Tag Archives: YA fiction

How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days, by Megan O’Russell

14 Jan

32231955Format: e-ARC, 214 pages

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Published: 15 August, 2017

ISBN: 9781620072653

Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: Ever wanted to grow a five-story tall flower in central park? How about fight a deadly battle under the subway tunnels of Manhattan?

Don’t worry. I never wanted to either. But if you’re ever being chased by ladies made of mist and you have to save the girl with the sparkly eyes you’ve never had the guts to say actual words to, there’s an app for that.

I found a magic cell phone, opened an app I shouldn’t have, burned down the set shop for my high school’s theatre, and it was all downhill from there. A drag queen seer who lives under a bridge is my only hope for keeping my mom alive, and I think the cops might be after me for destroying my dad’s penthouse.

But it gets better! Now I’m stuck being the sidekick to the guy who got me into this mess in the first place. It’ll be a miracle if I survive until Monday.

My review: This one lost me about halfway through. It started off well and I enjoyed the three main teen characters coming to grips with the mysterious phone they found, but when they got together with a fourth person – I won’t spoil by naming – I didn’t enjoy it as much and it was a slog to get to the end. If this is the start of a series I don’t think I’ll bother continuing.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 3/5

 

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Inherit the Stars, by Tessa Elwood

9 Nov

25463009Format: e-ARC, 304 pages

Publisher: Running Press

Published: December 8, 2015

ISBN: 9780762458400

Genre: Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: Three royal houses ruling three interplanetary systems are on the brink of collapse, and they must either ally together or tear each other apart in order for their people to survive.

Asa is the youngest daughter of the house of Fane, which has been fighting a devastating food and energy crisis for far too long. She thinks she can save her family’s livelihood by posing as her oldest sister in an arranged marriage with Eagle, the heir to the throne of the house of Westlet. The appearance of her mother, a traitor who defected to the house of Galton, adds fuel to the fire, while Asa also tries to save her sister Wren’s life . . . possibly from the hands of their own father.

But as Asa and Eagle forge a genuine bond, will secrets from the past and the urgent needs of their people in the present keep them divided?

Author Tessa Elwood’s debut series is an epic romance at heart, set against a mine field of political machinations, space adventure, and deep-seeded family loyalties.

My review: The premise was good but there just wasn’t enough world-building or characterization to flesh everything out enough. Because I didn’t feel invested in the setting, I found I didn’t really care about the characters. Asa’s dialogue was hard to read because she was always being interrupted, and I didn’t really get a sense of the depth of feeling she and Eagle professed to each other at the end. Also, may I say that cover makes me think of a school trip to a planetarium. She looks like she has a backpack on, but I think it’s just a stripe on her dress. Anyway, this was just okay. I don’t feel a great need to read the sequel.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 3/5

 

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When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon

29 Jul

32934117Format: e-ARC, 320 pages

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 9781473667402

Genre: Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

My review: I read this in a day and thought it was a delight. I loved the fact Dimple was a modern girl and Rishi supported the old traditions – the story wouldn’t have worked if Rishi hadn’t been willing to keep trying to win her over, and that meant it also didn’t fall into the old instalove trap. I think my Indian friends would totally relate. The minor characters didn’t interest me as much, but I liked Rishi’s brother a lot. This book is geeky and swoony and fun. Highly recommended.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4/5

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Frostblood, by Elly Blake

22 Feb

31134210Format: e-ARC, 304 pages

Publisher: Hachette Australia/Hodder & Stoughton

Published: January 10, 2017

ISBN: 9781473635173

Genre: Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: The first in a page-turning young adult fantasy series perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN and Sarah J. Maas’s THRONE OF GLASS series.

In a land governed by the cruel Frostblood ruling class, seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has spent most of her life hiding her ability to manipulate heat and light – until the day the soldiers come to raid her village and kill her mother. Ruby vows revenge on the tyrannous Frost King responsible for the massacre of her people.

But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable…and so are the feelings she has for Arcus, the scarred, mysterious Frostblood warrior who shares her goal to kill the Frost King, albeit for his own reasons. When Ruby is captured by the Frost King’s men, she’s taken right into the heart of the enemy. Now she only has one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who took everything from her – and in doing so, she must unleash the powers she’s spent her whole life withholding.

FROSTBLOOD is set in world where flame and ice are mortal enemies – but together create a power that could change everything.

My review: That beautiful cover was the first thing that made me want to read this book, and coupled with the blurb I knew it would be right up my alley. I wasn’t disappointed, and couldn’t put it down once I started reading. Ruby is a wonderful heroine, the only Fireblood left in a world of ice manipulators. She is imprisoned more than once, but fights on until it almost appears all is lost.

Her initial rescuers, an elderly monk and a mysterious soldier with a covered face, train her to fight and use her powers to destroy the evil Frostblood throne, and although they start out full of animosity for each other, I loved the way Arcus and Ruby came to love each other. His secret was fairly obvious for me early on, but that never detracted from the story or the big reveal at the end. I only wish we had seen Brother Thistle again to make sure he was okay. The second book can’t some soon enough for me.

This is a fantastic debut and I look forward to reading more from Elly Blake.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 5/5

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Furthermore (Free Sampler), by Tahereh Mafi

16 Jan

31376685Format: e-ARC, free sampler, 63 pages

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers

Published: August 30, 2016

ISBN: 9781101994788

Genre: Middle Grade, Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: The bestselling author of the Shatter Me series takes readers beyond the limits of their imagination in this captivating new middle grade adventure where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places.

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is a boy named Oliver whose own magical ability is based in lies and deceit—and with a liar by her side in a land where nothing is as it seems, it will take all of Alice’s wits (and every limb she’s got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

My review: As a 63-page taster of this middle-grade fantasy, this was intriguing enough to make me want to seek out the full novel. Mafi is a genius with prose, and even in this short sample you get a clear sense of the strange world she has built. Interesting and unusual.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 5/5

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The Sun Is Also A Star, by Nicola Yoon

8 Nov

29863451Format: e-ARC, 348 pages

Publisher: Corgi Children’s

Published: November 3, 2016

ISBN: 9780552574242

Genre: Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

My review: The cover of this book is string art which strikingly and beautifully spells out the title. It is also a great metaphor for the story, in which the protagonists – Natasha, a Jamaican-born American girl about to be deported, and Daniel, a Korean boy on his way to get a haircut for the Yale interview he doesn’t want – are just two of the lives affected by their chance meeting. Interspersed with their POVs are snippets of some of the lives they touch during the course of their day together, from the suicidal security guard, to a grieving motorist, to the cheating lawyer and his mistress. Although Natasha and Daniel don’t know it, they profoundly change all these people just from their brief encounters, showing that like the string art, we are all connected to each other and decisions we make affect other people we may not even know.

Of course, this book is about an instant connection, which may sound like instalove but really isn’t that bad. It’s more like Daniel, a poet, is infatuated with Natasha and he wins over her scientific, sceptical mind during the course of the day as he tries to convince her to love him back. Even though they separate to attend appointments, they still manage to find each other in crowded New York when coincidences draw them back together. It may sound far-fetched, but the story rang so true to me, and would be another book by this author that I could see as a feature film. I liked Daniel a lot more than Natasha, mainly because he’s so sweet and swoony, and she’s a bit prickly and doesn’t even tell her parents when there’s a possibility they may not be deported that night. But my main hatred is saved for Fitzgerald. I could have throttled him.

The prose is beautiful and the feels are many. Nicola Yoon has done it again. Fantastic.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 5/5

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Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell

20 Jun

28356624Format: e-ARC, 528 pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Published: February 25, 2016

ISBN: 9781447266945

Genre: Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

My review: At first glance, this is Harry Potter with swearing. No, more like Harry Potter/Twilight slash fan fiction with swearing. But it’s a bit of a hoot, and after a slow start – let’s face it, like Twilight it didn’t get going until the hot vampire boy turned up – I really enjoyed it. Rowell’s trademark humour is all through this and there are pop culture references to burn, even an Ant and Dec mention. I’m now racing off to read Fangirl.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4/5

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Every Exquisite Thing, by Matthew Quick

10 May

29325757Format: e-ARC, 272 pages

Publisher: Hachette Australia

To Be Published: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 9781472229557

Genre: Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: From the bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook comes a heartfelt and unexpected novel in the vein of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Nanette O’Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hard-working student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bubblegum Reaper—the mysterious, out-of-print cult-classic—the rebel within Nanette awakens.

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young but troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that sometimes rebellion comes at a high price.

A celebration of the self and the formidable power of story, Every Exquisite Thing is Matthew Quick at his finest.

My review: I hadn’t read anything by Quick before, but really enjoyed the Silver Linings Playbook movie so was keen to get my hands on an ARC. This started off a bit like The Fault in Our Stars without the cancer: teen reads book, becomes obsessive about it, and tracks down author, who doesn’t ever want to talk about it again. He does, however, encourage Nanette to question her life, in particular why she plays soccer – a game she is good at but doesn’t particularly enjoy. Like the hero in his book, she decides to quit, and thus begins a journey of – ultimately – isolation and loneliness. She meets Alex, another fan of the book, who writes poetry and becomes her boyfriend, but his choices have tragic results and leave Nanette pretty much on her own.

I enjoyed this book a lot until Part Two when Nanette became more isolated. While I appreciated what Quick was trying to do, portraying a privileged girl questioning her blind acceptance of her parents’ choices for her, as a parent myself I was just concerned for her mental health. I didn’t much like her once she started talking in the third person, and her experiment with the cool kids had me horrified. The themes here are serious and not for younger readers; there is teen pregnancy and drinking, bullying, death, and some quite strong language. There is also Pat Benatar, so it’s not all bad. Overall, not quite what I was expecting – no swoony boys – but quite a lot to think about.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4/5

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This Raging Light, by Estelle Laure

12 Jan

25787863Format: e-ARC, 288 pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Books, Australia

Published: January 12, 2016

ISBN: 9781408340264

Genre: Teens and YA

Back cover blurb: How is it that you suddenly notice a person? How is it that one day Digby was my best friend’s admittedly cute twin brother, and then the next he stole air, gave jitters, twisted my insides up?

Lucille has bigger problems than falling for her best friend’s unavailable brother. Her mom has gone, leaving her to look after her sister, Wren. With bills mounting up and appearances to keep, Lucille is raging against her life but holding it together – just.

A stunning debut to devour in one sitting, Laure captures completely the agony and ecstasy of first love.

My review: There is a lot of selfishness in this book, and a lot of people will not like that there is cheating, but I found it an interesting, quick read that quite enjoyed. Lucille frustrated me in that she didn’t seek more help, but maybe that’s the mother in me coming out. Digby was, as Elaine said, a typical boy, wanting it all and to be the hero, but despite his flaws I did find him pretty swoony. I feel really sorry for Elaine in all that business.

The cast of extras was great, particularly the characters at the restaurant and the girls’ “fairy godmothers.” I really wanted to slap the parents, though, and was left wondering whether they would ever find their way back.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4/5

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Nirvana, by J.R. Stewart

23 Nov

26164334Format: e-ARC, 186 pages

Publisher: Blue Moon Publishers

Published: November 10, 2015

ISBN: 9780993639777

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?

Animal activist and punk rock star Larissa Kenders lives in a dystopian world where the real and the virtual intermingle. After the disappearance of her soulmate, Andrew, Kenders finds solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world controlled by Hexagon. In Nirvana, anyone’s deepest desires may be realized – even visits with Andrew.

Although Kenders knows that this version of Andrew is virtual, when he asks for her assistance revealing Hexagon’s dark secret, she cannot help but comply. Soon after, Kenders and her closest allies find themselves in a battle with Hexagon, the very institution they have been taught to trust. After uncovering much more than she expected, Kenders’ biggest challenge is determining what is real – and what is virtual.

Nirvana is a fast-paced, page-turning young adult novel combining elements of science fiction, mystery, and romance. Part of a trilogy, this book introduces readers to a young woman who refuses to give up on the man she loves, even if it means taking on an entire government to do so.

My review: A very interesting concept, combining virtual reality and a dystopian future caused by the extinction of bees, but some of it is quite confusing and I never really cared for the main character. She seemed much older than just 17 and I never got much of an impression of her partner, Andrew, before his disappearance, so wasn’t really invested in her search for him. The science of it was intriguing, but I’m not sure I’m interested enough to continue with the series.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 3/5

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