Tag Archives: Young Adult Romance

The Summer I Turned Pretty – Jenny Han
Book Reviews
April 15, 2010 posted by Katie

The Summer I Turned Pretty – Jenny Han

Everything that happened this past summer, and every summer before it, has all led up to this. To now.

Every year Isabel spends a perfect summer at her family friends’ house. There’s the swimming pool at night, the private stretch of sandy beach…and the two boys. Unavailable, aloof Conrad – who she’s been in love with forever – and friendly, relaxed Jeremiah, the only one who’s every really paid her any attention.

But this year something is different. They seem to have noticed her for the first time. It’s going to be an amazing summer – and one she’ll never forget…

Isabel has been called Belly for as long as she can remember. As long as she has been coming to the beach house for summer. For her mum and Susannah are best friends, and Susannah owns the beach house. The perfect big house, the pool out the back, the beach, the sun, the surf. During the school year, Belly distracts herself thinking about summer and the beach house. It’s the place that she knows exactly what is going to happen, even if it’s not exactly what she wants to happen.

For also at the beach house is Steve, her annoying older brother, Conrad and Jeremiah, Susannah’s two sons. As much as Belly wishes they would include her, she knows it will never happen, not truly included. The only girl in a group of guys? Yea as if they would include her in their adventures. It’s something Belly has gotten used to. Just like she is used to Susannah cooking the same meal on the first night, her midnight swims and being left alone a nights.

Yet this summer, something seems different. For one, the reaction of Conrad and Jeremiah when she gets out of the car is completely not what she expected. Susannah doesn’t come to meet them, running out the door like always. The mood is different, almost as if everyone else knows something that they aren’t telling her.

Then comes the moment that she has been longing for. An invite to the bonfire that she was always considered too young to go to. It is there that she meets Cam. Cam Cameron. Someone different to everyone else. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs and can speak Latin and French, even if technically Latin is a dead language. Finally Belly meets someone that she just might be able to forget Conrad with. Someone who tells her that she is beautiful, someone who actually wants her around.

Yet as the summer draws closer to a close, will this really be enough to Belly to move on? Will she be willing to hurt those she loves, to gain what she needs most?

The Summer I Turned Pretty is the second novel from young adult writer Jenny Han, and the first of her novels that I have read. This story captured me, in a way that reminded me of my first love and my teenage years. Growing up and just waiting for the one guy to notice you. It’s a story that I think a lot of people can relate to, both young and old, either going through it currently or remembering what it was like. The Summer I Turned Pretty captures that journey and adventure to find who you are and to be seen as something different to what everyone thinks you are. Reminding me, in style, of Sarah Dessen’s novel Along For The Ride, the characters in Han’s novel are instantly ones you can recognise and connect with. The characters and their actions is what invests you in this novel. You want the best for them; you want everything to end up okay for them.

Belly is a gem. I find reflections of myself in her actions, and things that I wish I had done when I was her age. She has the strength to keep going, to try for something better because she believes the best in everyone. Her relationships with Conrad and Jeremiah and how she deals with her feelings is something that I think we all go through. The confusion of not knowing exactly what someone else thinks of you. Cam was also another breath of fresh air. I wish we had got to see even more of Cam then what was included. Susannah was the mother you wished you had, and Belly’s own mother is that of a typical mother – doing more that her daughter realised at the time.

An element that I really loved was the chance to go back in Belly’s past and see memories from previous summers, and how they created the person that Belly is now.

A beautifully light reading and feel-good novel.

Publication date: 2010

Pages: 288

Rating:: ★★★½☆

Teaser quote: When it started to get cold, I rubbed my arms, and Cam took off his hoodie and gave it to me. Which, was sort of my dream come true – getting cold and having a guy actually give you his hoodie instead of gloating over how mart he’d been to bring one.

The Crescent – Jordan Deen
Book Reviews
April 1, 2010 posted by Katie

The Crescent – Jordan Deen

Becoming a werewolf is not an option for seventeen-year-old Lacey Quinn, but death can be a strong motivator.

Lacey is so focused on her future that everyday life has passed her by. Counting down the days to her eighteenth birthday, Lacey is almost home free. But when she falls for the mysterious Alex Morris, she lands in the middle of an ancient war between two enemy wolf packs. Tempting dreams, tantalizing lies and a dangerous love triangle ensues leaving Lacey heartbroken and confused.

Lacey’s fate rest in the hands of Alex and Brandon, but both are pulling her strings for their own agendas. Even as she slips further into the dark world of werewolves, Lacey struggles to find the truth and save the only family she’s ever known.

Lacey Quinn is your average 17 year old girl. In high school, parents that argue a best friend that will stick by her no matter what odd predicaments she ends up in. Strolling round the streets at night while her parents’ battle out another argument is nothing new for Lacey, although on one night that will change the rest of her life, there is something different. Lacey feels as if she is being watched. A rustle in the bushes and a pair of yellow eyes has Lacey dashing back home only to find that the one watching her was a lost dog. Yet this dog is no ordinary dog. Able to understand exactly what Lacey wants and needs, Lacey doesn’t begin to suspect that he is the one connected to the strange events occurring in the rest of her life.

There’s a new kid a school. A new kid who is intent on having Lacey as his girlfriend. Alex Morris isn’t like other guys. He never even looks at another girl, and seems to be everything Lacey has ever wanted in a guy. Sounds too good to be true? Probably, because it is. For the closer Lacey gets to Alex, and the closer she gets to her eighteenth birthday, the mere smell of Alex makes her sick. Deathly sick. Yet as her mind is screaming at her to get away, Lacey heart is falling more in love with Alex.

Then there is Brandon, the guy who appears only to Lacey, who her best friend doesn’t even know of. He has this physic connection to Lacey, showing her images and memories of their past life together, a life that Lacey has no recollection of. Yet for some reason she can’t explain, Lacey feels as if she knows Brandon, that he is part of her soul.

In a struggle that will only leave one winner, who will Lacey decided to protect when the moment of truth arrives?

The Crescent is debut novel from Jordan Deen, featuring a story that is gripping and compelling, so gripping that I read this completely in one sitting. I completely forgot about time and anything else, so consumed was I in this story. The characters were immediately likeable and easy to relate too. Lacey is a teenager going through all the struggles that one does when she is on the verge of being considered an adult. Her attempt to choose what she wants for her life, even as her life is being manipulated on numerous fronts. I found Alex intriguing and irritating, knowing that there was always something he wasn’t completely telling us. The same thing with Brandon, who I had a hunch would be more important and would have a larger role that it originally seems. Particularly when you work out Brandon’s second identity.

The only issue I had with this book was one plot point that was emphasised a lot in the start of the novel, then forgotten about a third of the way in. Lacey’s arguing parents who used to cause Lacey’s late night strolls seemed to completely overcome their problems with each other to turn into a loving couple that never fought. I personally would have either liked to see their relationship continue in the way it was originally established or to have a spot more character and plot development that allowed this change in character to actually make sense in the story. Along with this is a few spelling mistakes, but I hardly noticed these on my first time round. However, if they are the only flaws I could find, then I recommend this series to anyone who loves fresh and new works in urban fantasy. Get ready to discover a whole new world in the realm of werewolf mythology.

Publication date: 2010

Pages: 187

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Teaser quote: “They’re gone right?” He leaned towards me. I reached out barely catching him before he fell over the threshold into the house…”

Post Grad – Emily Cassel
Book Reviews
February 3, 2010 posted by Katie

Post Grad – Emily Cassel

What happens when your life doesn’t go according to plan?

Ryden Malby had a plan. Step One: Do will in high school, thereby achieving Step Two: Get a college scholarship. Step Three: Limit her beer intake in order to keep said scholarship (which wasn’t always easy). Now that she’s finally graduated, it’s time for Step Four: Move into a gorgeous loft apartment and land her dream job at the city’s best publishing house. So far, Ryden’s been three-for-three, but she’s about to stumble on Step Four…

When Jessica Bard, Ryden’s college nemesis – the prettiest, smartest, most ambitious girl at school – steals her perfect job, Ryden’s forced to move back to her childhood home. Stuck with her eccentric family – a stubborn do-it-yourself dad, an overly thrifty mom, a politically incorrect grandma, a very odd little brother – and a growing stack of rejected job applications, Ryden starts to feel like she’s going nowhere. The only upside is spending time with her best friend, Adam – and running into her hot next-door neighbour, David. But if Ryden’s going to survive life as a post grad, it may be time to come up with a new plan…

Ryden Malby seems to be on the up. College scholarship, best friend that she has known forever, and promising prospects at top publishing firm Happerman and Browning. It’s The Plan after all. Moving away from home and an eccentric family that Ryden wishes she weren’t related too is all Ryden has ever wanted. It’s graduation day, and if she can get through the ceremony without some form of disaster, tomorrow will be the start of her new life.

And to being with, everything seems to be going great. Until Adam, her best friend who is driving her to look at the gorgeous loft apartment and to her interview crashes. From there everything seems to fall apart. Being beat out for the dream job but perfect, valedictorian college classmate Jessica, being denied the keys to the apartment, Ryden is forced back to the last place she ever wants to be – home.

Facing countless months of un-employment when she can’t even keep a job at her own father’s luggage store, Ryden feels that nothing will ever be right again. A small light in that future however is David – her older and hotter next-door neighbour. Scoring her a small job as an assistant on the set of the commercials that he directs, Ryden finally feels like she has some to talk to. That is, until she messes up again, angering Adam to the point that he decides to take the offer of a law course in New York. Completely on the opposite side of the continent to Ryden, and it seems no amount of apologies will get Adam to talk to Ryden.

In a world with plans go off track, Ryden must work out exactly what it is she wants, and what she is willing to give up to get it.

Post Grad
by Emily Cassel is adapted from the screenplay of recent movie release of the same name, starring Alexis Bledel. I haven’t seen the movie from which the novel was adapted, but I have it on good authority that it was a fun, easy film to watch. Shame that the same can’t be said from the novel. I found the plot weak and that the characters lacked development over the course of the events. Nothing ever happened for a reason, things just happened. With an entirely predictable ending, there was nothing in this book that really got me caring about what actually happened to Ryden.

The most notable parts of the book were Ryden’s eccentric family. They at least, made it interesting to read – their bizarre and somewhat random acts breaking up the monotony of the rest of the plot.

To me, Post Grad was a concept that had a lot of potential, but was poorly executed in terms of plot and character development.

Pages: 243

Publication date: America 2009, Australia 2010

Rating:: ★★½☆☆

Teaser quote: If you ever truly want to be stared at, try driving down Wilshire Boulevard in your mother’s pink Le Baron with an enormous, half-shattered coffin strapped to the roof.

The Poison Throne: A Moorehawke Trilogy novel – Celine Kiernan
Book Reviews
January 30, 2010 posted by Katie

The Poison Throne: A Moorehawke Trilogy novel – Celine Kiernan

A friend. A father. A kingdom. Which would you sacrifice?

Meet fifteen-year-old Wynter Moorehawke – Protector Lady, qualified girl apprentice in a man’s trade, former King’s Cat Keeper who returns home after a five-year sojourn in the bleak Northlands. All has changed in her absence.

Wynter is forced to make a terrible choice: stay and bow to the King’s will, or abandon her ailing father and join her friend Razi and the mysterious Christopher Garron in their efforts to restore the fragile kingdom to its former stability.

But this changed kingdom is a dangerous place, where all resistance is brutally suppressed and the trio constantly risk assassination, torture or imprisonment…

At last, something in the YA fantasy genre that doesn’t need vampires or werewolves, magic or the paranormal to make an interesting read. The Poison Throne is debut novel from Irish author Celine Kiernan is one novel that I couldn’t put down.

Born to the commoners class, girl apprentice in the ‘man’s’ trade of carpentry and friend to the sons of the King, Wynter is no ordinary girl. For five years Wynter and her father had been confined to the Northlands, cut off from everything they know. So when they finally are ordered to return to the South, Wynter can’t wait to see her friends again, to live the life that she knows best.

Yet as they travel south, not all is as it seems. And when they arrive at the castle itself things are defiantly not the way they should be. What was once the most prosperous, fair, just and right kingdom seems to be descending into chaos and destruction – King Jonathon at the heart. The once benevolent ruler seems to have completely abandoned the people, no longer listening to their wishes, letting the state run into disarray and himself to be consumed by madness.

So it would seem.

In a court where one wrong step could have you fighting for your life, Wynter must navigate the difficult waters as the only daughter of the Protector Lord. Particularly when that Lord is your father and is deathly ill, so ill that even moving around the castle can become so difficult that he must rely of others to assist him.

Razi, the bastard son and illegitimate heir of the king is desperate to continue his doctor’s training yet is being forced into the position of crown prince. A position that not only does Razi not want, but that the people will not accept him in. Especially when the true heir Alberon is still alive despite Jonathon’s every effort to erase him from history. Alberon who used to be Wynter’s best friend and the beloved son of the King.

Wynter is thrown into the midst of a battle for power. A battle that could see one of her two best friends dead. Or both if she isn’t careful. And only two things are certain. Alberon must be found, or the lives of more than just her best friends and father could be in danger…

The Poison Throne is by far, one of the best young adult fantasy books I have read in a long time. From the beginning, Kiernan has created a world so complete and rich, that it automatically pulls you into the story. Atmospheric and intriguing, The Poison Throne evokes and enchanting and convincing alternate universe. A universe full of love, treachery, jealousy, tenderness, war, wisdom and court life. High fantasy at its best, The Poison Throne is an engaging and dynamic read that left me wanting for more, even after the last page.

Pages: 468

Publication date: Ireland 2008, Australia 2009

Rating:: ★★★★½

Teaser quote: Slowly Christopher lowered himself to the ground and lifted his strange knife from his belt. Wynter immediately unsheathed her dagger and crouched, ready to fight or flee…

Feed – M. T. Anderson
Book Reviews
December 16, 2009 posted by Katie

Feed – M. T. Anderson

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”

So says Titus, a teenager whose ability to read, write, and even think for himself has been almost completely obliterated by his “feed,” a transmitter implanted directly into his brain. Feeds are a crucial part of life for Titus and his friends. After all, how else would they know where to party on the moon, how to get bargains at Weatherbee & Crotch, or how to accessorize the mysterious lesions everyone’s been getting? But then Titus meets Violet, a girl who cares about what’s happening to the world and challenges everything Titus and his friends hold dear. A girl who decides to fight the feed.

When I first saw Feed mentioned in Maggie Stiefvater’s ‘Top Twelve Books of 2009’, I knew that I had to read this novel. (For those who don’t know, Maggie is the author of Shiver) What gripped me from the first page of this novel is the sense of grim reality. This isn’t a novel where everything is carefully scripted, it’s honest and raw. Dialogue and thought coming from a place that strikes me as real. Through every thought of Titus I got a sense of being completely in over my head, struggling to find meaning of events taking place. Which, I believe, is exactly the response author M. T. Anderson was looking for.

Feed opens with a group of friends on spring break who have decided to take off to the moon to find entertainment. But the moon isn’t exactly what they expected. They run into Violet, who for all appearances is as average and normal as the rest of them. Except for the fact she was home-schooled and needs to live a little. Yet everything doesn’t run smoothly on the moon. For Titus and his friends become the subjects of a hacker, resulting in their feeds being disconnected, leaving them shut off from the world. Imagine having the internet permanently accessible to you, then suddenly it’s gone. Yet this internet is the basis of everything. Communication, human contact. The world.

All too soon – or not soon enough depending on your point of view – the technicians of FeedTech have fixed the problem and Titus, Violet and their friends can continue on with their normal life as American consumers. However one member of this group doesn’t have it as easy as the rest. Even before the hack, Violet was about defying the feed. About not conforming to society. Testing the boundaries to see how far she can push. And her limit may have just arrived, for her feed hasn’t recovered the same as everyone else’s. Slowly, Violet is losing control of her most basic functions and without the money to fund repairs, Violet and Titus know that she only has a short amount of time to live.

With not enough time to do anything, Violet tries to do everything. Yet underneath it all there is still her belief in fighting the system. Her belief that there is something more out there than the average American. But can she communicate this to Titus in a way he can understand before it’s too late?

I’ve always measure novels in terms of how well I can get lost in the story. Feed is one that had me completely lost in the story. Anderson wove a story that was so compelling and so real. This isn’t a fantasy or alternate universe with different rules. It’s a grim look at a future possible reality. The ‘feeds’ which is the subject matter of a large portion of the novel is a highly advanced internet interface which is installed in your brain – it takes over everything from breathing and moving and completely removes the necessity of reading. It categories and records everything you do, building a profile of you used by American corporations. It is a place that we could very well be heading. A scary and controlling place. And through this, we have Violet who is fighting for a better world, a world where youth don’t live in ignorance of what is happening outside of their suburb, where youth remember the history of the past and what the world used to be like. It is Violet who made this novel all the more real, as she tries to break from society.

This is just one of those novels that needs to be read. At the core, one girls emotional and physical struggle to change the world, seen through the eyes of one that struggles and fails to break free of the constraints of society.

A warning to younger readers, frequent coarse language does occur.

Pages: 300

Publication date: 2004

Rating:: ★★★★★

Brisingr: An Inheritance Cycle novel – Christopher Paolini
Book Reviews
December 14, 2009 posted by Katie

Brisingr: An Inheritance Cycle novel – Christopher Paolini

Oaths sworn…loyalties tested…forces collide.

It’s been only months since Eragon first uttered “brisingr”, an ancient-language term for fire. Since then, he’s not only learned to create magic with words – he’s been challenged to his very core. Following the colossal battle against the Empire’s warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives. Still, there is more adventure at hand for the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep.

When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices – choices that will take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimagined sacrifice.

Eragon is the greatest hope to rid the land of tyranny. Can this once simple farm boy unite the rebel forces and defeat the king?

Murtagh is defeated – for now. But not after revealing the information the rocks Eragon to his core and changes everything he knew and thought was right in his life. Struggling with the true identify of his mother and rejecting that of his father, Eragon is trying to find where he truly belongs. After having his entire being affected by the Ageti Blodhren ceremony of the elves, Eragon is starting to feel the binds of the oaths that he has made – oaths to each race and the individual people of Alagaesia.

First, is the oath to his cousin Roran. Roran’s betrothed is being held hostage by the Ra’zac – servants of Galbatorix, they spread fear in their opponents making them a deadly enemy in battle. And for this battle, it is impossible for Eragon and Saphira to be together. For it is in the caves of the Ra’za, caves too small for Saphira to fit through. Eragon and Roran are on their own. And when further complications arise, Eragon is making the first of his decisions that will affect the entire Empire.

Then there is the oath to Elva, the blessed-yet-cursed child that Eragon has promised to help. Yet when it comes to the ancient language, nothing is a simple as it seems. The more Eragon learns, the more he beings to realise how hard it is to remove the cures he placed on Elva. One wrong pronunciation and it could become a lot worse.

Then there is the problem of his un-finished education and the promise to return to Ellesmera to complete this. Yet can Eragon really afford the time to travel across the Empire when the Varden need him now more than ever?

For it is Ellesmera that holds the key to the next stage of the battle against Galbatorix. For Ellesmera holds the only elf with the knowledge on how to forge a Rider’s sword. A sword Eragon is in need of after Za’roc was taken from him by Murtagh on the plains. For only a Rider’s sword can face another of its kind and only a Rider’s sword can withstand the pressure of magic. Yet this seemingly simple process is complicated further by more oaths and promises, some that Eragon himself doesn’t yet know the cost of.

As Eragon, Saphira, Arya and the Varden hurdle closer to the battle that will decide the fate of the world, each side begins to face the costs of what has be promised.

In Brisingr, I feel Paolini has outdone himself. This is by far the best of the series. The characters all come leaps and bounds, with the multiple viewpoints woven simultaneously into a smooth plot that gives you an understanding of each and every race that make up Alagaesia. One of the biggest things I noticed in Brisingr was the development of the characters and the relationship between these characters. You could see just how much each character was standing for and just how much they would lose if they failed.

Personally, I’m a sucker for romance in any for, and the continuing developments between Eragon and Arya had me happy in this novel. There still isn’t a relationship between these two, yet the strength and development of the friendship that Paolini developed between Eragon and Arya was so believable and strong, that it had me smiling at many stages in this novel. Not to mention the ending that had me tear up at one stage, due to the pure and raw emotion in the scene.

Once again, I would recommend Brisingr to any lover of epic adventure fantasy novels, and with one instalment left to go, I will be looking forward to the release date for the last novel in the Inheritance Cycle as much as the next reader.

Pages: 763

Publication Date: 2008

Rating:: ★★★★½

Radiant Shadows Cover Unleashed
News
November 20, 2009 posted by Nikki

Radiant Shadows Cover Unleashed

The fourth book in Melissa Marr’s ever popular Wicked Lovely series, Radiant Shadows, finally has a cover!

What do we all think?