Tag Archives: YA

Book Review- Invisibility

invisibility

When I saw this book on the shelf at my library, I recognized it (as people deeply involved in book culture are wont to do). I met David Levithan at YALLFest last year, and he was super nice and down to earth. At that time, I hadn’t read any of his books and was only purchasing one of them (Every Day- one of my favorites of all time). I had a feeling that anything written by him would be amazing, but this book only lived up to and exceeded that expectation!

Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse. But things don’t go as planned, especially when Stephen’s grandfather arrives in town, taking his anger out on everyone he sees. In the end, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how big of a sacrifice they’re willing to make for Stephen to become visible — because the answer could mean the difference between life and death. At least for Elizabeth.

I love this book so much!! When you read a lot of books, you come to expect a lot, especially from a book about something as seemingly simple as invisibility. But the farther into the book you read, the more you discover that there is an entire world hidden behind the seeming simplicity of invisibility, and Elizabeth holds the key. I finished this book in mere hours, because once I started, it was impossible to walk away. The writing was beautiful and haunting, but readable, and I thought Levithan’s writing was extraordinarily empathetic with an invisible boy. It’s hard to understand what I mean without reading it- how can someone know what it feels like to never have been seen?- but he pulls it off.

The magical world behind Stephen’s invisibility curse is complex and thought provoking. The curse, itself, is also so. Many people wish to be invisible, it is widely regarded as something cool, you only have to look at Harry Potter to see what people idolize. Power, invisibility, and eternal life. But this gives a whole new spin on the idea of not being seen- for someone like Stephen who has been invisible since birth, it is not a blessing. The whole issue was delicately handled, and I like that.

The romance was slow and sweet, but passionate, and the ending was heartbreaking. I think it was actually the best part, even though it was sad in a certain way. I highly, highly recommend this book for most anyone, especially for fans of David Levithan or Andrea Cremer (his co-author), YA fans, or those who like a healthy dose of magical realism. (and really, who doesn’t?)

Have a great day, everyone!

Olivia

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Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, Magical Realism

Book Review- Between Shades of Gray

betweenshades

This book blew my expectations out of the water! From the very first page I was captured, and read it in the space of about two days. It’s the kind of book that gives you a hunger for more, even after you finish reading it. When I first started it, I was in a nasty reading slump, but it pulled me out fast! It reminded me how much I really love reading stories of other times, other people, other events, and for that, I am grateful.

Lina Vilkas is a normal teenage girl in Lithuania; she loves to paint and draw, she crushes on boys and has high hopes for the future. But when Stalin invades Lithuania and deports thousands to working camps in Siberia, everything changes.

One thing I’ve learned from reading a lot of historical books is that it takes skill to write about a different time period than our own and make it simulatiously informative and entertaining. The line between informative and a history lesson is a difficult one, but this book successfully made a truly interesting period of history entertaining and enjoyable. Also, it was nice to read about a historical period I hadn’t heard about yet. I obviously knew about WWII and that it affected everything, everywhere, but I did not know about Lithuanians being deported to Siberia. I can’t even comprehend being forced out of my home to go work in Siberia. History unremembered is a terrible thing, and I’m glad this book is telling Lina’s story.

I thought it was insanely cool that Lina Vilkas actually existed. At the end, you find out that it was inspired by an actual diary and letters written by a Lina Vilkas. Also, even though the book ends in an unusual place and you don’t really know what happens to Lina, the letter tells you. Not to mention that the romance in the book (which was amazing, some of my favorite that I’ve read, actually, and that’s saying something) is based on Lina’s real life love, mentioned in the letter. I find this unbelievably cute.

Y’all know writing style is a huge thing for me. I have a strong affininty for books with brutal beauty in the words, such as with this one. It is concise enough not to bother people who dislike more floral writing styles, but still has the beauty of something that would normally be a bit more wordy. Also, the resonance of the title could not have been more perfect. It was worth reading just for the one sentence where it was explained. I want to quote it here so bad, but I feel like it would spoil a big secret, even though it isn’t one.

I highly, highly recommend this book, especially for anyone interested in the time period, looking to get out of a reading slump, or searching for a brutally honest YA romance.

Olivia

*This ARC was kindly given to me (from her personal stash, no less) by Jennifer of ARCycling. Thank you so much, Jennifer. I’ll treasure it.*

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Book Review- Ten

I wouldn’t normally read this book. I get terrified very, very easily. At random stuff, at actual scary stuff, it doesn’t matter. I’m a big fat scaredy cat. But I had heard great things about this book, and I decided to go for it. I wasn’t disappointed!

Ten teens. Three days. One killer.

Meg and her best friend Minnie are super excited to go to a party on Henry Island. Only the coolest kids are invited, and it’s going to be the greatest weekend ever- no parents, just fun. But when the rest of the party doesn’t show up, and a storm begins to rage outside, they get nervous. With no connection to the outside world, things start to get downright creepy. A strange DVD in the T.V., and then people start dying off. Meg is racing against the clock to find the killer before they’re all dead. Is it one of the ten kids or someone else? (my apologies for the crappy summary. Here’s Goodreads’ if you’d rather: link)

Creeptacular! It’s just as bone-chilling as it sounds. I really enjoyed how the author managed to make it more than pure frights. It was so much more than a bunch of dead teenagers. They each have a story, and as we find out throughout the book, they each have a reason the killer wants them dead. It was a mystery in addition to all the creeps and thrills. By the end, I had absolutely no idea who the killer was, except that it couldn’t be any of the people who were already dead.
There was a nice romance between Meg and T.J. I was impressed that they were able to focus on each other for even a moment given all of the people dying and whatnot. But while I would normally protest that romance is completely unbelievable in life-or-death situations, I liked it. Meg really needed someone to talk to, because as it progresses, the weekend gets more and more frightening. I would need someone to talk to, too, if all of my friends were dying.

I can see why this novel was pretty hyped up. It was well written, suspenseful, and will fit well in todays teen market. The majority of teens really enjoy stuff that creeps the heck out of them, and even for adults this will do the trick. I love the ending, and I think the entire book was very well thought out. Not to be missed for anyone who loves or is writing a thriller or horror! Or maybe even someone like me, who avoids it like the plague. Great for the reluctant teen reader in your life.

Just make sure not to read it at night.

Olivia

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Filed under Fiction, Modern Fiction

Book Review- Origin

I’m happy to say that this book made me think. A lot. More than any book that I’ve read recently. About genetics, morality, true love, science…. I really enjoyed this change of pace!

 Origin is about a girl named Pia. Scientists have engineered her to be perfect; unbreakable skin, ridiculous endurance, a sharp mind. All her life she’s lived in Little Cam- her compound somewhere in the middle of the Amazon-, never leaving. She’s never wanted to leave, until one day she sees a hole in the fence around the compound and can’t resist. She expects to be gone for just a few minutes, but then she meets Eio, and everything changes. All of a sudden, she’s sneaking out every chance she can to be with him. Eio makes her challenge everything she knows about her immortality, and the further she digs into the secrets of Little Cam, the more disturbing her past becomes.  (if you’d like a nice little snippit of the book, here’s the book trailer! It’s the first one I’ve actually liked in a long time!)

What a summary, huh? This book captured me from the very first page. I found Pia to be likable and very relatable. She’s very brainwashed at the beginning (i.e. “What’s San Francisco? Who is Shakespeare?”) but it’s amazing to watch her break out of the cage they’ve built for her. She begins to question things, come into herself. Pia is refreshingly dynamic, a huge contrast to some static characters in popular YA (such as Katniss, even? Don’t go off on me for that- I just didn’t think she changes that much through the series). I also have an affinity for standalone books (probably due in part to the fact that series’ usually end up ripping my heart into pieces, but that’s beside the point) and it pleases me that I could read this and not go crazy waiting for a real ending! There is talk of a companion, which I would happily read, of course.

The world building is complex, and I love that it *isn’t* a future dystopian. It’s so creepily realistic. It shows us the semingly perfect girl, and the terrible things that happened to create her.

I loved the romance. To all the people saying that this book is ‘too chaste’, I think you don’t know teens well, honestly. This book isn’t deliberately preachy or clean, it’s natural. Honestly, if I was running from wack-job scientists and a bunch of other very bad things I can’t tell you for ruining the novel (but there may be flesh eating ants involved) my primary focus would not be kissing Eio. As hot as he is, in the moment that is not important. Protecting him is, but not kissing him. I appreciate the genuinity of the romance, I thought it played out naturally and it couldn’t have been better.

The pacing and action are great. Unlike some books, I was totally surprised at the plot twists. By the end, I was attatched to every single character- the minor ones, Pia, Eio, Albert, even Paolo. Jessica Koury gave them the layers that you can’t find in not-so-good YA.

My only negative thought is that it took me a couple chapters to really get engrossed in the story. But once I did, it didn’t leave my hands until I was finished. The sci-fi elements that I would normally avoid like the plague were surprisingly charming.

Overall, I loved it! I truly think this book will be The-Next-Big-YA-Sensation, and I’m so happy that a book with such potential to be popular conveys a great, non-preachy message among lovely writing. I look forward to many more years of fabulous books from Jessica Khoury. (she’s only 22!)

Happy Reading, all!

Olivia

P.S. To all those who’ve read it, I am really looking forward to seeing some Origin inspired jewelry! Yresa necklace, please! 🙂

P.P.S. Origin is now released! YOU should go buy it!

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Filed under ARC, Fiction, Modern Fiction, Romance

Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince

Hey y’all! The reason I haven’t posted any book reviews recently isn’t because I haven’t been reading (PSHH. As if), but it is because I’ve spent several days reading this series. And then several more stewing over these books.

The first, as you can see at the top, is Clockwork Angel. Just as with City of Bones, you’ve most likely heard of this book. It is the first in a trilogy of prequels to the City of Bones. I actually liked this first one in the series better than City of Bones. Maybe this is because of the setting. This prequel series is set several hundred years before the modern setting of the Mortal Instruments series. I like this time period, and I especially loved the twisted plot of this book! I knew going into it that there would be a love triangle (..of sorts) between Tessa, Will, and Jem later on. But I enjoyed how in this first book at least, there was minimal romance. Usually I enjoy the romantic element, but it felt right that we were introduced to the plot before the romance. Those who aren’t huge fans of romance will enjoy this one. The steampunk elements and old-timeish setting were things that I didn’t anticipate loving, but I did! My only qualm is the ending. It totally ripped me apart. And if I hadn’t had the next book sitting right next to me I might have cried. So I wouldn’t recommend reading this book unless you also have the sequel handy.

I’m not sure if I liked this one better than the first. The plot got even more twisted than the first, which was crazy because they were both so crazy to begin with. As much as I enjoyed it, this is when my extreme frustration/hatred of love triangles appears. I just hate them, ok? I think it’s cruel to make two different guys wait for you to pick like that, and it seems like something that wouldn’t even happen in real life. Most girls are decent enough to make up there minds fairly quickly. Thankfully, Tessa made up her mind pretty fast, thanks to some terrible stuff at the end of Clockwork Angel. The whole Will issue totally broke my heart. It was genius, but it broke my heart. After reading the first book, I was Team Will. And after the second, I am Team Jem. I love Jem. I hope they find a cure in Clockwork Princess, or I will be very sad. 😥 But the point is, the reason I hate love triangles is that at least on person ends up unhappy. By the end of this book, my heart had mended a little bit. But I know Clockwork Princess will just break it into a million pieces again. I kind of love this. I will probably be one of those crazed fans in line for the midnight premiere of Clockwork Princess. (I’ll take pictures to share with y’all, of course!) (also, Cassandra Clare has my favorite scene from Clockwork Prince on her website from Jem’s point of view. It’s amazing, so check it out if you haven’t already! Here)

Lastly, lets talk about the covers. I think the first two are meh-ish, and slightly ugly. But the third, which premiered just a few weeks ago, is gorgeous.

Overall, a great series that any Young Adult lover will enjoy! I’m not a SUPER obsessed crazed fan, but I’m really excited to read the last installment in the series!

Hope you enjoyed this review(s)!

Olivia

P.S. I just want to take a moment and thank everyone for the oodles of support I have been receiving over the past few days for my writing posts. I love you all, and the criticism, encouragement, and chat makes me even more eager to continue doing what I love. You guys are wonderful.

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Filed under Modern Fiction, Romance

Book Review- Under the Never Sky

This book is a great example of why I love YA Fiction/Romance/Dystopian books! No wonder this book is considered to be just as awesome as Shatter Me and Divergent, because it truly is! I thought I would like this book, just because it seems like the type of book I really get into. I had no idea I would LOVE it!

This book is about a girl named Aria who lives in a world unlike our own. Their atmosphere is always cloudy, covered in a giant lightning storm called the Aether storm. Outside of the safety of the Pods, ‘Savages’ and cannibals live everywhere. After she is framed for a crime she didn’t commit, Aria is abandoned outside of the Pods to fend for herself. She expects to die, but when she is discovered by the ‘Savage’ named Peregrine(or Perry), he keeps her alive. They need each other- Aria for survival, Perry for information, but they hate each other. The last thing they expect is to fall in love- The Savage and The Mole.

The writing is beautiful, even if it is a shadow of Laini Taylor’s awesomeness (let’s face it. No one can replicate that.) I really connected with this book- especially Aria’s frustration at not being able to support herself and be independent. I wasn’t bored for a second, even if action isn’t prevalent for at least the first half of the novel. Watching the characters develop was cool, because you knew they would end up together, but they hate each other for so long!! And speaking of romance, once you get to it, it is one of my favorites. So sweet, because of each of their… abilities, you could say. (hard to explain. just read it!)

A book that has changed my perspective on things for sure. For instance: now Peregrine sounds manly, Perry sounds endearing, Talon sounds normal, and Roar sounds playful. (those are all character names, by the way.) Oh, and if you talked about ‘smelling someone’s temper’ I would jump right in without missing a beat.

I recommend this to everyone!! Not just teens, either. According to my new ratings scale (more on all of these site changes tomorrow) this book gets 5 stars! (i.e. HOLY WOW) I hope you take my advice and get into this series!

Happy Reading, y’all!

Olivia

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Filed under Fiction, Modern Fiction, Romance