Tag Archives: ya

Book Reviews
May 18, 2014 posted by Emma

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) – Danielle L. Jensen

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

 

My thoughts are mixed on this one. I had seen it on Netgalley a while back and wanted to give it a try, so I finally got myself a copy, but unfortunately wasn’t all that blown away by it. There were some definite positives to Stolen Songbird but there were also some parts that I found myself having a hard time getting past.

For starters, I was pretty hot and cold on the main character, Cécile. On one hand, she’s a young girl who thinks that she has her life figured out and knows that she wants to be a singer, only to find herself kidnapped on her way home and thrust into a secret society, where it turns out that she’s the key to breaking a super old curse. All things considered, she deals with this pretty realistically, complete with some freakouts and crying and general shock. She’s been taught that the people who have kidnapped her, aka trolls, are brutally cruel, and so she’s understandably pretty wary around them. But then it turns out that the guy who she is supposed to marry, the troll prince, is actually really gorgeous and not completely evil after all. And that’s when things start to take a turn for the worse. Not even halfway through the book, she’s already putting her trust in her kidnapper and most (not all, but most) fears are thrown to the wind. I get that the troll prince wasn’t all bad and that he actually had secretly good motives, but it all seemed a tiny bit Stockholm Syndrome-y to me with how fast she starts sympathizing with the people that ordered her entire life taken away. 

As for the prince, Tristan, he wasn’t really my favorite either. He was supposed to be snarky and cold, which he was, but he also ended up coming off a little pretentious sometimes, and kind of over the top. I’m aware that this was intentional, but he still rubbed me the wrong way. But don’t get me wrong – he had his moments where I caught myself swooning, cause he’s actually a big softy underneath all the asshole-ness.

I did enjoy the plot and the writing though! The whole concept of Trollus being this underground city trapped by a curse was fascinating, and I loved learning about their cruel society. The writing was really gorgeous too! My only complaint would be that some of the dialogue and scenes were written kind of strangely sometimes, and I occasionally had a hard time following the action. Other than that though, Danielle Jensen is definitely someone to keep an eye on!

Pages: 469

Date Published: April 1, 2014

Publisher: Strange Chemistry

Rating: ★★★½☆

Book Reviews
April 18, 2014 posted by Emma

The Shadow Society – Marie Rutkoski

The Shadow SocietyDarcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

 

Man, I’m bummed about this one. After practically devouring The Winner’s Curse (also by Marie Rutkoski), I was so excited to see that she had another book already out that looked right up my alley. Urban fantasy? Check. Badass heroine? Check. Hot dude who secretly isn’t the nice guy he claims to be? Check. But unfortunately, I just couldn’t really get into this one, despite wanting to so, so bad.

The Shadow Society tells the story of Darcy, a girl who was orphaned outside a fire department when she was five, and has always felt a little out of place. When the new guy at school takes a special interest in her, she can’t believe her luck! As they get closer, things seem to be going great, until…well…it turns out that she was right all along. She’s not normal at all, and Conn’s definitely not who he seems. And thus begins the wild ride alternate universes, infiltrating a secret society of Shades, and fighting tooth and nail to stay alive.

At first I was definitely digging this book. Darcy was likable enough, her friends were pretty funny, and the premise of her being something other than human kept me hooked. But after a while, there were just too many YA cliches that I couldn’t get past. Like the hot new guy takes an interest in the not-so-special normal girl. Which was fine, once you find out that the real reason he’s interested in her is because it’s his job to hunt down Shades, which is what Darcy is. But the thing is, his priorities change so fast and the budding relationship between them just felt so rushed. They become closer while he’s undercover because they’re working on a joint English project, and that’s all fine and good. But you never really experience that firsthand because time lapses pretty quick and the next thing you know they’re best friends and hanging out all the time. And then super fast he’s revealed to be the enemy, which in the book isn’t actually that soon because they’ve known each other for a few weeks already, but it feels fast cause it happens over the course of like, 3 chapters. But by that point they’re in love, and despite being the IBI (interdimensional bureau of investigation)’s best agent, he pretty much doesn’t give a crap about his job anymore and wants to keep Darcy safe. Yikes. Way too much insta-love for me!

The plot was slightly better, but again, some of the beginning events felt like they happened too quickly without a lot of explanation. It kind of seemed like Ms. Rutkoski just really wanted to get to a certain part of the book, so she was just moving really quickly through the more…boring parts? I guess? Even though to me, I would’ve liked to learn more about the agency Conn works for, and just more about the society in general. Oh well.

Anyway, I ended up DNF-ing this about halfway through, just because I was having a hard time staying focused and forcing myself to keep reading. I’m sure there’ll definitely be tons of fans of this book, but it felt a little too high school for me, with not enough substance to the plot to sustain it. And again, I’m SUPER bummed about this! I absolutely adored The Winner’s Curse, so I know what Ms. Rutkoski is capable of, but this one just didn’t deliver for me.

Pages: 416

Date Published: October 6, 2012

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Rating: DNF

Book Reviews
February 8, 2011 posted by Christina

Unearthly – Cynthia Hand

“Clara has known she was part-angel ever since she turned fourteentwo years ago, but only now is her purpose – the crucial rite of passage for every part-angel – becoming clear to her. Clara’s purpose leads her family to Wyoming, where amidst terrifying scenes of a bush inferno, she finds a boy of her visions, Christian. He’s everything she could wish for – so why does she also have feelings for her enigmatic classmate Tucker?

Clara discovers that her purpose is only a small part of a titanic struggle between angels and their destructive counterparts, the Black Wings. And when the fire of her visions erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?”

Under normal circumstances it would only take Richelle Mead’s praise of a book on its front cover for me to say “Well, enough said, I’m reading it!” But it wouldn’t be much of a review if all I wrote was “Richelle Mead says so, READ IT.”

Till now, most of the books I’d read about Angels had been lackluster to fairly decent but nothing that I completely loved, Unearthly changed all that.

Clara has known she was part-angel for two years now and finally, she has begun having visions which are the clues to her ‘purpose’. These visions are cryptic and her purpose isn’t quite clear, only that she sees a boy standing in a forest area that’s about to be engulfed in flames. Who is this guy? Where is the forest? Why is he there? What’s she even meant to do once she’s there? That’s all up to Clara to figure out.

If I could use just one word to describe this book it would be refreshing. Everything from our main character Clara, to the love interests, to the use of angel mythology were so well done it makes this book a stand out amongst its genre.

The storyline was artfully done, with a perfect blend of realism with the supernatural. The writing is easy to read and amazingly captivating – just when you plan on reading one more chapter, you find yourself reading another hundred pages instead.

Some moments were quite suspenseful and I found myself gasping out loud or yelling at the characters hoping in vain that they’ll hear my warnings, but of course, that’s as useful as when your Dad is yelling at players during a football match on tv – they can’t hear you.

I loved that this wasn’t one of those, anti hero, I’m-coming-to-terms-with-these-new-powers-which-by-the-way-I’m-awesome-at-but-waaaa-my-life-will-never-be-the-same-kind-of-books. Clara’s known about her angel abilities for two years already so has had time to adjust to the idea and all the extras that go with being a part-angel, but she still has a lot to learn.

I was also very glad that her family was not only well aware of Clara’s purpose and part-angelness but that they were also part-angels. It was nice that it wasn’t some secret that she had to tip toe around and make lame explanations to cover up.

Clara herself is a completely likeable, down to earth and strong character. Her angel blood means she can naturally excel at things most people have to try very hard to master, but there are other things she really has to work for, especially when it comes to her own angel powers. She’s witty, especially her banter with Tucker, she’s not rebellious but definitely has a mind of her own.

The characters in Unearthly are so well done, each of them being much more than just props to Clara’s story.  They have their own minds and their own issues and goals that they’re working towards so that within the story they’re living with Clara not for Clara and her story.

From the blurb we gather that there are two guys who could be potential love interests. When I saw that I groaned because I’m soooo tired of love triangles. The way the story pans out in Unearthly though is quite unique and though it seems it, it doesn’t conform to what we think of as a normal love triangle. In this case it’s like the characters are just as unhappy about how it as we are.

The love story in Unearthly was so sweet, so beautiful, and once again, absolutely refreshing. It proves that in the supernatural genre you can have a romance that doesn’t happen overnight, or is based on someone just being unbelievably beautiful, or with one of them being stalker obsessed or spineless. I LOVED Tucker….just sayin 😉

Unearthly was extraordinarily fabulous, I’ve used this word a lot so far but I LOVED it. I can’t believe I have to wait till next year for the sequel because a lot was left hanging at the end.  Unearthly proves you shouldn’t give up on the Angels concept by delivering a knock out story that you’ll fall head over heels in LOVE with.

Pages: 432
Publication Date: January 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Challenge: Debut Author
Rating: : ★★★★★

Teaser Quote: “I take a step toward the boy, open my mouth to call his name. He hears me. He starts to turn. One more second and I will see his face.

That’s when the vision leaves me. I blink, and it’s gone.”

Did you think Unearthly was amazing too? Team Tucker or Team Christian? Come discuss it on the forum!

Author Interviews
November 24, 2010 posted by Christina

Interview with Ally Condie

Ally Condie is the author of the fantastic new novel, Matched, which is our November Book of the Month! She was nice enough to take the time out for a Q&A in the lead up to the book’s release on Nov. 30th (Dec 2nd for Australia).


**Beware of some spoilers ahead**


Cassia’s world in the Society is so complex and fascinating – where did the idea for the story come from?

Matched was inspired by a few different events—specific ones, such as a conversation with my husband and a time we chaperoned a high school prom—and general ones, like falling in love and becoming a parent.
Matched raises a lot of questions about our own society, as well as, what it means to be happy and the value of freedom – are they issues you wanted to particularly highlight?

Yes! I think happiness and freedom are both things we all want in our own lives now. And sometimes it feels like happiness and freedom don’t go hand in hand. Freedom means tough choices, living with consequences. But is true happiness possible without also knowing hardship and despair? I don’t think so. I think you have to have both sides of the coin.

How much research did you have to do before starting this novel?

I didn’t do any research before starting the novel, but as it progressed, I did do a bit of research into optimal fertility ages (so I’d know when the Society would match people) and also into game theory, the prisoner’s dilemma, etc. My husband is an economist so things like game theory and algorithms come up at the dinner table all the time. He was a great resource, but of course any mistakes in the book are mine alone. J

I guess, as the writer, you get to chose which paintings/songs/poems etc get to be included in The Hundred – did you pick your favorites or did you opt for a list of the most popular of each?

I haven’t actually made lists of all the Hundreds. The only ones I “know” for certain are the ones that I’ve used in the book. And my list of favorites would look very different from the Society’s Hundreds. The Society would be very careful not to include anything subversive or inflammatory. The Society has also eliminated a lot of diversity and culture when they made their Hundreds, which is creepy.

Though Cassia seems quite decided in this book on who her Match is, will we see Xander try to make a comeback?

I don’t want to give too much away—but I will say that Xander is not giving up.

The film rights for Matched have been picked up by Disney – has there been any progress so far?

Not yet! Disney is still looking for a screenwriter. But I will be sure to post any updates I can on the blog.


I know I’m dying to find out what happens next (as I’m sure everyone else will be), what can we expect from the next book?

Let’s see…what am I allowed to tell you? 😉 Book 2 will have two narrators telling the story. And it will be the next part of Cassia’s journey, both physically and emotionally.
Any quirky writing rituals or habits? Where do you prefer to write? Cafe, at home…etc

I like to write at home in my basement “office,” and I also like to write at the public library. I drink a LOT of water while I’m writing and I like to wear a certain hoodie. And I don’t snack a lot while I’m writing, but if I need to stay awake, cinnamon bears usually do the trick.
What’s currently in your to-read pile?

Where She Went by Gayle Forman, Great House by Nicole Krauss, and The Beyonders by Brandon Mull. I can’t wait to read them all!

Thank you Ally! Check out our review of Matched here and Ally’s guest blog here

News
November 27, 2008 posted by Nikki

YALSA 2008 Top Ten

YALSA has released their 2008 list of the top ten young adult reads. The winners are:

1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie

2. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier – Ishamael Beah

3. Before I Die – Jenny Downham

4. Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath – Stephanie Hemphill

5. Mister Pip – Lloyd Jones

6. Skulduggery Pleasant – Derek Landy

7. Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion and Betrayal – Mal Peet

8. American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks and the Legend of the Iron Crotch: An Oddessey in New China – Matthew Polly

9. The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel – Brian Selznick

10. The Arrival – Shaun Tan