on November 3rd 2015
Pages: 528
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

three-stars

Five teens victimized by sex trafficking try to find their way to a new life in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestselling Tricks from Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank.

In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.

And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out?How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heartwrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.

‘How am I supposed to stay clean
when the truth of what I’ve done
closes in around me, squeezing
hideous memories from the deep
recesses of my brain […]’

Tricks is a novel that leaves you haunted for a group of incredibly real individuals that wound up in unimaginable situations. It told the story of five individuals: Seth is kicked out of his home after his father finds out he’s gay. Ginger is forced to run away after she’s raped and finds out that her mother collected cash from the experience. Eden is sent to a religious reform camp after her parents discover she has a boyfriend. Cody and his family find themselves in a financial hole after the death of his stepfather and he begins collecting money anyway he can. And Whitney who ends up with an older man simply because he gives her the attention she craves. What’s most shocking is how vastly different their stories are yet how they all seem to wind up in the same situations: selling their bodies in order to survive.

Traffick is their follow-up story that once again forces these same characters to face their demons while giving them the opportunity to find some semblance of a future that none of them ever thought they would live to witness. It’s no doubt a bleak tale but it effectively brings to life the harsh realities of sex trafficking and child prostitution and what many are forced to undergo. It also productively breaks many of the stereotypes surrounding the beliefs regarding how individuals find themselves in these situations. They aren’t all doing this work of their own free will, some are forced into it by intimidation, some do it out of a misguided act of love, and some do it out of sheer desperateness and being unable to do anything else with their lives.

Ellen has said that she worked with rescue groups and survivors of sex trafficking to make this story as honest as possible, and it’s obvious. While Traffick doesn’t give these victims a complete happily ever after, I appreciated it more because it didn’t. What these individuals endured is something that will stay with them eternally and forever change who they are. What this story did do was give these characters, and any individuals that find themselves in similar circumstances, the possibility of hope. Hope that there is a future for them, no matter what, despite their experiences.

Divider

Book Review – A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

November 20, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 4 Comments

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

Book Review – A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnisA Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on October 6th 2015
Pages: 384
Genres: Gothic, Historical Fiction, Mental Health
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Not a Drop to Drink

two-stars

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.

‘They all had their terrors, but at least the spiders that lived in the new girl’s veins were imaginary. Grace has learned long ago that the true horrors of this world were other people.’

A Madness So Discreet introduces Grace Mae, a young woman who has been placed in an asylum in an attempt to hide her out of wedlock pregnancy in addition to the horrible secret to how she came to be pregnant in the first place. She is certainly of sound mind, however, the long nights spent listening to the screams of patients echoing the corridors is enough to effect even the toughest of individuals. When an opportunity to leave the asylum is presented to her she jumps at the opportunity for a fresh start, but Grace soon finds that sometimes your past finds a way to sneak up on you.

The beginning is one of the most shocking and audacious introductions I have come across in YA. We’re introduced to Grace and the patients in the Wayburne Lunatic Asylum of Boston and a terrifying picture is quickly painted. This is set in the 19th century and patients are not treated as people, they are not given sufficient food or clothing, and they are thrown into the basement cells which leak rainwater from outside as a form of punishment. There are other far worse punishments described as well. It was grisly and utterly distressing but considering grisly and distressing are totally my thing, I was immediately foreseeing a first-rate reading experience. Alas, the book took an odd turn after that.

‘They work their discreet types of madness on us, power and pain, and we hold on to our truths in the darkness.’

Going from a decidedly Gothic feel and leaving the confines of the asylum, it quickly transforms into a something of a crime thriller, just minus the thrill. Grace is placed in the care of Dr. Thornhollow after he takes a keen interest in her sharp mind and believes she can be of assistance to him. Why he goes to such dramatic lengths to get her out of the asylum is beyond me though. See, Dr. Thornhollow believes himself to be Sherlock in his spare time, investigating crimes and catching killers. Towards the end we once again take an odd turn and it quickly becomes an episode of Law & Order.

Referencing a book as having a Gothic feel, set in an asylum with crime and legal aspects should have been a home-run for me and I can’t decide whether all aspects combined were simply too much or it was simply too far-fetched for it to feel any way authentic. I would have much preferred Grace’s story to play out within the asylum walls, wrestling her inner-demons.

Divider