The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma~ YA Book Review

22859565This book was strange. While the basic premise wasn’t the freshest, what the author did with it kind of was. By just adding a few oddities, the author took an old trope and made it feel new. And fun.

This story has a little bit of everything thrown into the pot. Murder. Mayhem. Ballerinas?????

Add a dash of a girl’s correctional facility and a dollop of the supernatural, and you’ve got yourself (or I’ve got myself) something I’ve never read before. With a base of good writing, pacing, and suspense, that makes this book a tasty dish to this reader. Definitely not going to suit everyone’s pallet, but I enjoyed it. 4.5 stars!

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson ~ YA Book Review

16109340There was something kind of beautiful about this book. There were some things that were pretty silly and hokey, too, but those things didn’t really diminish the beauty. And while the book is probably best described as Young Adult, I feel it speaks to a broader audience.

When you break down through the walls of drama, growing pains, teen angst, grief, and everything else going on in this story, this book is about finding yourself. And how easy it is to lose yourself. And the importance of forgiveness. It’s about the fragile line that we all walk during the course of our day to day lives, and how easily one choice or decision can spiral out of control – or makes things right. It’s both complex and simplistic; therein lies the beauty. 5 stars!

 

 

The Dare by Hannah Jayne ~ Mystery Fiction Book Review

23102014I’ve read a book by author Hannah Jayne before, and after reading a second, I’ve got to say that this author is one to watch! Her twisty, suspenseful mysteries centered around YA characters are big on thrills and chills.

The books may be a bit melodramatic at times, but hey, I remember being a teenager, and most of the time, it works. Ms. Jayne is a master of creating a dark, creepy atmosphere for a reader to escape to for a while. Best of all, while I had suspects and suspicions, I wasn’t completely sure what was real and what wasn’t until the end. There were a couple of loose ends left frayed and unexplained, but the bottom line is that I really enjoyed this book. 4.5 stars!

Paper Towns by John Green ~ YA Fiction Book Review

Paper Towns by [Green, John]John Green can write. I don’t think anyone disputes that. He creates characters that feel authentic and real, but this book left me severely underwhelmed. I’ve never read another book that won the YA Edgar Award, but I can’t help but feel like the bar may be pretty low after reading this ‘winner’.

This book wasn’t a total waste of time, it’s a good coming of age story that held my interest, but it pales in comparison to Green’s other books that I’ve read, and the ‘mystery’ left me wondering about my definition of mystery. I suppose that maybe his other books set my expectations too high. 3.5 stars.

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp ~ Fiction Book Review

25823344This book by Dutch author Marieke Nijkamp got off to a bit of a rocky start. It introduces a lot of characters and scene changes before you have a chance to find your footing (knowing who is who, etc.). But it quickly gains depth and momentum, and by the end I not only knew the characters, but I cared about what happened to them as well.

The book could benefit from another round of editing for consistency (details like the auditorium is either soundproof, or you can hear the gunshots around the school), but nothing major. As far as books about gun violence in schools goes, I would have liked to have seen more insight into the shooter’s motive and choice to turn to violence. A quick and easy young adult read. 4 stars.

Flawless (Pretty Little Liars #2) by Sara Shepard ~ Fiction Book Review

162089I keep asking myself why I’m reading these books. I’m slightly ashamed of myself. But the honest truth is that I’m reading them because I can’t stop! They’re my guilty pleasure. When I’m reading an adult book, I’m thinking of these and wishing I was reading them instead.

In the second installment of the Pretty Little Liars series, the girls are back with new drama and old worries. The reader learns more about “the  Jenna thing” while more potential suspects for A’s true identity are introduced. The suspect pool is then reduced the only it truly can be – by a death.

These aren’t the best written books and honestly I find some of the characters so vapid and annoying that I want to slap someone, but they are addictive, and I NEED to know who A really is. So what this YA series lacks in the literature department it makes up for in knowing how to keep a reader hooked – and, as most writers will tell you, that’s a vital skill to have! 5 stars!

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch ~ Fiction Book Review

17412730Wow! It’s impossible for me to believe that this is a first book. It was just so . . . well, good, I guess, for lack of a better word. The writing was sharp, the imagery fresh and unique, the voice amazing.

And yet – this is a YA book?!?!

There’s something about this one that’s going to haunt me for some time to come. I’m not sure why it resonated so strongly with me, but this book made me both laugh and cry. I didn’t want to put it down. I didn’t want it to end. I want some more. Why hasn’t the author written more books yet? Come on, Emily Murdoch, I need more!

This isn’t my normal read, but I am SO glad I gave it a try. (Thanks, Kindle deal of the day!) Five stars!!!

 

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard ~ Fiction Book Review

162085I’ve heard about the TV show, Pretty Little Liars, and while I’ve never seen an episode, I have humored the thought that in another life (younger, more time, if I knew what channel it was on) it might be a show that I’d watch. I had no idea that it was based on a book series, though, until I found it at my local Friends of the Library book sale for a quarter.  What follows are my honest thoughts about this book. (Don’t judge.)

I wasn’t particularly impressed by the writing. I was quite worried to discover that I was reading about 7th graders, then quite relieved to find the characters are only that young for the first chapter. These girls are much naughtier than the adult women in the books I normally read. (Not that I wasn’t this age myself and that I don’t realize what goes on – I claim the 5th on ever misbehaving myself in any way – but I was slightly shocked that mothers let their daughters read this, and could not decide at what age I’d expose my daughter, if I had one, to this book.) I didn’t connect with any of the characters, and was almost through the book by the time I was able to keep them straight.

BUT – I’m hooked. I have to know what happens. Who is A? What does she have in store for these girls? I couldn’t sleep after finishing this book because I was so busy listing suspects and scenarios to identify and/or explain A. I’ll admit it – I felt myself blushing when my husband looked at the cover of this book, then at me with a questioning look – but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this series is my newest guilty pleasure. 4.5 stars.

 

 

 

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart ~ Fiction Book Review

16143347I didn’t realize that this was a Young Adult book when I picked it up, but once again I found myself pleasantly astounded. YA  books weren’t like this when I was younger. This book was smart and beautifully written in a unique style that I completely enjoyed.

I thought I had it figured out. Then I didn’t. Then I realized that I had part of it, but the author tricked me into doubting myself and then whammied me with an added bonus. This book kept me on edge. I didn’t want to put it down. It gave me pleasure. It gave me pain.

At 225 pages, this is a quick read, and one that I’d recommend if you like reading about teenage strife and you’re in for a bit of mystery. This is one that I’ll be passing on and forcing someone I know to read. 5 stars.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green ~ Fiction Book Review

wpb11I don’t often read YA books, but I’m wondering if I should change that, because every one I read turns out to be an unexpected delight. Although I haven’t seen the movie, I heard enough about this book – both good and bad – to be familiar with the general plot. Sick girl meets sick boy, romance and tragedy ensue.

I knew I was in for a depressing ride, but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Although a heavy tale, there was something light and fluffy about the wisdom I took away from this book. The writing was beautiful in its simplicity, the dialogue was catchy and engaging, and, as a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

Was it realistic? That was one of the biggest complaints that I had heard going in. No, it wasn’t entirely realistic. But neither is Harry Potter, and I’ve heard far less complaints there. The other major issue other readers (all adult) of this book have shared with me is that they couldn’t identify with the characters. As an adult who is not dying of cancer, I didn’t try. I just accept the book for what it was, and I feel like I was reward with an engaging story in return. Five stars.