Thursday, September 3, 2015

Infinite In Between ~ Carolyn Mackler review [@carolynmackler @epicreads @harperteen]

Infinite in Between
Harper Teen
September 1 2015
480 pages
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Printz Honor author Carolyn Mackler returns with this striking new novel that chronicles the lives of five teenagers through the thrills, heartbreaks, and joys of their four years in high school.

Zoe, Jake, Mia, Gregor, and Whitney meet at freshman orientation. At the end of that first day, they make a promise to reunite after graduation. So much can happen in those in-between years….

Zoe feels like she will live forever in her famous mother’s shadow. Jake struggles to find the right connections in friendship and in love. Mia keeps trying on new identities, looking for one that actually fits. Gregor thought he wanted to be more than just a band geek. And Whitney seems to have it all, until it’s all falling apart around her.

Echoing aspects of John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club, Carolyn Mackler skillfully brings the stories of these five disparate teens together to create a distinct and cohesive whole—a novel about how we can all affect one another’s lives in the most unexpected and amazing ways.
Starting Infinite in Between, I thought that the 'five teens' were 'five friends' (you know, who are also teens). I really like that I was wrong. Told from the five points-of-view of Mia Jake, Gregor, Whitney and Zoe, the novel follows them through the four years of high school.

The five first meet at freshman orientation and decide on an activity that has them promising to reunite at graduation.

As we follow them into high school the five are not friends, but they are aware of each other. Zoe is sure she won't be in New York long, that she'll be back home wit her mother and things will be good, again. Jake wants to figure out life without his best friend - and crush. Gregor wants to not just be the cello player. Mia wants to break out of her shell - if only she can figure out how. Whitney thinks everything is great, until it's all in danger of falling apart.

I love the way their lives intersect, almost intersect and how they still stay separate from each other. It is all very six degrees of separation: one has a friend who then gets to know another one; one is in a class with someone one's dating, etc.

As their lives progress through the years of high school, their relationships, who they know and who they're close to and care about continually shift. It brings some of them closer together, though still peripherally.

It seems like a lot to follow five people through four years, but Carolyn Mackler does it really well. We see, usually, short bits of each character's life. Sometimes it's the profound, monumental moments anyone would know would be life altering. Other times it's smaller things that don't seem that significant at the time, but as the book continues, we can see how important it was.

Though there are five characters, it really feels that we get to know each one of them. We see their growth, their accomplishments, their heartache, their uncertainty, their pain, their hope. Infinite in Between really does capture four years of their lives.

If you've left high school, Infinite in Between, is likely to make you feel nostalgic for it, if you're in high school - or about to be - it will give you hope for how things could, maybe be.

finished copy received from the publisher

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Truest ~ Jackie Lea Sommers review [@jackieleawrites @harperteen @KatherineTegen]

Katherine Tegen Books
September 1, 2015
384 pages
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Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck's small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He's curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening-- and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister-- and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.

Truest is a stunning, addictive debut. Romantic, fun, tender, and satisfying, it asks as many questions as it answers.

I feel a little bit conflicted about Truest. There are parts I definitely loved, some I wasn't so crazy about and I don't really know how I feel about it overall.

As the daughter of a pastor in small-town Minnesota, Westlin "West" Beck is used to everyone knowing everyone's business and everyone knowing - and loving - her father.
I enjoyed the inclusion of religion and faith in Truest. I thought they fit the characters and what they were going through, while still not being what you might expect. It worked really well for me that West, while being the pastor's daughter, wasn't the most religious person (or teen, even) in the novel. Yet, she wasn't the crazy, rebellious stereotype, either.

Her father did fit more with the stereotype of 'caring pastor but absentee father' (or I just happen to only rad those?) than I would have liked. His character, his relationship with West and their family dynamic fit with West and with the story, but still bugged me.

Towards the end of the novel, West's reaction to something significant really turned me off. She never quite felt like an eighteen-year-old, about to be a senior girl, but her actions and emotions at that point and later really felt immature.

The blend of religion, philosophy, science, and poetry, important in different ways to varying degrees for the different characters, worked really well. Sommers created some fantastic pasts and presents (and possible futures) for her characters and I found them very creative and thoughtful. From the things they did, what books they read, what they listened to, what they watched and how they spent their time together, Silas, West, Laurel and the other characters all felt very unique and full.

Despite how I felt about West in the last third to half of the book, I really cannot deny the author's creativity and originality. That I am so unsure about the book, what happened and how it happened - and that I am still thinking about all of it - really does say a lot about its quality. I am very much looking forward to what Jackie Lea Sommers gives us next.

finished copy of the book received thanks to the publisher

Waiting On Wednesday [@harperteen @debradriza]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:

REDEMPTION (Mila 2.0 #3) by Debra Driza

Mila has been running for her life for so long. But there might be nowhere left for her to go. Especially now that she’s an incredible danger to herself and anyone who dares get close to her.

That’s why Mila has gone into hiding with her friend, tech expert Lucas. She can’t take the risk of hurting people worse than the way she hurt Hunter: the boy she’ll always love, the boy who might never forgive her for what she’s done.

But then Mila discovers that General Holland has plans that are an even bigger threat to humanity than she is. Mila must make a choice: either push aside her fears and fight him with everything she’s got...or turn her back on the world forever.

This last book in Debra Driza’s exhilarating and thought-provoking MILA 2.0 series will surprise and thrill readers to the very end.

published April 26th 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


I am really enjoying this series (see my reviews of the prequel novella Origins: The Fire, Mila 2.0, and Redemption [Mila 2.0 #2])

I love the growth we've seen in Mila's character and her continued struggle with being a normal, human, teenage girl, all while also being an android. ("Renegade isn't only the story of a girl and it's not only the story of an android, it's both. And quite brilliantly, too.") There were some great twists and turns in Renegade and I'm really looking forward to continuing the action and reading more of Mila (and Hunter)!

That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hunter ~ Mercedes Lackey (ear) review [@MercedesLackey @DisneyHyperion]

Hunter (Hunter #1)
September 1, 2015
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.

Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.

With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.
There need to be more books where characters are in danger from and battling to kill legit monsters. In Hunter Joyeaux Charmand, a Hunter, does just that. Living in the post-Diseray (like the apocalypse, but not quite) world, she's trained nearly her whole life to protect the people of her mountain village. Now, called to the capitol to join the Hunters protecting the city of Apex and its people.

Joy believes she knows about being a Hunter - the history, the responsibility, the duty, the dnager - but life in Apex opens her eyes to some unexpected things.

Hunter starts (and then really, continues) with a whole, whole lot of information about the world Joy lives in. Some of it, yes, is necessary for the story, to understanding things, but . . .

With so much information - from what had happened to 'our' world, who was who, what was what, how they farmed, what they farmed, whether Joy's home had cow or goat butter, etc - it became really hard to get into the story. (Or to even pay attention to the rest of the narrative.) This was a book that really, really, really needed footnotes. (Or to be much longer and work the details into the story, not just tell us them.) If there had been footnotes, it would be possible to stay 'in' the story and leave the background/details until later if you wished, or break to read them. Between the excess information and some confusing, run-on sentences, it wasn't a very easy read.

About forty percent of the way in, the story did get going more. There was less information and more action.

I liked the concept of Hunter, the monsters, the Hunters, the 'reality' TV aspect (it reminded me a bit of The Vault of Dreamers here) of it and the setup/world (if not how it was presented).

I did wish that Joy had not had such a distaste for 'Christers.' It did not seem that she had an issue with religion or the religious, in general, only Christers. She was incredibly judgmental of them as a whole, as an idea, and even individually when they were friends. It got to the point of being annoying and pointless.

In general, I didn't mind that Joy was telling us the story. It gives us insight into who she is, lets us know how she knows things and how she sees them. There were several times where she seemed to really jump to conclusions, though. Her assumptions were too much for me - especially if they were right because it wasn't logical.

I wish there had been more development of the relationships Joy has with other characters and of the characters themselves. It seemed so much of the book was spent on establishing the world, explaining it to readers and how Joy thought, that there wasn't enough for the other characters and their roles in her life.

All of that said, I do still really like the idea of Hunter. Now that we know about the world, about the Hunters and have met the characters, I am interested in seeing what happens in Book 2. I don't think I fully understand the danger Joy was in (who, why, how, why??) beyond one of her assumptions but hope it's expanded on in the second book.

The concept of Hunter worked for me while the actual execution did not, so I'm not giving up on the series, yet.

*I need to look at a finished copy to see if a Latin/English translation is different from the arc - if not: :(

thank you to the publisher for my egalley via NetGalley
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