Tag Archive: YA


chantress Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield

Published May 7th, 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Buy this book at: Amazon / Books A Million / Book Depository / B&N

 

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss!

 

Synopsis:

Lucy’s Chantress magic will make her the most powerful—and most hunted—girl in England.

“Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted fifteen-year-old Lucy ever since she was eight and shipwrecked on a lonely island. Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots of rules, but the most important is that Lucy must never sing. Not ever. Now it is 1667, Lucy is fifteen, and on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing—and she is swept into darkness.

When she awakes in England, Lucy hears powerful men discussing Chantresses—women who can sing magic into the world. They are hunting her, but she escapes and finds sanctuary with the Invisible College, an organization plotting to overthrow the nefarious Lord Protector. The only person powerful enough to bring about his downfall is a Chantress. And Lucy is the last one in England.

Lucy struggles to master the song-spells and harness her power, but the Lord Protector is moving quickly. And her feelings for Nat, an Invisible College apprentice and scientist who deeply distrusts her magic, only add to her confusion…

Time is running out, and the fate of England hangs in the balance in this entrancing novel that is atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

This book has a cover to die for, I fell in love with it the instant that I saw it.  I decided in that moment that I wanted to read this book.  So when I got a copy of it from the publisher to read, I was ecstatic!  Before I started this book, I put my hand on it gently and prayed that it wouldn’t disappoint me.  I hate being disappointed by books that I want to read this badly.  Let me just say this simply, I was not disappointed.

Lucy is an enchanting main character.  She is smart but stubborn, sometimes to her own detriment.  She had so much spunk to her that I couldn’t help but root for her.  Granted, that she can be a bit naive and silly sometimes but she is just a girl after all.  I am too often disappointed by the heroines in YA novels so Lucy was a delight to read.  Even though the plot took a good long time to get going it was Lucy’s narrative that kept me glued to the pages anyway.  I felt bad for her, I smiled at her, I laughed with her, I sat in horror for her, and I rooted for her.  It’s been a long time since I liked a YA heroine as much as I liked Lucy.

The plot of this book was unique and interesting.  I have read books with all kinds of magic but summoning magic solely through song was a concept that I haven’t seen before.  I liked the idea, and I liked it even more once we figure out all the nuances and perils that it entails.  My only wish for the plot was that it had been fleshed out a little more.  We hardly get any history about Chantresses or the world at all, very cursory at best.  I found the world fascinating so it frustrated me that I didn’t learn that much about it.  For example, the Shadowgrims were not described enough for me.  After 300 odd pages I still can’t quite picture what they are supposed to look like in my head.  They are terrifying no doubt, but they just weren’t described well enough for me.  Maybe it was just me, but I thought that some parts of this needed more detail.  It was also very slow going for most of the book.  Even though I was still interested in what was going on, I wish that there had been a little more action sooner.

The payoff at the end of this book was very satisfying.  Nothing is worse than loving a book all the way through only to feel ripped off once you get to the last page.  The ending was exactly what I wanted to see, how I hoped it would end.  In the end, Lucy saves the day and proves her power to herself and all that awesome stuff.  But it also wasn’t easy, nobody got through it completely unscathed and that made the ending even more awesome.  I hate endings where everything ends perfectly for everybody, it’s not realistic.  I appreciated that every character in this book paid a price for the good they accomplished, it made the stakes real to me and I rooted for them all the harder.

There was actual romance in this book!  I know!  I could hardly believe it myself.  Nat and Lucy spend months on an amicable but chilly basis and then slowly get to know the other and get to a more friendly space.  They stay in that space and continue to get to know one another and face hard times together before they finally develop feelings for each other.  I loved this little romance so much.  It was genuine and honest and sweet.  I knew exactly why Lucy was falling for Nat and exactly why Nat was falling for Lucy.  They were both good, sweet, smart, brave, amazing people.  They both deserve someone as kind and generous as each other and I was thrilled that their romance was so natural and not rushed.

I loved this book.  My once complaints were about the pacing of the plot and the lack of descriptive detail.  I will be reading the next book and I can’t wait to see where this story goes.

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Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

magisteriumMagisterium by Jeff Hirsch

Published October 1st, 2012 by Scholastic Books

Buy this book at: Books A Million / Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn’s only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn’t for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn’s mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father’s work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run—with only one place to go.

 

Rating: 2 star

 

Review:

This book was sooooooooo boring.  I really don’t have much to say about it, so this review should be short.  Admittedly, the book started off well.  I initially quite liked heroine Glenn, until I got to know her a little.  I liked her ambition and her dreams of a better future.  But I quickly realized that her “dreams” were nothing more than an excuse not to deal with her present.  That annoyed me. Yes, she has a father who has been distant since her mother’s disappearance but she seemed to make no effort to get him help or change the situation.  She just went along and then thought of the day she could escape.

Once we start to learn more about the Magisterium, I was hoping that the book would take an exciting turn.  I mean, what could be more exciting than being chased by the bad guys into a land that you never thought existed, only to discover that things aren’t much better over there either.  It sounds exciting, but it wasn’t.  Glenn made EVERYTHING boring and dull.  Her narration almost put me to sleep.  She seemed to have no feeling about anything that she encountered.  And the situations she was thrust into weren’t all that exciting to begin with.

Along with being dull and boring, it was also painfully predictable.  I knew about 100 pages before they told me what happened to Glenn’s mother. I knew how it would end about the time they crossed into Magisterium.  All I can say for this book is that it was a fantastic idea but never quite lived up to its potential.  And there was no insta-love or love triangles.  But beyond that, there was nothing redeeming about it either.

Review: Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

poison princessPoison Princess by Kresley Cole

Published October 2nd, 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Synopsis and cover photo from the Goodreads book page

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

Synopsis:

She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side….

Rating (out of 5): 3 star

Review:

This book and I had a love/hate relationship throughout the course of it and it disappointed me.  But let me back up a second.  I haven’t read a Kresley Cole book before.  I have heard a lot of really great things about the books and have several of them on my TBR list, but just haven’t gotten to them yet.  Then I saw this book and I fell in love.  The cover on this book is simply amazing.  It is so gorgeous that I can hardly stand it.  Since the premise sounded interesting too, I pre-ordered it sight unseen.  Then I noticed that it had a blurb on it from PC Cast and I thought “Oh God, what have I done!”  This is the woman whose book I had to put away because it made me want to vomit so much, and she’s recommending this!?  I considered that perhaps I had made a very serious mistake.  But I persevered and overall I am happy about that, but not entirely.

I liked Evie for the most part.  I found her to be kind, sweet, plucky, and determined when she needed to be.  But typical YA heroine stuff started leaking into her personality and I didn’t like that.  As soon as Jack got into the picture she was whiny, annoying, dependent, and stupid to the point of being suicidal.  I shouldn’t agree when another character calls her useless, but I did…often.  I got so angry with her for fawning over this stupid boy so much that I wanted to shake her.  However, her character redeemed herself in the end by finishing the book in a serious kick ass fashion.  If only we didn’t have this stupid, silly little love triangle in the book it would have easily been 5 stars.

Now let’s turn to Jack.  Was I supposed to like him?  Was I supposed to see him as a sweet and romantic love interest for Evie?  Was I supposed to giggle at his cuteness?  Because I didn’t, not to any of that.  I found him to be an absolute asshole.  I’m really hoping that at some point YA will figure out that “bad boys” are NOT SEXY!  Someone going to jail and being suspended from school and leering at girls is not cute or romantic or sexy or sweet!  It is creepy and the pinnacle of douchebaggery.  Jack is a drunk, I can’t even call him an alcoholic because he doesn’t think there’s a problem.  There isn’t a single time he’s mentioned where he’s not knocking back the booze.  He is crude and sexually inappropriate constantly.  He sexually pressures Evie on multiple occasions, several of which were while she had a boyfriend.  He leers at girls constantly and makes inappropriate comments when he hardly knows them.  And he is just downright horrible to Evie so often that I stopped keeping track.  He calls her names all the time, he puts her down, he belittles her opinions or feelings, he is passive aggressive to the extreme, and is a complete man slut.  I mean, for God’s sake, at one point he threatens to throw Evie onto any available horizontal surface and bang the living daylights out of her…for touching his stomach while riding on his motorcycle!  Apparently that means he can’t control himself anymore.  How is any of this romantic?!  I wanted to take a long hot shower with liberal use of bleach and then file a restraining order against this creeper!  But the other love interest, Brandon, isn’t much better.  He tries to pressure Evie into having sex as a reward for what a good and faithful boyfriend he’s been and he deserves it.  Yet at the same time as trying to get in her pants, he shows a total disregard for her feelings and is much more interested in leering at other girls in her presence.  Luckily he wasn’t around long enough to enrage me as much as Jack.  I just have no more words for any of this.  Do I have to get out the signs of domestic abuse again?  I REALLY think I do.

Let’s move on to the plot now, shall we?  I was fascinated by this plot, as much as the characters infuriated me it was the plot that kept my interest alive.  I LOVED the idea of these people representing the Major Arcana of the Tarot.  Now, as a pagan, I am fairly well versed in the Tarot and so I was acutely aware of what everyone’s role was and what their presence probably meant once I learned what their card was.  It is such a unique idea and I loved it very much.  I also was enthralled with the way this plot started out with Arthur because he was royally creepy.  I wanted so badly to know more about Arthur and how Evie got to be in his presence.  The one big downside to the plot was how much time we spent on Evie’s issues with Brandon and Jack at school prior to the end of the world happening.  How exactly were Evie’s text messages relevant to the overall plot? Why did any of these people matter at all since most of them ended up dead by the middle of the book?  We spent way too much time on that and it frustrated me, I wanted to get on with things.  Once we did move on with the plot I loved every page.  I didn’t know what was coming next and I adored the twists and turns to the plot.  Then I reached the end and was left with my mouth hanging open and the only words I could muster were, “Holy fuck, I didn’t see that coming.”

I would recommend this book to almost any fantasy or post-apocalypse fan.  It is a worthy edition to the genre once you get passed the annoying stereotypical YA parts.  The plot alone is worth the investment.

Red Leaves and the Living Token by Benjamin David Burrell

Published April 5th, 2012 by the author

Cover and synopsis from the Goodreads book page

This book can be purchased at: B&N and Amazon  (Please note: On B&N and Amazon this book is available in three parts, the ebook I am reviewing is all 3 parts)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review and participation in this blog tour.  No other compensation was received other than the book and a positive review was not promised.

Synopsis: Doctors tell Raj that his son Emret won’t survive his illness. As Raj struggles to prepare himself and Emret for the inevitable, he’s confronted by Moslin, his son’s nurse, who’s been filling Emret’s head with fairytales about heroic quests and powerful disease curing miracles. Emret now thinks that all he has to do is find the mythical Red Tree from the nurse’s stories, and he’ll live.

In an attempt to protect his son from further emotional damage, Raj asks Moslin to stay away from Emret. He returns hours later to find them both missing.

He searches the fairytales for clues to where they may have gone and stumbles upon stories that, strangely, he already knows. He saw them in a vision just before his son disappeared.

Rating (out of 5):

 

Review:  The description of this book says everything that you need to know as a reader.  I couldn’t possibly add to it, so I won’t try.  Emret is a sick little boy and most likely going to die.  In a desperate attempt to get a miracle, he goes on the run with his nurse and without his father’s knowledge.  Raj is frantic to find his son missing and follows them but finds himself on a much more complicated journey than he first expected.  I really enjoyed this book, it intrigued me and kept me entertained at every page.  With that said, I must point out a few things that prevented this from being a five-star review.

There is some editing issues with this book.  As far as I am aware, I received a final copy of this book, but it could use another read through from an editing perspective.  There is nothing too egregious but the minor problems were so frequent that I have to comment on it.  For example, on nearly every page I could find things such as: “I’m am” or sentences that seemed to be missing words or had a plural form of the word when the sentence called for singular.  Ultimately, the editing issues weren’t bad enough to affect my enjoyment of the story but it was impossible not to notice.

My only other complaint would be that I felt as if not very much was explained to me.  It wasn’t explained very well what the Token is, or why it’s important.  You get a vague sense of why it matters, but the full story is a mystery.  It’s also not clear exactly why everyone wants the Token, other than to find the Red…but we don’t really know why they are all that vital either.  What does Emret’s illness mean?  What is “losing his binding”?  What’s a binding, why does it get lost?  I don’t know any of those things either, and I wanted to.  I still enjoyed the story immensely, but I would have preferred getting a more complete history and explanation of a few things.

But enough with the minor issues this book had, because the rest was simply fabulous.  I loved the story!  Emret was such a great character and was very relatable and likeable.  He believes in miracles and is determined to find his miracle.  No matter how many times he ended up being disappointed and Moslin lost faith, he never did.  I liked that about him and I found myself rooting for him to find his cure because he worked more than hard enough to get it.  Raj was also a really likeable characters.  He’s not a perfect man but he’s trying to be the best father he can be for his son and protect him from some of the more unpleasant realities of his situation.  But when it all comes down to it, he will cross nations to find and protect his son, and he does just that.  His journey isn’t perfect.  He makes a lot of wrong decisions that ultimately make it harder for him, but he never gives up.  I get so used to reading characters that are perfect in every way that I found Raj to be very refreshing.  He’s not a perfect guy, but he tries his damnedest to make it right anyway.  Great, great cast of characters.

The imagery in the plot is also fantastic.  Some authors have a hard time conveying action scenes, because these scenes rely so heavily on what is happening and not what is being said.  But Ben Burrell does this in a very vivid and engrossing manner.  Every aspect of the scenes was something I could see playing out in my head because it was described that well.  I couldn’t have been happier with this since I love reading a book that I can see in my head.  To me, that is the mark of a good storyteller.   I find it interesting that this author got his start in script writing, since I have found that script writers often have a hard time making the transition to full length fiction. Nothing could be further from the case for this book.  This holds true for the different races that are present in the book.  Each is different and you can tell has their own motivation, but all of them seem to center around finding this Token.

I highly recommend this book.  It’s a quick, fun, interesting read that will have you fervently turning the pages until the very end.  And even after it’s over, you’ll find yourself thinking about the story a few days later and wondering what happens next.  Hopefully you won’t have to wait very long…I hear there are at least a few other books planned as follow-ups to this one.  I know that I will be reading it, because I want to know what happens next.  And I want to know if the beings mentioned at the temple are humans, I really just have to know.

Also, if you haven’t already checked out the other stops on this blog tour, so give them a look.  I read each and every one, and all participants have done a fantastic job with a great book.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Published by Harper Collins on November 15th, 2011

Author’s Website: http://taherehmafi.com/

Synopsis from Goodreads website:

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

Review:

I have had a really hard time figuring out how to rate and review this book.   Mostly because I am so conflicted about it in general.  I think the synopsis is entirely accurate with its X-Men reference, but not in the way they are suggesting.  This was an interesting concept.  This girl has been locked away in an asylum after touching a young child (in an attempt to protect him) and he ended up dying because Juliette’s touch is lethal.  She gets a roommate in the asylum with Adam and the two are then promptly removed from the asylum because the overlord of the world wants her to be his head torturer. So far this was all excellent.  I loved the character of Warner and Adam was mildly interesting as well.  I read the first 130 pages or so without stopping and read well into the middle of the night without realizing it.

The writing was unique with the author putting in strikeouts over certain thoughts or feelings that the main character didn’t like.  It was interesting and made the book feel like reading the journal of a very troubled young woman.  But some of the writing made the story seem abrupt and choppy and it didn’t flow very well in places.  I can’t really put my finger on what made it feel that way but it took away from the story a little.

When this story really hit the brakes was with Juliette being Warner’s prisoner.  The plot really came to a screeching halt and never even started to recover.  At points it seemed like we were about to get answers to the questions of the book only to have it just drop and never get answered.  I also started to really tire of Juliette being the ultimate Mary Sue character.  She’s pretty, she’s sweet, she’s gentle, even when she did something awful like killing a boy it was only with good intentions, and every single male character in the book fell all over themselves drooling while she sat back in complete ignorance of what the big deal was.  This made me want to scream!  You would think that being able to kill people just by touching them would be a great flaw, except it isn’t because Juliette is basically Mother Teresa!

There isn’t even another significant female character in the entire book, just a bunch of males alternately drooling or being afraid of Juliette.  I believe “Benny” may have been female but we don’t actually meet her, only hear about her in a few sentences.  And there are female twins at the very end, but again they only make an appearance for about three sentences.  I really hated the X-Men thing too.  The resistance is rounding up people with “abilities” and turning them into superheroes who are going to save the world.  I saw that a few times, at the movie theater, and it was done a lot more completely.

The world building was also lacking by a great deal in this book.  We only get glimpses of the world as Juliette remembers it and a few brief glimpses of life in one city.  That’s it, there was no more world building and it made me feel disconnected from the story.  The closest we got to explaining this world was a rant about how we humans did this to ourselves.  We sprayed all these icky pesticides on food and made it inedible, we caged animals in inhumane conditions and so they died, we regulated food for profit and made others go hungry, we manipulated the climate with our man-made junk and polluted the world.  Okay!  We get it!  Now, go away treehugger and leave the condemning of modern life to someone not writing a work of fiction.  I don’t mind an author having an explanation for the end of the world that involves these kinds of things, but stop preaching to me about it already.  I read this book to enjoy it not get a lecture on all the bad things we’re doing to the earth.

After Adam and Juliette escape Warner the plot never really restarted and by the time I got to the last page I felt like I had gotten half of a story, not a complete story with a sequel coming out soon.  There were some interesting moments that made me ask some questions, but those questions never got resolved and neither did the story.  Even in a series each novel needs to be a complete story with a beginning, middle, and an end.  We got the beginning and we got the middle, but there was no decent ending.  While I was completely enthralled with the beginning of the book the ending left me with no interest in reading about this world any further.

To put an ending to my review, I will rate this 2.5 stars out of 5.