Tag Archives: Guest Review

Book Reviews
March 16, 2014 posted by Nichole

Nikki from Fiction Freak Guest Reviews Transparent by Natalie Whipple

I’m SO excited to have Nikki from Fiction Freak over at the blog today. We’ve had her on here in the past. I absolutely adore this girl. I hope you all love her review of Transparent by Natalie Whipple. And I’m SURE that she will kill me when she learns that I have not read this book *bows head in shame.*

11973377Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.

An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.

After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.

Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.

 

 

Nikki’s Review

Well well well, Transparent. I really didn’t expect…you.

So going straight into the review, I had a few issues with Fiona. She seemed a bit cynical and paranoid, but that’s understandable considering her background. While I do feel like her character wasn’t as developed as I’d hoped, she did grow on me throughout the book and I came to love her. She’s on the run from the only life she’s known and that made my heart hurt a little, every time she flinched away because of how she’d grown up. But she stayed strong and wouldn’t really let anything get to her.

Our side characters, though, were pretty awesome. Bea was an amazing best friend and I loved how she was always there for Fiona–she’s definitely someone you want to have behind your back! Seth and Brady were complete opposites, but I adored them in their own way. Of course Brady, with his sweet personality and his protectiveness was cute, but I’ve always been a fan of love/hate relationships, so I was almost immediately a fan of Seth! I will admit, Seth sometimes went a little overboard with his jokes/insults, but he had Fiona’s best interests at heart and he was definitely a hilarious character.

The plot was definitely amazing too! While Transparent has the feel of a light read to it, the plot is anything but. It’s a thrilling chase that had me on edge the entire read, wondering what would happen next. While a few things were predictable, there were still a number of twists I didn’t expect! Natalie Whipple cleverly uses her characters’ powers to enhance the plot and make it unique and completely surprising.

The romance was a bit iffy for me–though I did love who she ended up with, the romance between them seemed a bit rushed and sudden. Epiphany!

There was a huge crush going on, and suddenly she’s in love with another guy? It seemed weird to me, but their relationship was justFictionFreakClear2 so cute and adorable and fun and and and…well, I loved it! So of course I let it go. The way they acted around each other made me squeal so many times, and seeing how much they cared for each other just…well, it’s a pretty perfect romance.

Transparent’s world was unique to say the least! The way that all these powers evolved were new and seeing what kind of powers each of these kids had was super fun and I loved seeing how they would contribute to the story! At first, I was a bit confused, since I had no idea that the whole world had supernatural traits, but it really did make the book stand out more!

Natalie Whipple’s debut is really the perfect book for anyone looking for a light read with a splash of thrilling mixed in! It feels like a fluffy read at times, but the plot twists and on-the-chase storyline keeps you in your seat, pushing for more. (It doesn’t hurt that the cover is pretty kickass too!)

Pages: 350

Publication Date: May 21st, 2013

Publisher: Harper Teen

Rating: : ★★★★☆

Guest Reviewer: Amy Martin
Book of the Month
October 22, 2012 posted by Nichole

Guest Reviewer: Amy Martin

Amy Martin is the author of our Indie Book of the Month, In Your Dreams. Amy took time out of her own schedule to do a guest review of Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator , by Jill Baguchinsky, for you guys. You can find out more information about Amy Martin on her website.

Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator by Jill Baguchinsky

Reviewed by Amy Martin

 

Violet doesn’t remember much about her late mother, but she is certain of one thing: she too can see ghosts and communicate with the dead. But when Violet discovers paranormal activity in the girls’ locker room, she finds herself ill-equipped for handling the school’s ghostly echoes. Through Violet’s own investigation and with the help of some unlikely allies, Violet discovers there is a lot she doesn’t know about her special skill–and more still that can stand in the way of its power. With sharp wit and determination, Violet sets out to uncover the truth behind her school’s haunting, to finish the investigation that led to her mother’s sudden death, and to learn why the only ghost she has ever wanted to see is the one that has eluded her forever.

 

As a participant in past editions of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, I try to keep track of when the winning novels make their way into print/ebook. Jill Baguchinsky’s Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator won in 2011 in the Young Adult category, and I was thrilled to see that the novel had finally been released this past August.

I’m not a huge fan of the paranormal genre, but the book cover and plot outline drew me in. And, I’m happy to say, the writing made me stick around. Violet Addison, a high school sophomore who can both see and communicate with ghosts, is an engaging narrator, and her voice is peppered with just the appropriate amount of snark for someone who’s been through what she has at such a young age. As if seeing dead people weren’t enough, Violet’s had to deal with life without her mother, who died mysteriously during a paranormal investigation, an emotionally closed-off father, who gave up paranormal investigations after losing his wife, an aunt who wants Violet to deny her special skills, and the kids at school, who have labeled her “Spookygirl” not only because she sees ghosts, but also because she and her father live above his funeral home. Baguchinsky does an expert job of creating a main character with a tough exterior whose vulnerability breaks through during some of her life’s more dramatic moments, whether those be expelling spirits from the girls’ locker room, reuniting a Goth girl with her deceased jock secret boyfriend, attempting to complete her parents’ final paranormal investigation, or wrangling Buster, the “pet” poltergeist who lives in her apartment. And you thought you had bad days.

Spookygirl is the kind of book that grabs you as a reader from the first page and doesn’t let go. The story has so much action that you don’t have time for your mind to wander; I finished the book in two marathon sessions, which is a rarity for me. In addition to seamlessly juggling multiple plots and twists, Baguchinsky has created a cast of likeable characters who turn out to be not quite what they seem, including Coach Frucile, the gym teacher from hell who has more in common with Violet than Violet could have ever dreamed; Isobel, the stereotypical Goth Girl who hides a softer side; and Dirk, the dead football player with a secret. Even Tim, the Goth wannabe who befriends Violet on her first day of school, defies reader expectations and becomes Violet’s slightly goofy platonic friend rather than her hopelessly dorky romantic admirer.

At its heart, Spookygirl is family story about a girl facing life without her mother and struggling to be the person she needs and wants to be in the face of her father’s objections. Violet’s relationship with her father is both heartbreaking and real, and Violet is at her most vulnerable in the glimpses readers get of her childhood relationship with her deceased mother. Readers who have lost or been separated from a parent will sympathize with Violet’s struggles to deal with the past and connect with her father (readers learn that Violet was also separated from her father for a time as well, living with her aunt).

Spookygirl is intended to be the first book in a series, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Violet, her family, and her friends in the next book. Jill Baguchinsky is an author to keep an eye on, and I dare you to read this book and not want a Buster of your very own.

: ★★★★★

Guest Blogger: Pretty Amy- Lisa Burstein
Blog Things
August 25, 2012 posted by Nichole

Guest Blogger: Pretty Amy- Lisa Burstein

Meet Eileen from Singing and Reading in the Rain. She was kind enough to stop by YaReads for a guest review of Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein.

I struggled a lot with Pretty Amy. One on hand, I loved Amy and I really wanted to get to know her fully. On the other hand, I really didn’t understand the writing style. At first, I was so excited to start this novel because of the fact that Amy sounded so relatable to me, and she is. She is the perfect image of a teenage girl. The perfect image. Amy was trying to belong in the world and hold onto her friends, but along the way, she learned a lot more about herself than she would’ve anticipated.

When I was first introduced to Amy, I immediately thought, “an angry-at-the-world teenage girl who wants to fit in.” Isn’t that what every teenager is at some point? If you have a teenage kid, don’t they ever get angry and have moods? If you are a teen, don’t you just want to fit in sometimes? Pretty Amy comes recommended to any teen out there because of how relatable Amy is to an actual teen. Lisa managed to really capture the essence of being a teen.

Pretty Amy isn’t what you think it’ll be. It’s not a fluffy prom romance novel. It’s so much darker than that, and grittier. I kind of hate fluffy chick-lit books, to be perfectly honest, so I was extremely glad to find out Pretty Amy wasn’t just about the perfect prom. I really loved it for that reason, because you never find many strong coming-of-age novels like Pretty Amy.

The main reason I couldn’t digest Pretty Amy was the writing style. I didn’t really know what was going on during the novel because, for me, the writing style didn’t flow across the pages. I felt like it jerked around a few times before settling down long enough for me to understand what was going on, and then started bucking around again. Another reason was the fact that the issues dealt with in Pretty Amy were so out of what I was used to. I haven’t reached that age yet where you would deal with those problems; I’m not even in high school yet.

Overall, Pretty Amy was a gritty, relatable teen book that really made you feel like you were an angst-y teen again. I would recommend Pretty Amy to any teenager already in high school, since if you were younger you might not be able to understand the storyline that Pretty Amy went through like I did.

 

Rating: : ★★★☆☆

Guest Reviewer: Jennifer Rush
Book Reviews
August 6, 2012 posted by Nikki

Guest Reviewer: Jennifer Rush

Jennifer Rush is the debut author of Altered. Jennifer writes, photoshops, has too many pens, not enough books, and just the right amount of kids. As an avid writer and reader, she kindly agreed to do a guest review.

 

Storm by Brigid Kremmerer

The very first time I heard about Brigid Kemmerer’s YA, STORM, I knew it’d be a book I’d devour. And I did!

I think the most important element savvy readers will be interested in is this: there are four hot brothers. Okay, perhaps not the most important, but it certainly didn’t hurt in attracting this reader. And while Kemmerer could have taken the easy route, and wrote four hot, but extremely shallow stock characters, she didn’t. All four boys are well drawn-out characters. They have weaknesses, and fears. Likes and dislikes. I enjoyed reading about all of them.

I think one of the strongest elements of STORM is the dual-POV. Kemmerer is successful writing scenes from two entirely different characters. The book opens with Becca, a strong-heroine with a complicated family life, who you immediately root for.

Then we hear from Chris Merrick, the youngest Merrick boy, whose family life is just as complicated, if not more so, as Becca’s. Chris’s parents are dead, and his oldest brother has had to take over the household duties.

And the Merrick twins. Oh those twins! I loved Nick and Gabriel! I found myself wanting more of them on the page, so I’m looking forward to their stories in the ELEMENTAL series.

When all of the elements come together in the end, you won’t be able to put the book down. You’ll want to know immediately who the villain is, and you’ll be dying to know Chris and Becca are safe. But more than that, you’ll be rooting for their romance.

Pick up STORM as soon as possible, and dive right in.  You won’t be disappointed.

Guest Reviewer: Brigid Kemmerer
Guest Post
July 8, 2012 posted by Nichole

Guest Reviewer: Brigid Kemmerer

Brigid Kemmerer is the author of the Elemental series. You can find out more about Brigid at her website.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green  

Review by Brigid Kemmerer

 

The Fault in our Stars by John Green is one of the first books to make me regret the “Young Adult” label. Not because there’s anything inherently wrong with the label itself, but because some people might be quick to dismiss the book as being just for kids, and that’s not the case about many YA books at all, nowadays. Definitely not this one.

 

I’m going to keep the fangirling and squeeing to a minimum, but let me lead off by saying that this book was oozing awesome. It’s surprising they didn’t sell it with a handful of paper towels.

 

Actually, they should have sold it with an accompanying box of Kleenex, but more on that later.

 

If you’ve read John Green’s other stuff, this will feel familiar. The teens, Hazel and Augustus (“Gus”) are three dimensional and real. Some people may have an issue with their dialogue (when Hazel and Gus meet, he says, “Oh, I’m grand…I’m on a roller coaster that only goes up, my friend.”), but I read it as realistic.

 

You know why? Because these kids are living outside the norm.

 

Hazel and Gus meet at a cancer support group. Neither is in school. They are both extremely well-read and analytical. I loved the dialogue, I loved their rapport, I loved their entire relationship. There’s a scene with a Venn diagram about one-legged boys that made me tear up.

 

Did you miss that I mentioned a cancer support group?

 

When I try to recommend this book to people, I almost don’t want to mention the cancer aspect. You hear “cancer book” and immediately think “downer.” And this book is so not a downer. Yes, the kids have cancer. But they are living with it, not dying from it.

 

And this book is about so much more than their relationship with cancer (which is so well written that the disease might as well be listed as a primary character). It’s tough for me to write this review without giving away any of the twists in the novel (of which there are many, and each one knocked me off my chair).

 

The writing is rich, but fast. I think I read the entire book in two days, and with a full time job and three kids in the house, that’s saying something. The characters will inject themselves into your heart and brain until you can’t wriggle them loose—especially when you consider that I’m writing this review six months after reading the book, and I still remember crucial scenes vividly.

 

This book will make you cry. I cried as a mother, I cried as a woman, I cried thinking of all the things Hazel and Gus had to live without, and how full their lives seemed despite their illnesses.

 

I don’t know what else to say other than, “Read it.” You won’t regret it.

Guest Reviewer: Frankie Rose
Guest Reviews
June 10, 2012 posted by Nichole

Guest Reviewer: Frankie Rose

Frankie Rose is the author of The Hope series. You can find more about Frankie Rose at her website.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Review by Frankie Rose

 

Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

 

Karou is a seventeen-year-old art student living in Prague, but she’s not from around those parts. She’s from elsewhere. An enigma to most, including her best friend Zuzana, Karou only lets people know as much as she wants them to know. For instance, Zuzana has no idea why Karou can speak so many languages, or why her hair grows out of her head blue. And she certainly has no idea why Karou is so frequently called away on strange “errands” without warning.

 

Karou leads a double life. In one, she is a regular teenage student, running the gauntlet of her extra-charming yet skeevy ex-boyfriend’s salacious attempts to win back her favour. In her other life, Karou is a something different. It is difficult to quantify what that different is, because Karou doesn’t really know herself. All she knows is that when Brimstone- the chimera creature who raised her from a baby- calls, she has to go.

 

Brimstone’s work is in teeth. Any kind of teeth will do, but human teeth are best. Karou has no idea what Brimstone does with them all, but she is expected to obtain them for him whenever he asks. This strange existence of Karou’s is flipped on its head when she is out on one of Brimstone’s errands, collecting teeth, and she is attacked by an angel.

 

Theoretically he should kill her, but Akiva is drawn to a Karou in such a way that he can’t make himself harm her. The story follows Karou and Akiva as she battles to find her way back to her strange family, and to discover who and what she really is.

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone was recommended to me, and I have to say I was a little hesitant to pick it up for a while. I’d never heard of it, and the concept sounded a little strange at first. When I did start reading it, however, it quickly turned into one of those instant obsessions, or it would have if I hadn’t read it in a day. I regret tearing through it so greedily now, because it’s one of those stories you should really savour.

 

Why do I think that?

 

Laini Taylor’s writing blew me away. She has such a magnetic, beautiful kind of prose that really pulls you in and soaks you in the atmosphere of the book. It truly is wonderful. Her descriptions of Prague are stunning, and even though I’ve spent quite a bit of time in there, I found myself desperate to go back.

 

The concept of the book- the one that threw me when I first read the blurb- was also astounding. The world of the Chimera and the angels is so utterly different to anything I’ve ever read before, and Laini Taylor went about creating their surroundings in such a way that you aren’t grossed out by the fact that Brimstone collects teeth, of all things, or that the Chimera are weird combinations of different animal parts all mixed together.

 

The whole idea of wishes as currency was ingenious, and I really enjoyed that the portrayal of the angels in Karou’s world was not you’re A-typical benevolent, caring creature. They are harsh and cold and calculating. And they are killers.

 

The only minor point I would say disappointed me with this book was that Karou and Akiva’s relationship didn’t really get chance to develop properly. I’m a sucker for a flourishing romance, and I didn’t feel that happened in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. There are a few reasons why             Karou and Akiva kind of fell together so quickly, but it would be impossible to explain why without spoiling the story. Despite this, Taylor’s plot worked really well, and even though there wasn’t a grand build up to the romance between the main characters, you still find yourself invested in their relationship and rooting for them.

 

I’d definitely recommend Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It’s an incredible read, and you’ll be wishing November would come around already so you could catch Days of Blood and Starlight, Laini Taylor’s sequel.

4.5 Stars!

Guest Reviewer: Maria V. Snyder
Guest Reviews
May 11, 2010 posted by Ivy

Guest Reviewer: Maria V. Snyder

Maria V. Snyder is the author of the popular novels, The Study series, The Glass series, and most recently Inside Out, which also happens to be our Book of the Month right now.  We recently asked Maria to review one of her favorite YA novels.  She chose Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready.   Enjoy!

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Award winning fantasy author, Jeri Smith-Ready has dipped her toe into the young adult market with her recently released fantasy book, Shade.

The premise of the book is quite intriguing – On the day of Aura’s birth a Shift happened and all children, including Aura born after this Shift can see and hear ghosts. It’s sixteen years later and the world has adjusted to life with ghosts that only kids can see. Aura would like nothing better to ignore them and hang out with her rocker boyfriend, Logan Keeley. In fact, Aura would like to find out why the Shift happened and how she could undo it.

Jeri has created an unique world with Shade. And she answered all the logical questions a reader would ask about what’s it like to live with ghosts (thank you Jeri!). For privacy, she invented black boxes that keep ghosts from entering certain rooms like the bathroom and schools. People wear red to repel them, and there’s a shady government agency (of course) dedicated to studying and policing them.

Just like in her urban vampire books, Wicket Game and Bad to the Bone, Jeri’s love of music is once again a main theme throughout this book. Aura’s hot boyfriend is the singer in an Irish-flavored rock band in Baltimore named the Keeley Brothers. In the beginning chapters of the book, we learn it’s the night of Logan’s 17th birthday and record company reps are listening to their gig. After the gig, he’s offered a recording contract. Basically, it’s the best night of his life, but unfortunately it’s his last.

Now don’t yell at me for spoiling this little surprise. Just read the back cover blurb or the write up on Amazon.com and you’ll know all about it, too. And the kicker about those back cover blurbs is – the author doesn’t write them. It’s usually the editor or marketing, hoping to hook a reader’s interest. After I read the blurb, I assumed that Logan’s death happened before the start of the story (don’t know why – I just did). That when I opened to chapter one, it would be a few months later or even a day later, but no, there’s Logan happy and full of life. He’s a great character and so are Aura and the band members (Jeri excelled with creating very likable characters).

Unfortunately for me, knowing he’s going to die makes it really hard for me to read the first three chapters (the reason – I’m a mother of a 15 year old boy so I don’t think this would bother the target audience as much). I kept putting the book down, but I wanted to review the book and I loved Jeri’s other books, so I kept with it. But as soon as I made it past the tragedy, I flew through the rest of the book in a day.

This is a great book you need to read. Logan returns as a ghost (so he’s not gone gone) and another potential and very much alive suitor, Zachary Moore arrives with his secrets and sexy Scottish brogue. The characters and world are rich and well developed and the ending hinted at more books to come. Which I just found out, the second book, Shift is due out on May 2011.

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Read also Maria’s review of Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer here.

Visit Maria’s website for more info about her and her books.