Tag Archives: YA novel

Veronica Roth: Allegiant and Insurgent

I don’t think I have that much to say on the subject of each so I decided to do them together.

There will be spoilers ahead.insurgent

I must say I now understand why people were a bit disappointed and angry with the books. I certainly didn’t see that ending coming. Although in retrospect, it’s not bad. Just not what I’m used to. I’m guessing at this point you can guess what happens in the end? 😉

I succumbed to reading these after seeing the movie because I wanted to know what happens next. Now that I know, I’ll wait for the movies to enjoy it better. I’m wondering though if Hollywood won’t feel the need to change the end…

Anyway, if you all wonder why people seem satisfied with the factions and there aren’t rebelling against them, you will get your explanation in book 3. I know I had my eyebrows raised at certain points because I kept wondering where their intelligence and morals were. The idea behind the books and the revelation in book 3 is a rather good one (albeit a bit reminiscent of The Maze Runner) but I somehow didn’t feel it was well enough worked through (or maybe it was just me reading fast trying to get to the end).

And the whole thing about Tris being Divergent? Nah, in the end I’d say she was Abnegation through and through. Which would also hold with the idea I got that in each book one of Tris’ divergence factions was more obvious than the others. She was Dauntless in Divergent, Erudite in Insurgent and Abnegation in Allegiant.

allegiantThe books are actually full of smart and deep thoughts, it’s just, they don’t need to be pointed out and rather obviously put out there (if not exactly pointed out). I read somewhere a critique of an author’s writing saying “Don’t tell us, show us.”. Here you don’t need to worry, you won’t miss any big statements/gestures being made.

I also got a bit upset with the relationship between Tris and Four – it makes no sense how they behave. At least from my perspective. I love that they are together but for the life of me I cannot understand them.

So, there you have it. I read the books and now I can’t wait for the movies to enjoy better what I’ve read. 😉

 

P.S. Was I very mean? 😉

James Dashner: The Maze Runner

Guess how I decided to read this book? 😉

Here is the trailer:

I can’t say yet whether the movie is better than the book but I seriously doubt it, as the book is rather good (and I haven’t seen the movie yet).

It’s a bit like Hunger Games meets Lost in a maze. And a bit scary and very tense while reading. You want to know what the hell happened and why can’t they remember anything and what is going on?!maze runner

Straight from the beginning it’s rather thrilling and the suspense basically never stops. You get so many questions in your head and you just can’t wait to get them answered and most do get answered but by the end, you only have several more that will require you to read on. 🙂

Talk about a good writer… 😉

And since I got quite a lot of those unanswered questions,  I peeked a bit through the blurbs for the following installments and I am already angry with the powers that be.

That said, i really liked Thomas and his highly analytic and cool mind in the direst of circumstances. This time around I felt stupid because I had all these questions and hoped to get them answered but no, I had to wait to the end. And wonder who would be so evil as to put them all in a situation like this?!

“When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.”

 

Julianna Scott: The Holders

I hate to say it, but even though I enjoyed it, it was so very predictable.

Now I feel I cannot go on and make you feel it’s worth reading but if you’re up for some interesting YA fun with some amazing abilities coming through the Celtic history (I think), this would be a nice start to a series (yes, it’s a series, who knew?!). 😉holders

I really liked Becca, most of the time she seemed much smarter than the usual teenage heroines I meet. Being clumsy and not able to direct yourself in space is human nature (and hers as well). She does seem to have a teenage propensity for quick falling in love (not that Alex was far behind). I don’t count this as a spoiler as it’s rather obvious from both the blurb and the beginning of the book.

But it would be a spoiler to let you know what they discover once they get to St. Brigid’s and the story starts unraveling.

I will say that the characters are well portrayed and you understand why they act the way they do, there is a mention of the great smell of libraries (something I definitely notice) and tension at some points will make you try and read faster.

17-year-old Becca spent her whole life protecting her brother from, well, everything. The abandonment of their father, the so called ‘experts’ who insist that voices in his head are unnatural and must be dealt with, and the constant threat of being taken away to some hospital and studied like an animal. When two representatives appear claiming to have the answers to Ryland’s perceived problem, Becca doesn’t buy it for one second. That is until they seem to know things about Ryland and about Becca and Ryland’s family, that forces Becca to concede that there may be more to these people than meets the eye. Though still highly skeptical, Becca agrees to do what’s best for Ryland.

What they find at St. Brigid’s is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together the information of their family’s heritage, their estranged Father, and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they’ve been waiting for. However, they are all–especially Becca–in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.

She meets Alex, a Holder who is fiercely loyal to their race, and for some reason, Becca and Ryland. There’s an attraction between Becca and Alex that can’t be denied, but her true nature seems destined to keep them apart. However, certain destinies may not be as clear cut as everyone has always believed them to be.

Becca is lost, but found at the same time. Can she bring herself to leave Ryland now that he’s settled and can clearly see his future? Will she be able to put the the feelings she has for Alex aside and head back to the US? And can Becca and Ryland ever forgive their father for what he’s done?

2013. The year that was

I have no better words to describe it. It was, it’s over now.

I look back on it and all I can think is, thankfully, it’s over. Nothing bad happened to me but it still felt like a bad year, full of bad news (both domestic and international), lethargy, indifference, deaths – generally, a year that didn’t display human kind at its best (an understatement) and did display it at some of its worst.

I always feel guilty for thinking like this, I feel I am being ungrateful. Compared to most of the world, I lead a life of plenty. And realistically speaking, it’s true. I lack for nothing, quite the contrary, I have a great family, a nice job, a good education, great circle of friends. I live in a beautiful country. I travel. I can buy perfumes and books. I am also healthy and hopefully will remain so.

So why feel like my year was one I just went through? Because it was. It mostly feels like a year where I went through all the motions of my everyday life when actually it felt more like hibernation with some small sparks of life.

But I want to focus on all the positive things this year brought me (because it feels like the hibernation period might be over) and one should always bring in the new year on a positive note. 🙂

 

PERFUME

This year has brought me some true treasures. 🙂black smoke

I discovered Cuirelle by a lucky chance and fell in love completely.

Suzanne opened my eyes to what incredibly happy perfume 24, Faubourg is.

I listened to Maurice Roucel give a talk on perfumes and met some new perfume friends.

And then the new Puredistance Black came out. And speaking of black, it really has become my favorite color to wear.

 

 

BOOKS

I discovered I am hooked to post-apocalyptic novels of any and every caliber – YA, horror, zombie, romance – you name it, I’ll probably enjoy it. I do wonder about what that says about me because I’m scared of the actual possibility (some of them sound too realistic). Am I preparing for the possibility?!passage

I haven’t read World War Z but I did see the movie and loved it. I’m guessing the book is better. When someone asks me what I want for birthday, that will be on my list (although I can already see the eye-rolling accompanying my wish for more books). 😀

I also think I will never reach my annual goal of 100 books. Last year I came closest, but this year, I think it’s the worst so far. Maybe I should sign up for the 50 books a year challenge, I would be able to finish that one. 😉

 

THE REST

The highlights of my year have been the trips to Vienna and Rome. In Vienna I finally got to meet the lovely Birgit and her boys, with an additional surprise of meeting Sandra and her son as well.

Rome was a trip we planned while in Paris in 2012. I cannot say how happy I am that I got to meet with Suzanne, Mark and Asali in Rome again. I thought there wasn’t a city in the world that could remove Paris from the top of my list of places I would love to live, but there’s Rome. I love that city and I hope to visit it again soon.

View from the park above Spanish steps

View from the park above Spanish steps

It might seem like I had a very active year, what with finishing 4 half-marathons in 3 different countries, but that was an uphill fight all the time, as all I wanted to do was stay home and read, and not go out and run. Still, you can’t tell that from the races, so at least it looked good on the outside. 😉

IMG_2034

See how tired I was?!

But I took time off for the last two months as I needed to replenish my physical and psychological energy levels. I actually feel better now.

So, without further ado,

Wishing you all a successful, fulfilling New Year full of happiness, laughter and joy!

*off to toast to that with a glass of champagne*

Champagne_glass_flower_stem_shape

Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue: Into The Fire

into the fireI should warn you before I start, if you haven’t read After The Ending, there will be spoilers.

I feel lucky that I didn’t have to wait long before reading the next book in The Ending series. Although now I’m not sure if I still remembered enough of the previous book or the authors were so good to jog my memory with what happened in After The Ending (knowing myself, I’d say it’s the latter).

The story picks up where it left off and we are introduced to some new characters, some you know will be there (Gabe), some you have no idea existed (because they shouldn’t – Camille and Mase) and some you wouldn’t have expected in your wildest dreams. I’m not saying who. 😉

Considering the fact that After The Ending took our characters on a several months long journey, you will be interested to know this book takes place during one week. Who knew so much could happen in a week? And even though the story mostly switches between Dani and Zoe again, it’s from Dani’s perspective that we learn the most intriguing bits.

And those that would make you scream in frustration.

Also, at some point I really wanted to scream in frustration at both Dani and Zoe – I was just starting to think Zoe was the rational and cool-thinking one, after I got upset with Dani thinking with her heart, and then Zoe goes and does the same. And Dani turns smarter.

I’m blaming it on the fact that they are still young and facing a new world, not on the fact it suited the authors to move the story in that direction.

It was one of those books that make you turn into a reader who calls out for blood for the bad guys. It seems in this case, the BAD guy might be even worse than you thought but we’ll get to learn that in the next book.

So, to sum it up (I always wonder if I manage to convey through my thoughts how much I liked the book) – I practically inhaled it. Through my eyes of course. 😉

I received my copy through NetGalley.

P.S. I just want to add, this book deals with some unethical and immoral choices bad people make. It also deals with how people can act differently when faced with such problems and how difficult choosing the right path sometimes can be. Also, how easy it is for the bad guys to take over. 😦

Lizzy Ford: Cursed (Voodoo Nights, #1)

Some people are just great story tellers. In writing.

This isn’t out yet, I got my copy through NetGalley and as I tend to request more titles than I can possibly read, since I cannot tell from the blurbs how much am I going to like them. And now I have so many titles, I came up with a solution on which to read.

Basically, I start reading all of them (one at a time) and see which one catches my interest to keep on going. It is actually working even better than I expected. 🙂

So, to get back to Cursedcursed

I wanted to include the blurb but after reading it, I decided against it. It is also the reason why I didn’t think this book might actually be that interesting. I’m glad I was proven wrong about that.

As you can tell from the series title, there is a lot of Voodoo in this book. I’m sure there are people out there who would believe the reality of voodoo stuff happening in this novel, but I’ll call it paranormal YA novel.

There is a hundreds years old curse still being played out in present day, concerning tree of the four main voodoo families living in New Orleans.

Jayden, is actually a descendant of two of those families and doesn’t believe in those superstitions. On the other hand, Adrienne does, as her family is the bearer of the curse which kills the firstborn of every generation, supposedly ending with Adrienne’s sister Theresa.

And this is where it all gets complicated. In a wonderfully good way.

Adrienne gets into Jayden’s rich boy world and school on a scholarship. And New Orleans is where all this takes place – the post-Katrina NO which is not a lovely, nice place, especially where Adrianne lives with her father.

I did wonder a bit about the fact that in YA novels characters are usually the last to understand a particular situation. I mean if Addy is so good with tarot cards, shouldn’t she have learned by now how to take heed of what they say? Also, some of her reasonings make no sense to me (I’m blaming it on the author) but I do understand that teenage years are not the most rational. 🙂

I was  apprehensive this book might end with a cliffhanger but it didn’t. Or not as much as you would fear. I mean, it’s obvious there are going to be sequels (soon I hope!) so the story will have to continue, but for my personal reading peace, my questions were answered and I don’t feel the need to pull my hair out before the next installment is out.

 

Jennifer Lynn Barnes: The Naturals

This is a book made for me. The story, the pace, the length for an evening’s worth a read (I had a free evening), the thrill to see what happens, well written characters, it’s all there.

“Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But, it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie. 

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides – especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms close. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.”

Cassie leaves her large Italian family (who are so cool, in the Italian way, especially Nonna) to go to a school where kids like her learn how to use their natural talents. Of course, she meets two boys there (both haunted by their pasts in different ways) and is instantly pulled into the macabre life of tracking psychopaths through profiling.

What I loved so much about this book is the fact that there are no unnecessary detours to the story, unnecessary explanations, everything falls into place and makes for a thrilling crime YA novel.

naturalas

 

 

It’s just that reading  a YA novel where characters aren’t displaying signs of stupidity (they are young, not stupid, albeit I did wonder at some point here), where the story seems legitimate in the way it happens, where we skip through unnecessary scenes, well, now I think of it, it’s something that doesn’t happen that often. And I wish it did. Which might not seem like much of an endorsement but in my mind, it’s what makes a really good storyteller. I don’t need stuff explained like I’m a child, I can live with the story evolving without additional hints (you get enough of them here as well).

It might seem like a YA crime movie type of book being read in your mind but what’s wrong with that? I wish I knew in advance what novels are like this so I could read them more often.

And if I’m lucky (and I’m thinking I might be lucky in this), there will be more books in the series. If you wonder why that might make me happy when I usually rant against it, it’s the fact that the crime story ends with this book so there is no frustration until the next book comes out.

Thank you very much for that Ms. Barnes. 🙂

 

 

Kresley Cole: Endless Knight (The Arcana Chronicles)

To sum up my thoughts about this book – Aaarrrrgggggghhhhh!!!!!

There I am, all immersed, last time I checked how much is left I see I have around 100 pages, so there’s enough to come yet and then suddenly – the cliffhanger end. Hence my summary. Each time I think about it, my mind screams in frustration.

But it’s all good. 🙂 The fact is, K. Cole writes in such a way that gets you hooked up on the story and once it ends, well, all there is left for you is to scream in frustration. Even when the story in the book is actually finished, the frustration stems from the fact that the wait to the next one is too long.

I should warn you now, there will be spoilers ahead.

The story continues exactly where Poison Princess ended, Evie coming into her powers, Jack having problems dealing with it and Death continuously haunting Evie. Along with other Arcana (characters from the Tarot, the Major Arcana where only one can survive), Teeth (humans who now crave human flesh because they are enchanted by Hierophant) and zombies.

In the beginning, I was reminded a lot of the Hunger Games, mostly because you have 22 kids where only one can survive (their arena being basically the US). And this is where the similarities end.endless-knight-250x375

Evie didn’t learn beforehand what she was so she’s still learning and finding her way among the ruins after the Flash, trying not to get killed, learning her powers (and the past lives in this power struggle) and figuring out boys.

Honestly, I didn’t see how K. Cole would turn the whole situation with Death into a love story but I knew it would happen. We got some seriously unexpected twists to the story and I was already wondering how come Evie got all turned up in her head around Jack but it turned out she only needed time to work things out.

As with Death as well. I completely understand now why she said she felt sorry for him when her grandma asked about his card. Which brings me to her Grandma from which Evie’s mother separated her as she kept telling Evie stories that were considered crazy. Seems that was a lucky call as families of the players turn them into vicious killing machines which luckily Evie isn’t this time around.

Basically, if you enjoy YA, you shouldn’t miss this series. And if you haven’t started yet, you might want to wait until book 3 comes out. 😉

What I especially loved about this book is the HP references (that is bound to be a plus to any book I read). But it’s not only the references themselves in the text, I also got reminded of what the fight in the HP is about from the words of Dumbledore. Those who are evil do not believe in the power of love and those who love don’t consider themselves strong because of it. That is the main reason I believe Evie is considered weak in this round even though she is the Empress – mercenaries have no time or inclination to love. And Evie loves many people. So, I’m hoping that will actually be what saves her and the people she loves this time. Although I cannot imagine that happening without one of her two male loves dying. 😦 Oh well, at least I’m prepared. 😉

I also wonder if Jack will turn out to be the Arcana card that comes into power only after killing another Arcana. I’m also wondering if we’ll meet other cards that haven’t made an appearance yet.

The Endless Knight from the title is Death (he’s millenia old because he was the winner in the last 3 rounds). But it’s also a very good play on words as in this book the sun and light slowly disappear all together and it’s what Evie needs for her powers. It’s becoming and endless night for her…

The Arcana Chronicles

Cinda Williams Chima: The Enchanter Heir

I’m back in the YA universe it seems. I was re-reading HP this summer and now I read The Enchanter Heir so it seems my feet are firmly back on the YA road. Ok, I’ve been reading some other stuff but nothing as much as these.

I admit I almost stopped reading this book, since in the beginning I had a problem getting into the story. A new world with different types of let’s call them “gifted” people with their words for everything and no explanation forthcoming for a while. It all got explained eventually and it’s possible other readers might not have this particular problem as it seems there are other books in the series.

Unlucky for me though, those books are single ones. This one isn’t. So I’m back to my standard pet peeve. I really hate it when a good book ends up nowhere and you have to wait for the sequel which never comes out in a month.

What’s wrong with writing a longer book?! I mean, I know what’s wrong with that – you only get paid for the one book then. But that is not a question for this post.

Of course I wouldn’t get so upset over it if I didn’t enjoy the book so much.enchanter

“They called it the Thorn Hill Massacre-the brutal attack on a once-thriving Weir community. Though Jonah Kinlock lived through it, he did not emerge unscathed: like the other survivors Jonah possesses unique magical gifts that set him apart from members of the mainline guilds. At seventeen, Jonah has become the deadliest assassin in Nightshade, a network that hunts the undead. 

Emma Claire Greenwood grew up worlds away, raised by a grandfather who taught her music rather than magic. An unschooled wild child, she runs the streets until the night she finds her grandfather dying, gripping a note warning Emma that she might be in danger. The clue he leaves behind leads Emma into Jonah’s life-and a shared legacy of secrets and lingering questions. 

Was Thorn Hill really a peaceful commune? Or was it, as the Wizard Guild claims, a hotbed of underguild terrorists? The Wizards’ suspicions grow when members of the mainline guilds start turning up dead. They blame Nightshade, bringing tensions between the groups to a head.

Racing against time, Jonah and Emma work to uncover the truth about Thorn Hill, amid increasing concern that whoever planned the Thorn Hill Massacre might strike again.”

Emma and Jonah are really well done characters. Sometimes I wonder with so many YA novels out there, if the writers have a hard time making their characters become singularly different. These two are. I just wish I got further in their story than I did. 😦

Once you get into the story and understand who is who, it gets very interesting. There are some lethal political games being played in the background (which will hopefully be explained in the next book), the Thorn Hill survivors turn out to be freaks but not because of their strange abilities, but because of the characters. I mean this in the best possible way. I like freaky people. 🙂

I loved the fact that such a prominent role is given to music. I can’t wait to read how it will all unravel in the next book…

 

Gwenda Bond: Blackwood

Where to start?

A possible YA story of what happened on Roanoke many centuries ago and the curse of it being handed down through generations still living on the island?
Sounds good to me. 🙂
If at times a bit scary which is not something I usually encounter in YA novels, even when they deal with zombies.

Miranda is very mature and serious for her age but then again, her mother died when she was young and her father became an alcoholic so yes, it makes sense she is the way she is.
Of course, she is the main character through whose bloodline the curse is being kept alive. The other part of the puzzle comes packed in a “bad” boy – Phillips.
Well, you can guess where that leads to.

But, in the meantime, we are treated to some funny dialogues, some melodramatic phrases (I really don’t turn my eyes often at dialogues, I mean, I do read romance as a rule, but some parts were really eye-roll worthy here, which I found funny) and some interesting ideas as to what might have happened on Roanoke.
Ok, the interesting ideas are only possible in the paranormal world but they are still interesting.

And, some parts of the story were rather well hidden so you couldn’t guess them. Which is always a plus. A huge plus actually.

As usual, I’m skipping telling you everything what this book is about, there’s much in the story to keep it flowing and interesting.
I really think I should give books I read a scale of how good I find them by either having to read something more interesting in the meantime or reading them straight. This one I read straight through. 🙂

As this is Ms. Bond’s (great surname btw) first book, I am looking forward to those that might come next.
Because her version of paranormal YA verges perfectly on the boundary to really scary and that is something to admire.

My copy of the book was received through Netgalley.

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