Friday, October 31, 2014

Sweet Unrest ~ Lisa Maxwell (earc) review [@lisamaxwellYA @fluxbooks]

Sweet Unrest
October 8, 2014
336 pages
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Lucy Aimes has always been practical. But try as she might, she can’t come up with a logical explanation for the recurring dreams that have always haunted her. Dark dreams. Dreams of a long-ago place filled with people she shouldn’t know…but does.

When her family moves to a New Orleans plantation, Lucy’s dreams become more intense, and her search for answers draws her reluctantly into the old city’s world of Voodoo and mysticism. There, Lucy finds Alex, a mysterious boy who behaves as if they’ve known each other forever. Lucy knows Alex is hiding something, and her rational side doesn’t want to be drawn to him. But she is.

As she tries to uncover Alex’s secrets, a killer strikes close to home, and Lucy finds herself ensnared in a century-old vendetta. With the lives of everyone she loves in danger, Lucy will have to unravel the mystery of her dreams before it all comes to a deadly finish.

Lisa Maxwell's Sweet Unrest begins with both a unique character and a unique premise. Lucy's character is very well imagined, from her love of photography to her desire to be back home in Chicago not in New Orleans where they've moved to her dreams. All of the aspects of her character, from the small things to the big, not only make her a character you like reading about from the beginning, but they play into the story as well.

She is still unsure of her family's new life, but enjoying the photographic opportunities when she meets Alex. He is not only attractive but it feels to Lucy that they already know each other. And he's so infrequently around that she spends much of her time hoping to see him again. Even if he won't tell her much about himself.

Soon, Lucy is made aware of a world she never new of before, that of Voodoo. Her new friend Chloe knows Lucy, the Yankee, has no idea about it beyond her misconceptions and finds it fun to educate her.

Until it becomes more a part of Lucy's life than either of them imagined. With the dreams Lucy has had all of her life evolving into something more, filling with people of a long-ago time that are proving more real than is logical and danger all around, the move to New Orleans quickly becomes something else entirely for Lucy.

I like the mix of Voodoo, the past, the setting, Lucy's character and the other characters. Most of it works really well together in Sweet Unrest and is different from other things I Have read.  Readers get an idea of who Alex is before Lucy seems to and while it's frustrating how much she'll deny, at times, I enjoyed her path to accepting that knowledge.

The romance aspects of the novel were not quite what I was hoping the would be. They're okay and the story doesn't suffer but I wanted more. The characters have a strong bond but mostly because they said so or were supposed to, I didn't really feel it.

I also wish that the past we glimpse in Sweet Unrest had felt more real. I enjoyed its inclusion in the story, but it always felt a bit less like reality, not as whole, as the present.

Still, Sweet Unrest is a fun, enjoyable and unique story. The characters are very well imagined, the story comes together nicely and the characters play such a great role in how everything unfolds. With its mix of Voodoo, danger, and the past it is a great read - especially for Halloween!!

(I haven't been able to check the finished copy, but in the arc, a character uses 'y'all' as a singular. It's only a handful of times, but it was . . . odd. Unless, in my life, I've missed that people do that.)

review copy received, through NetGalley, for review from publisher

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kiss of Broken Glass ~ Madeline Kuderick review [@HarperTeen @kuderickwrites]

Kiss of Broken Glass
Harper Teen
September 9, 2014
224 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Madeleine Kuderick’s gripping debut is a darkly beautiful and lyrical novel in verse, perfect for fans of Sonya Sones and Laurie Halse Anderson. Kiss of Broken Glass pulses with emotion and lingers long after the last page.

In the next seventy-two hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for seventy-two hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain.

When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for mandatory psychiatric watch. There, Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who’s there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment.

Kuderick's debut novel is the story, told in verse, of fifteen-year-old Kenna, a cutter, who has been Baker Acted. Now under a seventy-two hour psychiatric hold after being discovered cutting in the school bathroom, this is Keena's first time under observation.

Though, Kiss of Broken Glass is short, it works because it is told in verse. Verse novels are not something I usually seek out (while I don't avoid them, I don't specifically look for them, either) but this book's premise appealed to me.

Kuderick does a really fantastic job in her debut novel. Her poetry is very lyrical and seems to choose just the right words and breaks for maximum impact. Readers will get to know Kenna and the others at the facility; they'll learn why Kenna started cutting and see how much a part of her life it has become.

You also see the makeup of Kenna's family and how it may have impacted her decisions.

Despite the short length of Kiss of Broken Glass, it is full of brilliant characters, relationships, emotion and tells Kenna's story beautifully. Things do not get all wrapped up in a tidy, little bow, but that fits with the honest, real feeling of the story. (A feeling only enhanced when one reads the Author's Note.)

This is author, Madeline Kuderick's first novel and I hope to be able to read more from her in the future.

Another book you may also enjoy: Purge by Sarah Darer Littman

Monday, October 27, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue ~ Maggie Stiefvater (earc) review [@Scholastic @mstiefvater]

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3)
Scholastic Press
October 21, 2014
391 pages
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There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

The Raven Cycle has been a very enjoyable series, so far. I loved the character insights readers received in The Dream Thieves (#2) and was excited by the possibilities its ending provided.

This book's focus seemed to be more on Adam. While we do lose some of what Ronan might have been thinking, feeling after Kavinsky's death, Adam is a really good choice as the central character. The third book picks up where the last ended: they're still searching for Glendower, the Gray Man/Mr Gray is still in town and Blue's mother, Maura is missing.

Adam's character has the most (or the most, in a tie with Blue) taking place during Blue Lily, Lily Blue. His life in Henrietta, his non-Aglionby life, is more on display here and affecting more.

Ronan is no longer the main character (like in The Dream Thieves) but we continue to get to know him better. He is still discovering what the revelations of that book mean for him, his life and what he can  - and should - do. Through both his own actions and statements as well as what others say, think, do about him he has become even more my favorite character. We see some more of what's beneath the Bad Ronan Lynch facade.

I love that we go back to 300 Fox Way again. The interactions between Blue and the women in her family area always great and fun to read. There is more that has happened there and that is happening there, its no longer just the house of psychics. It's still Blue's home, still quirky and even better to read about with the added complexities.

We see more of Blue's character in this third book. She isn't the sidekick to a group of boys, but rather has both her own story and her own skills. She's the Henrietta girl, but so much more than that. Her interactions with some of the new or newer characters were some of my favorite of the book. She also brings out some of the best parts of the boys and their personalities.

The Latin teacher at Ablionby Academy is starting to feel a bit like Harry Potter's Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Still, I really enjoyed the character and their addition to the story. It worked so well into what's already happened and the known characters.

My favorite addition to the story, however, had to be Jesse Dittley. And Jesse Dittley's CAPSLOCKiness. (Jesse Dittley's diet, as well.)

I have purposely skipped over the plot so far because it's hard to review it and stay spoiler-free. It is a great continuation of the previous books while still throwing in some unexpected twists and turns - for both readers and the characters. There is always something happening, even if it is a tiny something. It feels, at times, like something bigger needs to happen but the way that all of the little things work together towards those bigger things is fantastic.

There were a few things in the story, one in particular, that seemed very present in their lead up, in their anticipation but then disappeared. I hope to see mention(s) in the next book. A book which I am very anxious to read after Blue Lily, Lily Blue's ending. Oh what an ending.

received for review thank to the publisher, via NetGalley

free preview & full book:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Don't Even Think About It ~ Sarah Mlynowski (earc) review

Don't Even Think About It (Don't Even Think About It #1)
Delacorte Press
March 11, 2014
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Contemporary teen fiction with romance, secrets, scandals, and ESP from the author of Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have).

We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same.

So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening. 

Sarah Mlynowski's Don't Even Think About It is a fun, quick read. When one sophomore homeroom develops an interesting reaction to the flu shot, they wonder if their lives will ever be the same again. And whether or not they want them to be.

At first, they think they're going crazy. After all, who hears what other people are thinking? Soon enough, it becomes clear that it isn't something they are imagining: they can hear other people's thoughts - and those in their homeroom can hear theirs. The time of being able to keep secrets has passed.

Whether it's the summertime affair one of them had, what their parents are really thinking about during dinner, who their crush is or anything they think about at all, homeroom 10B now knows it all.

I liked that, although the cover is only girls, it was  a co-ed homeroom class affected. Meaning an interesting, discovery filled start to the day for the teens, it takes the story in an a fun direction. We hear both the girls' and the boys' thoughts, how they deal with being able to hear each other. This diversity in the characters pulls both the characters and readers into the drama of relationships, friendships, social hierarchy . . . and involves hearing some things they might not want to, whether it's painful or just not something they want to know.

There are a lot of characters in Don't Even Think About It but they each have their own story, their own secrets they don't want discovered and their own things currently happening. It is easy to keep everyone's story straight and this is an example of numerous characters really helping the story. Everyone gets involved in each other's business in a way they wouldn't have before, with good and bad outcomes.

Don't Even Think About It was a fun read, but did sometimes feel more like it was trying to be cute than that it actually was cute. Still, I liked that it was a humorous story that still dealt with some deeper issues. When you're hearing everyone's thoughts, it's not only going to be what you want to hear.  The novel did a really nice job handling the tougher, more painful side of the telepathy without losing the lightness.

I didn't enjoy this as much as Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have) but it was a cute, well executed concept and I 'm curious to see what happens in the sequel.

received for review from publisher through NetGalley

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