Posts Tagged ‘YA’

Daughter of Smokes and Bones is pure magic

September 19th, 2011    Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

In September, I was on quite possibly the most miserable flight of my life.  The one-week-shy of two years old child who sat on his mother’s lap next to me kicked me at least once every thirty seconds. (He also tried to steal my food and book.)  Their dog escaped from his kennel partway through his flight and I ended up holding it on my lap for a couple of hours. The flight attendant spilt apple juice on my three times.

(Seriously—who only buys one seat when she’s traveling with both a two year old and dog? And who doesn’t bring food for a child on a six+-hour flight? Okay, rant over.)

Luckily I had something to escape to while flying—Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. The book begins as we meet Karou, an art student in Prague with an interesting home life. Karou was raised by a chimera, Brimstone. She doesn’t know where she came from or who her parents are. She runs errands for Brimstone and his companions, going into the human world in exchange for receiving beads that allow her to make wishes.

While on a mission, Karou comes across an angel. This meeting turns her entire world upside down. I won’t say anymore since I don’t want to spoil the plot. The very wonderful, engaging plot with interesting characters.  The sort of novel that whisks you away into its own world and you’re sad to leave when you come to the final pages.

Definitely recommended.

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Source: Gift from Friend
Read: August 2011

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A Goliath of a book

July 31st, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Fiction, Kelly, Uncategorized

In Leviathan and Behemoth, Scott Westerfeld set up his own alternative, steampunk take on World War I. Germany and its allies are the “clankers”, countries who rely on mechanical devices. Great Britain is “Darwinist”, and they’ve developed ships with biological material. For example, the Leviathan is the premier warship in the British service, and it’s a whale hybrid. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry: it makes sense when you read the novels.

In Goliath, Austrian prince Alek has rejoined the Leviathan as a pseudo-captive after assisting an uprising in Turkey. Deryn is also back with the crew after helping Alek in Turkey, and she’s continuing to live her double life as Dylan. (She’s pretending to be a boy so she can fly.) There’s one problem: Alek knows that Deryn has a secret, although he doesn’t know what. And it doesn’t help that the perspicacious loris keeps calling Deryn Mr. Sharp.

Alek feels he has a destiny to fulfill, and he’s sure that stopping the war is part of it. Add in a crazy and potentially rogue scientist, unscrupulous journalists, and the Mexican revolution, and our heroes have plenty on their plates to deal with.

The novel has plenty of humor and action, and it comes to a satisfying if perhaps—in some aspects—unexpected conclusion. The writing is sharp, and as strong as the previous novels in the series. This is a great novel for teens and would also make a great introduction to steampunk for the uninitiated.
Read by: Kelly

Title: Goliath
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Read: July 2011
Source: Electronic Galley



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Please don’t Ignore Vera Dietz

July 8th, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Award-Winning, Fiction, Kelly, Young Adult

VeraDietzA. S. King’s Please Ignore Vera Dietz won a 2011 Printz award for good reason. It’s a funny, edgy, insightful. It’s dark in a real life sort of way.

Eighteen-year old Vera hates Charlie Kahn, her lifelong best friend and secret crush. She hates him even more because he’s dead. Everyone thinks Charlie did something terrible, and Vera can clear his name. If she can find a way to forgive him.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz touches on alcoholism, spousal abuse, and other problems real teens have. While the majority of the novel is told from Vera’s first person perspective, occasionally chapters are show from Vera’s dad perspective complete with flow charts (he’s a recovering alcoholic/current accountant who loves his daughter and tries to be a good parent), from Charlie, and from the Pagoda (a local structure used in the novel). The story–Charlie’s betrayal and fall from grace–emerges over the course of the novel, as relevant plot points are metered out while we show Vera’s recovery from loss and road to adulthood.

The Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed critical of the ‘darkness’ in YA fiction, and this is the sort of novel that the reviewer but have been critical of. But this novel confronts the sorts of problems some teens face. Vera faces her problems, and even though she’s emerging as adult, she learns to rely on her father for help when she needs it.

Read by: Kelly

Title: Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Author: A. S. King
Source: Gift from friend
Read: July 2011



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Who’s the Fairest of them all?

April 7th, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, Young Adult

Aza spends most of her life trying to hide her face from guests at her parents’ inn. She might not be the fairest girl in Ayortha, but she has the most beautiful singing voice. Aza also have a few unique talents. She can mimic other voices and sounds. She’s also able to illuse, or make her voice sound like it’s coming from elsewhere. No one else can do this.

Of course, these skills are taken advantage of in this loose retelling of Snow White. When Aza unexpectedly finds herself at the marriage of the king, and falls prey to the insecure new queen, will she be able to save herself and her future?

Fairest is an enjoyable read set in a fun, fairy-tale land. Some of the small details (“Oochoo answers to ‘her royal highhoundness’”) are great, and the larger world within the book is as enjoyable. The overall message, in which Aza learned to accept her strengths and weaknesses, and engage with the world bravely, is important. Aza is beautiful inside, and finds her place in the world with people who respect her mind, character, and singing voice.

Title: Fairest
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Source: Public Library
Read: April 2011




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Persephone myth retold in Meg Cabot’s Abandon

March 29th, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Fiction, Kelly, Young Adult

Meg CabotPierce knows what it’s like to die. After all, she drowned when she was fifteen. Her family just thinks she was resuscitated, but Pierce knows the truth. She escaped from the underworld.

In this retelling of the Persephone myth, Pierce is tied to John Hayden, a death deity of the underworld. His full powers and role are unclear, but he’s mysterious, dark, and handsome. He also wants Pierce.

Throughout the novel, Pierce’s history slowly unfolds, and the author will tease the reader with a small clue and then go into more detail later. Most of the book is shown in flashbacks, and the bulk of the action takes place towards the end of the book. I enjoyed this, in part because Pierce is a strong character and I enjoyed her voice.

This novel is the first in a trilogy, and I hope we’ll get more insight into Pierce’s friends and family. For example, Pierce’s cousin Alex is essentially a stranger to her when the story starts, and small aspects of his life are shown throughout the novel. He’s clearly meant to be a round character, and I look forward to seeing him come to life in the next two books (pun intended).

Abandon comes out on April 26, 2011.

Title: Abandon
Author: Meg Cabot
Date read: March 2011
Source: ARC from publisher





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A new way to turn on, tune out, and drop out: Feed by M. T. Anderson

March 15th, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Dystopian, Fiction, Kelly, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Imagine having your brain hardwired to stream music, TV, and advertisements. All day. Learning actual information isn’t that important: you can look it up. Instantly. In your head.

In the dark and dystopian world of M. T. Anderson’s Feed, everyone is connected, literally. “Feeds” are interwoven within brains and allow the USA’s population—well, 78% of the country—to be connected in a sort of wide reaching internet. When Titus spends spring break on the moon—and the moon “sucks”, by the way—he meets Violet, a girl unlike any he’s ever known. She’s pretty, smart, and has been homeschooled away from privileged students like Titus. When a computer hacker attacks Titus, his friends, and Violet, they get to know each other without the influence of the feed.

Lesions are starting to form on the people in the book, but this predicament has been spun to be stylish as opposed to a sign of serious environmental issues. The world is decaying, but Titus and his friends don’t notice or care. It’s not trendy.

In many ways, the lead character Titus is as shallow as the world he lives in. But he has the potential to be deeper, passionate, unexpected. Violet might be able to get Titus to think, but he’s wired to be as consumerist as everyone else. When faced with difficult questions and a heart-breaking scenario, will Titus rise above the feed?

Feed is a great novel for those interested in YA, dystopian fiction, and science fiction. It’s thought provoking and intelligent. The slang takes a few minutes to get used to—think Clockwork Orange, although more, like, contemporary, like, teen—but it’s worth it since this is an excellent novel for both teens and adults.

On a side note, Feed was a Finalist for the 2002 National Book Award, Young People’s Literature.


Title: Feed
Author: M. T. Anderson
Read: March 2011
Source: Barnes & Noble

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Flash Burnout: Realistic YA by L. K. Madigan

January 14th, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Fiction, Kelly, Young Adult

Flash BurnoutOne of the things I appreciated about Flash Burnout is the novel’s setting: Portland, Oregon. Overall, it felt like the Portland I know. It weaved a quirky local event—zoobombing, called “hurtle” in the book—into the story arc.

Protagonist Blake has two major hobbies: photography, and comedy. He also has two girls in his life: his girlfriend, who’s cute, has a good sense of humor, and he hopes to sleep with. Then there’s Marissa, his friend from photography, whose work is “pretty” as opposed to Blake’s “gritty”. But when Blake takes a photo of a homeless woman on the streets of Old Town, he finds out that Marissa’s life is as gritty as his photographs. The woman in the picture is Marissa’s mother.

Blake’s life isn’t exactly “pretty”—both of his parents deal with death for a living—but they’re involved in the lives of their sons. Compared to Marissa’s life, Blake has an ideal family, although he’s free to make his own mistakes. Since he’s a teenage boy, he does.

Madigan weaved photographic terms into the story well, and Blake’s story is both believable, and compelling.

About the author: I originally reserved this novel at the library when @Literaticat mentioned it on Twitter. The day I started the novel, I heard some sad news. In a simple but eloquent post, L. K. Madigan blogged about having stage IV pancreatic cancer that’s metastasized to her liver. Please keep her in your thoughts.

Read by: Kelly

Book: Flash Burnout
Author: L. K. Madigan
Date Finished: January 12, 2011
Source: Public Library

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