Category Archives: YA

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Publisher: Tanglewood Press (September 27, 2011)
Kindle:  345 pages / 476 KB
Source: Netgalley
Rating: of 5 stars

Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the Earth forever.

Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when the supervolcano erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away.

Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter. When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait–to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.

Review:

Ashfall was a good, engrossing read. It worked well to evoke emotional responses from the reader. Mullin provided a raw view of humanity in a post-apocalyptic world caused by natural disaster, i.e. the volcanic eruption. There was many moments that left me feeling disappointed with the state of the world. Looting, pillage, rape and other undoubtably violent acts were shown to the readers. They were things you expect from the middle ages, not the modern time that Mullin set the book. But he packaged it in a way that worked to show, just because times are different doesn’t mean people are.

Occasionally though there are moments of kindness that help to counterbalance the ugly and evil that is shown. Darla and her mother are just one example of that. Though usually small acts of kindness, they are things that stay with the reader and Alex as they travel on.

The relationship between Alex and Darla is just one way that helps to show, even during this disaster and time there is a chance for something beautiful to happen. Their relationship, however, is not a focus. By keeping it a secondary plot device, it gives their relationship a solid, understated quality that makes it that much easier to appreciate.

Mullin takes the ugly of humanity and exposes it to the reader. By clearly showing how much bad there could be, Mullin gives hope even when there doesn’t seem to be any. Things weren’t all fixed for the characters but there’s that hope gives way to this feeling that things would one day be alright. It’s just the first book, and I think it works well to hook the reader and get them anticipating the next one.

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Find Mike Mullin:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Purchase the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository 

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“Waiting” on Wednesday: Dark Eden

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publication date: November 1, 2011
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Add on: Goodreads

Fifteen-year-old Will Besting is sent by his doctor to Fort Eden, an institution meant to help patients suffering from crippling phobias. Once there, Will and six other teenagers take turns in mysterious fear chambers and confront their worst nightmares—with the help of the group facilitator, Rainsford, an enigmatic guide. When the patients emerge from the chamber, they feel emboldened by the previous night’s experiences. But each person soon discovers strange, unexplained aches and pains. . . . What is really happening to the seven teens trapped in this dark Eden?

Patrick Carman’s Dark Eden is a provocative exploration of fear, betrayal, memory, and— ultimately—immortality.

Ok, creepy and mysterious much? I think this will be a pretty thrilling read, and can’t for it to come out.

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Everything You Need to Suvive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss

Publisher: Simon Pulse (January 3, 2012)
Kindle:  416 pages / 5 KB
Source: Galley Grab
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

 A male perspective on sorting love from loss, faith from fear—brimming with humor and romance.Phillip’s sophomore year is off to a rough start. One of his best friends ditches him. His track coach singles him out for personalized, torturous training sessions. And his dad decides to clean out all of the emergency supplies from the basement, even though the world could end in disaster at any moment…and even though those supplies are all Phillip has left of his dead mom. Not that he wants to talk about that.

But then Phillip meets Rebekah. Not only is she unconventionally hot and smart, but she might like him back. As Phillip gets closer to Rebekah, he tries harder and harder to turn himself into the kind of person he thinks she wants him to be. But the question is, can he become that person? And does he really want to?

Review:

Phillip is a strange kid. Or a very normal one. Starting with his meeting Rebekah, Phillip is soon besieged with the drama of life. There’s some fighting with friends, making up, and all this while trying to get Rebekah to like him back.

“Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse” is a slice-of-life told from Phillip’s POV. A flawed character, we get to follow him around as he makes mistakes and, hopefully, learn from a couple of them.

At first just wanting to see Rebekah, Phillip attends Church. However as the book goes on, Phillip’s reasoning transforms with/through faith. Phillip is trying to get a better understanding of the world and his beliefs. His struggles and convictions are spot on. As I was reading, Klauss was able to draw me in and make me feel the confusion. It forced me to struggle alongside Phillip.

The narrative is interspersed with flashbacks. It’s part of Phillip trying to find himself and deal with his mother’s death. It wasn’t recent, but with the flashbacks, it was clear that his mother’s life leading up to her death had an intangible impact on his life.

While this wasn’t my type of book, I can’t deny Klauss did an excellent job when writing this. The voice fit, and the narrative never faltered or dragged. Definitely a good read for anyone in the mood for a slice-of-life involving teenage friendship, romance and struggles with religion.

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Find Lucas Klauss:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Purchase the book:

Amazon | Barnes & NobleThe Book Depository 

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The Juliet Spell by Douglas Rees

Publisher: Harlequin Teen (September 27, 2011)
Kindle:  272 pages / 396  KB
Source: Netgalley
Rating: of 5 stars

I wanted the role of Juliet more than anything. I studied hard. I gave a great reading for it—even with Bobby checking me out the whole time. I deserved the part.

I didn’t get it. So I decided to level the playing field, though I actually might have leveled the whole play. You see, since there aren’t any Success in Getting to Be Juliet in Your High School Play spells, I thought I’d cast the next best—a Fame spell. Good idea, right?

Yeah. Instead of bringing me a little fame, it brought me someone a little famous. Shakespeare. Well, Edmund Shakespeare. William’s younger brother.

Good thing he’s sweet and enthusiastic about helping me with the play…and—ahem—maybe a little bit hot. But he’s from the past. Waypast. Cars amaze him—cars! And cell phones? Ugh.

Still, there’s something about him that’s making my eyes go star-crossed….

Review:

Truthfully, I was on the fence on whether or not I’d like this book. Of all the things to wish for, Miranda wants to be Juliet. But as I read on and her reasoning behind the wish was explained, I warmed up to the story and started to root for her.

The entrance of Edmund was hilarious and his reactions were believable. A lot of modern ideas and terminology was thrown at him, but he adapts well at a surprisingly quick pace.

Miranda’s mother is also another surprise.Despite the overall unbelievability of the situation, she just accepts Edmund’s appearance in their life and home. Same with Drew. Intuitive and kind, Drew was a character I liked having around.

The writing is easy to read, while the story moves at a quick pace. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen Rees throws a curveball. A fun read for any YA romance fan.

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Find Douglas Rees:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Purchase the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble The Book Depository 

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“Waiting” on Wednesday: How to Save a Life

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publication date: October 18, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Jill MacSweeny just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she’s been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends–everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she’s somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.

Mandy Kalinowski understands what it’s like to grow up unwanted–to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she’s sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It’s harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?

As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy–or as difficult–as it seems.

I feel like every WoW pick I have is always something I’d never pick up normally when just perusing the book story. I think these are always the books I’d love to read if I had time.

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“Waiting” on Wednesday: Eve

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

Eve by Anna Carey

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publication date: October 4, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins

Where do you go when nowhere is safe?

Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose—and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust . . . and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

In this epic new series, Anna Carey imagines a future that is both beautiful and terrifying. Readers will revel in Eve’s timeless story of forbidden love and extraordinary adventure.

Kind of scary to think about some deadly virus decimating most of the population, but Carey has an idea here that sounds fascinating. I can only hope the book will end up being as interesting as the summary.

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Mephisto’s Covenant by Trinity Faegen

Publisher: Egmont USA (April 26, 2011)
Kindle: 448 pages / 5 KB
Source: Netgalley
Rating: of 5 stars

Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—she is an Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx always looming, Jax knows he has to keep Sasha safe and win her over.  But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?

It’s an interesting premise that Faegen has created. The idea that a child of Hell could be redeemed by one known as Anabo, it’s unique.

The characters brought on a mixed reaction. Sasha is a character I didn’t fully like or understand. We start the story with her relentless pursuit of the truth behind her father’s death. So relentless in fact that is borders being obsessive to a dangerous degree. Sasha comes off as a super good person that anyone would be friends with when given the appropriate opportunity. (Which makes sense since she is an Anabo.) For anyone thrust into the situation Sasha found herself in, I’m sure we’d all like to go back to our days of ignorance. Sasha’s initial reaction makes sense, even as it irked me.

Jax is refreshing as a male protagonist. I’m so used to those heros who always felt the need to push away their love interests. It was good to see Jax pursue Sasha. Even as he’s trying to stay away from Sasha at her request, he does things for her that would have swept any girl off her feet.

The romantic tension between Sasha and Jax was obvious and enjoyable. Even as Sasha wanted to stay away from Jax, she couldn’t help but want to be with him at the same time.

A good read, with an intriguing idea. It’s a book to check out if the summary interested you even the slightest bit. With the struggle against Eryx not over, it’s a good thing Mephisto’s Covenant is only the first of six books. Mephisto’s Covenant comes out September 27, 2011 from Egmont USA.


Abandon by Meg Cabot

Publisher: Point (April 26, 2011)
Kindle: 320 pages / 360 KB
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can’t help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she’s never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she’s moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can’t. Because even here, he finds her. That’s how desperately he wants her back. She knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven, yet she can’t stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

Review:

This was such a great read. However towards the beginning it did require a bit of a push to get into the story. Cabot jumped around in time so much that I nearly got fed up. But I knew it’d make more sense if I just powered through. Luckily my faith was rewarded.

Even when Pierce was so angry with the situation at hand and didn’t like John all that much, I couldn’t help but root for them to be together. There was this pull that Cabot made apparent and irresistible. The plot twists and increasing mysteries only help to keep me drawn in and reading to the end.

What makes this better is that “Abandon” is just the first book. There will be more to expand on the characters and answer the questions left unanswered. This is a great start. Cabot worked magic on this, and I’m excited to see where she takes it. Another book I’d recommend to anyone who’s interested in either YA fantasy books or vague interpretations of Greek mythology.


Angel Burn, by Lee Weatherly

Publisher: Candlewick (May 24, 2011)
Kindle: 464 pages / 801 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Review: Angel Burn actually turned out to be a lot better than I expected it to be. The jacket summary of the book was a little cringe worthy, and it certainly wasn’t a monument of literature, but I found the story and characters to be very engaging. The premise also was very immaginative. As the title suggests, the story is about angels, but in this case, the angels are not heavenly beings sent from God to grant miracles, they are soul sucking fiends from another dimension.

The angels’ world is collapsing, and they have realized the only way to survive is to come to our world and feed off the life force of humans. They can disguise themselves in human form, but when they feed, they become giant, beautiful beings built of light and energy. They latch onto a human’s aura and suck them dry. The humans don’t die instantly, but are left with lasting physical, metal and emotional scarring–they develop cancer, MS, depression, Schizophrenia…the list goes on. The scariest part is that the humans are left feeling nothing but bliss after their encounter. They never make the connection between their future illnesses and the day when they were touched by an Angel. The plague of the angels has become so wide spread that a cult-like church, Church of Angels, has spring up and attracted thousands of devotees nationwide. The members of the church are sick, some of them dying, but they think that the angels are saving them and giving them peace, when actually the angels are destroying them.

Sounds cool right? Indeed. There is a small band of “AKs,” Angel Killers, who know the truth. The travel around the country trying to take down angels when they can. This works okay, but the angels are planning something big. maybe too big for the AKs.

The book is about a young girl named Willow who gets pulled into the thick of it after giving a psychic reading to a highschool friend, Beth. She doesn’t know the truth about the angels, but she sees horrible things in Beth’s future–and that these things are linked with the angels. Beth is considering dropping out and joining the Church of Angels after one feeds on her. willow just wants to go to the church to talk some sense into beth, convince her the angels are bad. It all goes awry, and leaves willow on the run with Alex without even getting a chance to say goodbye to her family.

It’s pretty action packed and engaging story, but it definitely has some faults. Willow is a bit of a Mary Sue, and some of the “reveals” of the story are painfully obvious (I won’t spoil them here!). The love story between Alex/Willow is well done at first but gains so much momentum that it reads like a Melodrama toward the end. However, it is still a very entertaining tale. There is a sequel, Angel Fire, and I found this book to be intriguing enough to pick up the second one.

“Waiting” on Wednesday: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publication date: September 20, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins

From Goodreads:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.