YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Archive for January, 2011

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
Publisher: Atheneum Books
Publication Date: August 31st 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Gold star (4/5 stars)
Synopsis: Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.
Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

Review: Nevermore is one of the best paranormal novels out there. Usually when we think of paranormal we often think of vampires. But nope, this book has not a single vampire in it. One thing is for sure: this is one book you definitely should check out the next time you are at the bookstore.

Isobel is a fantastic main character, I can’t begin to tell you how much. She’s the head cheerleader but she has a heart. She is not the typical cliché snobby cheerleader which is one of the best aspects of her. She is initially wary of Varen who is the outsider, whom was rumored to “sleep in a coffin”. I understood her intentions; being paired with the loner guy who no one wants to be associated with. But when her friends disapprove of them working together on the project, Isobel feels the need to protect Varen. Isobel was a bit of a mean girl when the book started but like I mentioned above, I understand how you wouldn’t want to be paired together with an outcast.

Varen is the pierced-lip, black-clad guy who is a fan of Edgar Allan Poe. But he has a secret his not telling Isobel. For the most part I liked Varen compared to Isobel’s popular friends who are unfortunately the usual stereotypes. However, Varen and Isobel’s attraction is not one that takes place instantly but over the course of the novel. The romance is quiet but it soon blossoms into a lovely romance that will warm your heart.

I enjoyed reading Nevermore as a big portion of the book took place in school and it’s a change because normally books that took place in school often overlook things like homework. But yes, Isobal and Varen do homework! In terms of length, Nevermore is quite a hefty book but trust me, you will love every second of it! The paranormal aspect was bizarre yet real and it was not very overwhelming.

Despite loving the book, the climax was a bit of a letdown and the ending had a major cliffhanger which obviously to set us up for the next installment — 2012 can’t get here fast enough. I absolutely CANNOT wait for it!

Read an excerpt of chapter one here and if you liked it, get your own copy ASAP!

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In My Mailbox (60)

It has been too long since I last did IMM. Don’t look too shock at the list below. They were accumulated over three months. Or so. There are too many books so I won’t be including links to Amazon. 😛

Bought:
Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
Sucks to Be Me by Kimberly Pauley
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Received:
The Lost Saint by Bree Despain
Drought by Pam Bachorz

Borrowed:
Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (amazing book!)
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
A Spy in House Y.S. Lee
The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (audiobook)
Other by Karen Kincy
Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe
Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
Confessions of the Sullivan sisters by Natalie Standiford
Winter Longing by Tricia Mills
Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier (Fantastic stories)
The Demon’s Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan (This one was a bit of a disappointment)
Matched by Ally Condie
The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (LOVED this)
Rich and Mad by William Nicholson
Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
Not That Kind Of Girl by Siobhan Vivian (OMG this one was amazing!)
Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund
Elixir by Hilary Duff & Elise Allen
The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Read any of the books mentioned above? Thoughts?

Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe

Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: August 30th 2010
Buy it from: Amazon (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (3.5/5 stars)
Synopsis: Isn’t it enough having your very own terminal disease, without your mother dying? Or your father dating your Art teacher?

No wonder Sacha Thomas ends up in the lake that Saturday evening…

But the real question is: how does he end up in love with Jewel Valentine?

With the help of quirky teenage prodigies Little Al and True Grisham, Sacha and Jewel have a crazy adventure, with a little lobster emancipation along the way.

But Sacha’s running out of time, and Jewel has secrets of her own.

Girl Saves Boy is a hugely talented debut novel, funny and sad, silly and wise. It’s a story of life, death, love… and garden gnomes.

Review: When I first heard about this book, I was impressed to find out that Bowe was only sixteen years old. Bowe is a sixteen year old Australian writer and Girl Saves Boy is her debut novel. It was published by Text Publishing in Australia & New Zealand, but I think it’ll be making it’s way over to the States soon.

First off, I loved how the book was centered around Jewel and Sacha are both flawed characters (have I mentioned how much I loved characters who are not perfect?) who found each other. I found myself able to relate to both characters to a certain extent. Sacha’s early chapters were truly heartbreaking and so were Jewel’s. However, much to my dismay, there were too many subplots and even at the end, some issues were not entirely resolved. The vague abrupt ending was also very disappointing. If you want a book to have a sad ending, then let it have a sad ending. Vice versa. Don’t leave the readers to imagine the ending for themselves. It’s frustrating! Also, Sacha and Jewel’s romance seemed to escalate very quickly in a week and it was rather unbelievable. I wished the romance had been given more time to be developed. The secondary characters were also quite bland. Sad to say, there was nothing very distinct about each character.

But the best thing about this book would be the writing. The writing is not fluffy, like the pink cover suggests, instead it’s realistic but sometimes a little depressing. However, that does not deter one from enjoying the book. The prose is quite similar to Jandy Nelson’s if you are wondering. There were several fabulous scenes in the novel where Bowe’s writing shone and I particularly enjoyed the one were Sacha and his friend rescued the lobster from the Chinese restaurant.

In the end, I didn’t enjoy Girl Saves Boy as much as I would have liked but it still kept me hooked onto for ages. Sadly it was a number of issues that prevented me from really loving it. At times funny, at times painful, Girl Saves Boy is a story of two teenagers and their journey to self-discovery.

Best Books of 2010

2009 was a good year for YA but 2010 was even better! I read many fantastic novels this year and it took me a long time to come up with this list (because there were too many good books!).


Best Book of 2010:
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
No doubt Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins is the winner. It has action, a swoon-worthy and a not exactly smooth sailing romance, and it has excellent writing and a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. Definitely my fave of 2010.
Runnerup: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Although it was published in 2009, it was reprinted in 2010. 🙂 Jellicoe Road is one of my favorite books of all time.


Best Romance:
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
The writing is one of the best, very readable and filled with vivid imagery. The book was one that took me completely by surprise, it an incredible book with plenty of action and romance. The romance angle was a typical love triangle and yet there’s something entirely unique about it. Loved it!
Runnerup: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater. Maggie Stiefvater has the ability to write swoon-worthy romances and tearful novels although I still preferred Shiver to Linger.

Best Dystopian:
Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien
Birthmarked is one dystopian that I hardly come across on blogs. But I have this to say: it is my next favorite dystopian after the Hunger Games trilogy so you can guess how awesome it is. 😉 Definitely one of the highlights this year. Read this, I cannot stress enough.
Runnerup: Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder. This one had me on the edge of my seat!

Best Fantasy:
Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
This is hands down my favorite fantasy of the year. An epic adventure with the characters falling in love along the way. This book has the best of both worlds.
Runnerup: Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey. I’m not sure if you’d consider this fantasy but one thing is for sure: Maori mythologies are not common in YA! This book has a great cast of characters and a jaw-dropping ending. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up the next time you are at the bookstore.

Best Contemporary:
Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
Runner up: Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala. It was a close call between this and Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala. But it doesn’t really matter because both books are books you absolutely have to read because I love them so much. Both novels are empowering and you should definitely check them out!


Best Laugh-Out-Loud:
The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell. Absolutely hilarious and entertaining! I adored this one. I never knew books on super heroes and super villains could be so much fun. More books like this please!
Runner up: The Ghost And The Goth by Stacey Kade was simply delightful. I couldn’t put it down, and it kept me laughing throughout.


Best Forbidden Romance:
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready. Very well written. Shade is truly an amazing YA debut from Jeri Smith-Ready and I am looking forward to more books by her. I love Smith-Ready’s take on paranormal. Bring on the ghosts!
Runner up: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh. I was very impressed with Creagh’s writing and I loved how a big portion of Nevermore took place in school. Hardly any YA books seem centered around school these days.

Alright so that’s my massive Best Books of 2010 list. I did one last year but I included images in this year’s post. I hope you all enjoyed it and leave your thoughts below. 😀 Happy 2011!