Sunday, May 20, 2018

REVIEW: Gunslinger Girl by Lindsay Ely - Paige

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Rating:
Genre: YA Dystopian/Western/A bit of feminism
Recommended Age: 16+ (sexual references, drug and alcohol use, suicide trigger warning, gore, violence)
Pages: 422
Disclaimer: None, I got this copy on my own accord.

Synopsis: 

Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great….

In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.



I don’t think I’ve ever read a Western before this book. And while this book is set in an alternate world where there was a Second Civil War and there is all sorts of technology I’ve never heard of, I’m still going to count this as a Western. Because it’s my review.  I can call it Zamboni and it would be fine. Anyways, we follow Pity in this book who lives in a fragmented America. She’s a part of a commune that basically owns women and their wombs and she is being sold by her father to a man she’s never met to push out babies for him. Ew. Anyways, she runs away and goes on an adventure where she discovers herself. I really liked this book for a lot of reasons, but the thing that stands out the most to me is that Pity is not a typical YA heroine. She doesn’t come equipped with all of these lifesaving powers. While she knows how to shoot guns and is amazing at it, she fails in this book… a lot…. Like a regular person would. She also suffers from self-doubt and PTSD, which make for an interesting and human-like main character. The other characters are also widely diverse and the main love interest isn’t some big protector but a sensitive artist, which reminds me a lot of Peeta from The Hunger Games. The writing was extremely well done and the plot and pacing were as well.

However, there were just some things that were downers for me. The science in this book and the world building weren’t that great. They were middle ground, but I wanted to know more and I felt that I wasn’t given a lot of info about these items. There was a huge cast of characters and I easily became confused about them. I couldn’t quite remember who each one was and that became frustrating to me throughout the book. There were also a lot of characters that were introduced but weren’t given a lot of screen time at all. The story also didn’t have a well-defined plot. There were a lot of different little stories that Pity goes through, but from where the book began and where it ended the plot completely shifted. While I’m pleased with the outcome of this book, I’m not sure if others would be.

Verdict: Yippiekiyay cowboys!!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

REVIEW: Thornhill by Pam Smy - Paige

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Rating: 
Genre: Middle Grade Mystery/Horror
Recommended Age: 14+ (death, psychological horror, trigger warnings for suicide)
Pages: 544
Disclaimer: I received this book through KidLitExchange! Thanks! All opinions are my own.


Synopsis: 

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl and solidify the link between them, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines―Mary’s through intimate diary entries and Ella’s in bold, striking art―Pam Smy’s Thornhillis a haunting exploration of human connection, filled with suspense.


This is probably the most unique book I’ve read in my life. The book is told in duel POV. The present day is told entirely in picture format, the 1982 written version in diary format. I think this format works amazingly well for the book and I was able to connect to both of the girls. The writing was amazing, the plot was intriguing and the pacing was excellent. The world building for both time periods was also detailed and impressive as they were both done in different ways.

However, I do fear that some of the subject material in the book might be a little bit too mature for middle-grade kids. The book deals with a lot of heavy topics and while I found it amazing, I do want to caution parents to make sure your child is emotionally mature enough for some of the warnings I listed above.

Verdict:  Amazingly unique and dark. Perfect for the young horror fans.

Friday, May 18, 2018

REVIEW: Say You'll Remember Me by Katie McGarry - Erin

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Say You'll Remember Me
Say You'll Remember Me
Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: January 30th 2018 by Harlequin Teen
ISBN: 9780373212378
NetGalley/ARC

About:
When Drix was convicted of a crime--one he didn't commit--he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the new Second Chance Program, the governor's newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor's daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn't may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle's parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix's messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can't imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves--Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence--and each other to finally get what they deserve.
(Goodreads)

Rating: 



Another great contemporary romance, and usually those aren’t my kind of book. This book was a well written quick read. I really loved all of the characters and was rooting for all of them, even Elle’s parents who were oblivious to what they were doing to her the whole time, but I hope that they sort their priorities out and learn from the events that happen at the end of the book. Elle and Drix are so cute both together and a part. I loved Elle’s personality and how she wants to make a difference in the world. And I love Drix and how he changes and wants to be better and yet is so afraid that he’s going to go back to the “bad” guy he was before.  And Drix’s family/friends are all awesome and add so much extra goodness to the story! One of the focuses of this book was how poor/lower class people are usually thrown under the bus and blamed for things they didn’t do because they can’t afford to pay for lawyers to help them. It also focuses on how many lower class people fall into crime and drugs because there is nowhere else for them to go. They steal because they need to. They sell drugs because they need money for food. They do drugs and drink to escape horrible things at home. It’s an endless crap shoot for them. I liked that in this book there is a politician who wants to help fix this system. Elle’s dad seems to want to do good, but he’s also one of those guys who doesn’t care who he hurts to get what he wants. He’s too focused on the political game to see that he’s hurting his family. This story gave an interesting view point to the political side and the lower class side of things. Overall, this was a great read, though there is one part involving a pet that made me cry and I’m not a fan of crying while reading. I would recommend this book to those readers who like contemporary romances, family drama/relationships and those who like social issues. There is mention of sex and drugs, and some of the characters do drink so younger readers might not want to deal with that yet.

Just In Case The Title Did Not Get This Song Stuck In Your Head.....
Image result for taylor swift say you'll remember me

*To see more of Erin's reviews please click her signature to go to her blog

Thursday, May 17, 2018

REVIEW: All We Can Do is Wait by Richard Lawson - Erin

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
All We Can Do Is Wait
All We Can Do Is Wait
by Richard Lawson
Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: February 6th 2018 by Razorbill
ISBN: 9780448494111
ARC From NetGalley

About:
In the hours after a bridge collapse rocks their city, a group of Boston teenagers meet in the waiting room of Massachusetts General Hospital:

Siblings Jason and Alexa have already experienced enough grief for a lifetime, so in this moment of confusion and despair, Alexa hopes that she can look to her brother for support. But a secret Jason has been keeping from his sister threatens to tear the siblings apart...right when they need each other most. 

Scott is waiting to hear about his girlfriend, Aimee, who was on a bus with her theatre group when the bridge went down. Their relationship has been rocky, but Scott knows that if he can just see Aimee one more time if she can just make it through this ordeal and he can tell her he loves her, everything will be all right.

And then there's Skyler, whose sister Kate—the sister who is more like a mother, the sister who is basically Skyler's everything—was crossing the bridge when it collapsed. As the minutes tick by without a word from the hospital staff, Skyler is left to wonder how she can possibly move through life without the one person who makes her feel strong when she's at her weakest.
(Goodreads)

Rating: 



The premise of this story really interested me and I was so happy when NetGalley gave me early access to it. However, it turned out to be more of a generic teen story instead of more of a action packed emergency story. The first chapter of this book was great! It made me get excited to see who would be rescued, what the families would do while they waited for the news, and what information we would get to hear about the rescue efforts. I was hugely disappointed. After the first chapter the book goes into alternating chapters between five teens who are waiting in a hospital for news on their loved ones. During all of these chapters we get a lot of back story on those characters lives. While this wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t what I was expecting. I wanted to know more about the bridge collapse, not more about their summer a year ago, or their messed up relationship with an abusive guy. I felt like these five teens coming together wasn’t very realistic. The chance that two teens on their own in a hospital finding each other during chaos and sort of becoming friends is slim. Change that number to five and the chances seem even less. The book was well written and it was a fast read, I just wish it was different. I wanted more than a generic teen drama book. In the end we still don’t know for sure why the bridge collapsed. We know who made it alive to the hospital, but we don’t know if they made it through surgery or what their lives will be like after. We don’t really know too much about the five teens after they find out about their loved ones either. The book just kind of ends. Overall, this wasn’t the worst read but it’s one that I would only recommend to older teens looking for a book with drama. There is abuse, sex, drugs, and drinking in it that younger teens might find to be to mature yet. 

*To see more of Erin's reviews please click her signature to go to her blog

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

REVIEW: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill - Valeria

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments

Rate:
5/5

Goodreads Description:
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.

Review:
I freaking loved this book, holy damn, I couldnt stop, I wish there was more like these. It was such a quick and easy read. While the whole book was kind of cliche-ish, sometimes that is all I need in a day. I love when characters are out in different places, like Anna and the French Kiss, with Anna going over to Europe or when they live there like Cinder in China and just things like that, its things that are different from where I am, duh, and its just like seeing things for the first time... Again, duh for me .I really like Jason, I wish I had a Jason in my life, I also wish that we wouldnt gotten to see what happend with them after everything, like a few years later or just when they were back at school or something like that.

Recommend it?
Yup

Sunday, May 13, 2018

REVIEW: Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings - Paige

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Rating: 
Genre: YA(?) Sci-Fi (more on the question mark later)
Recommended Age: 16+ (tons of sexual references, toilet humor, gore, violence, death, and an attempt at characters with mental health issues)
Pages: 534
Disclaimer: I regretfully got a signed copy of this book with my own money. Bye-bye $40.


Synopsis:

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.

But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder’s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their ship or just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

 

Oh boy. Oh geez. Where do I start? And begin?

Did that annoy you up there? If so then don’t read Zenith; because that’s what I dealt with throughout the entirety of this book. I normal never tell people to not read a book. A book is interpretative to all. But when a book has a ton of issues in it I start to question if it could even be readable to anyone. But before we go into that, let’s start with the good about this book. I thought the premise was amazing and God bless the poor writer who had to write up that synopsis because that’s the best you’ll get out of this book.

What happens if you don’t read the synopsis? Well you’re pretty screwed for the whole of the novel. That’s the situation I found myself in when I started this book. The book does a horrible job at world building and presenting this world at all. There are concepts introduced in this book that don’t make sense, like planets or sayings or things that are completely ridiculous statements since the reader has no clue what the authors are trying to say. There is a map in the beginning of the book that I tried to use as I couldn’t get a grip on any of the worlds visited by the heroes. Not to mention that none of the heroes are worried about the air content of any of the worlds they visit on their journey. You know… air… that thing that is needed to breathe. Along with that none of the creatures made sense. When a creature evolves it’s to give them a benefit for the world they have to conform to. Giraffes grew long necks to reach trees their competitors couldn’t. Polar bears grew thick fur to survive freezing climates. Lira has Lite Brite skin because…. Well your guess is as good as mine. Breck also has this issue in that she has bulletproof skin. The word bulletproof does not mean what the authors want it to mean in this context. The word they were looking for was impenetrable. The way bulletproofing works is that it helps absorb the shock of the bullet by spreading the force across the whole of the body or vest or what have you. The bullet still penetrates the object, but it significantly slows down the bullet and reduces the damage done. Henceforth, the closer the target, the more the bullet will sink into the object. The way Breck’s skin is described in this book is that the bullets flatten when it hits her skin. That’s not bulletproof. Not even manholes will make bullets do that. Sure, the nose of a bullet might become dented or flattened, but not to the degree that was described in this book. What really should have happened was that the bullets (for bulletproof) get absorbed by her skin and lessen the impact so vital organs aren’t damaged or (for impenetrable) bounce off the skin like Superman. While the impenetrable would allow for some degree of skepticism, it would at least be better than bulletproof. Andi, Dex, and Gilly aren’t very well described either. Are they human like? How have they adapted to living in space without any protective wear in a galaxy that can’t possibly have the same exact combination of chemicals to make air breathable for them? Your guess is as good as mine. This galaxy and these characters do not make any sense what so ever.

Another thing that annoyed me about this book was the simplistic, repetitive writing. The writing done in instances of developing Andi, Valden, and Lira’s characters, for example, were so repetitive that it basically just tries to hammer in one detail over and over and over and over and over again. This was done to all of the characters (except for Gilly who we never really get to know at all in this book) that I don’t feel like I know anything about them EXCEPT FOR THAT ONE STUPID DETAIL. The writing would have made for an okay middle grade novel except for the fact that every other chapter until over halfway through the book had at least one mention of sex in it. These were not discreet like what usually happens in YA novels. They were very blunt and sometimes a little too descriptive for what I felt is appropriate for most teens. I also feel this would have been a better middle grade novel because there was a joke about a character crapping their pants in this book. Like seriously? What was the last YA novel you read where, for comedic effect, a character crapped their pants and another character pointed it out rudely and directly?

The other things about this book that made this book horrible was the confusing plot, the unsteady pacing, and the constant POV and time changes. The way the chapters were labeled and composed really irritated me the most. The prologue opens up with no name, just a location. The first chapter is titled with Androma (which by the way is a rip off name from Andromeda. Why not just add the E and the D to the word to make a better sounding name?), and then a few chapters later we’re introduced to a character and a year. Why is this not consistent? What year does the main story take place? Why are we getting all of this confusing backstory? The world may never know. The flashback chapters are all written in italics as well and during one very hard to understand chapter the POV switches 3 times. If each chapter is supposed to represent a POV switch WHY IS THE POV SWITCHING IN THE CHAPTERS? It makes the reader confused and frustrated with the novel when they have to read something like this. Finally, the book has a problem that a lot of duel written novels successfully avoid. It’s really easy to tell that two different people wrote this book. You can tell which chapters belong to Lindsay and which to Sasha. The ones with the less experienced author are embarrassing with short, childlike sentences and confusing metaphors; and then Lindsay’s chapters are well written with structurally sound sentences and flowing words. With this being said, I’m not making fun of Sasha’s reading difficulties. I too sometimes have issues with writing and reading, and I had a close cousin with such a bad disorder that she couldn’t spell “picnic” until she was in her twenties. I think Sasha’s ability to have written a book and publish it is amazing and should be commended. However, I don’t think this book is good and I know she could have done better. The writing is really lazy and seems rushed, like the deadline came too soon for her which could speak to her time management skills.

I also want to comment on a few other things about this book. The cover states that this book is from “#1 New York Times Bestselling Authors”.  While this is true, it’s a white lie. The authors hit #1 not for this book, but for the teaser form of this book in Young Adult E-Book on July 10, 2016. Once this book was published, the book only got as high as #7 in Young Adult Hardcover on February 4, 2018. The cover is a white lie in order to get people to buy the book as statistics have shown that books are bought more often if the affiliation of New York Times bestselling is printed on the cover. It’s a money draw and I don’t like that. I also have a big issue with how Sasha has been promoting this book. On her Instagram stories about a few months ago, she asked for her “fans” to help her get Project Red (her upcoming novel) by giving reviews to Zenith. Specifically, she approximately stated, “make sure to give Zenith a good review so I can get Project Red picked up!” The begging for good reviews on one’s work is deceitful and disingenuous to not only your fans but to all authors. Most authors do not have the platform that Sasha has and by her exploiting it like so only further exploits a major flaw we have in the writing world where the “popular” authors get a ton of attention and obscure those of “lesser known” and “indie” authors. It also exploits her fans. Many of them are young children that don’t know how to adequately review products. When they publish false reviews, this majorly skews the overall rating of the book. This goes for both fake good and fake bad reviews. This book has been the topic of much scandal and debate and the attention, good and bad, that it currently is receiving won’t die down for anytime soon.

Verdict: I’ve got a lot of problems with this book! And now you’re gonna hear about it!


Saturday, May 12, 2018

REVIEW: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody - Paige

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Rating: 
Genre: YA Fantasy/Mystery
Recommended Age: 16+ (violent deaths, sexual content, but lots of diversity)
Pages: 377
Author: Amanda Foody
Amazon
*Disclaimer I was given an arc of this book on NetGalley then obtained my own copy. Thanks, NetGalley! All opinions are my own.


Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.


In 2017 there were three major books about carnivals that came out. Why carnivals? Well, because they always have had an aura of mystery and intrigue about them. And from reading this book I think I have found out why they seem so mysterious. Mostly fantasy, but part mystery, this book centers on an eyeless girl named Sorina and her ability to create illusions. And then someone starts killing her illusions and she must work to find out why this is happening and most importantly how. I thought the characters were all very well developed and the plot was very intriguing. The book was adequately well paced as well, which made me not want to put down this enthralling read.

However, I did feel that there was some room for more world-building. Two things that are central to the plot are the politics of the Upper Mountain and Vallium and Angi’s backstories and development. While the book did excellent at surprising the reader with the “whodunit” portion of the book, it made me wonder if there were intentional clues left behind or if this revelation came out of nowhere like it appears to me right now.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a mystery fantasy stand-alone novel this is your book! It’s weird and fun and amazingly well written and it’ll keep you guessing until the very last page.

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