Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Start of Me and You is a sweet YA romance about an average girl working her way back to normal

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The Start of Me and You is a sweet YA romance about an average girl working her way back to normal

The Start of Me and You was a sweet, contemporary YA romance with characters who were average people just trying to figure things out. This book isn’t edgy or full of dark, ugly things — and I found that to be such a relief! Sometimes you just want to read a book that doesn’t take you to the edge of nightmares but still has depth and emotion. This book fits the bill. The pacing is set to develop relationships believably, and the plot is a nice, gentle ride. It reminded me in some respects of The Odyssey of Falling, which I adored, so if you enjoyed that book, you will like this one as well

  

Goodreads Summary

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live? 

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The League of Delphi is a YA thriller/suspense book for reluctant readers

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The League of Delphi is a YA thriller/suspense book for reluctant readers

A secret society with ties to the ancient oracles at Delphi or the ramblings and paranoia of a mentally unstable girl?  What is going on in Arcanville?  If you enjoyed Rick Riordan’s adventures or if you just enjoy a YA suspense, this one is worth a try.  I think both genders can enjoy this book, but I think that it will be a good pick for guy readers who are looking for an older teen protagonist or reluctant readers looking for an engaging and fast adventure. Don’t know ant thing about Delphi?  The author’s web page has it nicely explained HERE, just scroll to the bottom!

 

 

 After finishing his education in France and following the death of his mother, seventeen year old Zach returns to Arcanville, the town of his birth.  He doesn’t remember much because he was only in second grade when his mother took him and ran, but he is pretty sure that the beginning of his mother’s mental illness was prompted by whatever happened in the town.  Keeping his true identity hidden and working at the local coffee shop, Zach’s suspicions are almost confirmed by the strange behaviors of the citizens of the wealthy, insular, and overly policed town.  When he befriends Ashley, she adds some tantalizing stories that prove something isn’t right in Arcanville, and together they begin to uncover a vast network of conspiracy that goes back for generations and spans the globe.

This is a fast and easy read, and once readers invest a little time, I believe they will find it compelling (the pace is slow at the start, but it picks up once the basic characters and setting are established).  The protagonist frequently pushes his inquiry beyond what I would consider the safe zone, creating a nice bit of tension and a true sense of threat.  The mystery behind the town is one that involves danger to the kids that Zach went to primary school with, but it isn’t clear until the end exactly what that threat entails, so it maintains suspense throughout.  I did find that the romance was paced a little too quickly for my taste, and I would have been more satisfied with saving someone out of obligation, morality, and friendship rather than whipping out the “L” word so early on.  I also thought there was a lot of focus on Zach’s drunken co-worker for him not to have played a bigger part, but then, he might show up in the next volume.  It ends with a cliffhanger, but the second book is already published, so you can access it immediately. 

 
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The second book The Delphi Deception is even better!  Look at it HERE

The third and final book, The Delphi Revelation is a strong conclusion.  Look at it HERE

Gathering Frost – a satisfying retelling of a familiar fairy tale

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Gathering Frost – a satisfying retelling of a familiar fairy tale

Gathering Frost is dystopian revision of Sleeping Beauty according to the blurb, but I see a lot of The Ice Queen.  Either way, if you liked Princess of Thorns, Stitching Snow, Snow Like Ashes, and any of the other recent fairy tale retellings, you will enjoy this fast and easy read.  The ebook is well worth the $2.99, but if you go HERE before April 12, 2015, you can enter a goodreads raffle to win a free signed paperback copy.

Jade was only a child when a massive earthquake rocked NYC and the world of Fairy Tale collided with the real world, leaving her under the thrall of an ice queen who stole her emotions and her childhood.  Jade is now a woman – a warrior in the queen’s guard, and the queen commands her to infiltrate the rebel movement, which is supported by the one person immune to the queen’s powers — her only son and heir.  This was a fast paced and engaging read.  While the romantic elements fell a little short for me, I was impressed with the character of Jade and her isolation as a female in a world that was still a man’s world despite a queen’s power.   The motivations of all of the major players are well established.  The plot was much more than a predictable retelling, and this is the first in a series of what promises to be an interesting new world populated by unexpected twists on characters that readers already love.  This is an indie author who writes like she has a team of editors behind her, so this was a bargain at under $3.

Red Queen – If the color of your blood decided the value of your life

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Red Queen – If the color of your blood decided the value of your life

I wanted this book from the minute I read the blurb. It was suppose to be a sort of The Selection meets The Hunger Games. I’m shallow. It sounded perfect. I usually hate it when new books are held up in comparison to other YA best sellers, but in this case, the hype wasn’t far from the truth.

 

 

I loved it. It was just what I wanted, and when I hit the last ten percent, I screamed,”I knew it!” I might have woken a slumbering child, but she went back to sleep eventually, and I felt so vindicated! I have gotten spoiled by publisher ARCs, so it was hard to spend almost $10 on this ebook, but I feel like it was worth it. Will you? It’s hard to say. The book wasn’t perfect, and my five star rating is probably biased by the high I’m feeling from the ending, but it was a good, solid read, and I will line up for the sequel. So, here’s the deets — Mare is a red blood, a member of the lower class who is essentially enslaved by the silver bloods. Silver bloods have a variety of powers that give them a distinct advantage over the powerless reds. When a chance encounter and a fateful accident publicly reveal Mare has powers no red should have, the King decides to play her off as a long-lost silver blood heiress. There are things that will make you go ooh: violent magical duels, an underdog girl who can’t follow the rules, a queen who can burrow into your thoughts, and a pretty ingenious rebel faction. There are things that might make you boo: conflicted teen love (though it is mocked by other characters in the book, so points for that), the feeling that this book is likeable but only average for a good portion of the first half, some lingering feelings that there are some scenes that might be a tiny bit derivative of something you’ve read before — like, say, a certain trilogy with arenas where the oppressed are forced to view violence. This was a book with a hype monster behind it, and I wasn’t convinced it was going to live up to my expectations, but by the end, it did. 

This book is available in the MHS library.

A Witch’s Curse and a Girl’s Dreams Collide in Stolen Songbird

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A Witch’s Curse and a Girl’s Dreams Collide in Stolen Songbird

Stolen Songbird is a book that I took some time to warm up to.  In my defense, it was rather too long, but it did have several unique elements that have me championing it now.  First, the protagonist is not special — don’t you get tired of all those special girls plucked from obscurity?  Everyone thought she would be “the one,” but, nope.  Ordinary.  Second, the romantic element in this book is not insta love/lust.  These characters hate each other on sight, and that snarky prince’s handsome face isn’t so hot when he opens his mouth.  That makes it all the more interesting when we, and our leading lady, start seeing past the surface and instead recognize this incredible balancing act that the prince is shouldering.  Third, there is a great cast of secondary characters that are really more likeable than the primary characters.  If you ever watched Labyrinth on a loop, or if you enjoy the strange characters and dangerous politics of Alice in Wonderland, this recommendation is for you.

Goodreads Summary

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

A haunted house, a malevolent spirit, and a possible parent possession -The Haunting of Sunshine Girl stacks the paranormal deck for a YA readers

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A haunted house, a malevolent spirit, and a possible parent possession -The Haunting of Sunshine Girl stacks the paranormal deck for a YA readers

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is a good choice for fans of YA paranormal and horror.  If you enjoyed the Maura Dyer series or if you like Katie Alender’s books, you will probably find this really engaging.  It is one of the better offerings in this genre because it really did create suspense and had a rather horrifying twist on the traditional haunted house theme.

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Sunshine moves to Washington with her mother and almost instantly knows something is wrong in her new house. With the help of a classmate, she tries to deal with the frightening changes in her mother’s behavior, a young ghost she feels compelled to protect, and a terrifyingly unpredictable entity. The paranormal activity is disturbing and distressing, but I would describe the book as intense more than scary. The plot moves quickly and the writing is compelling and engaging. Sunshine is a clear enough character, but the motivations and personalities of secondary characters were vague. This left some characters feeling a little flat. There were glimmers of a theme about finding and believing in your personal strength, but this book is more about entertaining readers than about leaving a lasting impression, and it was an entertaining read.  I encourage readers to look at the YouTube series this is based on, but I would wait until I finished the book.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Action and Intrigue, Secrets and Lies – Scarlet is an inventive and smart reimagining of the Robin Hood legend.

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Action and Intrigue, Secrets and Lies – Scarlet is an inventive and smart reimagining of the Robin Hood legend.

You may think you know Robin Hood and his band of loyal followers, but A.C. Gaughen’s Scarlet shines a new light on the characters who populate Nottingham Forest.  This is an intriguing reimagining, and the start of a satisfying trilogy full of loss, love, and twists you won’t see coming (I just finished the ARC of the final book due out in summer 2015, and it won’t be a repeat of the Divergent debacle).  I thoroughly enjoyed every heartpounding and heartbreaking  minute of the book.  If you like any of the girls with swords books that have recently become so popular, this independent, swashbuckling protagonist with a tragic and mysterious past won’t disappoint.

 

Goodreads Summary

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for. 
This book is available in the MHS library
Interested in the second book?  Lady Thief published in 2014.  The third book, Lion Heart, publishes May 19, 2015.

A Certain Slant of Light is an achingly beautiful ghost story 

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A Certain Slant of Light is an achingly beautiful ghost story 

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb is my favorite ghost story of all time.  It is one of those books I go back to again and again, and it never disappoints.  I find it achingly beautiful.  If you are looking for a haunting tale with real depth and soul, this is it.  



Helen has haunted a long line of artists and writers, an unnoticed muse lingering for over a hundred years.  She has to cling to them because if she ever lets go, she will go back to the nothingness.  When the first living person to acknowledge her in over a hundred and thirty years is a student in her latest writer’s high school English class, she is frightened but intrigued.  When they find a companionship beyond any they ever dreamed possible, they develop a plan that will allow them to be together in more than just spirit, a plan that could set them free or doom them to a future they could never foresee.  Beautifully written and carefully plotted, this ghost story haunted me long after I turned the last page.  While this is considered YA, Helen is a character with a maturity that will speak to adult readers.  The prose and meaningful themes transcend age as well.  This isn’t a horror book.  The grim realities the characters endure are more upsetting than frightening, but they resonate in their terrifying reality.  The ending is especially cathartic and hopeful in a way I never would have predicted.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school, but there are some mature themes.  

This book is available in the MHS library if someone hasn’t stolen it.  I admit it is one worth stealing.

American Girl on Saturn will let you indulge in your secret boy band crush (you know you have one).  

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Look, the cover doesn’t do anything for me, but I really, really liked this contemporary YA romance, so just don’t look at it.  It has fun — look for the fake fridge twitter, a twinkle light treehouse for late night trysts, a wish lantern scene that ends with a five year old screaming, “I hate my life.”  It also has a hot musician in a boy band (ugh, just stop looking at that stupid cover — that isn’t him!).  Rock star books are my thing, so I am always glad to find one that isn’t full of graphic sexual situations. This is a sweet story and it is appropriate for all readers.  It’s free if you have Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, and under $4 for the ebook if you don’t.  It was the best four dollars I’ve spent in a long time!



Goodreads Summary

The summer after graduation is supposed to be that first real taste of freedom – but not for eighteen-year-old Chloe Branson. Just as that breeze of freedom is making its way into her galaxy, her secret-service-agent dad drops a meteor-sized bomb of bad news on her and her sisters. An attempt has been made on the lives of Canadian boyband, Spaceships Around Saturn, during their USA tour, and the guys have to go into hiding ASAP. The only problem? In the midst of the crisis and media frenzy, their dad volunteered to hide the guys…in their house.

Six-year-old Emery is as ecstatic as any self-proclaimed Saturnite would be, but Chloe and her seventeen-year-old sister Aralie watch their summer plans crash and burn like a falling star. The SAS guys aren’t happy with the situation, either. Bad boy Jules picks fights with Aralie about everything from his Twitter followers to his laundry, and heart-throb Benji can’t escape Emery’s fangirlisms for more than three minutes.

But after the super-cute Milo kisses Chloe during a game of hide-and-seek, she finally understands what Emery means when she talks about SAS being “out of this world.” If this is what Saturn feels like, Chloe doesn’t want to come back to Earth. 

Not from the goodreads summary:  While I enjoyed the story, I did find a lot of cringeworthy writing. The metaphors were ridiculous and need to be toned down — bleeding butterflies, crushed ladybugs, etc.  It could use a good editor, but I still loved it.

This book is available in our classroom library!

Between by Dora Hilburn is a super sweet YA paranormal romance

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Between by Dora Hilburn is a super sweet YA paranormal romance

To quote the, um, yeah, to quote Taylor Swift, “Boys only want love if it’s torture,” and sometimes I think readers do as well.  Books where people fall for ghosts have obvious limitations and few real choices for a happily ever after.  Why do I read them?  I just can’t help myself.  Between is one I picked because the cynic in me can’t seem to kill the romantic.  And you know what?  I liked it.  It made me happy. Tween and Teen readers who like their paranormal romances sweet and innocent will as well.



When seventeen year old Anna moves into the house she inherited, she plans to restore it and sell it to fund her college education. Her plan goes sideways when she encounters a ghost, a WW 1 soldier who grew up in the house, and develops an intense interest in him. Things become more confusing when she is befriended by a local who wants to help her restore her house and an attraction sparks between them. This was a sweet paranormal romance appropriate for all ages, but would be most enjoyed by middle school and high school readers. While not scary, there was adequate suspense and a creepy threat to the protagonist. There were holes — some things were resolved in a way that felt too pat, and there was insta-love which might annoy more discerning readers.  The premise clearly states there WILL be a love triangle, so steer clear if you hate those.  However,  the ending was satisfying, and it wasn’t inappropriate in any way — seriously light sensuality.  

 I received this book as an ARC through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.