Showing posts with label HarperTeen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HarperTeen. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mini Reviews: Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist and American Panda by Gloria Chau

To those of you still following this blog, hello! I finally managed to post something after months of no activity! 
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From Goodreads: Ten years ago, a horrifying disease began spreading across the West Texas desert. Infected people - shakes - attacked the living and created havoc and destruction. No one has ever survived the infection. Daisy Wilcox, known as Willie, has been protecting her siblings within the relatively safe walls of Glory, Texas. When Willie’s good-for-nothing father steals a fortune from one of the most dangerous shake-hunters in town, she finds herself on the hook for his debt. With two hunters, including the gruff and handsome Ben, to accompany her, she sets out across the desert in search of her father. But the desert is not kind to travelers, and not everyone will pass through alive. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: During a time when I’m struggling to find the motivation to read and blog, Emma Berquist’s standalone novel Devils Unto Dust managed to somehow hold my attention thanks to its short chapters. I also thought the harsh desert setting was great since it featured all kinds of perils (e.g. shakes, hunters, sandstorms, etc.), and liked the tough heroine of the book because she would do anything for her family and refused to be cowed by the hunters around her.

Devils Unto Dust was released on April 10, 2018 by Greenwillow Books. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.

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From Back Cover: At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies. With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth - that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese. But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels? 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: American Panda by Gloria Chau was a book that seemed to have a lot of hype as a diverse read. I, however, found that it featured quite a few stereotypes and wished that it was less predictable. For example, Mei’s parents are extremely overprotective and believe medicine to be the only acceptable profession for their children. While American Panda wasn’t a bad read per se, nothing about it really stood out for me and I’ve already forgotten large parts of it. I do remember not being a fan of the insta-love romance though. 

American Panda was released by Simon Pulse in February 2018.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Simon and Schuster Canada) for free. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Mini Reviews: Now is Everything by Amy Giles and The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano

From Goodreads: The McCauleys look perfect on the outside. But nothing is ever as it seems, and this family is hiding a dark secret. Hadley McCauley will do anything to keep her sister safe from their father. But when Hadley’s forbidden relationship with Charlie Simmons deepens, the violence at home escalates, culminating in an explosive accident that will leave everyone changed. When Hadley attempts to take her own life at the hospital post-accident, her friends, doctors, family, and the investigator on the case want to know why. Only Hadley knows what really happened that day, and she’s not talking.

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Now is Everything by Amy Giles was a fast-paced, engaging read. Alternating between the present where Hadley is the sole survivor of a plane crash and flashbacks that show Hadley’s life in the months leading up to the crash, Giles had me wondering if the plane crash was really accidental. While the plot was interesting, I found the romance somewhat unbelievable. I can never buy into the premise that a player suddenly becomes faithful to one girl because “she’s different from all the other girls before her!” 

Now is Everything will be released on November 7, 2017 by HarperTeen! 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.
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From Goodreads: Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father - whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war - Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance. Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified - but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure. But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power. With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

My Rating: 2 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Lauren DeStefano’s The Glass Spare was a book I was really looking forward to reading because it features a princess who turns people into gemstones when in a state of adrenalin. For some reason however, the beginning of the book failed to captivate me, despite Wil killing someone she loved and being banished by her father from her kingdom. When Loom was then introduced as a character, I knew The Glass Spare was a lost cause because Loom pretty much fell for Wil after meeting her, without knowing anything about her. The final strike against this book was a cliffhanger ending that left me feeling bored and gave me no reason to continue on with this series. 

The Glass Spare was released by Balzer + Bray on October 24, 2017.  

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review: Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza

Helloooo ... anybody still here? With teaching, tutoring and taking a course, I feel like there's barely any time to read, let alone blog; and as a result, I've kind of neglected this space in the past month or so. I'm hoping to slowly get back into the swing of things, but I make no promises. I did recently read Anna Priemaza's Kat and Meg Conquer the World however, so here's my review of it. 
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From Goodreads: Kat and Meg couldn’t be more different. Kat’s anxiety makes it hard for her to talk to people. Meg hates being alone, but her ADHD keeps pushing people away. But when the two girls are thrown together for a year-long science project, they discover they do have one thing in common: They’re both obsessed with the same online gaming star and his hilarious videos. It might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship - if they don’t kill each other first. 

My Rating: Somewhere between 4 and 4.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: You know how sometimes you read a book with no expectations and it completely surprises you? Well, Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza was that book for me. I read it simply because the author was a Canadian, without caring much for the cover or skimming the synopsis like I usually do.

Since Kat and Meg Conquer the World chronicles Meg and Kat’s daily lives, it’s important that you connect with the characters … and Priemaza does a fantastic job of making you care about them. Even rarer, this is a YA book that focuses on a realistic, positive female friendship. I loved how Meg encouraged Kat to deal with her anxiety and how Kat helped Meg become more focused. What I couldn’t relate to as much unfortunately was how obsessed the two girls were over a gamer on YouTube. I know many gamers are very popular on YouTube – Pewdiepie is just one example – but I just don’t get why. Thankfully, Kat and Meg Conquer the World is written well enough that it will appeal to readers even if they don’t love online gaming and fictional YouTube gamers.

Kat and Meg Conquer the World will be released on November 7, 2017 by HarperTeen. 

Comments About the Cover: Staring at that background too long gives me a headache! 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mini Reviews: How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat and These Things I've Done by Rebecca Phillips

From Goodreads: Vicky Decker has perfected the art of hiding in plain sight, quietly navigating the halls of her high school undetected except by her best (and only) friend, Jenna. But when Jenna moves away, Vicky’s isolation becomes unbearable. So she decides to invent a social life by Photoshopping herself into other people’s pictures, posting them on Instagram under the screen name Vicurious. Instantly, she begins to get followers, so she adds herself to more photos from all over the world with all types of people. And as Vicurious’s online followers multiply, Vicky realizes she can make a whole life for herself without ever leaving her bedroom. But the more followers she finds online, the clearer it becomes that there are a lot of people out there who feel like her - #alone and #ignored in real life. To help them, and herself, Vicky must find the courage to face her fear of being “seen,” because only then can she stop living vicariously and truly bring the magic of Vicurious to life. 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: If you prefer plot-driven novels, Sharon Huss Roat’s How to Disappear is probably not the book for you since it involves Vicki just spending a lot of time online – either Photoshopping herself into different backgrounds, posting her pictures on Instagram and seeing what kind of feedback she gets, or checking out other people’s Instagram feeds. Yet even though nothing major happens over the course of How to Disappear, I didn’t think it was a bad read because it serves as a reminder of how powerful social media can be in connecting people. 

How to Disappear was released in August 2017 by HarperTeen. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.
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From Goodreads: Before: Dara and Aubrey have been inseparable since they became best friends in sixth grade. However, as they begin their sophomore year of high school, cracks in their friendship begin to form, testing the bond they always thought was unbreakable. After: It's been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn't racked with guilt over her role in her best friend's death. Dara thought nothing could be worse than confronting the memories of Aubrey that relentlessly haunt her, but she soon realizes it isn't half as difficult as seeing Ethan, Aubrey's brother, every day. Not just because he's a walking reminder of what she did, but because the more her feelings for him change, the more she knows she's betraying her best friend one final time. 

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Alternating chapters between Dara’s sophomore and senior years, These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips shows the difference in Dara’s attitude and personality before and after Aubrey’s death. When reading a novel chronicling someone’s life after the death of a loved one, I need to connect with the characters; and unfortunately, Dara was someone I struggled to connect with because she keeps trying not to move on, despite knowing that Aubrey’s death was accidental. I also thought some of the secondary characters could have been better fleshed out. For example, there was no reason for Travis to think of Dara as a murderer and yet he does, even though Aubrey’s brother, Ethan, quickly befriends Dara again, making it clear he holds no ill will towards her. If you’re looking for a book where grief is a major theme, I’d recommend reading Cynthia Hand’s The Last Time We Say Goodbye or Emery Lord’s The Start of Me and You instead.

These Things I’ve Done was released by HarperTeen in August 2017.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Mini Reviews: Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn and Our Broken Pieces by Sarah White

From Goodreads: 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.

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: With a far-fetched premise – five years after her parents’ divorce, sixteen-year-old Quinn still believes Wesley James is responsible for her parents breaking up – and a rather rushed transformation of feelings from hate-to-love, it’s no surprise that Jennifer Honeybourn’s Wesley James Ruined My Life failed to captivate me overall. However, I did enjoy reading the parts involving Tudor Tymes, the restaurant Quinn works at, because the concept of the restaurant was so well-developed and unique. If something like Tudor Tymes actually existed, I know I’d be interested in popping into it to take a peek. (The food unfortunately, as described by Quinn, didn’t sound very appetizing, lol.)

Wesley James Ruined My Life was released by Swoon Reads in July 2017.
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From Goodreads: The only thing worse than having your boyfriend dump you is having him dump you for your best friend. For Everly Morgan the betrayal came out of nowhere. One moment she had what seemed like the perfect high school relationship, and the next, she wanted to avoid the two most important people in her life. Every time she sees them kiss in the hallways her heart breaks a little more. The last thing on Everly’s mind is getting into another relationship, but when she meets Gabe in her therapist’s waiting room she can’t deny their immediate connection. Somehow he seems to understand Everly in a way that no one else in her life does, and maybe it’s because Gabe also has experience grappling with issues outside of his control. Just because they share so many of the same interests and there is an undeniable spark between them doesn’t mean Everly wants anything more than friendship. After all, when you only barely survived your last breakup, is it really worth risking your heart again?  

My Rating: 1 heart 

Thoughts on the Novel: Our Broken Pieces by Sarah White was a book that annoyed me to no ends! Perhaps I’m too old for books like this now, but every time Everly considered how different her senior year was turning out to be due to Brady’s betrayal, I just wanted to be like, “Move on, already!” In my opinion, if somebody cheats on you, they don’t deserve you so why waste your time thinking about what could have been? It also drove me crazy that Everly seemed to be more upset by losing Brady than the loss of her friendship with Elle. Lastly, sometimes the interactions between Gabe (who occasionally didn’t sound like a guy but a female thinking about what the perfect guy would say) and Everly were so cheesy that they made me cringe.

Our Broken Pieces was released on August 8, 2017 by HarperTeen.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.

*Just an aside, the sex in Our Broken Pieces is surprisingly descriptive for a YA novel.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Mini Reviews: Literally by Lucy Keating and The Freemason's Daughter by Shelley Sacker

From Goodreads: Annabelle’s life has always been Perfect with a capital P. Then bestselling young adult author Lucy Keating announces that she’s writing a new novel - and Annabelle is the heroine. It turns out, Annabelle is a character that Lucy Keating created. And Lucy has a plan for her. But Annabelle doesn’t want to live a life where everything she does is already plotted out. Will she find a way to write her own story - or will Lucy Keating have the last word? 

My Rating: 2 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Literally by Lucy Keating had the potential to be really interesting. Instead, it turned out to be a rather unoriginal contemporary with a love triangle where there was no doubt about who the protagonist would choose. The idea of Keating incorporating herself into the story was very meta, but I quickly got tired of Annabelle referencing the author Keating’s books, movies, and writing style. I think I would have liked Literally much more had Annabelle realized that she was a fictional character later in the story or Will been written to be less perfect.  

Literally was released on April 11, 2017 by HarperTeen. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.  
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From Goodreads: Saying good-bye to Scotland is the hardest thing that Jenna MacDuff has had to do - until she meets Lord Pembroke. Jenna’s small clan has risked their lives traveling the countryside as masons, secretly drumming up support and arms for the exiled King James Stuart to retake the British throne. But their next job brings them into enemy territory: England. Jenna’s father repeatedly warns her to trust no one, but when the Duke of Keswick hires the clan to build a garrison on his estate, it seems she cannot hide her capable mind from the duke’s inquisitive son, Lord Alex Pembroke - nor mask her growing attraction to him. But there’s a covert plan behind the building of the garrison, and soon Jenna must struggle not only to keep her newfound friendship with Alex from her father, but also to keep her father’s treason from Alex. Will Jenna decide to keep her family’s mutinous secrets and assist her clan’s cause, or protect the life of the young noble she’s falling for? 

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I love historical fiction, especially if the setting is in Europe; so Shelley Sacker’s The Freemason’s Daughter was a book that I had to request. Unfortunately, most of the characters could have been better developed, and I thought Jenna was silly for trusting Alex so easily with her and her clan’s secrets. The plot also took a very long time to get going, which meant both the romance and the ending felt quite rushed.

The Freemason’s Daughter was released by HarperTeen on April 11, 2017. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Mini Reviews: Speed of Life by Carol Weston and Wait for Me by Caroline Leech

From Goodreads: Sofia wonders if 14 might be the worst possible age to lose your mom. Talking with her dad about puberty and s-e-x is super-awkward (even though he is a gynecologist). And when she wants to talk about her mom, her friends don't know what to say and her dad gets sad. When Sofia discovers Dear Kate, an advice columnist from Fifteen magazine, she’s grateful to have someone to confide in about everything from crushes to mourning - someone who is completely, wonderfully anonymous. It feels ideal - until Sofia’s dad introduces her to his new girlfriend, Katherine Baird, a.k.a., Dear Kate ... 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Speed of Life by Carol Weston chronicles the life of Sofia over the course of a year, several months after her mom’s sudden death from an aneurysm. As time passes and her life changes in unexpected ways, Sofia slowly grows and learns that life can go on even after a loved one dies. Weston’s background as an advice columnist is clearly evident in the voice of Dear Kate, and I also liked how realistic the book felt. At the same time, many parts of Speed of Life felt very juvenile, making it a book I would have enjoyed a lot more had I been much, much younger. 

A novel that would be a good read for its target audience of middle graders, Speed of Life will be released on April 4, 2017 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free via NetGalley. 
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From Goodreads: It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country? But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him - from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany - the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Caroline Leech’s Wait for Me was a book that piqued my interest because it’s set during WWII. Although I rarely read straight-up romance novels, I ended up really liking Wait for Me because the progression in Lorna’s feelings for Paul felt very natural, and I liked that she had to learn to look beyond Paul’s physical appearance to fall in love with him. The setting of the book also felt very authentic. In fact, there’s even a note at the end of the book about how German POWs did work on Scottish farms and that many ended up falling in love with local girls. The one thing that this book could have done without was an unnecessary potential rape scene. Overall, however, Wait for Me was a solid YA debut. 

Wait for Me was released by HarperTeen in January 2017. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Mini Reviews: The Friendship Experiment by Erin Teagan and Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

From Back Cover: Everything has been going wrong for aspiring scientist Madeline Little, and she's dreading the start of sixth grade. Now that her best friend has moved to private school, Maddie has no one to hang out with except a bunch of middle-school misfits. And if you add Maddie's blood disorder, which causes public humiliation at the very worst times, it's all a formula for disaster. At least she can rely on her standard operating procedures, the observations and step-by-step instructions she writes down in her top-secret lab notebook. Procedures for how to escape a conversation with your mother, how to avoid the weirdos at school - it's all in there. Fortunately, no one will ever read it. But does science have all the answers? 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: The Friendship Experiment by Erin Teagan is a solid MG read about discovering the unpredictability of life. I really liked that Madeline loved science so much, and found it refreshing to have a narrator who wrote Standard Operating Procedures and grew bacterial cultures instead of worrying about popularity and boys.

The Friendship Experiment was released in November 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Raincoast Books) for free.
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From Goodreads: Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose ... it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown. If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest ... but she may be the darkest.  

My Rating: 2 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns was a book that I was looking forward to reading because of its dark premise. Unfortunately, while the beginning part of the novel whetted my appetite with Katherine having to ingest poisoned food, for example, the majority of the book was quite dull. There was little plot to be honest, and I’m still confused as to why Katherine, Arsinoe and Mirabella must kill each other. Furthermore, none of the queens made me want to root for them or their insta-love romances.

A huge disappointment, Three Dark Crowns was released by HarperTeen in September 2016.  

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mini Reviews: Wanderlost by Jen Malone and Soldier by Julie Kagawa

From Goodreads: Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe. Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story. But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is - she just hopes she likes where she ends up.

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I haven’t had the opportunity to travel much so I love it when books incorporate traveling abroad. It’s too bad then that Jen Malone’s Wanderlost didn’t do such a great job of making me feel as if I was in Europe since it involved more telling than showing. Also, the chance for Aubree to go on a trip to Europe began with the laughable premise of her perfect older sister being arrested for literally no reason. If you’re in the mood to read something that will make you want to book a trip ASAP, I’d recommend Kirsten Hubbard’s Wanderlove instead.

Wanderlost was released in May 2016 by HarperTeen. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Harpercollins) via Edelweiss. 
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From Goodreads: When forced to choose between safety with the dragon organization Talon and being hunted forever as an outcast, Ember Hill chose to stand with Riley and his band of rogue dragons rather than become an assassin for Talon. She’s lost any contact with her twin brother, Dante, a Talon devotee, as well as Garret, the former-enemy soldier who challenged her beliefs about her human side. As Ember and Riley hide and regroup to fight another day, Garret journeys alone to the United Kingdom, birthplace of the ancient and secret Order of St. George, to spy on his former brothers and uncover deadly and shocking secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragonslayers alike and place them all in imminent danger as Talon’s new order rises. 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Considering that the series feature dragons, the books in Julie Kagawa’s Talon series have yet to wow me – and Soldier was no exception. Yes, it advanced the overarching plot and confirmed my suspicions about Ember and Dante’s heritage, but it still focused a little too much on the love triangle for my liking. As well, the reveal about Garret’s family felt very rushed. With two more books planned for this series, I don’t think I’m going to continue on with it. 

Talon was released by Harlequin Teen in April 2016.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mini Reviews: Riders by Veronica Rossi and Ruined by Amy Tintera

From Goodreads: Nothing but death can keep eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does. While recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can’t remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse. Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen - Conquest, Famine, and Death - are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence. They fail. Now - bound, bloodied, and drugged - Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he’s fallen for - not to mention all of humankind - he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger. But will anyone believe him?

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Having loved Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky trilogy, I was really excited to read, Riders, the start of her newest series. Riders began promisingly with the main character, Gideon, being interrogated. Unfortunately, I wasn’t expecting that more than 80% of the book would consist of alternating chapters of Gideon’s interrogator asking him questions and Gideon telling his interrogator (and thereby, the reader) how he became War and learned to control his powers and horse. Another thing that I struggled with in Riders was the lack of information with regards to the worldbuilding. Only one character had the answers, and she revealed them slowly. Even that wasn’t enough, however, because many of my questions remain unanswered. Finally, knowing that Rossi is capable of writing a well-developed slow burning romance, I was disappointed to see that Gideon and Daryn developed feelings for each other almost instantly.

Riders was released in February 2016 by Tor Teen.
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From Goodreads: Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped. But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family. In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family. Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life - and her family - on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake. 

My Rating: 1.5 hearts

Thoughts on the Novel: Ruined by Amy Tintera was another book I was really looking forward to reading because I had enjoyed Tintera’s Reboot duology. With insta-love and extremely weak worldbuilding though, Ruined turned out to be an even bigger disappointment than Riders. Moreover, the characters in Ruined were underdeveloped, and the plot focused too much on the unrealistic romance. For example, it made me laugh that even after Cas’ father died due to Em, Cas' biggest concern was whether Em was only pretending to have feelings for him. Ultimately, while I have no idea why the Ruined have powers but their neighbours don’t or why everyone wants to exterminate the Ruined, I can tell you that I hate fantasy books where a girl out for revenge promptly falls in love and abandons her quest.

Ruined was released by HarperTeen on May 3, 2016.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Harpercollins) via Edelweiss.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Review: What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

From Goodreads: Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early - the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids. But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed?

My Rating: 4.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Inspired by the Steubenville High School Rape Case, Aaron Hartzler’s What We Saw deftly handles topics like consent, slut shaming, teen drinking, and social media. I think this book would be perfect for a book club or novel study because it’s bound to generate discussion.

In What We Saw, the main character, Kate, is driven home by a friend after getting intoxicated at a party. Another girl at the same party, however, isn’t so lucky – and suddenly, there are allegations that she was raped by a few members of the school’s beloved basketball team, while unconscious. Despite the fact that it appears there were tons of witnesses and a video of the rape is briefly posted online, nobody comes forward to support the allegations. Kate wonders who to believe – a lone girl considered a slut or the rest of the student body?

I really liked Kate as a character because even though she was confused about where her loyalties should lie and was repeatedly told to not get involved by adults and peers alike, she still decided to seek the truth. Then, when she does find out what happened, she’s courageous enough to make some tough choices. It amazes and disgusts me that people can see terrible stuff like this happening and not do anything to stop the situation or speak up about it!

An absolute must read for teens, What We Saw was released in September 2015 by HarperTeen. 

Comments About the Cover: I like the cover, but not the font.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Mini Reviews: The Leaving Season by Cat Jordan and The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

From Goodreads: Middie Daniels calls it the Leaving Season - the time of year when everyone graduates high school, packs up their brand-new suitcases, and leaves home for the first time. It happens every late August, but this year Middie’s boyfriend, Nate, is the one leaving. Nate, who’s so perfect that she can barely believe it. Nate, who makes her better than she is on her own. Nate, who’s promised to come back once he’s finished his gap year volunteering in Central America. And when he does, it’ll be time for Middie to leave, too. With him. But when tragedy strikes, Middie’s whole world is set spinning. No one seems to understand just how lost she is … except for Nate’s best friend Lee. Middie and Lee have never gotten along. She’s always known that she was destined for great things, and Lee acts like he’s never cared about anything a day in his life. But with the ground ripped out from under her, Middie is finding that up is down - and that Lee Ryan might be just what she needs to find her footing once more.

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Cat Jordan’s The Leaving Season was a book I decided to read because I was in the mood for something predictable. And it was ... until an unexpected plot twist, which kind of ruined the rest of the story for me because it created unnecessary tension. (To be honest, even then there was hardly any drama since Nate is supposed to be a great guy.) I knew going into The Leaving Season that it would be cheesy, but I wish there was more to the plot than Meredith missing Nate and discovering that she’s wrong about Lee’s reputation. I didn’t feel like I got to really connect with the characters, and felt that Meredith’s relationship with Lee was more of a rebound situation than her actually falling in love with him.

The Leaving Season was released by HarperTeen on March 1, 2016.  

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Harpercollins) via Edelweiss.
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From Goodreads: David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he's gay. The school bully thinks he's a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth: David wants to be a girl.On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal: to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in his class is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long, and soon everyone knows that Leo used to be a girl. As David prepares to come out to his family and transition into life as a girl and Leo wrestles with figuring out how to deal with people who try to define him through his history, they find in each other the friendship and support they need to navigate life as transgender teens as well as the courage to decide for themselves what normal really means.

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson was a book that I wanted more from. For example, although it addresses the fact that transgendered teens are often bullied and are more likely to have mental health issues, I would have liked this to have been done more through showing than telling. As well, despite the book beginning with David wishing that he was a girl, David didn’t end up being as interesting a character as Leo, who appears to have a huge secret for at least half the book. Unfortunately, I knew what this secret was because of the summary on Goodreads so I was frustrated by how long the secret took to be revealed. Finally, I thought that some parts of the story were rushed (e.g. I personally didn’t feel that Leo and David were that close when the two decided to open up to each other) whereas other parts weren’t explored enough (e.g. we never find out Leo’s mother’s side of the story with regards to his dad and how her opening up to Leo then changes Leo’s relationship with her). 

The Art of Being Normal will be released on May 31, 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Macmillan) via NetGalley.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Mini Reviews: Damage Done by Amanda Panitch and Paperweight by Meg Haston

From Goodreads: 22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after. Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend. After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police. Now that she’s Lucy Black, she's able to begin again. She's even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy's forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind. One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning... 

My Rating: 1.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Damage Done by Amanda Panitch had the potential to be a much more engaging read than it was. After all, the main character, Julia, was the only witness to a school shooting committed by her twin brother! Sadly, I could muster no sympathy for Julia or her former classmates, who you end up learning little about. What was more frustrating though was the ending because it resulted in Julia acting very out of character.

A bland book with a rather unbelievable plot, Damage Done was released in July 2015 by Random House Books for Young Readers. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Random House) for free via NetGalley. 
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From Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. In her body. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert. Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at mealtime, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid. Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn't plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death - the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life.  

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Paperweight by Meg Haston isn’t the easiest of reads as it features an initially unlikeable protagonist and deals with themes like eating disorders, grief, abuse, and toxic friendships. Thankfully, as I learned more about Stevie's past through flashbacks and the more she developed as a character over the course of the novel, I grew to like Stevie. I also liked the way Stevie’s relationship with her therapist was portrayed, and that Paperweight acknowledges that there are a number of causes that can contribute to the development of an eating disorder.

Paperweight was released by HarperTeen in July 2015. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mini Reviews: Out of Control by Sarah Alderson and The Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie West

From Goodreads: When seventeen-year-old Liva came to New York City, all she wanted was to escape the painful memories of her past and finally find a fresh start. Her hopes for a new future were dashed the moment she became the sole witness to a brutal murder. When she's taken into police custody - supposedly for her own protection - she realizes something isn't right, but it's too late. Soon, bullets start flying, and Liva realizes that she is not just a witness, but the target - and she needs to escape before it's too late. With the help of a sexy car thief that she met at the station, Liva manages to get away from the massacre unharmed, but now the two of them are alone in New York, trying to outrun and outwit the two killers who will stop at nothing to find them. Liva and Jay are living on the edge, but when you're on the edge, there's a long way to fall. 

My Rating: 2 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Although I enjoyed Sarah Alderson’s Lila series, I haven’t read any of her books since. So, I had some high expectations for her newest novel, Out of Control. Unfortunately, Out of Control turned out to be a rather disappointing read for a few reasons. Firstly, its fast pacing made it hard to learn much about the characters or care about them. Secondly, I found myself getting annoyed by Liva because of her priorities, – I wouldn’t be focused on a guy if there were people trying to kidnap me, – and complaints about her looks (but really, she’s pretty). Lastly, it drove me crazy that the Hispanic characters in Out of Control were portrayed so stereotypically. 

Out of Control was released in May 2015 by Simon Pulse. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from Xpresso Book Tours.
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From Goodreads: When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend - two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley. The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party - three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship. 

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: While I loved Kasie West’s Pivot Point series, I haven’t found her contemporary novels quite as appealing. Sadly, The Fill-in Boyfriend was no exception. I had a tough time connecting with Gia because I found her to be very shallow. As well, the way the romance started off wasn’t very convincing, and it then veered into drama territory. I think in the future, I’ll just have to pass on any Kasie West contemporaries. 

The Fill-in Boyfriend was released by HarperTeen in May 2015.    
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