Posts Categorized: young adult fiction

The Chapel Wars

13 Feb, 2017 by in las vegas, lindsey leavitt, young adult fiction Leave a comment

The Chapel Wars

The Chapel Wars

by Lindsey Leavitt
Published by Bloomsbury USA on May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 292
Format: Hardcover
four-stars
Source: Library
Buy the BookGoodreads
Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?

And then there's Grandpa's letter. Not only is Holly running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money—fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family's mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and... Dax. No wait, not Dax.

Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there's a wedding chapel to save.

A coming of age story set in Las Vegas, The Chapel Wars features a teen who has just inherited her grandfather’s family wedding chapel. Across the parking lot is their arch nemesis, the Cranston family. A nasty rival with a temper, themed zombie and Elvis weddings and a grandson Dax. When Holly’s grandfather also leaves a mysterious sealed letter for Dax, Holly is forced to make the acquaintance. It’s Montagues and Capulets set in the desert. Two warring chapels and families with problems of their own. The setting is fun and nostalgic as is the banter between Dax and Holly.

The Chapel Wars handles life problems like divorce, teen alcoholism, grief and half-siblings. There are some heavy emotions and moments as teens are forced to act as adults. Recommended for older teens.about_ the_author

Lindsey Leavitt is a former elementary school teacher and present-day writer/mom/party animal (not to be confused with her spirit animal, which is a lion). She lives with her family in the Utah mountains. She is the author of the COMMANDER IN CHEESE series, THE PAGES BETWEEN US series (Co-written with Robin Mellom) SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD, GOING VINTAGE, THE CHAPEL WARS, and the PRINCESS FOR HIRE series.

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Silence by Deborah Lytton Blog Tour

03 Mar, 2015 by in Deborah Lytton, Shadow Mountain, YA contemporary, young adult fiction Leave a comment

I received this book for free from Shadow Mountain in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Silence by Deborah Lytton Blog Tour

Silence

by Deborah Lytton
Published by Shadow Mountain on March 7, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
four-half-stars
Source: Shadow Mountain
Buy the BookGoodreads
Stella was born to sing. Someday Broadway. Even though she is only a sophomore at a new high school, her voice has given her the status as a cool kid. But then a tragic accident renders her deaf. She cannot hear herself sing not to mention speak. She cannot hear anything. Silence. What happens when everything you have dreamed of and hoped for is shattered in a single moment?

Enter Hayden, the boy with blonde curls who stutters. He is treated like an outcast because he is not normal. And, yet, Stella feels an attraction to him that she cannot explain. As Hayden reaches out to help Stella discover a world without sound his own tragic past warns him to keep a distance. But their connection is undeniable. Can the boy who stutters and the girl whose deaf find a happily-ever-after?

SILENCE is a story of friendship and hope with a lesson that sometimes it takes a tragedy to help us find beauty and love in unexpected places.

There are so many things to love about Silence by Deborah Lytton. It’s a clean contemporary YA story of a two disabled students who find redemption and healing in their friendship, and then, ultimately find love. Stella is a High School drama student on the rise with a gift that just might be her ticket to popularity–her voice. When an accident leaves Stella deaf, she has to look at how life will change wihout the ability to hear and sing. Enter Hayden Rivers who stutters and is a social outcast. He carries a story of his own involving abuse and selective mutism. The two together, make a wonderful team.

The language of Silence is very poetic,which at times slowed the pace of the story, but by the last half of the book I was completely hooked. I stayed up long past my bed time to finish. I do wish the main protagonist was older than 15. Their relationship seemed to move from friendship to a mature eternal love in a short 17 days and would be more fitting for an older teen. Overall, I loved this one and will pass it on to others highly recommended.

about_ the_author

Deborah Lytton is an established writer who began her work life as an actress at the age of six. She graduated from UCLA debby-lytton-2015-1 and Pepperdine University with a degree in law before becoming a writer. She lives in California with her two daughters and is an active blogger and member of SCBWI. FInd her at http://www.deborahlytton.com/

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Remake by Ilima Todd ~ Review

09 Dec, 2014 by in dystopian, ilima todd, Shadow Mountain, ya, young adult fiction 1 comment

I received this book for free from Shadow Mountain in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Remake by Ilima Todd ~ Review

Remake

by Ilima Todd
Published by Shadow Mountain on October 14th 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
four-stars
Source: Shadow Mountain
Buy the BookGoodreads
Nine is the ninth female born in her batch of ten females and ten males. By design, her life in Freedom Province is without complications or consequences. However, such freedom comes with a price. The Prime Maker is determined to keep that price a secret from the new batches of citizens that are born, nurtured, and raised androgynously.

But Nine isn't like every other batcher. She harbors indecision
and worries about her upcoming Remake Day -- her seventeenth birthday, the age when batchers fly to the Remake facility and have the freedom to choose who and what they'll be.

When Nine discovers the truth about life outside of Freedom
Province, including the secret plan of the Prime Maker, she is
pulled between two worlds and two lives. Her decisions will test
her courage, her heart, and her beliefs. Who can she trust? Who does she love? And most importantly, who will she decide to be?

First thing I have to say is that the cover is gorgeous and absolutely fits the plot and character featured. Nine is a teen waiting for her 17th birthday when she will pick her trade and be “remade” as either a male of female. She is free to choose her physical features and ultimately the trajectory of her life according to her society’s laws. But what she does not understand is that there is a whole other reality out there that involves family, fertility and love. This book tested the limits of conventionally accepted values and the turn our society is taking towards gender less definition of youth at the same time. It openly discusses sex, gender, and God but is set in a futuristic dystopian society much like The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld or Divergent by Veronica Roth. I personally would not let my children read it until they are older and had been well exposed to both sex and gender issues. However, as an adult who has read a wide range of similar YA dystopian books, I enjoyed Remake as a fresh take on what could very well be in our near future. The themes are freedom of choice, family, seeking truth and government oppression.

I wish there would have been a bit more character development, especially with the two boys she has to choose between. And, I am hoping there is a sequel ( this was announced as a two book deal) There are a lot of open ends at the conclusion of Remake. Would I recommend it? Yes. Moms and dads, please pre read before passing it on. Adults, this is thought provoking and extremely timely. Well done Ilima. You’ve asked and introduced some very important questions.

about_ the_author
ilima toddIlima Todd was born and raised on the north shore of Oahu and currently resides in the Rocky Mountains. She never wanted to be a writer even though she loves books and reading. She earned a degree in physics instead. But the characters in her head refused to be ignored, and now she spends her time writing science fiction for teens. When she is not writing, Ilima loves to spend time with her husband and four children.

Find her on Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads * Pinterest * Email

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Shutter by Courtney Alameda ~ ARC Review

19 Nov, 2014 by in courtney alameda, feiwel and friends, horror, young adult fiction Leave a comment

I received this book for free from Feiwel and Friends in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Shutter by Courtney Alameda ~ ARC Review

Shutter

by Corutney Alameda
Published by Macmillan on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Horror, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
four-half-stars
Source: Feiwel and Friends
Buy the BookGoodreads
Horror has a new name: introducing Courtney Alameda.

Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.

First of all you should all know I am a wuss when it comes to horror. I stay far, far away from anything scary. However, I requested Shutter for a few reasons

1) It’s about a ghost hunter who uses photography to trap ghosts and has a vintage camera collection

2) I know the author as a local publicist and librarian in a library that really needs to be exorcised because of its creepy history. (For real, I know the story behind the beautiful historic Provo Library and… wowza)

3) It was Halloween when I first opened Shutter, and who doesn’t read something creepy on that holiday?

Courtney did not disappoint. The writing is poetic and atmospheric, down right creepy and at times gross. It reminded me of Ghostbusters meets kick- a female heroine with an attitude and a bit of a past. This is not a book for the faint of heart. After the gory opening scene, prepare yourself for more :)

I loved main MC’s relationship with Australian Ryder and the character development she goes through to heal from the wounds of her childhood. There is mention of Van Helsing’s Dracula and lots of action as well as likable sidekick ghost hunter teens. My only apprehension was a tad bit of political agenda in regards to women holding the priesthood which was slipped in. (The author contacted me and said it is not intended as personal belief or agenda, just that it fits the character)

Overall, loved this debut. It was unique and sticks with you long after you’re finished. Thanks MacMillan for the sneak peek!

Content: moderate swearing, mention of sex, heavy paranormal violence, domestic and child abuse.

 

about_ the_author

Courtney Alameda’s spent her entire career trying to con and cajole people into reading great books. A veteran of the big-box bookstore trenches, Courtney now works as a librarian for the prettiest cortney_alamedalibrary you’ve ever seen, where she spends her time ordering large stacks of YA books, doing readers’ advisory, and dressing up as various mythical creatures for a variety of library events.

Courtney has an affinity for brightly colored lipstick, urban exploration, cosplay, video games, and Twitter. If she’s listening to music, it’s usually Florence + the Machine, Marina and the Diamonds, Rodrigo y Gabriela, or Jason Graves. Her addiction to Dr. Pepper is legendary.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Brigham Young University. She is represented by the amazing and talented John M. Cusick of Greenhouse Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with a legion of books and a tiny, five pound cat who possesses a giant personality.

“You can catch her shenanigans on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads; blogging with her sisters-in-the-macabre, theYA Scream Queens; or hanging out with the Fearless Fifteeners and the Class of 2k15.”

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Catch A Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

01 May, 2014 by in catch a falling star, kim culbertson, netgalley, scholastic, young adult fiction 5 comments

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Catch A Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

Catch a Falling Star

by Kim Culbertson
Published by Scholastic on April 29th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
four-stars
Source: Netgalley
Buy the BookGoodreads
A deliciously charming novel about finding true love . . . and yourself.

Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter's town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam's girlfriend while he's in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn't at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what's real and what's fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds - her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?

I’ve been on a contemporary YA kick lately looking for sweet, summer reads. Catch A Falling Star is just that! Small town girl Carter Moon lives in Little California and works in her parents’ sandwich shop. She’s perfectly happy with the way her life is now. No need to go off to New York or explore the world. She has roots in her town. Carter teaches the elderly dance classes and is not at all fazed when movie star Adam Jakes rolls in to town to shoot his latest movie. Adam is your typical arrogant child star turned young adult. He gets what he want s and he has an attitude. Carter’s best friend Chloe is the adoring fan, with poster plastered all over her walls. So no one is more shocked when Adam seems to take a liking to Carter. How did her friend make the radar and the cut to become Adam’s girlfriend?

Delicately yet realistically exploring addiction and the masks we all wear, Catch a Falling Star is a clean, sweet YA. We get a very clear picture of Carter, but not much fleshing out of Adam or the other side characters. I would have loved to know more about each of them! Carter had a functional relationship with her parents, she is down-to-earth and likable. She has the hard decision all seniors must make in the summer after high school. What to do, where to go to college, to take a gap year or to stay at home? In the vein of Wish You Were Italian and Jennifer E Smith books, Catch a Falling Star ended with a twist, and left me with a smile on my face. A cute read with some great poetic passages peppered through out. Thanks to Scholastic and Netgalley for the sneak peek!

Content: suitable for younger YA readers– boy taking off his shirt a few times, drinking at a party and kissing.

kim_culbertson

heatherAbout the Author

Sourcebooks Fire published Kim’s award winning first YA novel Songs for a Teenage Nomad (2010, originally Hip Pocket Press, 2007) and her second YA novel Instructions for a Broken Heart (2011) which was named a Booklist 2011 Top Ten Romance Title for Youth and won the 2012 Northern California Book Award for YA Fiction. Her third YA novel Catch a Falling Star will be published by Scholastic on April 29, 2014. When she’s not writing for teens, she’s teaching them. She’s a college advisor and teaches creative writing at Forest Charter School. Kim wrote her eBook novella The Liberation of Max McTrue for her students who, over the years, have taught her much more than she has taught them. Kim lives in the Northern California foothills with her husband and daughter.

Learn more on her website*facebook* twitter

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ARC Breview: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

06 Mar, 2014 by in ARC, henry holt, mary e pearson, ya, young adult fiction 1 comment

I received this book for free from Henry Holt in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Breview: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception

by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Published by Henry Holt on July 15th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 492
Format: ARC
five-stars
Source: Henry Holt
Buy the BookGoodreads
In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assasin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love

When I received The Kiss of Deception in the mail from Mac Teen I had never read any of Mary Pearson’s previous works nor had I  heard of her latest, so there were zero expectations. However, about five minutes into this book, I knew it was going to be epic!

“Holy good book batman” was my reaction after turning the last page.

Completely engrossing, excellent high fantasy with lush world building, suspense and the stuff classic fairy tales are made of. The story is told from multiple perspectives which I generally do not like, but Pearson executed it flawlessly and I didn’t feel confused or put off, just intrigued and curious how this mystery would all unfold. Between a betrothed, a prince, an assassin and a ladies maid there is plenty of plot spinning.

Because we are so far off from the book release and I do not want to spoil in any way I will just say this…incredible!

I cried
I soaked in the seaside villa with bright colors and common tavern folk
I relished the scenes with travelers who roam and wander, living in tents as gypsies
I second guessed myself all the time trying to tease out who is who
I enjoyed the rich, old mythical taste of kingdom, myth and legend
I finished and entered a reading slump
I grew to feel compassion for good guy and bad guy alike
I stalked the author’s website and Pinterest looking at all the pretties
I want book two!

Similar to:  Brightly Woven by Alex Bracken, Mistwood by Leah Cypess

Pre-order now!

Highlight for parental content: moderate violence, some swearing (mostly toward the end of the book), threat of assault

About the AuthorMary E Pearson

Mary E. Pearson is the award-winning author of The Jenna Fox Chronicles, The Miles Between, A Room on Lorelei, and Scribbler of Dreams.  She writes full-time from her home office in California where she lives with her husband and two golden retrievers.

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest

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ARC Breview: All That Glows by Ryan Graudin

30 Jan, 2014 by in book review, fairies, harper teen, london, ryan graudin, Uncategorized, young adult fiction 1 comment

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Breview: All That Glows by Ryan Graudin

All That Glows

by Ryan Graudin
Published by Harper Teen on February 11, 2014
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 480
Format: eARC
four-stars
Source: Edelweiss
Buy the BookGoodreads
Emrys—a fiery, red-headed Fae—always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city’s draining technology, until she’s sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn’t any normal assignment—she’s sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King. The prince’s careless ways and royal blood make him the irresistible for the dark spirits that feed on mortals. Sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure—Richard is one charge who will put Emrys’s magic and heart to the test.

When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through the London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love.

I have to admit that I am drawn like a moth to the flame by all things faerie– so of course, when I saw this one on Eidelweiss I had to grab it! In the vein of Lesley Livingston, Jenna Black, Julie Kagawa and Maggie Stiefvater comes a book about royalty, London and the fairy guard that protect them.

What I liked

The flow of the writing and the premise of a bit of a rogue prince who likes to make trouble being guarded by his very own fiery guard who is as old as time.

There are new mythological creatures not seen much–green ladies, banshees and dark dogs that hunt in the underground clubs and graveyards of London.

The clash between nature and modern civilization, the faeries become sick when surrounded by metal, technology and not enough thick forest

It’s a clean read. There is one swear word and a kissing scene, but otherwise it’s rated PG

Meeting Herne the Hunter and the personification of a very powerful fairy who rides through his own forest on the hunt

I wish

I connected more with the characters, they didn’t feel fleshed out enough and their romance was instant without much build up

The world where the fairies came was more and integral part of the setting the author built

The bottom line

I would buy a physical copy of this one when it comes out. I really enjoyed it and was happy to see a fairy book, as it’s been a while since we’ve seen one in the YA line up. I read All That Glows quickly and genuinely enjoyed the premise, the idea of magical a hidden world living in London and the final battle at the end. Thanks so much to Harper Teen for the sneak peek. I will be buying this one!

heather

 

ryan_graudinAuthor Bio

I write books. Some are about rowdy-partying princes and their faery guardians (ALL THAT GLOWS, HarperTeen, 2/11/14). Others are about teenagers fighting for their lives in the slums of the Hak Nam Walled City (THE WALLED CITY, Little, Brown, Fall 2014). I love writing, traveling to new lands, drinking chai lattes and hanging christmas lights. I also love Jesus. I’m repped by Adams Literary.

Learn More on her website*goodreads*twitter

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Book Breview: Endless by Amanda Gray

09 Jan, 2014 by in amanda gray, month9books, netgalley, review, young adult fiction 2 comments

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Breview: Endless by Amanda Gray

Endless

by Amanda Gray
Published by Month9Books on September 10, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Time Travel, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
three-half-stars
Source: Netgalley
Buy the BookGoodreads
Jenny Kramer knows she isn't normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them.

When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble on an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought. Like a past life.

Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But they weren't alone. Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her own dreams was there, too. When Nikolai appears next door, Jenny is forced to acknowledge that he has travelled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back.

While Ben, Jenny and Nikolai race against the clock - and the Order - Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life - and beyond death.

The first thing that drew me to Endless was the cover. Heaven! The beginning chapter was a little rocky for me as the character’s lines and choppy writing style didn’t connect well, but delving into the rest of the story was smooth and easy. This is a book rich with detail. If you were a fan of Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble, it’s another YA title to add to your shelves featuring the Romanov family of Russia.

Story in a Nutshell

Jenny is an artist who can feel and see people’s past by touching them so she remains recluse and immerses herself in her art. But suddenly a man she doesn’t know shows up in all of her paintings and begins to appear in her dreams. She has one true friend at the bookstore where they both work, but is suspicious of people. During her”spare time” works alongside her father as he renovates old homes. They meet Ben and his mother on one such job and Ben is just as standoffish.What Jessie and Ben find one day in the attic pulls both teens into a time travel mystery and a dangerous race for time in the present.

What I liked

I always like books with multi- layered elements of history. Abandoned homes that come to life, antiques with meaning in the present day, family history with links to the past

I loved that both the main characters parents were involved even in a  minute way in the story line. These teens have angst, they have independence– but they also have parents who check in and care.

Jenny is navigating what it means to trust and open up to people. She finds true friendship and others that stand by her as she lets down walls.

The flashbacks and  imagery of the Romanov family living in their own home as an exile and sewing their jewels into their clothing was so vivid and makes the bits of history real.

The pace clipped along without stalling which makes Endless interesting and easy to read.

What I Struggled With

I didn’t fall in love with main characters Jenny and Nikolai as they found each other in time. It seemed to be a pre destined romance but not as convincing or emotionally moving to the reader.

Ben, the other main teen character seemed to drop out of the story when Nikolai appears. I wanted to know more about his role in the past visions and what he is seeing and feeling.   Would  love to see a second novel or novella form his point of view in the future.

The mystical elements of ouija boards and mesmirization were weaved in to connect past and present, but along with the men in green robes that looked like monks, they just didn’t mesh with my vision of time travel and Russian history.

Content: mild swearing, moderate violence and one heavy kissing scene.

 

heather

Trailer

About the author

Amanda Gray believes in magic and fantasy and possibilities. She is a team of two bestselling authors who live only miles apart but have never met in person. They talk on the phone and are the best of friends and between them have written more than a dozen novels and novellas and have had their work appear on television.

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ARC Tour Review- Defy by Sara B. Larson

19 Nov, 2013 by in ARC tour, review, Sara B. Larson, scholastic, young adult fiction Leave a comment

ARC Tour Review- Defy by Sara B. Larson

Defy

by Sara B. Larson
Series: Defy #1
Published by Scholastic on January 7th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 336 pages
Format: ARC
Source: ARC Tour
Goodreads
A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?
Review: I received this book as part of a two state ARC tour and was so excited to read local author Sarah B. Larson’s debut. It reminded me a bit of Shannon Hale and Kristin Cashore–fantasy with a strong female heroine all mixed in with fantasy elements of magic.

Defy starts out with the death of Alexa’s parents, and her decision to flee with twin brother Marcell, ultimately disguising herself as a male soldier. She is welcomed as one of the King’s Elite guard who lives in the castle protecting royalty. 

I made a rocky start with this one as the opening chapter describe in detail the King’s breeding program.  Its a horrific description of the mistreatment of young women in Defy’s world. Alexa must visit the complex to escort newly orphaned girls which put a dark, sinister tone in the beginning that I did not like. However, after reading on, there were lots of things I did enjoy:

the relationship between Alexa and her brother– the family loyalty
the sparring of the guard, watching Alexa train
the idea of healing, of sorcery being used for good
the pacing, which kept me flipping pages, and
the two men who are vying for Alexa’s attention

The dynamic between Alexa and her main love is super confusing and uncomfortable for me, until we are sure where things stand. There was also a difficulty for me believing who does and does not know her identity secret.

In the end, this is not your run of the mill happily ever after. The character arc and progression of Alex to Alexa is a very conflicted, emotional one– from warrior to confused and in love, to the ending, which I can’t spoil, but is quite a twist. This is a solid debut by Sarah, one that you can tell she poured her heart into. Because of my personal content preferences it was rocky for me but I think it will appeal to many YA readers. 

Thanks so much to Windy Aphyrath, Sarah B. Larson and Scholastic for letting us have a sneak peek into Defy.

Content: This is a definitely pick for older teens or adults because of content (highlight the line after parenthesis for content) 
rape, violence against young women, moderate war related violence, heavy sensuality

Author Bio: I love writing, reading, and dessert–but the order varies by the day. I write books that have magic and romance and kick-butt girls and a whole lot more. My husband and I live in Utah with our three children. I write during naptime and the hours when most people are sleeping. My husband claims I should have a degree in “the art of multitasking.” On occasion you will find me hiding in a bubble bath with a book and some Swedish Fish. I am represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary and my YA debut DEFY is coming Spring 14 from Scholastic!

Find Sarah on Goodreads/ author website/ twitter/ facebook

Pre-Order:

Book Review- Palace of Stone: Princess Academy #2

08 Aug, 2012 by in Palace of Stone, Shannon Hale, young adult fiction 2 comments

Palace of Stone (Princess Academy #2)
by Shannon Hale
Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected Publication Date: August 21, 2012
by Bloomsbury USA
ISBN: 1599908735
Book source: ALA
5 Stars
Book Summary from Goodreads: Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she “should “help them. Soon Miri finds herself torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends’ ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city. Picking up where “Princess Academy “left off, this incredible stand-alone story celebrates the joys of friendship, the delight of romance, and the fate of a beloved fairy tale kingdom.
Cathy’s review: Miri is back to living her regular, old, boring life after the Princess Academy. She thought that things would have changed when the price of linder had been made more fair, but life has gone on as normal for the people in Mount Eskel. Miri is soon summoned to the capital city to help her best friend and Princess to be, Britta, with the wedding preparations. Miri is also to attend school, something she’s yearned to do for a long time. As she attends school, Miri begins to notice the chasm between the royals and the common people that they rule. She makes some new friends, including a boy named Timon, these friends seem to want to make things better for the common man, and they would really like Miri to join them. But Miri is confused, she is unsure whether she should help in the fight for the common man with Timon, or learn all she can and go back to her life in Mount Eskel with her love Peder. She begins to see that she must make a choice and soon, before that choice is made for her, but just what should she choose?
This book was so great! I love Miri, she is such a strong young woman, she wants to do what’s right, but she’s unsure of just which way she should go. I loved the feel of this book, you can feel the tone of revolution from the very beginning. I love reading the letters that Miri writes to her sister Marda, you can tell just how Miri feels and how much she is learning, including about herself, and changing. I love that this book can be read as part of a series, but it’s great to read just by itself too. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve read the original Princess Academy, but I didn’t feel lost at all. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves to read books by Shannon Hale, and anyone who loves to read about Princesses!
Content: Clean
About the Author: Shannon Hale is the New York Times best-selling author of six young adult novels: the Newbery Honor book Princess Academy, multiple award winner Book of a Thousand Days, and the highly acclaimed Books of Bayern series. She has written three books for adults, including Midnight in Austenland (Jan. 2012), companion book to Austenland. She co-wrote the hit graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge and its sequel Calamity Jack with husband Dean Hale. They live near Salt Lake City, Utah with their four small children, and their pet, a small, plastic pig. 
Find out more about author Shannon Hale: Goodreads/ Website/ Twitter