Archive for ‘YA books’

October 24, 2015

Dead Ringer

I’ve spent the last 3 years, doing a lot of stuff. I graduated Undergrad and Grad school, and now I’m wandering around free as a bird, trying to get a job. So of course I’ve returned to my one true love; Books. Starting this wonderful return to the reading, and this blog. I’d love to talk about Dead Ringer. I picked up the ARC on Netgalley in hopes that it would be a spooky addition to my Halloween reading.

And it was. The story’s premise is that a young girl transfers into a new school, and promptly finds out that she looks like another young girl, who committed suicide nearly two years earlier. There’s the big mystery. The book leads you down a number of rabbit holes surrounding the dead girl -Sarah Castro-Tanner- and her death.

To do that, Rosen introduced a fantastic cast of flawed characters, the most notable being Laura, Charlie, and Lexi. Laura’s the new girl who looks like Sarah Castro-Tanner’s tan bohemian twin. Rosen puts us straight into her head. She’s innocent, sweet, and of course attracted to the first cute boy put in her path. Charlie. Her first chapters record her struggle, should I like him, do I like him, blah blah blah. Honestly, she takes a minute to get interesting.

Charlie however, is fun from the jump. The way he’s written he’s automatically guarded. You can just tell that he’s hiding something, even though we don’t know what it is. Like most high school boys, he’s repressing. But what, we don’t know.

Finally there’s Lexi, a hacker with a mission. She knows there’s something wrong with Sarah Castro-Tanner’s supposed suicide, and she won’t stop until she’s figured out what it is.

This story is interesting. It caught my attention pretty quickly, and I had to stop myself from reading it at one point because I was supposed to be at work. You get caught up in the idea that these kids are at the center of a web of lies. It’s sort of Pretty Little Liars-esque in that sense. And for a while, you can’t help but feel like there’s some mystery person is pulling the strings. What I will say, is that the twist is pretty good. There’s a cliffhanger what may leave you, angry, confused, and ready to pull your hair out ready for a new book

While the story is good. I won’t deny that it has it’s flaws. Laura while being sweet and innocent, is a little bit boring and, Lexi’s single minded mission gets repetitive. But if you can get past that, and really get into the meat of the story. Charlie’s secrets bring it all home.

Dead Ringer is coming out on November 11th.

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August 7, 2012

Happy Pub Day Throne of Glass!

Originally called Queen of Glass, this book became wildly popular on fictionpress.com, a website I started using when I was in middle school. I officially joined the site in 2005, and shortly thereafter the story was suggested to me by another author. At the time it still had under a hundred chapters; she had just finished the first book, and the start of the second was online. It was amazing; I read it when I was home, and on my phone, I printed out pages and pages of it so I could pretend like I was doing work, and read it instead, and I did that until 2007 when S.J. Maas finished the series.The worst part, was waiting. Each chapter was published months apart, so I would reread the entire book just so I could remember where the characters left off. In Ardalan, Maas created a world that was so much like our own, but also starkly different. From the descriptions of war, pain, slavery, and heartache; to the beauty and regality of nature and magic. I honestly couldn’t believe that someone who was my age could write that way. It also made me realize something about myself. I wanted to write. Forever, for a living, for a meager postage stamp wage, or even for nothing. I wanted to write. So you can see why I have been following Ms. Maas’ progress with her amazing series. Right?

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the return of Ardalan and its famous assassin since she took the series off the web in 2008, and today I finally got to read the book that I’ve been waiting for, for four years. Now I’ll actually tell you what’s it about.

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined –Goodreads

Celaena is one of my favorite heroines; she’s blunt, sassy, sarcastic, a bookworm, and a full on badass. Her character is strong; she survived so much before the book starts (check out the Throne of Glass Novellas on Maas’ Goodreads Page) but she’s still a totally normal teenage girl, and it makes her super relatable. Some of my favorite parts in the novel are her quick attachment to Fleetfoot, and her candy freakout, because dogs and candy are two of my favorite things. In addition to the totally normal teen girl-ness of her character. Celaena is, as previously mentioned, a bad-ass. As in full on BAMF. She’s an assassin, so her fighting skills are superb and the scenes in which she fights her competitors gave me an adrenaline rush.

However, this is a fantasy novel first and foremost, and unlike the original draft of the story, the fantasy is much more clearly outlined. The King of Ardalan is known for his cruelty as well as for banishing magic under his rule, the magic seemed to bend to his will by disappearing entirely. Well, not really. In his ever so lovely glass castle  there are Wyrdmarks, which hold the power to open gateways to another realm, or all the other realms; no one really knows. That element alone held a plot device that I don’t recall from the original series.

I feel like I’m fangirling this post instead of making sense, so I’ll just leave you with this. If you’re looking for a high fantasy novel, with absolutely amazing characters, and the occasional plot twist that will drive you just a tiny bit crazy; or if you just want some good old fashioned butt-kicking action. This is the story for you. If you’ve already encountered this amazing story, then I just hope you dream of Erilea. (In case you couldn’t tell, this book gets ALL the stars.)

In closing, Happy Pub Day S.J. Maas!

July 22, 2012

Dystopian Needs Diversity

I realized, while reading a yet another dystopian novel, how exhausted and repetitive the story line is in Dystopian young adult fiction.

1) Teen girl is working through issues with society she lives in.

2) She meets mysterious attractive stranger.

3) She fights (or embraces) her instant attraction to him. There’s no sort of mystery with the who ends up with who game, not like old 90’s shows that drag it out FOREVER (can i say Dawson’s Creek?)

4) Somehow this young girl is the deus ex machina in every situation, and she along with her attractive young man save the day.

Every, single, time.  I’m really not going to complain about it much, because it works. But I would really like someone to add new elements to this story. Like say, make the main character a girl who likes loads of guys and battles the feelings she has towards the one guy by finding another one she also really likes. Or, or here’s a wild idea. Make the main character a man. Or even take the world out of the hands of a single teenage girl, make it a group. Let a woman save the world. Or write the story Gatsby style. I don’t care how it’s done, but I’m getting tired of the aforementioned tried and true method.

July 20, 2012

Lightning Strike Survivors Group

Imagine yourself in Los Angeles, when an Earthquake strikes. Not just any earthquake either, I mean, an earth shattering, skyscraper leveling, mammoth of an earthquake. It destroys everything, but your family and home are spared. Weeks later schools open again, providing rations to students who attend and that’s where Struck, by Jennifer Bosworth begins.

Mia Price is a unique young girl who has been thrust into caring for her mother, and her younger brother after the earthquake. Despite this normal role she’s taken on, she has a not so normal addiction: Getting struck by lightning. She’s been struck several times in her life, and despite the scars that cover the majority of her body, she feels a pull to the lightning that occurs in every storm, and she yearns for another strike. The book is interesting to being with, the simple concept of a person who WANTS to be hit by lightning is intense, and (I hate to say it) electrifying.

Then there’s Prophet. Can you guess his role? He’s a religious fanatic who (post-earthquake) has successfully convinced the majority of L.A.’s survivors that he has predicted the rapture. I’ll give the man a bit of credit here. A televangelist, Prophet predicted the earthquake that leveled the majority of the city on national television, seconds before it happened. He’s also predicted a second storm, 3 days from the start of the novel that will end the world as we know it.

As a big fan of the Dystopian, it was great to finally see one that is set in the modern day. The idea of an earthquake happening and leveling the city of L.A. is a plausible reality, and some of the most interesting of the novel are Bosworth’s imagined responses to a natural disaster of that size. Aside from that I loved the way Mia responded to her world. She took nearly everything as a challenge, and never backed down. Once she realized what she had to lose, it was like everything became real for her and she fought. And I LOVE a character that fights. Mia doesn’t just fight against a mysterious force, or against the Prophet, she fights her family, and she fights herself, and that’s what really made this book come alive (though the lightning helped).

July 16, 2012

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

If you haven’t read Divergent (which by the way i really reccomend)…I’m so sorry for the spoilers.

Divergent was interesting, but the climax was where the book really grabbed my attention, you know, the part where they forced nearly the entire population of Dauntless to kill the Abnegation. That kickstarted the series for me, and then I had to know what happened to Tris and Four. Can their relationship survive the civil war that is tearing their life apart? Can Tris actually face what she did while trying to survive? Will Four ever reconcile with his father? Then I also had these other, less character based questions like: What exactly was Erudite’s purpose in killing nearly an entire faction? What secret did Tris’ parents die to protect? What happened to the Dauntless when they realized what they had done?

Insurgent was more or less a full on kamikaze of answers for me. I got unexpected answers, answers that raised new questions, and answers to questions I never actually asked. It was the world building novel, it helped me understand how each faction worked (Tris, Four and their allies get to be around each faction). It also built upon Tris’ character, and the lengths at which she would go to protect people. Insurgent  made the world more real to me. It made it conceivable. There’s a reason that each community developed, and more importantly it sets us up for the bigger question…but I’m not telling you what that is, you’ll have to figure it out for yourself. :]

July 8, 2012

Finding Dan Wells.

So I was just at work, minding my own business, when my boss requested that I clean up the YA section. As you might guess, that’s my favorite part of any work day. I bopped on back to the display, and instead of actually working…I scanned the covers for something interesting. This cover popped out at me:

Image

It looked AWESOME, The girl on the cover didn’t seem to be killing herself or floating in water, she looked strong, ergo my immediate interest. Plus, you can’t beat a dystopian future that has the Manhattan skyline in it. So I devoured it (and not in a literal book eating sense). The female protagonist was brilliant and I was surprised at the amount of actual research that had gone into creating the background for the genetics in the book. The woman who wrote the book (and i assumed it was a woman because the characters voice just sounded so, well, feminine) had to be like a scientist or something, like Kathy Reichs! I was wrong. There’s no other way to say that; Dan Wells, is a man, and doesn’t seem to be a super scientist (but if he is please feel free to tell me!)

After finishing Partials I had this strange hope that there would be a second book in the series already published. Like the first book was just on the NEW book display by chance, or because of a misfile. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case (Fragments will be released in 2013). I set off to find something else by him, and I did.

I Am Not A Serial Killer is about a teenage boy named John Wayne Cleaver who has a particular set of rules to stop his sociopathic tendencies from forming into well, actual serial killer tendencies. He is unpredictable, charming, funny, and strangely, easy to relate too. Wells also takes time to explain why John’s sociopathic tendencies are so strong. Whether it was the family owned mortuary he lived and worked at, or his abusive absentee father, there are highly plausible explanations. The novel was amazing. In addition to having this intensely interesting pyschological profile for his main character, it’s a fantasy/horror novel. Think, demons, murders, and an internal battle between the sociopath identity he denies and the guy he wishes he could be.

I finished it in a few hours and then made my boss get me the next two novels. Mr. Monster, and I Don’t Want to Kill You. They are equally amazing, and I recommend Dan Wells in general as a writer. I’m off to read some more, Hollow City by Wells was released on the 3rd, and I received it from my boss yesterday . Happy Reading!

May 1, 2012

School’s Almost Out Book List (Sp2012 edition)

Every summer I make a list of every book that I plan on reading over the summer; then while I’m at work I find all the books that have shiny pretty colors that I buy because they have shiny pretty colors.

Trapeze

The House of Velvet and Glass

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened

There is No Dog

City of Lost Souls (May 8th)

Abandon Book 2: Underworld

Hemlock

Size 12 and Ready to Rock (Jul 12th)

Throne of Glass (COME OUT NOW)

Abused Werewolf Rescue Group

From Bad to Cursed
(sequel to Bad Girls Don’t Die;
which was one
of those books that kept me up for
days because I was terrified)

I think I’m going to stop here, but there is so much to this list it’s a little bit embarrassing. I have it written down on a piece of paper, and  it’s a wonderful list that has a bit of everything.

April 26, 2012

Black Heart by Holly Black

The Curse Workers series by Holly Black has held my attention for the past few years, and Black Heart, the most recent addition to the series came out last week. If  you havent read the series, it’s a  fabulously dark tale of Cassel, a curse worker in modern day America. The Curse workers are a group of people who with the touch of a hand can change your emotions, make you lucky, heal you, make you forget your life,  kill you, or change your physical appearance, at great risk to their own health, mentally and physically. The story line is amazing, with well thought out backstory of the discovery of curse workers, and the terror that the rest of the population had which forced them into work camps. From those work camps the curse worker Mob families flourished, and Cassel, the main character is a product of that Mob legacy. Each book focuses on him, and his struggle with the whole “my family is the mob” thing. That’s all I’m giving you non-awesome people who havent read this series, and I genuinely recommend that you read them all asap.

On to Black Heart!

Seriously though, there are spoilers in this review.

So Cassel is an FBI guy now, well an FBI trainee and Barron is actually an FBI agent, but he’s still corrupt as all hell, and using his memory work to avoid jumping through bureau hoops. He’s also (strangely enough) in love (and i won’t say with whom). Lila has begun her training as a ruthless mob leader, which was entirely expected of her. Cassel’s mother is in hiding and no one can find her, and Daneca and Sam are still broken up for no freaking reason.

Since you know the series, you know how Ms. Holly Black has consistently left things for the reader to guess, and mystery upon mystery to solve by the end of each novel. Black Heart was no different…I’m not telling you though, you have to find out for yourself dammit!

The series was amazing, and I’m going to re-read it so I can get more out of it.

In short. GO BUY THIS SERIES IRL. (in real life, for non chat-speakers out there) This series has what every good sci-fi/fantasy series needs. Strong story, strong characters, intriuging plot, and most importantly: well thought out backstory.

April 9, 2012

Finally – A Bookstore

Prior to yesterday’s visit to my favorite lovely bookstore. I hadn’t been book shopping in a legitimate place for about 2months — to me that’s a freakishly long time and I don’t know why it’s been that long. Nonetheless I picked up some books, and some nice gossip from my coworkers.

In case you haven’t heard about 50 Shades of Grey, (our main topic of discussion) it’s the erotic twilight fan fiction that gained it’s own (not very unique) cast of characters, that has a major BDSM (look it up I shall not discuss this) theme. Nonetheless the book’s been recognized in the NY Times. Our gossip ranged from the original print price of the book (over $30) to who bought it most recently (a 40 year old man who came in with his young daughter). It seems interesting from what I’ve heard, but I don’t think I’ll be reading it anytime soon. If anyone out there on the interwebs has gotten to it (and you aren’t embarrassed to admit it) let me know how it was!

On to things I did buy!

This is a brilliant sounding dystopian that I heard about a few months ago and never picked up because I’m cheap in real l life. I found a copy of it half off in my store. So add employee discout to that, and I bought it!

This book sounds like What Happened to Lani Garver and i LOVED that book. So I decided to give this one a shot too!

Can I also just mention how friggin pretty the covers of these books are? They’re so simplistic and gorgeous, and I love it!

April 5, 2012

Room for Debate – Reflection

One thing you may not know about me is that I’m an English major. I read Shakespeare for fun, and I genuinely think that counting the meter of a poem, and using it to come up with a theory about the authors mindset when he wrote it, is a good activity for an afternoon. When I read the Room for Debate series that specifically addresses Young Adult Fiction, I couldn’t resist seeing all they had to say. Only one author had a perspective that I found grating, in which he stated that “The only time I’m O.K. with an adult holding a children’s book is if he’s moving his mouth as he reads.”-Stein. As an adult, a relatively young one, but one old enough to vote, and not quite old enough to buy a bottle of wine (7months), that aggravated me.

I read a LOT of YA books, and I do prefer them to contemporary adult novels. For me, it’s not the quality of writing in YA that draws me, because as everyone knows the quality of YA writing can range from superb, to disappointing with an awesome storyline. It’s the story and the characters, and the feeling you get from reading the novel that keep people interested. For instance The Hunger Games isn’t good because it has a strong female protagonist. It’s good because I can relate to the way she thinks about the situation she’s been put in. I can relate to the way the has to rationalize killing other people; and most of all I understand her confusion. Katniss doesn’t get her role, she doesn’t understand love, and she certainly can’t focus on politics.

Those are all things that I can identify with. I also read books like Demi-Monde , The Brides Farewell, Room, and countless others that are not of the YA genre, and find commonalities to those characters. I can read them both from a regular readers standpoint, and from a literary critics standpoint. The fact that this one man dismisses a full genre, with absolutely no knowledge of what he’s dismissing (he states that he hasn’t read any recent YA novels, essentially because they’re beneath him) is ridiculous. It’s not only offensive to adults who enjoy YA, but to the authors of those novels, many of whom are well respected and have books written for both the YA genre and contemporary (often literary) fiction.

I personally would like so send him a copy of Deus ex Machina by Andrew Foster Altschul and Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, and tell him to compare the satire both novels provide about the falseness and commerciality of a consumerist lifestyle.

The other articles were more appreciative of YA, and the pains that authors have to go through to keep the attention of a generation that’s used to instant gratification. The two that I liked most were “Seeing themselves in Books” and “Social Media has Fed the Fever”. Those two articles were both delightfully insightful, the first having been written by a male author who found his calling (that’s the nerdiest way I can put that) in novels, the second written by a teen book blogger.

If you like YA, go forth and check out the debate in the comments of the articles. I’ll definitely be there.

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