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Posts Tagged: America: Unknown

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Review: The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: The Stars Never Rise by Rachel VincentThe Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent
Series: The Stars Never Rise,
Published by Delacorte on 9 June 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Death & Dying, Demons, Dystopian, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: New Temperance, Unknown

First Line(s): There’s never a good time of day to cross town with a bag full of stolen goods, but of all the possibilities, five a.m. was the hour best suited to that particular sin.

Before reading THE STARS NEVER RISE by Rachel Vincent I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. I knew some of my trusted friends had read and really enjoyed this dystopian novel so when a copy landed in my lap I decided to give it a shot. I thought that THE STARS NEVER RISE was an interesting read and a change on your typical dystopian story but it also took me longer to read than it should have and I can’t full place my finger on why. There was just something about the story that didn’t compel me to pick it up and as such I became easily distracted by other things until I forced myself to sit down and finish the story.

I thought that the world in THE STARS NEVER RISE could have used a bit more development but overall it did have more character to it than many of today’s dystopian reads. I also liked the characters and thought that Nina was strong and courageous and dealing with a whole mess of things that no teenage girl should have to deal with. And it certainly doesn’t help when she learns that the demons that her world has to deal with are an even bigger threat than initially thought. That’s right, I said demons. THE STARS NEVER RISE is full of them and I liked Rachel Vincent take on this mythology and how she incorporated religion into her story. For in Vincent’s world the Church has taken control of all as a way to hold back the demon horde but all is not as status quo as the Church wants everyone to think.

Stars Never Rise Quote

There is also a very interesting romantic interest in this book and those that aren’t a fan of love triangles will have to beware before picking up this book. While THE STARS NEVER RISE doesn’t have a love triangle in the traditional sense there are aspects to this story that may be off putting to some. I thought it was interesting and I do wonder where Rachel Vincent is going to go with it. Although I do have a theory so I am curious to see if things unfold the way that I think it might. If it does I will be really disappointed so here’s hoping that Vincent is more clever than I when it comes to that situation.

Readers should also know that THE STARS NEVER RISE does end with a cliff hanger. For me, its not a gripping edge of your seat I need the next book now sort of cliff hanger but it does have me wanting to see how it all ends. As such, I will be picking up the next book THE FLAME NEVER DIES (Release Date: Aug 2016) but don’t think that I will be rushing out to read it. I also think that THE STARS NEVER RISE is just a duology and I like that we’ll be getting an ending ending with the next book. Although I could be wrong about this and I’m just going off what Goodreads is showing me. Overall, I liked THE STARS NEVER RISE but I didn’t love it. I think that fans of dystopian reads (even those who are tired of the genre) will enjoy it but maybe wait until August because…you know…cliff hanger.

 

irishdarkblue

 

IR - Stars Never Rise

Add The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

Add The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Friday, May 20, 2016

Review: The Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: The Revolution of Ivy by Amy EngelThe Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel
Series: The Book of Ivy, Book 2
Also in this series: The Book of Ivy
Published by Entangled Teen on 03 Nov 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Futuristic Romance, Health & Daily Living, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 290
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Book of Ivy

Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, America // Westfall, Unknown

First Line(s): No one survives beyond the fence.

THE REVOLUTION OF IVY is the final book in Amy Engel’s Book of Ivy duology. It picks up right where THE BOOK OF IVY (my review) leaves off and jumps right into the story. I really enjoyed THE BOOK OF IVY and its sequel continues in the same addictive voice although I did find Ivy a bit more annoying in this book than the first. It just seemed that in THE REVOLUTION OF IVY that she was much more whiny and less sure of herself. Granted when you are thrust out into an unknown world with little means to survive I can understand her hesitations, to a point. What I didn’t get were her interactions with Mark, a known killer, and how she continually let him berate her and convince her that her crimes were just as bad as his and so she must keep his secrets. When all Ivy’s crime really was, was to be born a Westfall and how she married a Lattimer.

THE REVOLUTION OF IVY, like its predecessor, is a quick brain candy sort of read. Its engrossing even though it remains a bit short on details when it comes to the building of the world. Most of the characters remain two dimensional and are forgotten almost as soon as they leave the page but there are a few that do stand out. Most notably is Bishop, who I liked more and more with each interaction with him. Bishop is a good balance for Ivy as she tends to be all over the map in this book while he remains a strong and steady force. Bishop is the sort of book boyfriend that you really want to know. After all, how many people do you know would leave the protected walls of their village just to find you?

Revolution of Ivy Quote

 

The middle of THE REVOLUTION OF IVY was a bit slow at times as not much happened. There was lots of waiting about as Ivy tried to figure out who she was in this new world and just how Bishop fit into it all. Then there were all the things that she left behind and the role she played in events that were still in motion. This resulted in a crazy rushed ending that left me a little unsatisfied as it just lacked something. I think it just all comes back to the fact that while Engel writes pretty prose she tends to put much weight and meaning into the words. This makes the book sound bad, which is wasn’t, its just more of a surface sort of read than anything too deep.

I enjoyed THE REVOLUTION OF IVY and thought that it was a fitting end to the duology as any more books would have just dragged things out unnecessarily. For all of Ivy’s annoyances she is a character that I will miss along with Bishop and some of the new characters that we meet in this book. I like Engel’s writing style and know that I will be reading more of her in the future. While I can’t recommend this duology to hard core dystopian fans I think those that are interested in stepping foot into this genre will like it. I also think that this series would make good beach/vacation reads as they don’t take a whole lot of thought to read. Its a fun series not an amazing one.

irishdarkblue IR - Book of Ivy

 

Add Matched by Ally Condie to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Summer Days & Summer Nights Ed. By Stephanie Perkins

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Blog Tour, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Blog Tour Review: Summer Days & Summer Nights Ed. By Stephanie PerkinsSummer Days and Summer Nights by Brandy Colbert, Cassandra Clare, Francesca Lia Block, Jennifer E. Smith, Jon Skovron, Leigh Bardugo, Lev Grossman, Libba Bray, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Tim Federle, Veronica Roth
Published by St Martin's Griffin on 17 May 2016
Genres: Adolescence, Anthology, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Demons, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, GLBT, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Short Story / Novella, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, This is What Happy Looks Like, The Geography of You and Me, The Raven Princess, Shadow & Bone, Six of Crows, Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After

Greetings and Salutations Internet!

Today I am going to talk about the anthology SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS which was edited by Stephanie Perkins. SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS is a collection of twelve stories from various authors in the YA world that all embody the lazy crazy days of summer. This review will be set up a little differently from my regular reviews as it won’t be one long rambling post of my thoughts. Instead I broke things down by each story in the collection and shared my thoughts on each after I read them.

HEAD, SCALES, TONGUE, TAIL by Leigh Bardugo

Place(s) Traveled: New York, New York (1986) // Little Spindle, New York

First Line(s): There were a lot of stories about Annalee Saperstein and why she came to Little Spindle, but Gracie’s favorite was the heat wave.

Rating: 3 stars

This was an odd little story but one that reads like an updated version of a hodpge of different myths. Its a short story (duh) but there is so much included in it. It spans a few years and there is a lot of character growth and development and even some heart-achy feels.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

THE END OF LOVE by Nina LaCour

Place(s) Traveled: Berkeley, California // Muir Beach, California

First Line(s): I don’t realize how early I am until I open the door.

Rating: 3 stars

I liked this story and the voice of the main character, Flora. She was sweet and filled with a sadness that just lept off the page. This is a girl who is going through a lot and doesn’t quiet know how to process it all. For this entire story I just wanted to give her a hug and tell her its ok to just cry it out. I liked the other characters in this story as well, with the exception of Flora’s parents who were such selfish asshats! My big complaint with THE END OF LOVE is that if felt unfinished as if there is still a lot more story to tell and more to explore and I’d have liked to see this one as a full length story.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

LAST STAND AT THE CINEGOR by Libba Bray

Place(s) Traveled: Deadwood, Texas

First Line(s): On the last night of the Cinegore, the sky looked like it needed to call in sick, all yellow-green going dark around the edges like an infected cut, a summer storm heading in hard.

Rating: 2.5 stars

I liked the start of this one and thought that it would be a fun start to a summer romance. But then things took a crazy turn for the weird with the appearance of demons. Yes, demon demons and I guess it was supposed to turn spooky horror story but it just made me go…huh? Even with demons it might still have ended up a good story but it just sort of fizzled out and the ending just leaves you scratching your head.  It was rushed and just fell flat. Not a fan of this one.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

SICK PLEASURES by Francesa Lia Block

Place(s) Traveled: Los Angeles, California // Studio City, California // Calabasas, California // Camarillo, California

First Line(s): It was the first night of summer vacation when my friends M and L and I piled into J’s VW Bug and drove to Phases, the teen dance club deep in the San Fernando Valley, to escape sorrow and find the thing that we were looking for.

Rating: 1 star

Not a fan of this one at all. I hated how much distance there was between the narrator of the story and the reader. Its like you are trying to watch something from very far off. There was little to no emotion in this story either. No real purpose. Just words on a page that didn’t amount to much of anything at all. Just a sense of sadness and bitterness and I could have done without reading this one.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

IN NINETY MINUTES, TURN NORTH by Stephanie Perkins

Place(s) Traveled: Burnsville, North Carolina

First Line(s): Marigold hated this time of year.

Rating: 4 stars

Oh how this story hurt my heart!! Perkins brings back characters that she first introduced in her winter anthology and I just loved what she did with this story. I liked how Perkins wove in Marigold and North’s history without making the story one big flashback. Instead, it only made this story all the more heartbreaking. I totally teared up while reading this one and just loved all the feels that it made me feel. I really want a full length book of Marigold and North. Of all the stories in this anthology I think that this one will be my favorite.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

SOUVENIRS by Tim Federle

Place(s) Traveled: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

First Line(s): Maybe I’ve been reading too much Charles Dickens recently, but today doesn’t seem dreary enough for a break up, you know?

Rating: 4 stars

This was another bittersweet story and I loved the progression of it. It felt like a complete story but I would have loved to have more words. I really liked Matty’s voice and would love to see what becomes of him after this story ends. SOUVENIRS made my heart ache and I was sad to see this one end.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

INERTIA by Veronica Roth

Place(s) Traveled: Unknown, USA

First Line(s): “There must have been some kind of mistake,” I said.

Rating: 3 stars

What is with the heartbreaking way these stories are going?!? This one started out a bit choppy and rough but my heart was totally invested by the end. I wasn’t a fan of how cryptic it was at first but the end does make up for the beginning. I liked the characters and I liked the story I just didn’t like it as much as I did some of the others in this anthology.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

LOVE IS THE LAST RESORT by Jon Skovron

Place(s) Traveled: Unknown, USA

First Line(s): Dear reader, I want to assure you that this is not a story about love or romance, regardless of what you may have read on the cover.

Rating: 1 star

I was not a fan of this one. It wasn’t a bad story but I hated how it was written!! The prose was stifling and I felt like I might drown in it. It was a poor written 19th century novel and the words totally drowned out the meaning behind them. I really didn’t care about any of these characters and if this was any long than it had been it would have been a DNF.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

GOOD LUCK AND FAREWELL by Brandy Colbert

Place(s) Traveled: Chicago, Illinois // Andersonville, Illinois

First Line(s): Audrey and I are lounging on the sandy banks of Foster Avenue Beach when she tells me she’s going to San Francisco.

Rating: 3 stars

This is another so-so story in the collection. I didn’t really feel the chemistry between Rashida and Pierre and their story felt a little forced. I would have liked to have seen more of them actually talking and interacting and it just felt rushed.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

BRAND NEW ATTRACTION by Cassandra Clare

Place(s) Traveled: Unknown, USA

First Line(s): It was a dark carnival.

Rating: 3 stars

Another story with demons. Like the first one it just doesn’t seem to fit with this anthology. It was weird and choppy and another one where I really didn’t care for the characters. Events were rushed and feelings felt very surfacy and I was just glad to have it over because it was just weird.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

A THOUSAND WAYS THIS COULD ALL GO WRONG by Jennifer E. Smith

Place(s) Traveled: Unknown, Illinois

First Line(s): When I spot him at the other end of the grocery aisle, I freeze.

Rating: 4 stars

I was ready for another disappointing read after the previous few stories but in the end this one is among my favorites. This is the sort of story I was expecting this whole anthology to be. Fun, contemporary romances that make your heart ache and bring a smile to your face. I smiled a lot while reading this one and its another story that I wish had been a full length book. I really enjoyed this characters and hated to say goodbye to them.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS by Lev Grossman

Place(s) Traveled: Lexington, Massachusetts

First Line(s): It was August 4th, and I guess it already had been for a while.

Rating: 3 stars

Another so-so story rounds out this anthology. It wasn’t bad but it just seemed to be missing that little something special that makes my heart ache. There wasn’t a lot of depth to it or character development and it just sort of blends in with the other stories in the anthology.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS

SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS, like most anthologies, is a mixed bag of stories. I was expecting for there to be a bit more cohesion in this collection and so was surprised at the addition of things (ie demons) into the mix. Those odd ball stories took me out of these worlds and made it hard to pick the book up. There were only a handful of stories that I felt compelled to read and ones that I will probably re-read again. But there is nothing particularly wow inducing for me in SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS and I was left a little more disappointed than not. I just expected more from it than what I got and so that makes me more disappointed than I might otherwise have been as my expectations were so high. On the plus note, there is definitely something for everyone in this collection.

OVERALL RATING: 3 stars

 

irishdarkblue

three-stars
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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy EngelThe Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
Series: The Book of Ivy,
Also in this series: The Revolution of Ivy
Published by Entangled Teen on 04 Nov 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Espionage, Family, Friendship, Futuristic Romance, Love & Romance, Politics & Intrigue, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 282
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: The Revolution of Ivy

Place(s) Traveled To: Westfall, Unknown

First Line(s): No one wears white wedding dresses anymore.

THE BOOK OF IVY by Amy Engel is one of those books that I hadn’t heard much about until I recieved an ARC of its sequel THE REVOLUTION OF IVY (goodreads). It was also around that time that talk about BOOK OF IVY started to appear in my social media streams and while I haven’t been much into dystopian reads of late I decided to give this one a chance. Like most YA dystopians THE BOOK OF IVY is very thin on details. There isn’t a whole lot of world building or history given to why the world is how it is. As a reader you are immediately thrust into the every life of this society that has formed in the bones of the former United States and its up to the reader to figure out what’s going on.

At first, I thought THE BOOK OF IVY was going to be a standard ‘girls are only good for making babies’ sort of story which is all too common a theme in YA dystopia and so I was hesitant on the story. But then there was just something about this one that really lulled me into its pages. Amy Engel’s writing is seductive even as it doesn’t have a ton of substance behind the words. I found myself engrossed in Ivy’s story and found this book really hard to put down. I liked her struggle between what she had been raised to do and what she wanted to do. And most of all I liked Bishop.

Book of Ivy Quote

Bishop is one of those book boyfriends that I’m surprised I don’t hear much about. He’s smart and funny and he appreciates Ivy for who she is. He doesn’t have lofty expectations of her nor does he expect her to be a simpering housewife with him the general of the household. He’s sweet and caring and the sort of character that you really wish you could meet in real life. He’s the bright light in an otherwise cliched and fairly typical YA dystopian novel.

THE BOOK OF IVY is what I’d call a brain candy read and would be perfect for a day at the beach. It doesn’t take a lot of thought and makes for a good distraction. Its a really fast read with a likable main character even though it does lack for a bit of a plot. As I said the writing is seductive so while you are reading the story its easy to forgive its flaws and just get lost in the nuances and flow of the words. THE BOOK OF IVY is one that I think would be great on audio with the right narrator as it really is a lyrical story. I was invested enough in Ivy’s story to read the sequel but its not a series that will win any awards. If you like YA dystopian then you’ll probably enjoy THE BOOK OF IVY. I also think those new to dystopia will enjoy it as well.

irishdarkblue

IR - Book of Ivy

 

Add Matched by Ally Condie to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-half-stars
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Monday, March 14, 2016

Review: Sacked by Jen Frederick

Posted by Irish in 2 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Sacked by Jen FrederickSacked by Jen Frederick
Series: Gridiron,
Published by Self-Published on 06 September 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Love & Romance, New Adult, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 300
Format: eBook
Source: Gift
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
two-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, America

First Line(s): I don’t see her until I’m three quarters of the way up the stands.

***Warning: This review may contain spoilers.***

As a lover of the sportsing romances I had high hopes for SACKED by Jen Frederick especially as it was a book that a lot of people were talking about. Which, as you know, I often have mixed feelings on. I liked the premise of SACKED, with the hero being a virgin as its not a common one in romances. Even though I’ve read a few with this trope I do still find it refreshing although I couldn’t help but roll my eyes often when it came to Knox Masters. This is a guy who hasn’t dated much and has focused on school and football but within moments of meeting Ellie he’s convinced that she’s THE ONE and that she’s worthy of his heart, his virginity, and is the key to his happily ever after. It was just a bit too much too soon and just a little too unbelievable.

Then there was Ellie, who was shackled to her brother and was forced to follow him everywhere, sit in on his classes and even to do his coursework. It was maddening and it made no sense and I don’t get why Ellie did it all. Especially since her brother could be a bit of a dick and her parents were the absolute worst. They give helicopter parenting a whole new name. I also found Ellie to be a bit abrasive herself at times and just never really bought her relationship with Knox. The two just didn’t have much in the way chemistry and their entire conflict comes from a complete and utter failure to communicate. And we all know how much that bugs me in books. When the entire thing can be solved by talking it just frustrates me when the characters do anything but.

Sacked Quote

Another thing that bugged me about SACKED was how dismissive it was of community colleges. As if a community college was less and inferior to a 4 year university. When some of the more challenging classes I took in my college career were at a community college. The portrayal of college life in general in SACKED also didn’t ring true and it just frustrated me throughout the book and took me out of the story.

SACKED wasn’t a bad book but it wasn’t a book for me. The writing was good and but there was just so much that bothered me about it that I couldn’t fully enjoy it. I do plan on checking out Frederick’s next book in the series, JOCK BLOCKED, as I do sometimes have better luck as a series goes. After all that’s what happened with Kristen Callihan’s Game On series. While this book wasn’t for me I do know many who loved it so if you like the sportsing romances than definitely give this one a shot.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Sacked

 

Add The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

two-stars
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Friday, November 6, 2015

Review: George by Alex Gino

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Middle Grade, Review0 Comments

Review: George by Alex GinoGeorge by Alex Gino
Published by Scholastic on 25 August 2015
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Middle Grade, Social Issues
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: Book Expo (BEA-ALA-et al)
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, USA // Bronx, New York

First Line(s): George pulled a silver house key out of the smallest pocket of a large red backpack.

***There will be spoilers in this post so read at your own risk***

I first learned of GEORGE by Alex Gino when I received an ARC of it at BEA and I loved the premise and how the back of the book read “Be who you are.” I think that GEORGE has the potential to be a very empowering book but while I wanted to love it there were parts of it that just fell flat for me. For one, GEORGE is very short which isn’t uncommon for a middle grade read but as such I think that things were a bit rushed and felt unfinished. I also thought that the book was filled with extremes that while might be a good way to get a point across to a tween it just didn’t sit well with my adult self. The emphasis on gender separation was a bit grating and how boys were always represented by a blue color had had to do certain things and girls by pink. How the class lined up by gender and seemed to have separate entrances.

But even with the over emphasis on gender I did love George as a character. She was so sweet and genuine and made my heart ache with the responses of adults around her. Like her teacher insisting that the part of Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web could only be played by a girl and how she laughed when George tried out. That wounded my heart so much because there is no reason why a boy couldn’t play the role and also because George, while born in a male body wasn’t a boy. I loved how sure and secure George was in her thinking and I hated the doubts she had about telling the truth of her idenity to those around her. I loved how accepting her friend was and I hated the response she got from adults. Especially her mother.

George Quote

For months, George has been collecting girl magazines and hiding them in her room. They are her treasures and she loves to look at them and imagine how life would be if she looked like the girl she knew she was. When her mom finds this stash, mind you these are magazines like Teen Vogue, she flips out and yells at George that ‘he better not dress up in her clothes.’ As if that was something shameful and wrong. One of my favorite moments in the GEORGE was when she and her friend Kelly go to the zoo and she gets to be Melissa, which is the name she’d go by if she had a choice. She gets to wear a skirt and be the girl she is on the outside as well as in and she is just so happy. That’s how I wanted George to feel throughout the book.

I also felt that the reactions of George’s mother and teacher went from horrid to not in a whiplash inducing way. George’s mom went from telling George to not dress in her clothes and thing that ‘he’ was gay to being ok with George knowing she was a she. Although when George asks to be able to grow out her hair and live as a girl her mother still seems phobic about it. And that unsettled me as it seemed to put a grey cloud over the positive message that GEORGE was trying to be. But even though GEORGE unsettled me at times I do wonder how actual tweens will react to this book. Perhaps the extremes are needed to get points across to younger minds that see things more in black and white than in shades of grey. I also think that GEORGE is an important book and a good introduction to what it means to be transgender. I hope that we get more transgender books in the future for all age levels

irishdarkblue

IR - George

Add Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky to Goodreads.

Add Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman to Goodreads.

three-stars
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Monday, July 13, 2015

Review: Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer LathamScarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 19 May 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Arabian, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Magic, Mystery & Detective, Paranormal, Thrillers, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Las Almas Bay, Unknown

First Line(s): The kid was cute. Her bare, knobbly legs swung back and forth like pendulums between the chipped legs of my client chair.

Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham was a book that I was really looking forward to reading this year as its a debut novel featuring a Muslim-American. Yay diversity!! And while I did like the story I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped I would. Scarlet Undercover was a quick read but it wasn’t as mysterious or suspenseful as I was hoping it would be. Much of the mysterious elements came in the form of characters being cryptic and not revealing what they knew in a timely manner. This just frustrated me to no end because so much could have been avoided if the various characters didn’t keep secrets and just communicated with each other. Also, being cryptic is not the same as laying red herrings and weaving  a tapestry of misdirection and false truths until you get to the big reveal.

I did enjoy the character of Scarlett but did find elements of her character to be a bit unrealistic. The secondary characters were also interesting but none of them ever really shined all that bright. While I often enjoyed Scarlett’s voice when looking back I find both her and her friends and family to all be forgettable. There is a romance element to this story but like the overall mystery its a bit lukewarm and falls short of creating that heart achy feels that I so love in a story. Again, the romance and the mystery all suffer from lack of communication and as such the love interest and the story line could have all been easily resolved if people just talked to each other.

Scarlett Undercover Quote

The plot pacing of Scarlett Undercover could have also been better. So much happened due to convenience and it often made my eyes roll when events and people just appeared and disappeared exactly when needed. Despite all my high hopes for Scarlett Undercover I was left underwhelmed with the story. I also felt that the ending was a bit rushed and then there were all the unresolved threads. As far as I know Scarlett Undercover is a standalone book but there is definitely enough left open to spawn a sequel or two. Which, if it happens, I’m on the fence on if I would read it or not because while this book was just ok I never really became invested in the story.

I did like that Scarlett was smart and sassy as well as being a diverse heroine. This book was bursting with diversity which is a good thing but sometimes felt a little forced. Just as the paranormal elements of this book felt forced because they were just randomly tossed in and not fully explained or developed. Scarlett Undercover was just an ok read for me but if you are looking for some snarky diversity then you should check it out.

irishdarkblue

IR - Scarlett Undercover

Add Clarity by Kim Harrington to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Audio Review: Bruiser by Neil Shusterman

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Audio Review: Bruiser by Neil ShustermanBruiser by Neal Shusterman
Narrator: Kate Rudd, Laura Hamilton, Luke Daniels, Nick Podehl
Published by Brilliance Audio on 03 May 2011
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Sci-Fi, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics, Young Adult
Length: 6 hours 55 minutes
Format: eBook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Violent Ends

Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, USA

First Line(s): If he touches her, I swear I’m going to rip out his guts with my bare hands and send them to his next of kin for lunch.

My choice to pick up Bruiser by Neal Shusterman was two-fold, first it was a Neal Shusterman book and I was curious to see what his writing style was like outside the world of Unwind. And second, the audio was narrated by Nick Pohdel, Kate Rudd and Luke Daniels – three narrators that I really enjoy. Its also narrated by Laura Hamilton but she was an unknown to me at the time and of the 4 narrators I liked her narration the least. Her part was that of Bruiser’s little brother, Cody, and that was a character that annoyed the ever loving crap out of me (think Carl on The Walking Dead) and Hamilton almost sounded like a cartoon as she read his POV scenes. But Pohdel, Rudd, and Daniels shined and I fell more in love with their narration styles than I had been before.

The story of Bruiser is a bit harder to talk about because to talk about it risks giving away the very thing that makes this book special. At its heart though Brusier is a story of misunderstandings, forgiveness, and friendship. Brewster, nicknamed Bruiser, by his classmates is a loaner and is always getting into trouble. He has a reputation of being a bad boy with a bad attitude and so everyone stays away. Then one day he and Bronte strike up a conversation and they talk. This happens a few times and Bronte sees something underneath the gruff, standoffish persona of Brewster and the two start to fall in love. This is something that Bronte’s twin brother, Tennyson, wants to try and stop and he does what he can to come between the two. Tennyson is a popular kid in school and everyone likes him. His reputation is to be the cool kid, the guy on top, the one that everyone wants to be friends with because he’s so charismatic and nice. Only as the story progresses you learn that the ones you think are nice aren’t so nice and the ones you think are bad aren’t so bad.

Bruiser Quote

Brusier is such a layered story and each chapter, each POV change just leads you deeper into its depths. Its a slow reveal but then also one that is not impossible to figure out. The foreshadowing parts I could have done without and then there were some things that the characters did that nearly broke my heart. But overall, this was a story that I enjoyed. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I was invested in how each of the characters storylines would play out. With the exception of Cody, because even though he was a child, I just didn’t like him. Its so hard to write believable children in books sometimes and this is one case that fails. Cody is whiny, selfish and entitled and by the end I really didn’t care what happened to him. I found his POV moments to be distracting and I just really wanted to return to Bronte, Tennyson or Brewster as I felt they were the only characters to go through any real growth. Who they were at the start was different than who they were at the end.

This book will tough your heart strings and tug on them and fill you up with emotion. So many emotions. Even with the foreshadowing and the impending sense of dread that unfolds as you read (or listen) to the story and yet you can’t stop listening because you are filled with a burning desire to know what happens. Shusterman, as usual, has a gift with world building and storytelling that just sucks the reader in and won’t let them go until the story is over. Even then you are left with residuals and wonderings of what ifs as you think about where the story might go if it went on just a little longer. Bruiser is a story built on its characters and its such a strong cast. Its a book that I knew little about before picking it up and I was glad of that as the story unfolded. This was one of my favorite audios of 2014 and its a story that I highly recommend. There is something in it for everyone.

irishdarkblue

Irish Recommends - Bruiser

four-stars
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: The Treatment by Suzanne Young

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: The Treatment by Suzanne YoungThe Treatment by Suzanne Young
Series: The Program, Book 2
Also in this series: The Program, The Remedy, The Epidemic
Published by Simon Pulse on 29 April 2014
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Diseases, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, People & Places, Sci-Fi, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Program, The Remedy, The Epidemic

Place(s) Travels To: Salt Lake City, Utah // Portland, Oregon // Unknown USA

First Line(s): Over the last four years, suicide has reached epidemic proportions, killing one in three teens.

 

The Treatment by Suzanne Young is the long awaited followup to The Program which I listened to on audio and just loved it. I was debating on if I wanted to listen to The Treatment or read it when I received an egalley back in October and knew I wouldn’t be able to wait in order to see what happened. The Treatment picks up not long after the events in The Program ends with Sloane and James on the run from the Programs Goon Squad. Things are dicey for our beloved duo and that makes for some edge of your seat moments. Its not long before they hook up with the small rag-tag band of rebels including new character Dallas and Realm. I had mixed feelings on Dallas and move from disliking her, to liking her, to feeling sorry for her, and back again. My feelings for Realm never wavered.

In fact, I grew to dislike him more than ever. He was worse in every way in this book filled with lies and manipulations. He acted so horrible towards Dallas and would play both Sloane and James in an attempt to drive a wedge between them. If I could have smacked Realm out of the book I totally would have. Its rare that I dislike a character so intensely but I couldn’t find any redeeming qualities in this one and my feelings for him did end up effecting my enjoyment of the book. Its hard to fall in love with a story when there is a character that just makes you so grumbly.

The actual story moved along at a fast pace although I found it a little more choppy than the first book. It was filled with weird little jumps and some awkward transitions which would also take me out of the story. But as with the first book, The Treatment, is filled with issues that will make a reader think. Its also scary in its realism as I could see a world like this existing if real world events played out in a particular way. Dystopias are always more scary there there is a potential for them to come true. I always love a book that can make you think and this one definitely has that. And its message isn’t so overpowering that it weighs down the story instead it only adds to it.

As with The Program, I was in love with Sloane and James and I fell even more in love with them in this book. Even with all that Realm tried to do they still managed to find a way to remain true to each other. Though there were many ups and downs for our duo I did like where they ended up even as it wounded my heart a little.

The ending of The Treatment seemed a little rushed and hard to believe but overall I enjoyed this one. I liked what Young did with this characters and I enjoyed knowing that this was a duology so that events weren’t overly drawn out. I even liked that even though Sloane and James’s story is complete there is potential to have a spin off book or novella with some of the other characters in the story. I think that The Treatment and its first book are well worth the read and can’t recommend them enough.

irishdarkblue
four-stars
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Audio Review: Carter’s Unfocused One-Track Mind by Brent Crawford

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Audio Review: Carter’s Unfocused One-Track Mind by Brent CrawfordCarter's Unfocused One-Track Mind by Brent Crawford
Narrator: Nick Podehl
Series: Carter,
Also in this series: Carter's Big Break
Published by Brilliance Audio on 07 August 2012
Genres: Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Young Adult
Length: 8 hours 2 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Carter's Big Break

Place(s) Traveled To: Merrian, Unknown (Somewhere in the Mid-West)

First Line(s): My fist slams into Andre’s ugly face, and he staggers back in shock.

I started Carter’s Unfocused One-Track Mind by Brent Crawford almost immediately after finishing Carter’s Big Break (my review). As with the previous book Crawford managed to to write another antics, angst and hilarious story that had me laughing one moment and groaning the next. Will Carter is your typical teenage boy and he’s just trying to struggle through dealing with social pressures, his on-again/off-again romance with Abby, football, drama the every day dramas of high school.

Carter and his friend get into their usual antics and there were moments in which I was almost crying with laughter. Which isn’t a good thing because I listened to this in the car and that can get dangerous. Nick Podehl, as with the previous book, was beyond excellent in his narration of the Carter’s Unfocused One-Track Mind. He does a fantastic job with the various dialogue’s but where he excels is in the asides and Carter’s internal monologues. Podehl is definitely on my narrator’s to watch list and I look foreward to trying out more of the books that’s he’s narrated.

What saddens me the most about this book is that it seems to be the last one in the Carter series. Crawford leaves the book open for the possibility of a fourth story and while I do want more Will Carter shenanigans I do have mixed feelings on where the next book would take us. Part of what makes these stories so much fun is the appearances of the carious secondary characters Will’s boys, his sister, and his parents. Its these various characters that really help to flesh out the story and make it more real. These books aren’t just about Will Carter but its about all of them and I love learning all the tidbits of their lives.

This story was fast paced and once you start it you don’t want to stop and I found myself driving around town just to listen to it more. Another thing that I love about this series is how its more about a group of friends than anything else. Yes, there is a small romance story line but its not the main focus of the book and that is refreshing in stories of today. There is no love triangles or outcasts who become the key to saving the world is just a boy and his friends and how they deal with every day life.

The Will Carter series by Brent Crawford is a series that I would recommend to anyone. Its a fun series and I think that the audio version of it really enhances the whole listening experience. This is also an audio series that I think I’ll listen to on more than one occasion during those times when I just need a laugh. This is how much I enjoyed the story and how entertaining I found it and I think that you will too.

irishdarkblue

four-stars
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