YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Archive for the ‘silver star’ Category

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 7th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (3.5/5 stars)
Synopsis: Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris– the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts fiercely alongside her. Now Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves and finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax– but loving him means betraying her sister and has the potential to destroy all they’ve worked for.

Twenty-five-year-old Jackson Pearce delivers a dark, taut fairy tale with heart-pounding action, fierce sisterly love, and a romance that will leave readers breathless.

Review: Sisters Red was an intriguing paranormal mystery filled with a cast of engaging, dynamic characters. Pearce managed such an innovative twist on story of Little Red Riding Hood and turned it into an absorbing read with sinister wolves.

Pearce’s writing was remarkable and she portrayed Scarlett’s and Rosie’s relationship in a convincing light. I was initially doubtful of Rosie’s gratitude to Scarlett but the guilt she faced was enough to convince me. My favorite character would be Rosie as she was three-dimensional as compared to her sister. From her growing feelings for Silas to her guilt for occasionally going against her sister, they were all done in a very realistic voice. Scarlett, on the other hand, had only one goal and that was to kill all wolves. It wasn’t that I disliked her but she came off too artificial to me. I was hoping she’d have more of a personality. But I did like several chapters in her POV, especially in the beginning, which showed how her past deeply affected her.

The wolves were well done and literally sent chills down my back. I liked how Pearce would describe the wolf’s transformation, from an ordinary human to a ferocious wolf. Scarlett is a very ruthless person when it comes to the wolves and she would never let one escape. Be warned that the killings were gory but cleverly done.

Although the story started out action-packed, the plot started to get draggy in the middle of the book and Sisters Red was in danger of losing readers. Luckily, it wasn’t long until the pace quickly picked up. The ending was a bit of a let down as it happened too quickly and I was expecting a much bigger showdown and Pearce to surprise me. But no, I predicted the climax and the conclusion. Nevertheless, Sisters Red was a wholly satisfying read and good enough to be a standalone book (although Pearce has a sequel to it that is titled: Sweetly).

Review copy provided by publisher.


The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride

The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride
Publisher: Egmont USA
Publication Date: May 25th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (3.5/5 stars)

Synopsis: When Tessa’s best friend Noelle disappears right before the start of eighth grade, Tessa’s life changes completely–she shies away from her other friends and stops eating in the cafeteria. Now, two years later, Noelle has escaped her captivity and is coming home, in one piece but not exactly intact, and definitely different. Tessa’s life is about to change again as she tries to revive the best-friendship the two girls had shared before Noelle–now Elle–was kidnapped; puts up a futile resistance to the charming new guy at school; pursues her passion for photography while trying to build the bravado to show her photos to the public; and tries to balance her desire to protect and shelter Elle with the necessity to live her own life and put herself first.

Review: McBride’s debut novel is certainly one that is powerful, haunting, and unforgettable. The focal point of the story is how the people around Noelle deal with her kidnapping and her return. The kidnapping itself was not as important as the aftermath. I love how McBride approached child abduction in this novel and making it unique by telling it in the best friend’s Point Of View. If it was Noelle’s POV, the book would have been utterly heartbreaking and stomach-churning, but instead, the novel turned out to be not too overly graphic and disturbing.

McBride did a remarkable job with Tessa’s voice and readers can get inside her head and understand what it is like to have your best friend taken away and returned a whole new person. Character development for Tessa was very well done and she changed drastically from the beginning till the end. However, I felt Max was a little two-dimensional. He was the perfect Prince Charming — I need more depth. I also felt that too much time was spent developing Max and Tessa’s relationship and there were scenes where the focus of the book revolved around Max and Tessa and not Noelle and Tessa. Noelle’s character was complex but easy to sympathize with and I could see the difference before and after the kidnapping.

Although I thought McBride did a marvelous job in this novel, I feel that something is lacking. Perhaps, the kidnapping could have been further explored because I finished the book with unanswered questions.

Without a shadow of a doubt in my mind, The Tension of Opposites is one novel you’ll want to pick up if you are in the mood for a dark read. Reading this book was like walking through a tunnel in darkness, not knowing where it would lead you to, but wait, you see a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Hourglass by Claudia Gray

Hourglass by Claudia Gray
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: March 9th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (3.5/5 stars)
Synopsis: Bestselling author Claudia Gray’s Evernight series continues. In Hourglass, Bianca and Lucas have found a way to be together. But it means lying to the people who care about them the most.

After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school, Bianca and Lucas seek refuge with Black Cross, the elite group of vampire hunters led by Lucas’s stepfather. When Bianca’s close friend—the vampire Balthazar—is captured by Black Cross, Bianca knows she has to do whatever it takes to save him. But at what cost?

Hourglass, the third book in this gripping vampire series by the author of the New York Times bestseller Stargazer, has all the romance, suspense, and page-turning drama that have made Claudia Gray’s books runaway successes.

Review: My initial reaction to this book was disappointment. To be honest, I found the beginning was boring and I was impatiently waiting for something to happen. Luckily, the plot started to pick up after a few chapters and soon I was fully immersed in the story. Gray has once again come up with a cleverly executed plot filled with many twists and turns. I have read many paranormal YA and I love how Gray’s books take things to a whole new level.

Lucas takes the spotlight in this book and it was good to see him stand up for himself. Bianca was the same as usual, sassy and strong-willed. And Balthazar, gulp, I seem to be wavering towards Team Balthazar in this novel. I don’t know why but I liked his determined attitude and how he refused to buckle down despite the torture. The secondary characters, Ranulf and Vic, were breath of fresh air, I enjoyed reading their banter but I wished there were more pages including them. There were plenty of creepy moments and the novel made my heart race in fear and it was as if I was riding an emotional roller coaster. In the third book, loyalties are tested and the characters discover a thing or two about themselves. Just when you think you know where the plot is heading, Gray surprises you with a twist you will never see coming. (Or maybe you could have guessed it.)

Hourglass is the kind of book that will make you stay up all night to finish it. However, compared to the previous two books, Hourglass is my least favorite of the three. But the thing about Gray’s novels is that they are intriguing enough for me to continue reading the series and I am looking forward to visiting this chilling and enthralling world again in the last book, Afterlife. If you are a sucker for stories involving star-crossed lovers, this series is for you.

Shoutout to Australian readers, Gray will be touring Australia in August! WHOO HOO!

Review copy provided by publisher.

The Unwritten Rule

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 6th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (3.25/5 stars)
Synopsis: Everyone knows the unwritten rule: You don’t like your best friend’s boyfriend.

Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He’s easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he’s paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna’s boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah’s best friend.

Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she’s thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It’s wonderful…and awful.

Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can’t stop herself from wanting more…

Review: I have a question, is The Unwritten Rule Scott’s 100th novel? I’m totally kidding but Scott is one talented lady! The Unwritten Rule is in fact her seventh novel and with an upcoming novel out September this year, titled Grace. I haven’t read some of Scott’s earlier works, Bloom and Perfect You but I have read everything else. To be honest, I expected this novel to blow my mind. It didn’t, but I liked it more than Something Like Fate which has a similar plot.

Scott has a very distinct writing style, and I love it. Here’s the first page of the book, isn’t her writing stark and authentic?

I liked him first, but it doesn’t matter.
I still like him.
That doesn’t matter either.
Or at least, it’s not supposed to.
(page 1) The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Sarah has a lot of fantastic internal monologue and readers cannot help but be entertained by them. Reading this book, I was placed in a dilemma, to side with Sarah or Brianna. I choose Sarah even though the best friend crushing on her BFF’s boyfriend is plain wrong. Why? I detested Brianna from the start, the way she treated Sarah was unacceptable and I had no idea how Sarah could stand her. I had absolutely no sympathy for Brianna who constantly flirted with other guys.

The doubts, the longing, the chemistry – it was all there, front and center, for the reader to experience. Scott has a knack for writing great romances with a similar feel to Sarah Dessen. It gave me the butterflies just reading the scenes with sexual tension. Sarah’s timid behavior was irritating after a while, I longed for her to stand up for herself and not bottle up her feelings. You would imagine Ryan to be a perfect guy but he’s not. I was annoyed with Ryan because he did not reject Brianna. He waited so long to confess his crush and that should be unacceptable. 😛

Overall, The Unwritten Rule was quite predictable but I completely felt for Sarah and nonetheless recommend it to anyone looking for a light read. If you’re a former Scott fan, The Unwritten Rule might not be on par with Love You Hate You Miss You but it is a reminiscent of Something Maybe. If you never tried Scott’s works before, I recommend you picking up Stealing Heaven or Love You Hate You Miss You the next time you are at the bookstore.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey

Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Publication Date: May 3, 2010
Source: Publisher
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Gold star (3.75/5 stars)

Synopsis: Jill Jekel has always obeyed her parents’ rules – especially the one about never opening the mysterious, old box in her father’s office. But when her dad is murdered, and her college savings disappear, she’s tempted to peek inside, as the contents might be key to a lucrative chemistry scholarship.

To better her odds, Jill enlists the help of gorgeous, brooding Tristen Hyde, who has his own dark secrets locked away. As the team of Jekel and Hyde, they recreate experiments based on the classic novel, hoping not only to win a prize, but to save Tristen’s sanity. Maybe his life. But Jill’s accidental taste of a formula unleashes her darkest nature and compels her to risk everything – even Tristen’s love – just for the thrill of being… bad.

Review: I was lucky enough to get an ARC for Jekel Loves Hyde a few months before the release and needless to say was very excited to read it. I was initially attracted to the synopsis and the very attractive cover. The plot was wholly fascinating and unique; I kept reading it because I wanted to know the ending. Jekel Loves Hyde explores the classic story in a whole different way. In Jekel Loves Hyde, the characters are descendants of Jekel and Hyde and apparently, the story of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was based on “a true story”.

Despite the somewhat original plot, I still found the romance similar to those ‘girl falling for bad boy’ romances. Even though Jill knew that Tristen was not exactly a good guy (who may be harboring a big secret), she still fell for him. I found that too predictable, and the first thing that came to my mind was “haven’t we seen this before?”. No I won’t mention that book. The course of true love never runs smooth, there are obstacles throughout the book that prevent Jill and Tristen from truly being together.

Fantaskey’s writing was excellent, however. The alternating chapters were well-done and not choppy. I think I preferred Tristen’s chapters over Jill’s. It’s good to see what is going on in his mind; it gave his character some depth and insight. Unfortunately, I felt that the alternating chapters affected the character development, and I feel that the book could have been so much better if some chapters were longer. It also hindered the believability of the story as Jill’s reasons for her actions were not able to win me over.

The ending was way too anti-climatic. I hate hate hate it when the character blacks out in the middle of a fight scene and then wakes up a few hours later and slowly try to recall everything. It happens in certain books and it happened here. By doing this, the story’s momentum, which was initially going full speed ahead, suddenly comes to a stop, as if it crashed into a brick wall and lost all of it’s kinetic energy. (Oh dear, I’m talking physics now?) Only the not-so-picky readers will not be bothered by this. But it’s not just that. The ending was absurdly unrealistic and awfully cheesy. Think Perfect Chemistry.

Despite it’s faults, I still throughly enjoyed the novel because I adore Fantaskey’s writing. I’ve yet to read Fantaskey’s debut yet so I cannot compared both books but from what her fans have been saying, they prefer Jessica’s Guide. Still, Jekel Loves Hyde will appeal to fans of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, Evermore by Alyson Noel and Bree Despain’s The Dark Divine.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: March 2nd 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (3.25/5 stars)
Synopsis: Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Review: I had very high hopes for Hex Hall, or perhaps too high, because I was not extremely satisfied when I finished the book.

First off, a reform school for vampires, faeries, shapeshifters, etc etc is sheer brilliance. It takes supernatural to a whole new level! I particularly like the creepy setting of the book, some scenes gave me the chills, especially with a killer on the loose.

While everyone said that Hex Hall was hilarious, I did not find myself laughing as much as I hoped. Yes, Hawkins attempted to put in a funny sarcastic line in each page but I did not find myself laughing-out-loud. But I appreciated Sophie’s humor and I think other people will find themselves bursting into a grin every once in a while.

Characters wise, I thought Sophie’s voice ringed true and her character showed slight development throughout the book. She was a wonderful character, not once annoying or shallow. The secondary characters, however, bothered me. First off, I hate to say this but the characters were cliché. There were the mean girls, the typical trio, then there was the heart-throb and the outcast best friend. Except for being cliché, I did not have any problems with them. Sophie’s best friend, Jenna, had a great personality and the three witches did a pretty good job being evil manipulative bitches.

That being said, the writing flowed swiftly and this is one of the book that is deemed as ‘unputdownable’. You will never know what will happen next and will have no choice but to keep speculating until Hawkins throws in a twist and surprises you. The mystery kept me reading and I tore through the last 60 pages to get to the end. The ending left me flabbergasted, in a good way. I’d do a lot to get my hands on the next book! Recommended to girls between 12-16!

Shoutout to the awesome cover designer, whoever you are! I adore the cover, it’s simply gorgeous.

Princess For Hire by Lindsey Leavitt

Princess For Hire by Lindsey Levitt
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: March 16th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (3.95/5 stars)
Synopsis: When a well-dressed woman steps out of a bubble and wants to know if you’d like to become a substitute princess, do you
A) run
B) faint
C) say yes?
For Desi Bascomb, who’s been longing for some glamour in her Idaho life, the choice is a definite C). Desi has a rare ability: with the help of “Royal Rouge,” she can temporarily transform into the exact look-alike of any princess who needs her subbing services. Dream come true, right?
Well, Desi soon discovers that subbing involves a lot more than wearing a tiara and waving at cameras…. In this winning debut, one girl’s dream of glamour transforms into the desire to make a positive impact. And an impact Desi makes, one royal fiasco at a time.

Review: Princess For Hire was a fun and heartwarming middle-grade novel. This book sparks our imagination because it’s hardly believable that a women steps out of a bubble out of nowhere. While I found the story a little too cheesy for my taste, I am sure middle graders will enjoy this book and will be begging for more. My 11-year-old self would have happily gobbled this book.

At first glance, Desi, the main character, has the tendency to look down on herself. She talks about how she was not pretty with her braces and other superficial problems. She pines for a guy who probably doesn’t know she exists. I thought despite her character acting more like a 12-year-old than a 14-year-old, I thought Levitt did an effective job capturing her voice. Desi was an engaging narrator and she’s just too funny for words. As I read on, I began to like Desi more. Sure, in the beginning she was rather self conscious but upon further thinking, I realised that everyone has been through the phrase where they hated how they looked.

While I enjoyed reading this book, I wasn’t blown away by it and I had some minor issues with the writing. There were a lot of “telling” done, instead of “showing”. Levitt would tell us how Desi feels instead of showing it through her actions. This bugged me. The beginning of the book was enjoyable but the momentum grew slower in the middle. Each princess job only lasted for a short period, hence, this left little room for character development for both protagonist and secondary characters. But since this is a middle-grade novel, I suppose it is forgivable and will overlook these problems.

Moving on, the adventures Desi went on were fun to read about and fairly well done. How can you not love a book where the main character gets to become princesses? Desi is a delightful character who is full of wit and has a heart of gold. Forget reality and lose yourself in this amusing, fun girly book. I recommend this book to tweens and teens age 11-14 who love princesses or anything Disney.


Monday- Review
Tuesday- Interview with Lindsey Levitt
Wednesday- Interview with Desi
Thursday- Contest to win 5 copies of PFH!