The slant on YA books

Category Archives: Reviews

Hello, everyone!

I realize it has been quite some time since I updated the dear ole blog. Truth is, I was super busy and experiencing a major creative slump. But, I hope to put all of that behind me. I can’t say that I will be back to blogging with the same frequency as I used to, but I don’t plan on any long hiatuses in the near future.

With all of that said, I recently read a book that inspired me to write a review, which was huge. It’s smart and charming and perfect. My review won’t do it justice, but I will still give it a try. 

On the Fence by Kasie West

on the fence

Pages: 296

Publisher: HarperTeen

Date Published: July 1, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

On the Fence has everything I love about Kasie West’s books: loveable characters, a swoon-worthy romance, and a plot to make you feel all the feels.

Charlie and her brothers are hands-down my favorite fictitious family. The fact that family is such a huge part of this book makes me enjoy it even more. I love that family is a huge part of what makes up Charlie. It’s refreshing , and it provides some fun sibling pranks. Charlie felt very real, although she struggles with her identity. This book is more a coming-of-age novel than anything else, even above the romance.

I would like to applaud West on how she wrote Charlie. Yes, Charlie is a tomboy, but it is also really evident how she reacts to situations just like any other teenage girl out there. Plus, the fact that she is a tomboy isn’t rubbed in the reader’s face as a point to make Charlie seem oh, so super special; it’s just a part of who she is. It felt very natural and true. After reading On the Fence I picked up another book featuring a tomboy, and it just didn’t compare. While other contemporaries featuring tomboys come across as contrived, On the Fence knocks them all out of the park with it’s authenticity.

There is a slight element of mystery, but I do feel many readers will figure it out pretty quickly. However, it didn’t make me frustrated so much as more sympathetic to Charlie.

I really only wish this book was longer. I would have loved to see the book continue for another twenty pages (or two hundred). In the midst of many, many contemporaries, On the Fence remains new and heartwarming.

P.S. Can I have my own Braden?

Advertisements

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

piI figured today would be the best day to share this review since it is in fact Pi day.

Life of Pi is required reading for my English class, but I was glad that it made me pick up this book once and for all. I had been hesitant to read it since my mom and brother both had such differing opinions on this book, and I figured that, like my mom, this book just wouldn’t be for me.

After finishing this book, I feel such a mix of emotions. Part of me appreciates the storytelling, another feels irked at the over-the-top philosophical thinking and religious elements, and still another has a love-hate relationship for the conclusion.

Life of Pi was harder to read than I expected due not only to its heavy religious messages but also the awful things Pi must do to survive. I really didn’t think it would get to me like it did, but there is only so much talk of butchering turtles I can take before I start feeling a bit queasy.

As I’ve mentioned, the story is pretty well-written. I didn’t ever really feel that the pace dragged, and Martel does a great job of using imagery to tell this story that could have easily been much more drab. However, for those who have read the book, they will understand why the story was told with such care, which made me like the novel a bit less.

It’s important to know upfront that the whole point of this book is to make you believe in God. That point is repeatedly pointed out several times. The biggest problem I had with this book was how things weren’t left for the reader to pick up on; instead, they are repeatedly pointed out with metaphor after metaphor. It felt like as soon as Martel said something remotely clever, he would point it out again and again to make sure no one missed out on what he was implying.

Now, that ending! I knew there would be some twist at the end since my teacher told us that for a fact, but I didn’t see it coming like it did. I know I shouldn’t be surprised it took the direction it did, but still, it bothers me. I have to stop myself from saying anymore because I know I will ruin the ending for others. 

Have you guys read the book? What do you make of the ending? Beware: spoilers may be found in the comments.


 Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3)

*Warning! If you haven’t read the first two books of this series, you probably want to avoid reading the synopsis and review as they contain spoliers for the first two books.

cressPages: 550

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Date Published: February 4, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard. 

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

— 

Clocking in at 550 pages, Cress is full of nail-biting adventures.

Cress’s story gives readers a perspective from the mind of a Lunar citizen, which answers some questions I didn’t even think to be asking.

Her shy and naive nature combined with her loyalty and resourcefulness make Cress an asset to our other beloved heroes: Cinder, Scarlet, Wolf, Captain Thorne, and Iko. Reading Cress’s tale was more exciting than Cinder’s and even Scarlet’s, perhaps because the stakes are higher.

It’s no secret I like big books. Cress has new mysteries and finally some answers. I still don’t completely see where the overall story is going . Cress made progress in the overall story arc, but not enough to be really satisfying.

Cinder and her crew continue to play a huge role in the books, and while the shifting POV helps put some events in perspective, I wish the narrative would focus only on the featured character.

On to the romance! It is pretty scarce in Cress because fighting evil mind controllers doesn’t leave a lot of free time, but it still manages to be sweet and hopeful.

In the end, Cress was entertaining and delivered a well thought out story. I am eager to see how Meyer ties everything together in the next installments. Meyer has written a novel that you’ll want to read all at once. She’s answered just enough questions, yet left a large amount of suspense to make readers want Winter immediately. 


The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

thorns

I gave up on The Girl of Fire and Thorns the first time I read it, but I wanted to give it a second chance. I quite enjoyed the story and characters so much more this time around.

The first part of the novel moved slowly. While I would feel periods of boredom, the moments of action and suspense made up for it. Elisa did get on my nerves, but I could understand where she was coming from. I loved how she grew so much from the beginning to the end.

The culture of the book is done really well. The people and their features and language are distinct and bring a certain detail to the book that sets it apart.

I am reading the second book right now and oh my is it good. So much swoon. So much danger. So much love. I need the third book stat!


Right of Way by Lauren Barnholdt

Pages: 320 right 

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Date Published: July 9, 2013 

Source: ARC given to me from Willa at Lit Up Review 

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

Can a road trip repair a romance gone wrong? Find out in this standalone companion to Lauren Barnholdt’s Two-way Street

Here are Peyton and Jace, meeting on vacation. Click! It’s awesome, it’s easy, it’s romantic. This is the real deal. 

Unless it isn’t. Because when you’re in love, you don’t just stop calling one day. And you don’t keep secrets. Or lie. And when your life starts falling apart, you’re supposed to have the other person to lean on. 

Here are Peyton and Jace again, broken up but thrown together on a road trip. One of them is lying about the destination. One of them is pretending not to be leaving something behind. And neither of them is prepared for what’s coming on the road ahead… 

Review: 

Right of Way is filled with so much wrong, wrong, wrong.

Having read the companion novel Two-way Street I knew to expect a drama-filled road trip novel. However, Right of Way is an illogical, angst-y jumble.

Let’s first take a look at what I did like about the book.

-It’s fast paced. The book is a quick read, which is what I want in a road trip book. 

-It delivers what it promises. This is kind of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get. I hate saying this, but it is a pretty fluffy novel. Any time serious issues arise, the characters avoid confronting it directly.

Some of the things I had an issue with were: 

-The Characters. Jace is the valedictorian of his high school, yet he couldn’t care less about school or graduation. As a student who works hard for every grade I get, it didn’t endear me to Jace at all. It’s also not reasonable that someone who doesn’t care about school would be the valedictorian. Plus, he didn’t strike me as being especially intelligent. (Jace acts surprised that his mom found him through his credit card charges.)

Peyton is very immature. She just kept avoiding her problems, and even in the end she still hadn’t changed. Honestly, her personality was aggravating. I didn’t care about what happened to her.

Both main characters had a few exaggerated characteristics but didn’t feel dynamic. 

-The Conflicts. The conflicts of the book were blown out of proportion. The reason Jace and Peyton “broke up” was ridiculous, and I found it hard to take the story seriously. 

-The Romance. What romance? This relationship is very unhealthy. The characters don’t open up and talk to each other except for maybe one occasion. Jace and Peyton seemed obsessed with each other rather than being in love. 

Right of Way disappointed me on several levels. I went in hoping for more than I got.

 


Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Pages: 352  Untitled-1

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Date Published: January 7, 2014

Source: ARC provided by Random Buzzers in exchange for my honest review. 

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life. 

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over. 

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself. 

Review: Being Sloane Jacobs is a cute, yet predictable, story.

In order to truly enjoy this book, you have to suspend your belief for a lot if, which is something I’m not good at doing. I had a hard time believing that a) no one would notice the girls switched, considering Sloane Emily’s face has been in magazines and the like and b) they are attending camps for experienced skaters and hockey players. No way would someone not question the girls’ lack of experience when they are supposed to be the best of the best. The book tries to be logical, and, while I appreciated it, some things were a little too hard to swallow.

Putting aside the lapses in logic, I enjoyed how the book focused on hockey and figure skating, two topics I don’t know much about. I haven’t ever seen hockey come up in a YA book about girls at all (though I am sure they are out there somewhere).

The hockey and figure skating really do play a large role in the novel. Reading about practice after practice became monotonous and slowed the pace of the book. Constantly, I was waiting for some new development to occur, but it was usually just more of the same thing again and again.

The romance takes a back seat to the friendship between the girls, but it made things much more interesting. Sloane Devon’s romance was sweet, and I wished we got to see more of her with her love interest. On the other hand, I wished Sloane Emily’s would just walk off the page. He is a real piece of work and shows little to know character growth, going from one personality to another without explanation.

While the transitions between each girl were needed and well-placed, I found myself liking Sloane Devon’s perspective more than Sloane Emily’s. Sloane Devon had more personality and a developed backstory that Sloane Emily was missing. Still, both girls were likable and reading their antics was always fun.

The cover of the book is misleading because this is, above all else, a story of friendship, not a romance. However, the title couldn’t be more accurate. The book takes a look into the lives of both Sloane Jacobses at an important moment in their lives. The story isn’t anything new, but it would be a good contemporary to read if you are tired of romances dominating the plot.

Honestly, I think this book ended up being a case of It’s Not You, It’s Me. Readers who are okay with crazy, unbelievable shenanigans will probably adore this book, while those who enjoy more realism in their stories might want to pick up something else.


All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill

Pages: 368  Yesterdays 

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Date Published: September 3, 2013 

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

“You have to kill him.” Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain. 

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside. 

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was. 

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

Review:

All Our Yesterdays has done the unthinkable. It made me like a time travel book. If you haven’t read this book yet, it’s about time you did. (Yes, you can expect more bad time travel puns to follow.)

After hearing Cee rave about this book, I grabbed a copy from my library. By the first chapter I was hooked. I couldn’t wait another minute. I had to know what happened next.

I started to piece together elements before the characters, which created some nice dramatic irony that added to the suspense of the book. The pace doesn’t really let up once you are introduced to both narrators, Marina and Em.

This book has action, romance, character development, and much more. It’s logic made somewhat sense to me, though it would take me a second to understand most of it. I wish we got more of a back story from Em and Finn’s past travels and more of a look at the world as it is in the future. But, other than those qualms, there wasn’t much more I could ask for.

Marina’s perspective would kind of drag in the beginning, which would make me long for Em’s narration. Marina is a different character to like at first, but she grows and evolves and it is really great to read.

On to Finn. Him and Em are my new favorite couple to ship. They were cute while facing down danger. I was rooting for those two the whole time. 

All Our Yesterdays has clocked in as my favorite time travel book. 

P.S. May I suggest to that the title to this book get changed to All Hour Yesterdays? 


The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Pages: 419   ColdestGirl

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Date Published: September 3, 2013

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave. 

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself. 

 

Continue reading


Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell 

Pages: 320 rebel blue

Publisher: Amulet Books 

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

Rebecca Blue is a rebel with an attitude whose life is changed by a chance encounter with a soon-to-be dead girl. Rebel (as she’s known) decides to complete the dead girl’s bucket list to prove that choice, not chance, controls her fate. In doing so, she unexpectedly opens her mind and heart to a world she once dismissed—a world of friendships, family, and faith. With a shaken sense of self, she must reevaluate her loner philosophy—particularly when she falls for Nate, the golden boy do-gooder who never looks out for himself. Perfect for fans of Jay Asher’s blockbuster hit Thirteen Reasons Why, Coriell’s second novel features her sharp, engaging voice along with realistic drama and unforgettable characters.

—  

Review:

After reading a fantastic bucket list novel earlier (The F-It List), I couldn’t wait to start Goodbye, Rebel Blue due to its somewhat similar premise. 

Rebecca’s (aka Rebel’s) story is a vivid one, full of emotion and angst. I had to adjust to her personality at the beginning because she was more annoying than quirky. Luckily, she grew out of this pretty quickly.

Reading about Rebel completing another’s bucket list wasn’t as exciting as I hoped. A lot of the action seemed to happen “off screen”. The novel isn’t truly about one giant life-fulfilling adventure so much as one teen’s coming-of-age story.

Along the way of her mission, Rebel starts to see and hear the ghost of the author of the bucket list. This element just didn’t work for me because Rebel had enough making her feel isolated that it just felt like overkill. These scenes were just odd and unnecessary.

I wanted more from Nate than I got. I think parts of his development were missing. He would jump from one decision to another without really explaining why. It was mainly a problem at the end of the novel because he changes his mind without any hint of doing so.

I think a stronger conclusion would have really increased my appreciation of the novel. Rebel’s motives and story are all wrapped up, but not Nate’s nor their respective family’s.

The unique bucket list element was enjoyable, but in the end it just joins the pile of angst-y finding yourself novels. 


The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4) by Richelle Mead

Pages: 438  fiery heart 

Publisher: Razorbill 

Synopsis from Goodreads: In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . . 

But the struggle isn’t over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there’s still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure—and re-education—looms larger than ever. 

Pulses will race throughout this thrilling fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.

Review:

The Fiery Heart was just about what I expected, which was good and bad. The Bloodlines series seems to have fallen in a comfortable pattern for me, which is nice but not exciting. I can’t help but compare the series to Mead’s previous Vampire Academy novels. This series is missing some of the passion I expected from VAyet I keep reading book after book hoping to find it again.

Honestly, I think my issue is that I’m impatient and these books are taking their sweet time. We’re four novels in and the this felt like the first one where something major occured.

Between one book and the next it feels as though Sydney and Adrian change personalities. Their overall characteristics stay the same, but Sydney especially is doing things I never would have believed just a few book prior. Sydney and Adrian’s relationship failed to deliver, in my opinion. All of the right elements were there, but things just got way too repetitive. The Sydney in this installment was a pale version of herself because she was so consumed with Adrian. The majority of the novel was about them trying to find time together instead of the exciting world of moroi and dhampirs.

The plot was back and forth until the end, when it finally started to redeem itself.

As negative as this review seems, I did enjoy The Fiery Heart, just not as much as I hoped. Everything was comfortable and familiar but never delivered a new experience I hadn’t already felt.



The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

Opening books to open minds.

The Nomadic Book Hoarder

Not all those who wander are lost

Literary Lushes

ARC Tours and #LitLush Twitter chats!

The Girls in Plaid Skirts

Bibliophiles and Spies

Such a Novel Idea

A Blog About Books

pages & paperbacks

her heart was a river that carried her to the sea - leigh bardugo

Bibliophilia

The ramblings and reviews of a book-lover

Fangirl Friends

We're your Fangirl Friends, updating you daily and sharing our thoughts

Ode to Jo & Katniss

Exploring great stories and creating great stories.

%d bloggers like this: