Tag Archives: YA Romance

Delcroix Academy: The Candidates – Inara Scott
Book Reviews
September 4, 2010 posted by Nikki

Delcroix Academy: The Candidates – Inara Scott

Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that’s not just because of her average grades or her less-than-glamorous wardrobe. In fact, Dancia’s mediocrity is a welcome cover for her secret: whenever she sees a person threatening someone she cares about, things just…happen. Cars skid. Structures collapse. Usually someone gets hurt.  So Dancia does everything possible to avoid getting close to anyone, belieiving this way she can supress her powers and keep them hidden.

But when recruiters from the prestigious Delcroix Academy show up in her living room to offer her a full scholarship, Dancia’s days of living under the radar may be over. Only, Delcroix is a school for diplomats’ kids and child geniuses–not B students with uncontrollable telekinetic tendencies.  So why are they treating Dancia like she’s special? Even the hottest guy on campus seems to be going out of his way to make Dancia feel welcome.

And then there’s her mysterious new friend Jack, who can’t stay out of trouble. He suspects something dangerous is going on at the Academy and wants Dancia to help him figure out what.  But Dancia isn’t convinced. She hopes that maybe the recruiters know more about her “gift” than they’re letting on. Maybe they can help her understand how to use it…But not even Dancia could have imagined what awaits her behind the gates of Delcroix Academy.

From the onset, it’s pretty clear that Dancia is supposed to be an average, run of the mill character that teenage girls everywhere should be able to relate to. With her average, grades, average appearance, less than impressive wardrobe, and no money or classy possessions to show off, Dancia has pretty much resigned herself to a life less lived. Except, although she seems unwilling to admit it, there is something exceptional about her. She has an odd kind of power and can make things happen with her mind. She doesn’t understand it, she can’t really control it, but whenever she ends up using it, bad things happen. Dancia chooses to ignore her power and enters the big fat land of denial.

The Delcroix Academy recruits her. She doesn’t understand why – Delcroix is supposed to be for talented people, and talent is something she’s seriously lacking. Still, there is no possible way they could know about her abilities, right? That couldn’t really be why they want her, could it?

Jack seems to think so. He’s another recruit, just like Dancia. No special, obvious talents (unless you count a juvie record and a bunch of failed efforts under his belt). But Dancia senses something special about Jack immediately. Something special, in her kind of way. Just when Dancia starts getting close to Jack, Cam puts himself in her line of vision. Dancia doesn’t understand his newfound interest in her – he is the most attractive guy in school after all – but when his attention seems unrelenting, Dancia allows herself to roll with it.  Suddenly, she finds herself caught in the middle of a love triangle. Has the world gone completely mad?

Except, she doesn’t like Jack. Honest. She likes Cam. Smart, funny, handsome. Jack is nothing but a troublemaker. So why, if she feels nothing for Jack, does the world stop spinning when he kisses her?

Then the truth comes out about why she was really recruited to Declroix, and all hell breaks loose.

I found Dancia’s naivety completely and utterly frustrating, but if I’m honest with myself, the way she behaved is completely and utterly believable. It’s every girl’s dream come true to have the school hearth throb chasing after you. Unfortunately, I don’t buy it. Even though Cam does seem genuinely interested in Dancia, I refused to let myself believe its true. I can’t pin point it exactly, but there’s just something about it that makes my stomach turn – and not in a good way.

Jack, on the other hand, is totally nuts about Dancia, but I’m not entirely sure it’s for the right reasons. Is he interested in her because of her power, or does he really like her for who she is? I can’t tell yet, but I’m really hoping it’s the latter. In case you didn’t already figure it out, I’m Team Jack.

Delcroix Academy: The Candidates starts off a little slowly, but once the action gets going, it becomes one of those novels that you just can’t put down. It’s Inara Scott’s first novel, and I’m definitely going to be watching to see how this story pans out.

Pages: 293

Publication Date: August 28, 2010

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: Jack leaned against the porch rail, his body once again a relaxed slouch. his voice was soft, coaxing. “How can you say that? I’m no bully.”

Contests
August 11, 2010 posted by Nikki

Return to Paradise Giveaway – Simone Elkeles

Did you read Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles? Can’t wait to get your hands on the sequel, Return to Paradise? Then you’re going to just love this…

That’s right, as part of our Book of the Month promotion for the very awesome Simone Elkeles and her new novel, Return to Paradise, we’re excited to be giving a bunch of them away.

We’ve got three signed copies of the book to giveaway, and folks, we’re opening this one up for worldwide participation.

All you have to do is leave your details in the fields below. Get cracking, folks – this book is definitely one that you wont want to miss!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Simply fill out the form below with your name, email, and mailing address.  We randomly draw the winners using random.org.
  • Giveaway is open worldwide.
  • Ends on August 31, 2010.

Caleb + Kate – Cindy Martinusen-Coloma
Book Reviews
August 7, 2010 posted by Nikki

Caleb + Kate – Cindy Martinusen-Coloma

As the popular darling of the junior class and heiress to the five-star Monrovi Inn empire, Kate has both everything and nothing. She’s bored with school and life…until she locks eyes with Caleb at a school dance.

Caleb is new to Kate’s exclusive prep school, and it’s clear he doesn’t fit in. In fact, he and his dad work in maintenance for Kate’s father. And while Caleb knows better than to spend time with the boss’s daughter, it seems that every time he tries to back away, something pulls him right back in.

When their parents demand that they are to stay away from each other, they learn of a fight between their families that occurred more than fifty years ago. It’s a mystery Kate doesn’t understand…but a legacy Caleb has endured his entire life.

With the world stacked against them, Caleb and Kate will have to walk by faith to find the path that God has planned for them.

Kate Monrovi has the quintessential perfect life. Her family is loaded, she’s got the money to buy whatever she wants, whenever she wants, and she goes to one of the most elite private schools the West Coast of America has to offer. She could be anything she wants, go to any college in the country, do whatever she wants with her life, but as we learn more about Kate, we realize that Kate has absolutely no idea what she wants from life.  Money, it seems, can buy a lot of stuff, but it can’t buy Kate’s happiness. Before you go thinking that Kate is one of those rich kids so spoiled she’s unhappy with everything she has, think again. As far as characters go, she’s as down to earth as they come, especially compared to the snobs that make up her friendship circle. She carries no pretentious attitudes regarding her status, class, or position in society. To Kate, people are people, no matter who you are and where you come from, and all people deserve the same amount of respect.

So when Caleb Kalani – the new scholarship kid – saunters on into the prom, Kate doesn’t see the apparent differences between them that everyone else seems to. To her, he’s not ‘the scholarship kid’ or the poor laborer working for her dad – he’s just Caleb: strong, beautiful, Caleb.

Caleb knows a thing or two about Kate Monrovi even before he lays his eyes on her. Their two families have been locked in a feud for almost fifty years now, and every bone in his body tells him that getting to know the Monrovi girl is the biggest mistake of his life. But how can he help himself, when his heart thumps so forcefully when she’s around? Caleb quickly realizes that, when it comes to matters of the heart, sometimes the head has no control, no idea about these things.

And so starts the forbidden romance that is Caleb and Kate. Yes, it resembles a very Romeo and Juliet-esque story – but it’s supposed to. It’s very clear that Martinusen-Coloma intended this to be the case. But you know what? Even though the star-crossed lovers thing has been done over and over, I never get tired of it. Caleb + Kate is a real pageturner, and although you just freaking know that it’s all going to work out in the end, you wont be able to stop reading.

Kate is a very likable character. If there were more Kate’s around, the world would probably be a much better place. I think she’s a great role model for young girls everywhere. And Caleb is swoon worth for so many reasons, but his most attractive quality is the fact that he’s a complete slave to his emotions. He doesn’t try to fight it, because he knows Kate is the real thing.

Although it has an air of predictability about it, this story is definitely worth a look in. I think you’ll find being in Caleb and Kate’s heads is a complete delight. Two very big yaReads thumbs up.

Publication date: 2010, available now.

Pages: 276

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: This time with Kate, out here alone, it’s like perfection. But it’s distracting, too, and I’ve had more than my share of un-innocent thoughts since we stopped in the meadow. She has no idea how every little thing can make me think thoughts I shouldn’t.

Jekel Loves Hyde – Beth Fantaskey
Book Reviews
June 28, 2010 posted by Katie

Jekel Loves Hyde – Beth Fantaskey

Hey guys!

Here is my last review as an official member of yaReads team! Hope you enjoy, it has been a pleasure being here, and I have loved every moment. A big welcome to Christina, and to the forum go-ers, I’ll see you all around there.

Katie.

Jill Jekel has always obeyed her parents’ rules – especially the one about never opening the mysterious old box in her father’s office. But when her dad is murdered and her college savings disappear, this good girl is tempted to peek inside, because the contents just might be key to winning a lucrative chemistry scholarship.

To better her odds, Jill enlists the help of gorgeous, brooding Tristen Hyde, who has his own dark secrets locked away. As the team of Jekel and Hyde, they recreate experiments based on the classic novel, hoping not only to win a prize but also to save Tristen’s sanity. Maybe his life. As things heat up in the lab, though, Jill’s accidental taste of a formula unleashes her darkest nature and will compel her to risk everything – even Tristen’s love – just for the thrill of being…bad.

Jill Jekel has just lost her father to a brutal death. No one knows why. A murder in the dead of the night, no answers to be found by the police. Her mother can’t cope, spiralling downwards into a state of despair. Jill’s life has been turned upside down, with false sympathy on all sides, no one to talk to and no one to understand. Except for the mysterious Tristen Hyde who turns up at her father’s funeral for the soul purpose to comfort Jill. Or so it seems.

For Jill and Tristen are about to get to know each other better than what they ever thought they would. Paired up together to work in secret on an entry into the prestigious Foreman Foundation for the Promotion of Scientific Inquiry national scholarship contest, Jill and Tristen start to discover that their own family history might be closer linked than anyone had ever imagined. Found in the locked box in her father’s study, Jill and Tristen start to work on the secret manuscripts that were part of the hit novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. As Tristen starts to let Jill into more of his life, the pair discover that not only is it a matter of winning Jill a scholarship so she can attend college, but it might just be the answer to saving Tristen’s life. Yet as things begin to spiral more out of control, will Jill know when enough is too much?

Jekel Loves Hyde is the second novel from bestselling author Beth Fantaskey, her first novel being the popular Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. Jekel Loves Hyde is something different. Borrowing themes and linking in with the classic novel, I found you didn’t need to know anything about the original to understand the story. It was captivating and intriguing, the plot moving forward from one surprising revelation to the next. Twists that you didn’t originally see coming soon developed into influencing the ending.

Jill and Tristen were also developed characters. They interacted in ways that are real, feeling like they could actually be real people in Fantaskey’s developed world. They faced trials and hardships and overcame them in their own unique way. However, it seems that despite two well-crafted lead characters, Fantaskey lacked development in her supporting characters. Becca, for instance, was weak and difficult to like. Supposedly the best friend to Jill, she never acted like it, and felt like a character that was merely there to create a conflict between Jill and Tristen.

Despite all the merits to Fantaskey’s plot, writing and main characters, I felt that Jekel Loves Hyde another novel aimed at the Twilight loving fans. The danger Jill and Tristen went through seemed too much like a heighted state of ‘life or death’ that they characters had to overcome to be together. It was, at times, difficult to see that the situations they found themselves in would really occur. I found that I needed to convince myself to continue reading, that whenever I put it down, it was difficult to pick it up again.

Pages: 282

Publication date: 2010 – available now

Rating:: ★★★½☆

Teaser quote: Not daring to believe, I swiped one arm across my eyes and slowly turned my face to his, sucking in my breath at the sight of his open eyes. Astonished not just by the fact that Tristen was alive but by the expression on his face. I heard the wonder, the confusion, in my voice as I dared to say his name. ‘Tristen’?

Leaving Paradise – Simone Elkeles
Book Reviews
May 1, 2010 posted by Nikki

Leaving Paradise – Simone Elkeles

Nothing has been the same since Caleb Becker left a party drunk, got behind the wheel, and hit Maggie Armstrong. Even after months of painful physical therapy, Maggie walks with a limp. Her social life is nil and a scholarship to study abroad—her chance to escape everyone and their pitying stares—has been canceled. After a year in juvenile jail, Caleb’s free . . . if freedom means endless nagging from a transition coach and the prying eyes of the entire town. Coming home should feel good, but his family and ex-girlfriend seem like strangers.

Caleb and Maggie are outsiders, pigeon-holed as “criminal” and “freak.” Then the truth emerges about what really happened the night of the accident and, once again, everything changes. It’s a bleak and tortuous journey for Caleb and Maggie, yet they end up finding comfort and strength from a surprising source: each other.

Caleb wishes that his parents would stop pretending that everything is fine. He just got out of juvenile hall, for Pete’s sake – everything is not fine. So when Caleb’s mom throws a little ‘welcome home’ party for Caleb and invites all her friends rather than his, he almost wishes he was back behind bars. On top of that, he’s having trouble getting back into school, his friends are treating him differently and his girlfriend wants to pick things up from where they left off, but she’s seeing someone new now. Just when Caleb thinks his life couldn’t possibly suck any more, he runs into Maggie.

The girl he hit with his car.

His sister’s ex-best friend.

His neighbor.

When he looks into her eyes, he’s confronted with a whole bunch of emotional baggage that he would rather not think about. He wants to apologize for ruining her life, but what would be the point? There is nothing he could say that could possibly fix what he did to her. He knows he should turn and walk away – after all, his probation forbids him from speaking to or contacting her – but he just can’t seem to get his legs to move.

When Maggie sees Caleb standing there only a few feet away from her, it hurts. It hurts more than she thought it would. He did this to her. Before the accident, she was an athlete. A good one, at that. Now she can barely walk. Her athletic scholarship has been revoked and she’s got no chance of getting out of this place. She turns to walk, to get as far away from him as possible, but she stumbles. He reaches for her, catches her. She recoils, of course, but it’s in this moment that both Maggie and Caleb’s lives are forever changed.

As always, Simone Elkeles does not disappoint. Leaving Paradise is raw, emotional, and anything but heart-warming, but it’s one of those ‘must read’ kind of novels. There are many things I love about Simone Elkeles: her writing style is free-flowing and effortless; her descriptions are bright and colorful and tantalize the imagination; but most of all, her characters are enigmatic and alive. I could be Maggie. You could be Caleb. Elkeles creates characters that are flawed and mirror real life, actual people. And that, dear yaReaders, is the thing that sets Simone Elkeles aside from many Young Adult authors today.

Leaving Paradise is so believable it reads like a memoir, rather than popular teen fiction.

Simone Elkeles – I heart you!

Rating: ★★★★★

Teaser Quote: Caleb crouches down, his face right in front of mine.

“You are not a loser. Hell, Maggie, you always knew what you wanted and went for it.”

I tell him the honest truth. “Not anymore. When you hit me, a part of me died.”

The Lonely Hearts Club – Elizabeth Eulberg
Book Reviews
April 27, 2010 posted by Katie

The Lonely Hearts Club – Elizabeth Eulberg

Love is all you need…or is it?

Penny Lane is sick of boys and sick of dating, so she swears off it all and starts The Lonely Heats Club. What penny doesn’t realise is just how many of her friends feel the same way and want to join her club. Even some girls she’d never have thought would care, want to sign up. Then the unthinkable happens…

So what do you do when you’re the founding member of an anti-dating club and you start to have feelings for a guy who obviously likes you back?

Penny is your average, normal everyday girl. She passes school, has her best friends who are there for her and a family who is normal. Well, normal if you discount the intense love her parents have for the Beatles. So intense, that they named their daughters after their favourite songs, went vegetarian because that’s what Paul McCartney did and refuse to listen to anyone else singing a Beatles song, except the Beatles themselves. And it’s the summer where Penny starts to think that she might get what she wanted. Nate Taylor.

Penny has known Nate since they were five; the Taylor’s are her parent’s longest friends after all. Nate was the only person Penny looked forward to seeing on her summer, her mind fixed on what they could do. This year, there is something more underneath the flirting. There is promise of what might be. Penny is thinking that all her dreams are going to come true. She has finally decided that Nate is the one, that he will be her first. That is until she finds him in the basement with another girl. A girl that is missing quite a few clothes. Suddenly, Penny knows what it is like to have a broken heart. Nate was all she ever wanted, and he lied to her and betrayed her, the one thing he said he would never do. Penny does the only thing she knows how to – turn’s to the Beatles for comfort, and inspiration.

For hanging on her wall is a poster of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Lonely. Hearts. Club. It’s an idea that changes the rest of Penny’s school year. Penny decides that she has had enough. Enough of guys that cheat and lie, enough of getting her heart broken and enough of the jerks that go to McKinley High. She starts a club that has her swearing off guys for the rest of her high school life. No dating, ever. It’s a decision that has her friends thinking she is crazy that is until they decided that they too, want to join.

Before she knows it, Penny’s club is the hottest thing at McKinley. Girls from all grades are want to join, and not always for the right reasons. And as the club gains more popularity, Penny is dancing closer to the edge of the line that could see her lose her best chance at a guy that could actually be right for her. For her decision to stick by the club rules, could not only affect her own life, but those of the people around her.

The Lonely Hearts Club is debut novel from Elizabeth Eulberg, who just like Penny, was sick of having to change herself to get a guy. It was this idea and an experience with a past friend that inspired Eulberg to create the story of The Lonely Hearts Club. It is something different, a romance where the rules have changed. One where friends try to understand who they are, and exactly what they want, not always with the best outcomes. The plot is easily relatable too – who hasn’t thought they found the perfect guy, only to discover that he defiantly wasn’t the perfect boyfriend. Who has lost a best friend to their new boyfriend, someone they haven’t known for long but is suddenly much more important than the friend they have had since year four. It’s a story of a group of friends brought together through the common trait of being single. Yet it is a celebration of finding yourself, of staying true to your friends and discovering that there are the good guys out there, but it might take a while for you to find them.

The characters that Eulberg constructed are instantly likeable, albeit at times a little frustrating. Penny as the founding member makes the most discovery and growth. From someone who doesn’t know who she is or what she wants, she turns into someone that decides exactly what she is going to do. Yet, getting there wasn’t easy, and Penny made her own fair share of mistakes along the way. Tracey provided the comic relief in a way that made you wish you knew her in real life. Tracey was always there, being supportive and knowing the right thing to do, even Penny didn’t know it herself. Diane is the friend that we have all seen, the popular cheerleader whose life all revolves around her boyfriend. That is, until she breaks up with her boyfriend. Diane becomes the second member of The Lonely Hearts Club, and comes to discover exactly what she was missing out on.

The Lonely Hearts Club is one of those easy, enjoyable reads that leaves you feeling good at the end of. A great debut from a promising writer.

Publication date: 2010

Pages: 290

Rating:: ★★★½☆

Teaser quote: “And, Nate? You kiss like a sobering dog, you have bad breath, and you wouldn’t know how to push the right buttons on a girl if we came with manuals. Happy Thanksgiving, Jackass.”

All right, I am going to be a bigger person starting right now.

Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead
Book Club Read
April 8, 2010 posted by Katie

Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead

Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies…

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden deep in the forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger…and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever…

Rose and Lissa are best friends; the kind that knows each other’s every thought. Well, Rose does. For she is linked to Lissa. They share a bond closer than that of two normal friends. It’s this bond that might have kept them alive for the last two years. That, and Lissa possess magical powers, even if she isn’t very good with them. But all that is about to change, on that one night when the guardians from St. Vladimir’s Academy are about to catch up with them. Lead by Russian guardian Dimitri Belikov, Rose has no chance, yet that doesn’t mean she gives up without a fight. Rose never gives up without a fight. Before they left the Academy, Rose was well known for her sarcastic tongue and tough personality. It had gotten her into trouble many times before.

Yet on her return to St. Vladimir’s, Rose finds that her quick temper is only one of the things she needs to watch. She’s placed on probation, meaning no social outings outside of normal class duties. She has extra training sessions with one Dimitri Belikov. Her freedom is gone, and she hast to start over, something that everyone will take a while to get used to.

But with these extra practice sessions that she originally dreaded, comes something Rose wasn’t expecting. For Dimitri Belikov isn’t what anyone suspects. Rumours frequently state that Dimitri is a god. A sexy badass Russian god who is more than likely the best guardian on campus. As Rose soon finds out, that reputation isn’t without reason. For Dimitri is relentless, constantly challenging Rose beyond her comfort zone, challenging her to find something more than herself. Yet Rose has something else she is struggling with. Against all her better judgment, she finds herself falling for her mentor. Something strictly forbidden in the Dhampir world.

First, Rose is a student, Dimitri her teacher. Second, that teacher is seven years older than her. But most importantly, everyone knows Dhampir’s don’t have relationships with other Dhampir’s. It would distract them from their job – protecting the Moroi at all costs. Lissa’s life could depend on Rose’s concentration. What Rose doesn’t know, is how soon her concentration is going to be tested.

Vampire Academy is the first novel in the series of the same name by author Richelle Mead. As her first foray into the world of Young Adult fiction, Mead has done so spectacularly. Her world is fresh and new. Vampires with routes in firmly established mythology, set in a contemporary society with characters that you wish you were friends with. You won’t find any sparkling vampires here. These vampires are living and real. They drink blood for survival from willing human donators. They enjoy a connection with the elements, each one giving of a different strand of magic that is infused in the spirit of each Moroi. Then there are the Dhampir’s – something not seen before yet equally thought up and developed. The social structure is defined, the places and locations real. There is a quality here that lends itself to every action having a reason and a thought behind it.

Add into that unreal characters. Rose is everything you could want in a female protagonist. Strong, independent and willing to fight for what she believes in, a streak which can sometimes get her into trouble. She is sarcastic, feisty and loyal, laying her life on the line for her best friend time and time again. Dimitri is another example. Strong and fearless, sexy and beautiful. He is the force that makes Roes realize just how serious her training needs to be. He is the one that finally gets through to Rose. Christian was a pleasant surprise to me. I liked his character and the way he cared for Lissa. He is someone that I hope to see more of in future novels. Finally, Lissa. This is the one I wasn’t completely sure about. She is Rose’s best friend, and for that, she keeps Rose sane. Yet, there were times where I saw a selfish streak from Lissa, the need for her to be taken care off. Lissa doesn’t really stand up for herself, though perhaps this is to do with partly how she was raised.

In all, a fantastic first book. This series I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys and is a fan of good urban adventure. A great read, and sure to get you hooked on the rest of the series!

Publication date: 2008

Pages: 332

Rating:: ★★★★½

Teaser quote: “Wow.” I hadn’t thought Dimitri could be any cooler, but I was wrong. “ You beat up your dad? I mean, that’s really horrible…what happened? But, wow. You really are a god.”

He blinked. “What?”

“Uh, nothing.”