Tag Archives: Gangs

Book Reviews
February 12, 2014 posted by Nichole

The Lure – Lynne Ewing

18052928From the bestselling author of the Daughters of the Moon series comes a gritty, sexy novel about a teen who is forced to become a “lure”-a beautiful girl who is used to lure victims of gang violence.

Fifteen-year-old Blaise Montgomery lives in the gritty outskirts of Washington, DC, where a stray bullet can steal a life on the way to school. Drugs and violence are the only ways to survive, so Blaise and her friends turn to gangs for safety, money, and love. When Blaise is invited to join Core 9, one of the most infamous crews, she jumps at the chance. Though her best guy friends, Rico and Satch, warn her about the danger, she agrees to be beaten for a minute straight as part of the gang’s initiation ritual.

Now Blaise is finally part of a crew. A family.

But things get only more dangerous when she becomes a member of Core 9 and tensions with a rival gang heat up. Trek, the head of Core 9, asks Blaise to be his “lure,” the sexy bait he’ll use to track down enemy gang members and exact revenge. Rico and Satch tell her it’s a death sentence, but Blaise can’t resist the money and unparalleled power. As Trek puts Blaise in increasingly dangerous situations, she begins to see that there’s more to lose than she ever realized-including Satch, the one person who has the power to get under her skin. With death lurking around every corner, should Blaise continue to follow the only path she’s ever known, or cut and run?


I’m being totally honest here, when I first received The Lure in the mail, I didn’t want to read it. It was contemporary, about gangs, and I knew that someone was going to be killed off at some point in time. Three things that really don’t capture my interest all that much. I was a sucker for the cover, though, and I decided to pick it up and give it a shot. And, man, am I glad I did.

The Lure is one of the most beautiful and heart wrenching books that I have ever read. I laughed, I cried….I wanted to throw the book across the room several times. Needless to say, this is one that evokes so. many. feels. Seriously….if you’re a big contemporary fan…make sure that you have some tissues handy. There were times when I was reading this book that I actually wondered if Lynne Ewing went undercover as a gangster to write this book. I don’t know how she did it. Honestly…I don’t know how to do anything but gush about this book. It was just so good!

Every single character in The Lure was spot on. I was surprised at how head over heels in love I fell with some of the characters simply because they were gangsters up to no good, and I didn’t think I could like anyone like that. I was wrong. I loved them. I’m a little ashamed to say that I even loved the bad guys. Not because they were bad, but I loved them because they felt so real. That’s the thing. Everyone in this book was so real. I often forget that I was even reading a book.

I could sit here and talk about every single aspect of The Lure but all you’re going to hear me say is how great it is. It was such an amazing book. I really really really really hope that there’s a sequel! I guess covers do say a lot about a book, because if it wasn’t for the cover I probably wouldn’t have read it….and let me tell you….this was awwwwesome! Go pick up your copy today!


Pages: 288

Publication Date: February 11th, 2014

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Rating: : ★★★★★


Book Reviews
October 13, 2013 posted by Nichole

Chasing Shadows – by Swati Avasthi & Illustrated by Craig Phillips

15756269Chasing Shadows is a searing look at the impact of one random act of violence.

Before: Corey, Holly, and Savitri are one unit—fast, strong, inseparable. Together they turn Chicago concrete and asphalt into a freerunner’s jungle gym, ricocheting off walls, scaling buildings, leaping from rooftop to rooftop.

But acting like a superhero doesn’t make you bulletproof…

After: Holly and Savitri are coming unglued. Holly says she’s chasing Corey’s killer, chasing revenge. Savitri fears Holly’s just running wild—and leaving her behind. Friends should stand by each other in times of crissi. But can you hold on too tight? Too long?

In this intense novel, told in two voices, and incorporating comic-style art sections, Swati Avasthi creates a gripping portrait of two girls teetering on the edge of grief and insanity. Two girls who will find out just how many ways there are to lose a friend . . . and how many ways to be lost.


Chasing Shadows is one of those books that I simply read for the cover. I mean look at that. It’s gorgeous! Before I read the synopsis, I had no idea it was contemporary. And as you know, I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary books. But every now and then, I find a contemporary book that I fall head over heels in love with. This was one of those books.

The thing that most made this book was the pictures. I’ve never read a graphic novel before, but I’m tempted to after looking at Craigh Phillips’s work. I actually found myself speed reading to get to the next frame of pictures. They were amazingly beautiful and so detailed. I was just blown away by the artwork in this book. It also blended very well with the story. You know, even though it switched from page long text to graphic images with bubble text, I still felt 100% in the story. I think it added to it in the sense that I was actually getting to see the characters. After reading this book, I really want to see more graphic images in YA books.

Swati Avasthi’s writing style was also unique and heart wrenching. While she doesn’t really write in poetry (although there were a few occurrences of that,) her writing style reminded me a lot of that of Ellen Hopkins. It was both lyrical and poetic. Whenever I would set this book down, I would find myself craving it. I needed to know what happened next. I needed to get to the next set of pictures. I found myself racing to the end to see what exactly was going to happen next. I loved it. I wish there were more books like this. No other word fits this better than beautiful.

There’s nothing really negative to say about Chasing Shadows, but I did wish that it stroked more emotion from me. The best contemporary novels have made me cry, and this one didn’t quite hit that level for me. I was completely invested in the characters, but I needed just a little bit of something else to trigger the water works. Some people might wonder WHY I would want to cry, but I’ve found that a contemporary book that makes you cry is one to keep with you forever. Crying means that that book was it’s best. And I feel like maybe…just maybe…this one needed a little more to be perfection.

Chasing Shadows is 100% realistic contemporary. It deals with trauma, friendship, loyalty, and mental illness. I’ll admit it, I’ve never read about mental illness before. Quite frankly, it scares the living daylights out of me. And since I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary, I don’t really immerse myself in that type of environment. Reading about it in Chasing Shadows was very intense and a little hard sometimes. This book had twists and turns that I didn’t really see coming (and some that I did,) and I just felt  emotionally exhausted after I finished it. After I finished it, all I could think is that this is something that I would want my students to be reading. I think that this book sends a great message to young adults, and it is just perfect for teenagers all over the world to read. It was so freaking beautiful.

This book came out in September, so it SHOULD  be available at your local bookstores and libraries. I would encourage every single person, whether you’re a contemporary fan or not, to go read this book. I’m not a contemporary fan, and I loved it. And I think that this is a great book to immerse yourself in artwork and excellent for fans of graphic novels. I loved it. I hope you love it, too.


Pages: 320

Publication Date: September 24th 2013

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Rating: : ★★★★☆


Teaser Quote: “Corey did handstands four flights up, Holly crawled into someone else’s skin, and I swallowed stones of guilt just to hide from a simple fact: we are all vulnerable, and there is nothing between us and a bullet. It’s terrifying, this life. It’s precarious, it’s random un-design.”

Book Reviews
May 20, 2012 posted by Kiona

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar — Kady Cross

In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling – or dangerous.

Sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne and her “straynge band of mysfits” have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper, hauled off by bounty hunters. But Jasper is in the clutches of a devious former friend demanding a trade-the dangerous device Jasper stole from him…for the life of the girl Jasper loves.

One false move from Jasper and the strange clockwork collar around Mei’s neck tightens. And tightens.

The thrilling sequel to The Girl in the Steel Corset picks up right where the last book left off. After Jasper is apprehended by bounty hunters, his friends journey to America in an effort to rescue him and clear his name. But his friends soon realize it’s not the authorities who have Jasper, been an even more threatening enemy, one who knows Jasper’s weaknesses and exploits them in exchange for a powerful device that might endanger all of them.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed The Girl in the Steel Corset, the second book in The Steampunk Chronicles blows the first away. I enjoyed every minute of it and found it physically impossible to put the book down. The action is fast-paced and utterly relentless. It’s been awhile since I’ve read such a cinematic action-packed novel and I’d forgotten how much I missed this style of writing. Each character is fierce in their own way, so they each get their own shining moments in Clockwork Collar. Plus, we get a handful of new, equally fierce characters that give our beloved characters a run for their money.

The action is easily my favorite part of this series. I’m addicted to well-rendered fight scenes and Kady Cross’s descriptions are top-notch. I love that she points out all the differences and nuances that separate the characters; Sam’s brute strength, Finley’s penchant for literal fist-fighting, Jasper’s love of pistols, and Mei’s thorough background in martial arts. These small details not only act as characterization, but also set Cross’s books apart from all others. But of course, Cross also accomplishes this with her inclusion of steampunk elements. When I first picked up this series, I was wary because it was steampunk. Some steampunk authors bite off more than they can chew and the result is remarkably dissatisfying. But Kady Cross proves that when steampunk is done well, it’s absolutely amazing. And enthralling. And andrenaline-spiking.

Of course, the character development is so, so impressive. Now that both halves of Finley’s personality have been united, you’d think she’d feel less conflicted. But she still suffers from an understandable internal turmoil. She has to accept that this darker part of her is her and she’s not sure just how much she should give into it — and what she’d have to sacrifice if she does. But she cannot deny that a part of her is drawn to darkness and danger (which is why part of her is attracted to Jack Dandy), and Griffin can’t deny that that part of Finley leaves him unbelievably worried and distrustful.

Speaking of Jack and Griffin, I’m a sucker for love triangles and it was one of my favorite aspects of the first book in The Steampunk Chronicles. Oddly enough, the lack of development of the love triangle is one of my favorite aspects of this book.  Finley, Griffin, Sam, and Emily travel to New York to rescue Jasper, which means that Finley leaves Jack Dandy at home in London. Therefore, her friendship with Griffin is what’s truly developed in this book and Cross certainly takes her time drawing out this relationship. I can’t even express how much I truly appreciate this. Finley and Griffin are such good friends and they both have valid reasons for being afraid of taking their relationship to a romantic level (Griffin more so than Finley). But the romantic tension is always there, especially when they argue, and their desire for each other practically sizzles off the page. Plus, Emily and Sam are completely adorable together and satisfy the “relationship quota” for the book.

There’s no one I wouldn’t recommend this series to. The inventions are extraordinary, the romantic tension is palpable, the plot is thrilling and unpredictable. The Girl in the Clockwork Collar is, quite simply, utterly engrossing. I love these characters and, once again, I can’t wait to fall back into their world. And for any science nerds, Nikola Tesla plays a pretty strong role throughout the book — a fact I was ecstatically surprised to discover. I am a huge Tesla fan and his inclusion as a character made me love the book that much more, if possible.

Pages: 416
Publication Date: May 2012
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Source: Provided by Publisher
Rating : ★★★★★

Teaser Quote: “Before, she could have blamed this sort of behavior on her darker half, but that was no longer the case. Griffin has helped her begin to unite her two sides, and now she was no longer one or the other, but both. Now it was up to her to decide what sort of person she wanted to be.

Rules of Attraction: A Perfect Chemistry Novel – Simone Elkeles
Book Reviews
June 4, 2010 posted by Nikki

Rules of Attraction: A Perfect Chemistry Novel – Simone Elkeles

Carlos Fuentes doesn’t want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Boulder, Colorado. He wants to keep living on the edge, and carve his own path—just like Alex did. Unfortunately, his ties to a Mexican gang aren’t easy to break, and he soon finds himself being set up by a drug lord.

When Alex arranges for Carlos to live with his former professor and his family to keep him from being sent to jail, Carlos feels completely out of place. He’s even more thrown by his strong feelings for the professor’s daughter, Kiara, who is nothing like the girls he’s usually drawn to. But Carlos and Kiara soon discover that in matters of the heart, the rules of attraction overpower the social differences that conspire to keep them apart.

As the danger grows for Carlos, he’s shocked to discover that it’s this seemingly All-American family who can save him. But is he willing to endanger their safety for a chance at the kind of life he’s never even dreamed possible?

Carlos Fuentes is a lot like his older brother, Alex, used to be. He’s got the hot Mexican look working for him, the gang affiliations, and a whole lot of bad boy ‘tude to go with it. On first glance, Carlos looks a whole lot like you’re average trouble maker, and he does absolutely nothing to dispel such ideas, either. But then Carlos’ mother ships him off to America to live with his brother, hoping and praying that such a change will give Carlos a better chance in life, and everything Carlos knew to be true about himself comes crashing on down.

Alex is different now. He’s cleaned himself up and managed to pull right away from any gang affiliations that he was previously linked to. He’s dating Brittany and going to college. All in all, Alex is making a good, honest life for himself. As irrational as it sounds, Carlos feels betrayed by Alex and his attempts to step away from his familial roots. What Carlos can’t seem to understand, though, is that Alex made those changes for his family.

Not surprisingly, Carlos instantly gets mixed up with the wrong kids at school and lands himself in trouble with the law. Through circumstances that are beyond his control, Carlos winds up unable to live with Alex and – begrudgingly – ends up rooming with a teacher. It’s here, in this house, that Carlos develops an infatuation with his fellow classmate, and daughter of the professor, Kiara.

Kiara is everything Carlos isn’t. She’s plain, modest, and a good, wholesome teenager. She holds responsibility and academic achievement in his esteem, and abides by the natural order of right and wrong. Although she’s not a typical ‘leader’, Kiara knows who she is and is confident in her sense of self and character.

And she completely wipes Carlos off his feet. He knows its crazy. He could have any girl he wanted. Why her? His attraction to a plain, goody two shoes makes no sense to him at all and he does everything in his power to fight it. But if we’ve learned anything from Alex and Brittnay’s tale in Perfect Chemistry, we know that Fuentes boys can only deny the sound of their thumping hearts for so long.

Lucky for Carlos, Kiara is also seriously taken with Carlos. Although she’s completely surprised by her feelings for him, she processes the whole thing in a mature way. She accepts their differences and opens herself to the possibility that something could develop between them.

In true Fuentes fashion, though, Carlos lands himself in a whole lot of hot water. His gang affiliations catch up with him and Carlos is forced into a situation that he can’t say no to. His life, and the lives of those he loves, depends on his participation in a high risk, illegal activity.

You’ll never believe who swoops in and saves the day…

Although Rules of Attraction follows a similar formula to Perfect Chemistry, Carlos has enough personal differences to Alex to make this story unique enough. The relationship that develops between Carlos and Kiara is different to the relationship readers are exposed to in Perfect Chemistry.

Like everything Elkeles does, Rules of Attraction is an easily digested novel, and I read the whole thing in just a handful of hours. This novel has all the good stuff – romance, action, suspense, humor and good, colorful writing. As is everything she produces, this instalment from Elkeles was a joy to read. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: “As long as you’re talking to Brittany,” I say as I bite off the end of an egg roll, “why don’t you ask for your huevos back.”