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Archive for December, 2014|Monthly archive page

Meant to Be

In YA Book Reviews on December 30, 2014 at 2:45 am

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by Lauren Morrill

YA Contemporary Romance/©2012/292 pages/Recommended for Ages 12+

Publisher’s Comments (Goodreads):

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she’s queen of following rules and being prepared. That’s why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that’s also why she’s chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB (“meant to be”).

But this spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love. Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

My Comments:

In a nutshell, Meant to Be is a light and fluffy, very enjoyable read, reminiscent of some of my favorite romantic comedies. Julia tells her story,  providing many laugh-out-loud moments. She manages to pack in a lot of new experiences and discover more about herself (and some of the people she thought she knew) in her nine days away from home. Jason was equally entertaining – your basic teenage smart aleck (with many redeeming qualities,  of course!) who manages to shake up Julia’s rule-driven life. An added bonus is that it takes place in London (the educational field trip) and the author provides some great descriptive and informative details about some of the don’t miss spots in London, making you feel like you were there. This book will leave you with a smile on your face and the feeling that you really should plan a trip (or return trip) to London yourself (or, at the very least, listen to some Beatle music or go see one of Shakespeare’s comedies!).

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Companion Books: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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Loot

In YA Book Reviews on December 29, 2014 at 6:56 pm

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 by Jude Watson

Tween Mystery Adventure/©2014/272 Pages/Recommended for Ages 8 – 12

Publisher’s Comments (Goodreads):

On a foggy night in Amsterdam, a man falls from a rooftop to the wet pavement below. It’s Alfie McQuinn, the notorious cat burglar, and he’s dying. As sirens wail in the distance, Alfie manages to get out two last words to his young son, March: “Find jewels.”

But March learns that his father is not talking about a stash of loot. He’s talking about Jules, the twin sister March never knew he had. No sooner than the two find each other, they’re picked up by the police and sent to the world’s worst orphanage. It’s not prison, but it feels like it. March and Jules have no intention of staying put. They know their father’s business inside and out, and they’re tired of being pushed around. Just one good heist, and they’ll live the life of riches and freedom most kids only dream about.

Watch out! There are wild kids on the loose and a crime spree coming . . .

My Comments: This middle grade book is quite engaging. The plot is clever and keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. It is filled with snappy dialogue and endearing characters. I can only hope this is the beginning of another series for this author. I loved it!

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Companion Books: The 39 Clues series by Various Authors

 

Open Road Summer

In YA Book Reviews on December 29, 2014 at 6:42 pm

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 by Emery Lord

YA Contemporary Romance/©2014/352 Pages/Stand Alone Book/Recommended for Ages 12+

Publisher’s Comments (Amazon)

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

My Comments:A quick, enjoyable read about best friends, a sweet romance, a road trip and dealing with things life just throws your way.  Great characters you can care about, each with their own story and lessons learned along the way. Highly entertaining and worthwhile read.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Companion Books: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles)

In YA Book Reviews on December 20, 2014 at 4:27 am

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 by Mary E. Pearson

YA Fantasy/©2014/486 Pages/Part of a Series/Recommended for 7th Grade and Above

Publisher’s Comments (Goodreads):

A princess must find her place in a reborn world. She flees on her wedding day. She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection. She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father. She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance. Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.

Next Book in the Series: The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles Book 2)) Hardcover – July 7, 2015

My Thoughts:

There is a lot going on in this story. It is a well written and well plotted fantasy with interesting characters and some heart stopping moments. Lia is a strong main character, and it is fascinating to see her change as the story progresses. The Kiss of Deception is written from three perspectives, all the better to build suspense, I am sure. The main narration is Lia’s, but there are also chapters from the assassin and the prince. Lia’s narration is un-labeled, but subheadings indicate chapters from “The Assassin” or “The Prince”. We don’t even learn their names, until they give them to Lia. One is Rafe, and the other is Kaden. Once you have some names to deal with, the chapters get really intense. Lia still narrates, but we also have narration from “Rafe” and “Kaden” — which includes no details to give away which is the assassin or which is the Prince, and we still also have chapters from “The Assassin” or “The Prince”, which don’t give away names! Very frustrating because it makes it difficult to get a good sense of each of those two characters, but it does keep you reading. The last third of the book gets pretty exciting and then it just ends at a critical point and you are left to anxiously wait for the next book in the series…July 7, 2015. I will be counting the days!

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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Dorothy Must Die

In YA Book Reviews on December 16, 2014 at 4:42 am

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by Danielle Paige

YA Fantasy Retelling/464 Pages/©2014/Part of a Series/Recommended for Mature 7th Graders and Older

Publisher’s Introduction:

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero. But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know? Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a road of yellow brick—but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas. I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I’ve been trained to fight. And I have a mission: Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart. Steal the Scarecrow’s brain. Take the Lion’s courage. And—Dorothy must die.

My Thoughts: Violence, bloody battles, and horrifying murders, oh, my! Author Danielle Paige conjured up quite the after story about the further adventures of Dorothy. The heroine of this story is Amy, who is a pink haired, high school outsider who lives in a trailer park in Kansas with her dysfunctional mother. She has attitude and spunk which shines through as she tells her story. I really liked her. She is sarcastic, witty, grounded, and brave, with the same bits of insecurity we all have. In short, a very well developed, real character.  For the most part, the story moves along at a fast pace, weaving through the introduction of multiple fascinating characters in rich detail (including the ultimate mean girl Dorothy!) with one plot twist after another. It is definitely a Young Adult novel, with rough language and some incidents of gory violence. Definitely intended for high school age and above readers, but there are some mature, sophisticated 7th and 8th graders who would also enjoy reading this book with its elements of Hunger Games and Harry Potter. I did not think I was going to like this book and just kept putting it aside for the longest time. Now I am hooked on it and can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Other Books in this Series: The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die Book 2), Yellow Brick War (Book 3), The End of Oz (Book 4)