Tag: Young Adult (page 1 of 137)

BOOK REVIEW: The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne

BOOK REVIEW: The Stars We Steal by Alexa DonneThe Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself falling for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.

Review

Man am I bummed about this, you guys. For those of you who didn’t know, this is a loose science fiction re-telling of Persuasion by Jane Austen. I personally have never read it before but I HAVE read and loved For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund which was also inspired by the book. After finishing that I watched the movie from 2007 just to see how the Austen version went. Basically, this story is one of the move FRUSTRATING (but ultimately rewarding) cases of slow-burn/second chance romances that you will ever see in your entire life.

This version had a LOT of potential and I still think that a lot of people will really like this. I personally think that I would have liked it more if it had even been a duology. Even though the world building and plot were pretty well formed and made sense, there was still so much MORE that could have been delved into if there had just been even one more book.

The concept of this book is that the inhabitants of Earth who had the means to do so, left in a fleet of space ships based on different nationalities after another Ice Age came on and froze the planet solid. Our main female protagonist, Leo, is considered a princess even though her family is just about destitute an the title is only really that–a title. Her aunt, who is captain of a much larger ship that is doing really well and has quite a bit of wealth, allows them to dock there.

Said Aunt is about to be hosting an event called the Valg Season which allows young people from all the different ships a chance to come together to find a suitable partner from a different bloodline. Surprise, surprise, Leo’s old love (who she had been engaged to for a hot second years ago before she was talked out of it by her father, aunt, and cousin because he was poor) shows up. Only now, he’s got money and is suddenly the heir to a ship. The two are at each others throats understandably after what happened in the past and there is a lot of tension due to a number of different things that go down.

As much as the small snippets of them reconnecting had my stomach fluttering, I wanted more. More, more, more. There wasn’t enough of them reconnecting because too many other things were going on with different political aspects involving her aunt’s ship and the fleet in general. I didn’t learn nearly enough of what their past was like, or even who they had been as people to compare to the people they had grown to be in each others’ absence. Again, if this had been more than one book, I think everything could have been executed perfectly with a better balance between the two things. Either way, it was still a quick read and I did still enjoy myself.

Huge thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. ♥

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen Johnson

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen Johnson

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen JohnsonThe Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3)
by Maureen Johnson
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson delivers the witty and pulse-pounding conclusion to the Truly Devious series as Stevie Bell solves the mystery that has haunted Ellingham Academy for over 75 years.

Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.

At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.

Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.

In the tantalizing finale to the Truly Devious trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson expertly tangles her dual narrative threads and ignites an explosive end for all who’ve walked through Ellingham Academy.

Review:

IT’S HERE. The conclusion to the Truly Devious trilogy. And if you’ve been on the edge of your seat, barely hanging on through all the twists and turns and crazy reveals of this series, then buckle up. Maureen Johnson has one last book to shock us and finally reveal exactly what’s been happening at Ellingham Academy – then and now.

All of our favorites are back, including Stevie, David, Janelle, Nate and Pix. We also add in Hunter, who made some brief appearances back in The Vanishing Stair. The gang is all back together and working to figure out why terrible things keep happening and how they are connected to the original Ellingham mystery.

I’ll just say this upfront, I was very happy with the ending. Everything is revealed (in its own time) and all the threads Maureen Johnson has been weaving are tied together and it thankfully all makes sense. These kids have been through so much trauma and craziness, and to see their stories conclude with resolution, made me very appreciative.

The Hand on the Wall picks up shortly after the events of the Vanishing Stair. School is in session, but after another accident happens, Ellingham Academy decided to close its doors and send the students back home. However, Stevie and co. have other ideas. They need to figure out why and how everything has been going on. But to complicate the matters, a massive snow storm is headed their way, essentially trapping them on campus. What better to way hunker down and solve a decades old mystery?

For anyone who’s read this series, you’ve spent at least two books trying to pick out the correct puzzle pieces and figure out this mystery. I really didn’t guess anything correctly, but once everything was revealed, I was truly satisfied. It’s been a pleasure following along with these characters and trying to figure everything out with them. It’s truly a mystery series, with a additional emphasis on friendships and relationships.

Besides the overarching mysteries of the series, I loved these characters, especially when they are all together. They’ve all been through so much together, but it’s very clear how much they care for each other and are in tune to what each other are feeling. This is especially evident when Stevie struggles with her anxiety, when David self-deprecates or when Nate self-sabotages. These are smart and capable teens, but who all have their own unique battles.

If it’s not clear already, overall I really enjoyed this book and this series. It’s a great upper-YA mystery series and I wish there were more like it. The story is unique and all of the characters are memorable in their own way. I’m not sure what Maureen Johnson has planned after this, but I hope it’s another series similar to this. I’m ready to dive back in to a multi-book mystery.

Favorite Quotes:

She’d let him down because she could not handle it all. Guilt crept around the edges of everything—the taste of the coffee and the smell of the room and the cold coming from the window. Guilt and paranoia. She felt the thrumming in her chest, the engine of anxiety rumbling, making itself known.

*

She had a clue now, a point of focus. There were things in the walls. She wasn’t sure what that meant, or what she might be looking for. But so much of this had been about walls.

*

But sometimes, quite by accident, you find yourself vibrating on someone else’s frequency. You can follow the sense of the thing, if not the literal meaning. Sometimes, this is more important and more informative.

*

“So,” Hunter said, breaking the silence. “Weird night, huh?”

“Not really,” Nate replied, picking through the bottom of a large bowl of popcorn, looking for any fully popped pieces that weren’t hard kernels in disguise. “This is pretty much how it goes. Something terrible happens and we all come back here and talk about how terrible it is. We don’t learn.”

*

He had seen people give up hope before, seen the light leave their eyes. Albert Ellingham could buy almost anything he wanted, but not hope. Hope is not for sale. Hope is a gift.

*

Stevie had just failed some test she had no idea she had to take, on a subject she was not aware of. She had been sitting here in her hole in the ground, minding her own business, and then this. There was no winning. But he was here.

Giveaway:

Win one copy of The Hand on the Wall (US Only). Open Jan. 21 – Feb. 4, 2020.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Maureen Johnson HQMaureen Johnson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, The Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow (with John Green and Lauren Myracle), and The Bane Chronicles (with Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan). Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, and she has also served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City.

Keep up with Maureen: Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Tumblr | Facebook

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Every Other Weekend by Abigail JohnsonEvery Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

What if your safe place…is a person?

Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most.

Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves—not the happy ones anyway. As an aspiring director, she should know, because she’s been reimagining her life as a film ever since she was a kid. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for.

Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.

Review:

Every Other Weekend, my second Abigail Johnson novel I’ve read, was almost unputdownable for me. Not because it was a thrilling page turner, but because I was so invested in these characters I needed to find out what was going to happen next. I even had to put it down a few times so I wouldn’t cry on an airplane – and if you know me, unless it involves animals, I’m probably not going to cry. So there, you win A.J. Stupid dry airplane air.

EOW follows two perspectives: Adam Moynihan and Jolene Timber. Adam’s life has recently been turned upside down: His parents are recently separated, in no small part due to the death of their eldest son. Adam was super close to his oldest brother and he was the calming force between Adam and Jeremey, Adam’s other brother. Adam is struggling to adapt to his new life and blames his father for the marriage falling apart. But as part of this new life, he and Jeremy are forced to come to his father’s apartment every other weekend.

It’s here he meets Jolene, who has been coming to her dad’s apartment every other weekend for years. However, she never actually sees her dad while she’s there. He’s always giving excuses and making his girlfriend, Shelly, parent Jolene in his absence. As horrible of a relationship as she has with Shelly and her father, Jolene’s relationship with her mother is extremely poor too. Her mother wants Jolene to spy on her father, because she believes his hiding money from her. She is physically and emotionally abusive to Jolene and has a substance abuse issue as well.

So both Jolene and Adam are in pretty low places when they meet, but that doesn’t stop them from instantly connecting. Adam is drawn to Jolene’s enigmatic and confident demeanor. She’s an aspiring filmmaker and quickly ropes Adam in to help her with her movies. Soon, they actually look forward to their awkward weekends at the apartment, where they ignore their families and find comfort in not feeling alone.

As with Even If I Fall, I adored almost all of the characters in this book and really appreciated how real and grounded the various storylines were. There were obviously themes of families (both good and bad), the trauma of loss and change, friendships, breakups and makeups, sibling rivalry and complicated relationships with parents. There is also the trauma of a sexual assault and dealing in the aftermath. It’s a lot of heavy things, but there’s still a lot of joy and light to be found. I loved Adam and Jolene’s complicated relationship, as well as Adam’s love of his family. Even when he is furious at his father, deep down it’s clear it’s coming from a place of love and loss. Jolene was an amazing character in her own right, and I loved how much she believe in herself, even when no around really believe in her or her talent. And as I mentioned before, there were definitely times when I got a little misty-eyed, as there’s a lot of mention of loss in here that just really hit me for some reason.

Overall, I really loved this book. It might be a tiny bit behind Even If I Fall, but certainly not by much. Johnson continues to write complicated, but down to earth, stories about teenagers dealing with a multitude of issues. Her stories have so many layers, but it never feels like it’s too much. It all blends seamlessly and her characters are so enjoyable and easy to love.

Every Other Weekend is available January 7, 2020.

Content Warnings: Sexual assault, death of a family member, verbal and physical abuse, substance abuse, talk of death/dying, controlling/abusive relationship

 

Favorite Quotes:

“Look, are you going to be around a lot?”
“Every other weekend.”
He hung his head. “Me too.”
I didn’t bother with a fake smile. “Yippee.”

*

If I wasn’t half in love with her before I read it, I was after. Except there was no half anything with Jolene.

*

It was a love story. Not romantic exactly, but the kind of love that maybe lasts beyond passion and heartache. It was a story of friendship, with all its possible laid out in front of it. That’s what Adam and I had.

*

My inside warned me that if I let him any closer I wouldn’t survive, but I knew with a burst of heat that chased away every last bit of cold from my body that I’d never truly live if I tried to keep him away.

*

“And I know you’re gonna break my heart at some point, I might even break yours.” I pressed her hand more firmly against my chest. “But it’s yours to break and mend and hopefully not break again, because, like you’ve said many times, I have fragile boy emotions.”

Giveaway:

Want to win a copy of Every Other Weekend? Enter through Rafflecopter! (US only residents only.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About Abigail Johnson:

Abigail was born in Pennsylvania. When she was twelve, her family traded in snow storms for year round summers, and moved to Arizona. Abigail chronicled the entire cross-country road trip (in a purple spiral bound notebook that she still has) and has been writing ever since. She became a tetraplegic after breaking her neck in a car accident when she was seventeen, but hasn’t let that stop her from bodysurfing in Mexico, writing and directing a high school production of Cinderella, and becoming a published author.

Keep up with Abigail: Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube| Facebook

BOOK REVIEW: Keystone by Katie Delahanty

BOOK REVIEW: Keystone by Katie Delahanty Keystone by Katie Delahanty
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

When Ella Karman debuts on the Social Stock Exchange, she finds out life as a high-profile "Influencer" isn't what she expected. Everyone around her is consumed by their rankings, in creating the smoke and mirrors that make them the envy of the world.

But then Ella’s best friend betrays her, her rankings tank, and she loses―everything.

Leaving her old life behind, she joins Keystone, a secret school for thieves, where students are being trained to steal everything analog and original because something―or someone―is changing history to suit their needs.

Partnered with the annoyingly hot―and utterly impossible―Garrett Alexander, who has plenty of his own secrets, Ella is forced to return to the Influencer world, while unraveling a conspiracy that began decades ago.

One wrong move and she could lose everything―again.

Review:

Keystone was an instant favorite!  It enraptured me in its spell and was impossible to put down.  With characters that quickly snuck into my heart and a story-line that had me turning the pages faster and faster, I absolutely loved this book!  It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before.  If you enjoy dystopian, science fiction, a fabulous group of friends or even rooting for a heroine in a new world, then definitely add this one to your tbr!

Right then, I bottled up my feelings, turned them off, buried them so deep I’d need a treasure map to find them.  I understood the flat look in Deena’s eyes, the one that took my friend.  Like her, I had to die inside.
It was the only way I was going to survive.

Katie Delahanty painted a vivid world that I easily got lost in.  The first chapter started out with a bang.  And there were lots of missing pieces to the puzzle.  So I absorbed every single word trying to figure out what in the world was happening.  We met Ella Karman, who just left her influencer life.  With her name changed to Elisha DeWitt, she was on her way to train at a secret organization called Keystone.  There she would learn how to steal information, since someone was changing history.  We were just as clueless as Ella, for what was to come, and I loved learning right along with her!

He’d be great for my numbers.  Stupid.  This is why I can’t trust my instincts.  This isn’t who I am anymore.
But I can’t look away.
And neither can he.
My heart thumps.

One of the most ingenious things was the way the story unfolded.  We started in the present, and I loved watching Ella train and figure out her new life.  Her tests were intense and they made me nervous and have sweaty palms.  But I was excited for what she was capable of doing. I felt every single thing she did and I was so proud of how hard she worked.  But the people she trained with?  While I didn’t know what to think of some of them, others warmed my heart.  I loved watching her form true, heartfelt friendships. Especially since she didn’t have that in her past.

A slow smile spreads across his face.  “I like to keep an eye on the competition is all.  I know you’re a fortress, Ellie.  Don’t worry.  I have no intention of scaling your walls.”
Stupid disappointment dips in my belly, but I shrug it off, fluttering my eyelashes. “You’re welcome to try.  I’m confident the dragon will get you in the end, anyway.”
He bites his lip, holding back a laugh. “You’re nothing like I expected.”

Just when I thought I had a good grasp on what was going on, we jumped into her past.  It was brilliant how we seamlessly would get glimpses of her past throughout the story.  And it made me not only understand Ella better, but I saw how toxic her world was.  People were ranked through their presence online and it established their worth.  To keep her numbers up and her parents happy, since she influenced their worth too, she went along with or witnessed stuff that was horrific.  The injustice and fakeness of it all made me sick.  Yet Ella was trapped.  I watched as lies and secrets shrouded her past.  It was like a train wreck that I couldn’t look away from.

Swallowing hard, I stare at him. “My heart runs deeper than you could ever imagine.”
“I highly doubt that.” His words are ice, and tears spring to my eyes.
“You don’t know anything about my hurt,” I say, my voice cracking. “Don’t pretend to.”

Not only was the story unique, but so were two of the guys I fell for.  When we were in her past, we met Adam.  With fake people surrounding her, he was a breath of fresh air.  He was real.  He spoke from his heart.  And even though he played the influencer game, his connection to Ella made my heart beat faster.  I fell in love with him through all of their moments together.  Yet from that first chapter, we know he was there, when there was an explosion that killed Ella’s friends.

“Need you?  I need you.”
His eyes sparkle. “Yes.”
“You’re right.  I do need you.  I need you to realize you’re not God’s gift to thieves.”
“I love it when you’re angry.”
“I love it when you’re silent.”
He laughs.

And in the present, we met Garrett at Keystone.  He was such a huge mystery to me.  Garrett intrigued me and captivated my attention.  He was completely addictive.  Yet I didn’t know where Ella stood with him.  Especially since it seemed like he had a girlfriend.  I wanted to know his thoughts and understand why he kept certain people around him. So I desperately wanted to know all of Garrett’s secrets.

Garrett points to the ceiling, and I glimpse stars twinkling through a skylight.
CLICK
Grabbing me, Garrett throws me to the ground, covering my body with his.  My insides leaping, I squeal, certain we’re done for, waiting for the bullets to ravage us.  He clamps his hand over my mouth as the walls around us shift, rearranging themselves into a new layout.

The latter part of this book, I swear I lived between having sweaty palms and smiling my face off.  And here’s the thing, I thought I knew where this story was going.  But as we learned more about their world and started to see the bigger picture, there was a twist that was beautifully done.  I never saw it coming.  But looking back, I could see the clues, I just hadn’t grasped what they meant.

The tears flow, my aching throat sobbing out the betrayal.  Is anything real?  Hiccupping, I gasp for breath, the fireplace blurring before me.  Is anyone loyal?

So if you love stories that you can’t stop thinking about, long after you close the book, then definitely add Keystone to your tbr. With a smart heroine who held her own, and a group of friends that were total squad goals, Keystone landed on my favorites list! Now I’ll desperately be waiting for that next book. We got a lot of answers and ended at such a great spot, but I need to know where Ella’s story goes next. I can’t wait!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BOOK REVIEW: Demon Bound by Chris Cannon

BOOK REVIEW: Demon Bound by Chris CannonDemon Bound by Chris Cannon
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

When a summoning goes awry, suddenly booknerd Meena’s summer job becomes something drastically different. Instead of cleaning eccentric Carol’s house, she’s bound to a demon as his soul-collector. Soon Meena discovers that the boring, pageant-obsessed, bonfire-loving town that she’s never fit in to is a hotbed for soul-sucking demons, demon-hunting witches, and vampires who just wanna have fun… And then she comes into her own powers.

Could things get any stranger? Good thing she meets new guy Jake—who gets her and still hangs around.

When Jake’s mom sends him off to his Aunt Zelda’s for the summer, he thought he’d be bored. But nothing is what it seems in this town. His aunt isn’t just odd, she’s a witch who fights demons and tries to maintain the magical balance of the town. Jake should get the hell out of there and, he would leave, except for bad-ass newbie witch Meena, who looks at him like he matters.

He never counted on sticking around, but Meena’s bound to a demon who wants to destroy her soul—and Jake’s finally found someone worth fighting for.

Review:

Demon Bound was a paranormal story that was cute and unique.  Witches, demons, vampires and even spirits were in this story and it all felt like a fresh take on them.  I was fascinated learning the rules for the magic and the creatures were oh so interesting!  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to connect to Meena or Jake.  But if you adore paranormal stories, definitely check this one out!

I’d love to say that I’m a sparkly unicorn, but I’m more like my cats Marshmallow and Pumpkin… I’d rather eat, take naps, and ignore the world.

This story alternated between Jake and Meena, and I liked both of them right away.  Meena’s thoughts made me laugh and Jake seemed like he had all the potential to be a book boyfriend.  But right from the start, they were lost, just like me.  We met Carol, Meena’s new boss, and Carol’s friend Zelda, who was kind of like a distant Aunt to Jake.  Carol and Zelda’s comments and words were so over the top and matter of fact that it was hard not to laugh.  And with a séance gone wrong, we quickly dived into the magical world around them.  It was definitely a magical ride.

I had a vague memory of when my life had been normal. When no one threw knives at me and people answered questions without strange fetishy requests.
I missed that time.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t ever to connect to Jake and Meena.  No matter how much I liked them.  But I enjoyed watching them learn about each other and how fast their friendship was formed.  It had an insta-love feel to it, but being introduced to the paranormal world can definitely do that to some!  And I liked how protective Jake was of Meena.  Especially when it came to Bane.  Bane was a powerful demon who wreaked havoc on the town they lived in.  But I saw him as a weirdo who was beyond creepy.  Bane had a hair fetish that made me want to teach him about boundaries.  So I kept hoping that someone in this story would take him down!  For good.

“This town might be infested with demons.” I leaned down and brushed my lips across hers. “But it has its perks.” And then I kissed her for real.

Demon Bound was a fluffy paranormal book that made me smile and laugh.  I enjoyed that this story never made me nervous, that I just got to sit back and enjoy the story.  Even if it hit some more serious topics throughout this story.  The ending stopped at the perfect spot to give us a happily for now.  Yet there’s still so many different paths this story could take in the future.  I hope you have a lot of fun discovering this book too!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

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