Tag Archives: YA fiction

The Heart is Not a Size – Beth Kephart

5 Jun

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Released: March 22th, 2010
Genre: YA contemp
Review copy from publisher

Georgia knows what it means to keep secrets. She knows how to ignore things. She knows that some things are better left unsaid. . . . Or are they?

When Georgia and her best friend, Riley, travel along with nine other suburban Pennsylvania kids to Anapra, a squatters’ village in the heat-flattened border city of Juarez, Mexico, secrets seem to percolate and threaten both a friendship and a life. Certainties unravel. Reality changes. And Georgia is left to figure out who she is outside the world she’s always known.

From HarperCollins Canada website.

It’s weird. The first time I picked up The Heart is Not a Size, I only got a few pages in before I set it down. People had gushed about it, but I wasn’t feeling it. But it was for review and I always try to read review books (in a timely manner, when I can). So after letting it sit on my shelves for over a year, I decided to give it another try. And read it in one night. I dunno, I must have been in a mood the first time I tried.

I’m not a very visual person. When I read a book, I don’t often picture it in my head. Strange, but true. But sometimes when I read a book, I can imagine it as a movie, almost scene by scene. And that’s what this book was like for me. I could picture it as the type of coming of age movie that I would watch over and over again.

This is a story about friendship and how we sometimes struggle to do the right thing for a friend and it ends up blowing up in our faces. I loved that the book centered on Georgia and Riley’s friendship. That it wasn’t all about the boys and the romance. Sure, there may have been hints of romance, but it wasn’t a completely integral part of the story. It wasn’t the point of the book.

I think female readers in particular will be able to identify with The Heart is Not a Size. I am a fair distance from the age of Georgia and Riley but their friendship and story had me thinking of some of the friendships I had when I was a teen and how important they are to who I am now.

So I’m definitely glad I gave it another go. And I’m happy that the lovely peeps at HarperCollins Canada sent along a review copy.

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172 Hours on the Moon – Johan Harstad

24 Apr

Everyone said sending teenagers into space would be their opportunity of a lifetime…

It’s been decades since anyone last set foot on the moon. But three ordinary teens are about to change that–and their lives–forever. Mia knows this will be her punk band’s ticket to fame and fortune. Midori believes it’s her way out of her restrictive lifestyle in Japan. And Antoine just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible. But little do they know that something sinister is waiting for them on the dark side of the moon. And in the black vastness of space, no one is coming to save them…

I love the premise of this book. I don’t read a lot of sci-fi and I dig the idea of crossing sci-fi with horror. I just, well, I wish the execution of the idea was a bit better. Now, this was a translated work, so maybe something got lost during the translation, but 172 Hours on the Moon left me feeling a bit cold and definitely wanting more (and sometimes less) from the story.

Overall the book wasn’t bad. I really enjoyed the diversity of the three teens that were chosen to go to the moon. I just didn’t necessarily need as much background information about them. As I was reading about them before they were chosen, I couldn’t help wishing that the author had cut out some of that part of the book and had concentrated more on the actual time on the moon. I already knew from the blurb that they were chosen, so I didn’t really need a lot of lead up to it.

I loved the space training part and also when they actually go to the moon. I just wish it had been a bit more detailed and that the author would have spend more time there. I would have been perfectly happy if the book had started with them at the training base or even with the shuttle launching.

The story is told in third person from the point of view of the three teens and some other secondary characters. I really, really didn’t get the point of some of these secondary characters. For me they didn’t add a thing to the main story. Antoine’s ex-girlfriend gets a couple of chapters as does a former janitor with NASA. I honestly think that if these sections had been cut out, the book wouldn’t have suffered and would have been a lot tighter.

But I absolutely LOVED the tone of 172 Hours on the Moon. The whole feel of the writing and the story reminded me of The Thing, one of my favorite horror movies. I also whipped through the latter part of the book when they’re on the moon. Shit goes down and it was awesome, in a scary way. And I also loved the fact that the author didn’t wimp out at the ending. At all. It was horrific and as far as I’m concerned, perfect.

So while I had a lot of issues with this book, there were also some things I loved about it. Would I recommend it? I’m not sure. I think this one is going to appeal to some and not others.

Thanks to Hachette Group Canada for the review copy.

The Eleventh Plague – Jeff Hirsch

13 Feb

In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade for food and other items essential for survival. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true, where there are real houses, barbecues, a school, and even baseball games. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank on the town bully’s family that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing forever.

I loves me some dysoptia. Man, I was reading post-apocalyptic books back when I didn’t even know it was a genre. These days I try to read whatever I can get my grubbies on. Zombies, plague, war…. I’m not picky.

The Eleventh Plague is right up my alley. The devastation has already happened and we’re dealing with several years later. Sometimes I like reading about the actual event, but in this case I think the author starts the story off where it needs to start. We’re filled in on what happened throughout the book, which is awesome.

While I liked this book, I didn’t love it. I found the pacing just a bit off. I think I would have liked to have seen the last third of the book actually be the last half of the book, or even more. Once Stephen and Jenny play their prank, things happen really, really fast. And I know that’s how it would have played out, but I would have liked to have seen a bit more of that part of the story.

With that being said, I did enjoy The Eleventh Plague. The writing was great and I really felt like I was there with Stephen. And I LOVE when things aren’t quite what they seem. And you get that plenty in this book.

Fade to Blue – Sean Beaudoin

6 Feb

Sophie Blue started wearing a black skirt and Midnight Noir lipstick on her last birthday. It was also the day her father disappeared. Or spontaneously combusted. Which is sort of bad timing, since a Popsicle truck with tinted windows has started circling the house.

Kenny Fade is a basketball god. His sneakers cost more than his Jeep. He’s the guy all the ladies (and their mommas) want. Bad.

Sophie Blue and Kenny Fade don’t have a thing in common. Aside from being reasonably sure they’re losing their minds.

Losing my mind is exactly how I felt as I read Fade to Blue. Quite honestly for most of the book I didn’t have a frigging clue what was going on. I almost didn’t review it because I had no idea how to talk about a book I’m pretty sure you need to be on heavy meds to understand. But here’s the thing: despite the fact I have no idea what the Hell this book is about I LOVED IT.

I’m weird. This isn’t a huge secret. Or even a secret at all. And I tend to like weird things. Fade to Blue was weird. Hence my love for it.

Beside the fact that this is an YA book, I’m not even sure what genre it is. Paranormal? Mystery? Romance? No. Clue. But whatever it is, it was a seriously enjoyable read. I actually liked not really understanding what was going on. Because that’s how Beaudoin wrote the damn thing. Never once did I feel like I was stupid, or that the author was trying to make me feel stupid. What I did feel was happily confused. It was almost to the point that whenever I stepped outside the house, I kept expecting to see an ice cream truck.

I just really, really enjoyed Fade to Blue. What can I say? I like the weird.

The Devouring – Simon Holt

3 Feb

When Reggie finds an old journal and reads about the Vours, supernatural creatures who feast on fear and attack on the eve of the winter solstice, she assumes they are just the musings of some lunatic author. But soon, they become a terrifying reality when she begins to suspect that her timid younger brother might be one of their victims.

Risking her life and her sanity, Reggie enters a living nightmare to save the people she loves. Can she devour own her fears before they devour her?

Ah, sometimes you just need to read a scary, creepy book to get your juices flowing and your heart beating, you know, clean out of your chest. And for me, that’s what The Devouring was.

Here’s a little story: see, I wasn’t always the reader that I am today. I was what you could call a late bloomer. In my early teens I’d read a book or two a month, but that was it. Until I discovered Stephen King. Then I couldn’t read enough. And horror was the only way I would go. For years it was all I would read. Not so much anymore, so when I dug into The Devouring it took me back to those days of furiously reading and scaring the crap out of myself.

This was gross, creepy and several times I was pretty damn happy I wasn’t eating. Now, for you hard core horror fans, you might not find it all that scary. But for someone delving back into the genre after a long hiatus, it was just scary enough.  And I seemed to have discovered a love of legends that come to life, which is kinda cool.

The Devouring read like a scary movie, which is high, high praise in my books. I’ll definitely be devouring the rest of the series. (Yeah, I couldn’t help myself.)

The Shattering – Karen Healey

3 Nov

This is my first review book from Little Brown and Company. How exciting, eh? Well, for me it is. And what’s even more exciting is that I absolutely loved The Shattering.

This was a cool book. I mean, it’s basically a murder mystery, but as is the case with all good reads, there’s more to it than there seems. Something supernatural is involved. I won’t ruin it for you and tell you what, but it was pretty awesome.

The Shattering is told from three different view points, something that I’m seeing more and more in YA literature. When it’s done well, as it is in The Shattering, I find that it really adds to the story telling. Each character was different enough that it wasn’t confusing.

The story is set in New Zealand, something that threw me for a bit of a loop in the beginning. There were things that were mentioned and it was assumed that the reader would know what the characters were referring to. I felt a bit stupid at first, but as soon as I hit google and figured things out, it was smooth sailing. And, oddly enough, this need to look up some things didn’t bug me in the least. I kinda liked it.

While the ending wasn’t a complete surprise, there were elements that I didn’t see coming. And Healey didn’t wrap things up all nice and neat and happy. And that’s my favorite kind of ending. You know, where things may be resolved, but not everyone gets a perfectly happy ending.

The Shattering was an awesome read. I look forward to reading more from Healey.

Review: My Worst Best Friend by Dyan Sheldon

30 Aug

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release year: 2010
Genre:
YA
One sentence summary:
Keep your friends close, keep your selfish, annoying treats-you-like-crap best friend even closer.
Rating:
3.5 out of 5
Review copy from publisher

Gracie and Savannah are best friends –and utterly unalike. Savannah is beautiful, outrageous, and irresistible to the opposite sex. Gracie is shy, smart, and would rather be studying lizards than meeting boys. Still, they’ve made a surprisingly great team, and (until now) it seemed as if nothing could come between them. But lately, Savannah’s talent for lying and manipulating is becoming harder to ignore. She’s fallen head over heels for an elusive college boy, and Gracie can’t help wondering: is her friend as confident as she seems? When Savannah gets between Gracie and her crush, the line separating best friend from worst friend is crossed.

From Candlewick Press website.

CHARACTERS: Here’s the thing: I didn’t love any of these characters. Well, except for Cooper who reminded me of Johnny Depp in Benny and Joon. Cooper was just a cool, weird dude.  I found Gracie to be a living, breathing doormat for Savannah. And as for Savannah, well, she was just a peach. But even though I didn’t care for them all that much and I did a lot of eye-rolling and head-shaking as I read, they were believable. And I think A LOT of teen girls are going to be able to identify with Gracie. Hell, I haven’t been a teen for a while and I identified with her.

PLOT: OMG this brought back memories. Savannah is just using Gracie and really doesn’t give a damn about her, but Gracie doesn’t see it. Everyone around Gracie sees it, but not her. There were times when I was literally screaming at Gracie to wake the Hell up and ditch Savannah. When their friendship starts to go south, it was great watching Gracie come into her own. And really, that’s what this book is all about: discovering who you are and what’s best for you. It’s also about finding the right balance between being a good friend and not being taken advantage of.

WRITING: What struck me the most about Sheldon’s writing was her dialogue and the way she used it to as an extension of her characters’ personalities. The main characters each had very distinct speech patterns, especially Savannah and Cooper. The story is told in first-person and it was neat to see what Gracie thought of them and how much it differed from what we learned through what they said.

WHO I WOULD  RECOMMEND MY WORST BEST FRIEND TO: If you are into realistic, honest YA, then you will probably enjoy this book.