Tag Archives: Young Adult

The Universe vs Alex Woods — Gavin Extence

29 Nov

alexwoods

 

Publisher: Redhook
Released: June 25th, 2013
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Read hubby’s purchased copy

 

 

A rare meteorite struck Alex Woods when he was ten years old, leaving scars and marking him for an extraordinary future. The son of a fortune teller, bookish, and an easy target for bullies, Alex hasn’t had the easiest childhood.

But when he meets curmudgeonly widower Mr. Peterson, he finds an unlikely friend. Someone who teaches him that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make it count.

So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the front seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he’s fairly sure he’s done the right thing …

Introducing a bright young voice destined to charm the world,The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a celebration of curious incidents, astronomy and astrology, the works of Kurt Vonnegut and the unexpected connections that form our world.

From Goodreads

My husband bought this book last year as his Christmas Eve book choice (every year we go into a bookstore on Christmas Eve and buy a book to read that evening/Christmas Day. Yes, we are those kind of people.) Once he finished it he started hounding me to read it. It sounded like an interesting enough read, but I didn’t feel a driving desire to read it. I finally picked it up last month and am very glad I did.

This was just a lovely read. At first it seems like it’s going to be a quirky book about this quirky kid who just happened to have gotten beamed off the head by a meteorite, but it ends up being much more than that.

The way the author writes the growing friendship with Mr. Peterson is just amazing. Here are two characters who really don’t have anything in common, yet they form a connection and a strong friendship. And it isn’t presented in a way that’s overly saccharine or moral message after moral message. It’s honest and real and funny but also heartbreaking at times.

I don’t want to give too much away from the plot, but I love how it was woven together and once again any lessons or morals weren’t shoved in my face. But it definitely made me think of my live and the choices I would make in certain situation.

The writing style and tone was spot on for the plot of the book. The author lets things flow naturally and there’s nothing forced about the POV or the voice of Alex.

This is definitely going on my Favourites shelf.

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The Love that Split the World — Emily Henry

19 Sep

split

 

Publisher: Razorbill
Released: Jan 26th, 2016
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher

 

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

From Goodreads

I love, love, LOVE how this book starts. Right in the middle of the story, no preamble or backstory or lead in. Just BAM! there you are. Why this works so well is that it really gave me a sense of being off balanced, which is how Natalie feels for a large part of the book. Things are going on, weird things, and she isn’t sure why. Or even what sometimes. So the opening really put me in the middle of her feelings, and I just loved that.

The friendship between Natalie and her best friend Megan was spot on. As was the dialogue. So realistic and snappy and fun. But these two had a deep bond and that came across strongly, even during the moments of banter.

The timey wimey stuff was cool, too, although I have to admit I didn’t 100% understand it. And I’m not sure what happens at the end of the book. But I think that is more about me than the story or the writing. I tend to have a hard time wrapping my brain around that kind of thing.

Even though I was a bit unsure about the ending, I really, really enjoyed this book.

 

The Serpent King — Jeff Zentner

13 Sep

serpent

 

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House
Released: March 8th, 2016
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher

 

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.

Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.

From Goodreads

OMG this book. THIS BOOK. It started off nice and calm, an interesting novel about friendship, then a little over half way through it turned into one of those books that has you feeling ALL THE FEELZ and frantically turning the pages and talking out loud to yourself and wanting to take the author out for cup of tea to thank them SO MUCH for writing it.

I won’t go into the plot because I don’t want to spoil anything, and I generally don’t in reviews anyway, but this was one of the deepest and truest and loveliest and heart-wrenching friendship stories I have every read. And while there are other aspects to the plot, for me it was all about the friendship between Dill and Lydia and Travis.

I love when a book deals with emotions without being overly emotional and fake and that’s exactly what The Serpent King does. Zentner’s writing style is very quiet and honest, no big bells and whistles and I mean that as the biggest compliment. Big things happen, but he writes about them from a place of emotion and human connection and parts of this book just left me gutted.

I felt such a strong attachment to the characters in The Serpent King that I really, really wanted to know what happened to them after the last page of the book, and that really isn’t like me. But the story and the characters were so well and realistically written and I just felt like I was invested in their lives.

This was an amazing read and I can’t recommend it enough.

Stronger — Lani Woodland

23 Jan

stronger

 

Released: August 24th, 2014
Genre: Young adult, sci-fi
Source: Ebook from author for review

 

 

It’s been said, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. In the aftermath of an alien invasion, the old saying became literal.

When the aliens attacked Earth, their bombs changed our atmosphere. Through DNA manipulation, humanity survived, but exist now as two distinct classes of people: the Valudis who heal and gain strength from every hurt, and the weaker Debilii, for whom the slightest injury can be fatal. The Debilii are servants for the Valudis, who in turn act as warriors and protectors. And ruling over them all are the alien Orions who decided they liked Earth enough to stay.

Despite being born a Debilii, Lexie Hake bravely joined the resistance to free Earth from the Orions. When several run-ins with Bryant, a handsome Valudis, bring her secret activities to the aliens’ notice, the whole rebellion is put at risk. Lexie is forced to take a more active role in overthrowing the Orions. ‪She might be Earth’s last chance at freedom, and if she fails, the Orions’ ruthless reign may never end.

From Goodreads

Okay, this book has one of THE BEST opening lines I’ve ever read. I mean, it sucked me right in and made me go “WHAT?” right off the bat. The book started off with a bang and pretty much continued right through.

This was a fast read for me. I read about 75% of it in one sitting and often found that I had to do that thing where I force myself to SLOW DOWN AND READ ALL THE WORDS. This was an action-packed book, my friends. A lot of holy shit moments take place and it was a fun and plot-twisty kinda read.

The world-building was top-notch. I could picture each building and also each species. This is super important for me, since I am not a visual person. Usually I can’t visualize what’s being described to me. But Lani did such an amazing job describing everything that it felt like I was there.

Lexie was an awesome main character. Rather kick-ass. She has a lot thrown at her and I liked that while she did have moments of feeling sorry for herself, she never sunk into a damsel in distress. But she wasn’t obnoxious about her ability, either. She was unsure of herself at times, and this just added to the believability of the character.

I really enjoyed Stronger and was sad when the book ended. (Any chance of a sequel, Lani? :D)

Fierce Ink Press

8 Jun

Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook has probably heard me talk about my super sekrit project. It first came about in November and I’ve been working on it since January. And the thing is, I haven’t been working on it alone. My friend and business partner Kimberly Walsh is in cahoots with me. She just doesn’t have as big of a mouth as I do. 🙂

We were going to wait a bit longer to announce this super sekrit project, but we’re a finalist for the Start-Up PEI Challenge, with the winner being announced tonight.

So, what is this super sekrit project?

Fierce Ink Press! Kimberly and I are starting our very own publishing label. We will be publishing young adult books by Atlantic Canadian authors (PEI, NS, NB, NFLD). Fierce Ink is a co-op, so all of our authors will actually be a part of the company. You can kinda think of us as a melding of traditional publishing and self publishing. Kinda. But of course, being who we are, we’re blazing our own trail and approaching things differently.

Our first title will launch Septemebr 23. I can’t let you in on the deets just yet, but it’s just, well, I LURVE it. I’m so excited for you guys to get your grubbies on it. (Maybe even before the release?) We’re also publishing some non-fiction pieces about all things teen.

So, yeah, to say I am excited and nerved up and giggly and just plan HAPPY would be putting it mildly.

Review: Wake by Lisa McMann

31 Mar

Simon Pulse, 2008

Not all dreams are sweet.

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people’s dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie’s seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can’t tell anybody about what she does — they’d never believe her, or worse, they’d think she’s a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn’t want and can’t control.

Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else’s twisted psyche. She is a participant….

From Simon and Schuster Canada website

This  book was freaking amazing! I mean, I know I’m coming a bit late to the party, but I can’t believe how much this book blew me away. I had no idea what it was about when I requested it from the library, just that Twitter was a flutter about Gone, the third book in this trilogy. It only made sense that I should read the first two books before digging into the third.

I have never read a book where the writing style affected the overall tone of the book so much. For me, the writing almost became a character in the book. The writing was very minimalist, with lots of short sentences and paragraphs. Janie’s life is pretty bleak, and the writing accentuated this perfectly. As a dirt poor teen who can slip into someone’s dreams at anytime, she doesn’t have a whole lot to be happy about.  There are no flowery speeches or overdone descriptions in Wake. What you see is what you get.

It is also written in first person, something that I normally don’t go for, but it totally works in Wake.  There is an immediacy to the plot, and to Janie’s life, that wouldn’t have been captured by using past tense.

Now, don’t get me wrong: bleak doesn’t mean boring. There are lots of twists and turns in the story, and quite often I was surprised by the direction that the author took. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, McMann would throw a curve ball.

I also like the fact that while there were romantic elements to Wake, the romance presented wasn’t glossy or easy. It was rough, confusing and sometimes hurtful. Kinda like real life.

About half way through Wake, I requested the second book, Fade, and Gone from my library. I loved Fade (review coming) and am still impatiently waiting for Gone.

Review: The Girl with the Mermaid Hair by Delia Ephron

30 Mar

HarperCollins Canada, 2010

Click. Sukie Jamieson takes a selfie after her tennis lesson. Click. She takes one before she has to give a presentation in class. Click. She takes one to be sure there’s nothing in her teeth after eating pizza at Clementi’s. And if she can’t take a selfie, she checks her reflection in windows, spoons, car chrome—anything available, really. So when her mother gives her an exquisite full-length mirror that once belonged to her grandmother, Sukie is thrilled. So thrilled that she doesn’t listen to her mother’s warning: “This mirror will be your best friend and worst enemy.” Because mirrors, as Sukie discovers, show not only the faraway truth but the truth close up. And finding out that close-up truth changes people. Often forever.

From HarperTeen website

I have to admit that for the first 70 pages or so, I really didn’t like this book. Or, rather, I didn’t “get” this book. I didn’t get Suki, the main character. I didn’t get the plot. I didn’t get the writing.

I found Suki raither vain and self involved. She spent a good portion of the first 1/4 of the book staring at herself in the mirror, admiring her beauty and daydreaming about hunky Bobo. (Part of my dislike of the first part of the book was the name Bobo. I found it so dumb and I hated it so much, it was distracting.)

I disliked this book so much that at page 80 I simply set it down and moved on to another book, something I rarely do.  But I believe in second chances, so I gave The Girl with the Mermaid Hair another try. And I’m glad that I did.

Once I got back into the book I discovered that Suki wasn’t supposed to be 100% likeable. She was supposed to be shallow and vain. But as we are introduced to the people in her life, particularly her parents, it becomes clear why she is the way she is. And the plot?  What I thought was the plot (Suki’s attempt to get Bobo) was actually secondary to the main focus of the book, which was Suki’s growth and development as a teen ager coming to terms with who she is.

The writing style also grew on me. Subtle and simple, Ephron didn’t try to make her writing clever or alluring: it just was. There isn’t a whole lot of action in the book, and I would almost describe the style as slow. But in a good way. The further you get in the book, the more you realize that there is a depth to Suki’s story that isn’t obvious at first.

I guess the best way to put it is that The Girl with the Mermaid Hair grew on me. After it I read it, I kinda went “Huh,okay” and beyond that wasn’t sure what to think. But as I did think back on the book it became clear that while it doesn’t wow from page 1, it does slowly convince the reader that it is worth something.

Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for the review copy.