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Posts Tagged: Young Adult

Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees BrennanUnspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Series: Lynburn Legacy,
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on 11 September 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 370
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
three-stars

 

Place(s) Traveled to: Sorry-in-the-Vale, England

First Line(s): Every town in England has a story.

The Lynburn Legacy Series Order
Book 0.25: The Spring Before I Met You
Book 0.5: The Summer Before I Met You
Book 1: Unspoken
Book 2: Untold
Book 3: Unbroken (2014)

Regular readers of my blog know that I love love loved Sarah Rees Brennan’s debut series, The Demon’s Lexicon, and I was really looking forward to her newest one The Lynburn Legacy. When I first read the premise of Unspoken I was excited for the possibilities of it and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. When I did, I found that it took me forever to read. While I couldn’t put down The Demon’s Lexicon it seemed as though I didn’t want to pick up Unspoken. I enjoyed the beginning, the mystery of it all but I found it really hard to connect with any of the characters.

I found that Unspoken was filled with dialogue and seemed to lack world building. I never got a real sense of the world, the town of Sorry-in-the-Vale or its concepts of magic. What I got was a lot of talk and it just all seemed so forced. Kami was supposed to be this strong, snarky character and while she started off as cute and quirky by the end I felt the opposite. It just seemed as though Brennan was trying too hard to make Kami and her friends funny and as a result the opposite happened.

I also never felt the connection between Jared and Kami and never understood how they could end up as a couple as they never seemed to like each other much. And the other characters were just charactures of personality and were ultimately very forgettable. The characters weren’t the only things forgettable about this story but the plot was well. I recall that Kami did some stupid things and ended up in trouble but there was no big build, no climax, and before I knew it the book was over.

For me, Unspoken, was forgettable and that makes me sad as I so wanted to love it. At this time I am unsure if I will read Untold though I did just acquire a copy thanks to a wonderful Indie bookstore. I am curious about where Unspoken might go and hopeful that the story will get better as it progresses. But I am in no rush to get this one read. What about you readers, have you read Untold? What did you think of it? Is it better than Unspoken and more importantly…do you think I will like it?

three-stars
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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Audio Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult6 Comments

Audio Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley FitzpatrickMy Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Narrator: Amy Rubinate
Series: My Life Next Door,
Also in this series: The Boy Most Likely To
Published by Tantor Audio on 25 March 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Length: 10 hours 39 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: What I Thought Was True, The Boy Most Likely To

Place(s) Traveled to: Stony Bay, Connecticut

First Line: The Garretts were forbidden from the start.

My Life Next Door Series Order
Book 1: My Life Next Door
Book 2: The Boy Most Likely To (2015)

Not long ago I was looking for a new audio to listen to that was also a contemporary read and any trusted friends on Twitter suggested Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door. But what sold me on getting this one was the narrator, Amy Rubinate, whose style I’ve grown to adore. As with the previous books I’ve listened to that were narrated by Rubinate I really enjoyed her style and think she did an excellent job in bringing Samantha Reed to life. Rubinate is great with the teen voice and does a good job with the male voices in this story for life. This was a book that I was glad to have listened to as I’m not sure what I would have thought of it if I’d read it in print. Because while My Life Next Door begins as a cute and fun contemporary romance there is this big shift in the middle that almost makes it seem like two different books.

I really loved the start of this book. I liked how Sam and Jase meet and start their relationship though I never fully understand Sam’s mothers hangups with the Garretts. I also didn’t like Sam’s mother very much. She is very judgmental and critical and even though Sam is the perfect daughter who always listens (well, up until she starts to hang out next door) and never gets into trouble all it takes is a minor infraction and she’s treating Sam like a dysfunctional teen. To me it doesn’t send a good message as people make mistakes, and the things that Sam does are very minor – especially compared to her’s mothers – but you wouldn’t know that to see her mother react.

I also had big issues with Nan, Sam’s so called BFF. All too often in books these days are these false best friends that are just horrible to the main character and yet the MC just takes it and makes up reasons. Nan is not a nice person. She’s horribly jealous and filled with issues and she just overreacts about everything. Yes, there were things that Sam should have told her but Nan wasn’t all that great with full disclosure either so she was definitely a character that I wish would just go away.

Sam herself was a bit wishy-washy as she tried to please everyone all of the time and never seemed to really do anything for herself. Her school, her jobs, and all her activities were dictated by her mother. When her mother wasn’t telling her what to do, Nan did. Then when Sam started to find her own voice both her mom and Nan reacted as if Sam had turned unibomber or something. It was just totally unrealistic that in some ways I don’t blame Sam for trying to keep her secrets. But on the other, you don’t have a secret boyfriend when its someone you claim to love. Jase is so sweet and open that he didn’t deserve that and I was glad when he called her on it. Though I do think that he was too passive when it came to her explanations.

Then there was that thing that happened about half way through the story that was all a bit over the top and contrived and totally changed the whole tone of the book. As if there weren’t enough issues happening in the story for the characters to deal with this was this. And it was this event where the book started to lose me. As I said it was over the top and it just seemed like I’d entered an entirely new book. And then the outcome? That was rushed and so unrealistic. I often found myself rolling my eyes and talking to my radio saying that you never happen.

Now, it seems like I may have hated this book but I didn’t. Yes I had some issues but there were bright points and they came from Jase and Tim. Tim was such a surprise and out of all the characters he is the one that had the most growth. Tim is Nan’s brother and at first he just seems like this drug addicted loser but then by the end he is one of the most lovable characters of them all. He makes mistakes, owns up to them and really tries to change. He is this books biggest success story and I would love to see a companion novel for him. Jase too was always a bright light. He is just this really sweet and amazing person and while there were times where I thought he was too accepting of things he was a genuinely nice person. Jase was really good for Sam and loved their relationship.

My Life Next Door is an okay story and one that I don’t feel like I wasted time in listening too it. Amy Rubinate helped to keep me engaged and listening until the end. She’s a fantastic narrator that puts just the right amount of emphasis at just the right time. While I may not have liked some of the events that happened in this story I did like Fitzpatrick’s writing style. Huntley Fitzpatrick is an author that I will be reading more of in the future. I just hope that her next book has characters that I like a bit more.

three-stars
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Monday, August 5, 2013

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult5 Comments

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila SalesThis Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Published by Straus and Giroux on 17 September 2013
Genres: Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled to: Glendale, Rhode Island

First Line(s): You think it’s so easy to change yourself.

When it comes to a Leila Sales book I’ve come to expect a certain type of writing style. One that is a little bit quirky, light-hearted and fun. So when I picked up This Song Will Save Your Life and started to read it, I knew immediately that I was in for something different. Elise is sad. Through some crazy twist of fate she is that girl in high school who never seemed to fit in. At the start of the book Elise takes on a project to try and change herself. She wants to fit in, she wants to have friends, and most of all she just wants to be normal. But as the first line implies, its not that easy to change who you are.

This Song Will Save Your Life reminded me a lot of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (my review) in that it was filled with much of the same raw emotion. There is a bleakness to Elise that makes the reader just want to reach in and give her a hug. Like Hannah, Elise tries to kill herself but unlike Hannah she reaches out before its too late and is saved. But being saved may actually be worse than the life that she had before. That is until Elise discovers this secret club down the road from her mothers house. She meets some crazy, eccentric people a little older than she is and unlike those in her school accept her for who she is. This club becomes Elise’s salvation in many ways.

Oh Elise’s life doesn’t magically get better but her choices expand. She makes some good and bad decisions and she deals with the consequences of them. She has parents who care and act like real parents. They aren’t overly involved or overly distant. They struggle with how to cope with their moody, suicidal daughter as they deal with their own lives. I really liked Elise’s parents, even as I wanted to shake and slap them sometimes, because underneath it all you can see just how much they care about Elise.

This Song Will Save Your Life starts off as a book about suicide but its really so much more than that. Its about discovering oneself even though others around you may not see it. Its about figuring out talents that you never knew you had until you took a risk and tried something new. Its about making friends and living life and at its core its about music. Music can be such a powerful force in this world. A simple song can whisk you away to a time forgotten where you were unbelievably happy or to the time when your heart was broken for the first time. Within its beats and melodies it holds onto memories and also the power to help you forget who you are, if just for the length of the song, and so in that time you can be someone else.

I loved following Elise’s journey in This Song Will Save Your Life. I laughed and cried with her. I cringed when I saw that she was making a poor life choice and I applauded when the good things happened. This was a wonderful heart-warming story that will make the readers really sympathize with Elise and those around them. Its also a book that is solely about Elise, the main character, and holds little to no romantic story lines  Oh, the secondary characters are colorful and add depth to the story but this wasn’t their journey. It was Elise’s.

This is one of those books that I wish could go on for a hundred or so more pages. I enjoyed being in Elise’s world and I hated to leave it. I loved watching Elise grow and come into her own. For me, This Song Will Save Your Life is a perfect example of the old Proverb “just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it became a butterfly.” Its a phrase we should all remember as just because things might look bleak it doesn’t mean that its the end. Instead it can be a whole new beginning.

four-stars
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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Audio Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Posted by Irish in 2 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Audio Review: Everneath by Brodi AshtonEverneath by Brodi Ashton
Narrator: Amy Rubinate
Series: Everneath,
Published by Hachette Audio on 24 January 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Length: 9 hours 42 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Goodreads
two-stars

Place(s) Traveled to: Everneath // Park City, Montana

First Line: I was picturing his face – a boy with floppy brown hair and brown eyes – when the Feed ended.

Everneath Series Order
Book 1: Everneath
Book 1.5: Neverfall
Book 2: Everbound
Book 3: Evertrue

The first thing that drew me to Everneath by Brodi Ashton was its pretty cover. The second thing that drew me to Everneath was that it was a retelling of a couple of Greek myths cobbled together to make a new story. I’m always a sucker for Greek mythology retelling and there were many raves about this book so I thought, why not? But alas, this book was not for me and its taken me forever to put my thoughts about it down as sometimes the meh reviews are the hardest to write.

The main character Nikki is one of those characters that just makes my eye twitch. She has a limited time on the surface to find a solution to her problem and yet for 3/4th of the book all she does is whine about how little time she has and how much she loves Jack. And I swear it seemed like Nikki thought or said the name Jack in every other sentence. It literally began to make my eye get all twitchy.

Out of curiosity I did a search with the Amazon Look Inside feature and Jack’s name is mentioned 101 times and Cole’s 110…I knew those names were mentioned a lot! Although to be fair I did a similar search with a book I liked and that character’s name was mentioned 134 times…so in this case annoyance is all in the eye of how annoying the main character is.

The mythology of this book was just so-so. Maybe there was just too much that was being used as the source material or maybe not enough. I could see hints of the various Greek myths used in this story and I think that maybe this one would have been a bit better if it had focused on one story. It also has hints of vampirism and I am just getting so tired of those paranormal beasties. No, there aren’t actual blood-sucking creatures in Everneath but the Everliving (the name for Cole and those like him) need to feed off the energies of humans in order to live forever. Its the feeding off of another person that makes them seem a bit vampiric in nature.

Then the worst part of the whole book, the love triangle. Oh sweet baby Jesus do I dislike those. Especially when you have two so uber-hot guys who both desperately want the main character and everything she says or does just makes you want to smack her. There was nothing special about this girl and I don’t get why Jack or Cole wanted her when all she did was mope and whine. It also seems to boggle my mind a bit that for someone who was that Nikki was supposedly in love with Jack for the entire book and yet despite that fell instantly in love with Cole (the typical bad boy to Jacks uber goody-goody persona). Nikki’s life was so bland and ordinary and its never really explained why she decided to chuck it all to be Cole’s thing to feed on. Well, truth told that may have been explained but there is just so much of this book that is so completely forgettable that I kinda wish I’d been able to find the words sooner to write this review.

For me, Everneath is a book where nothing happens until the very end which is this horribly cliched and overly predictable ending that would have made me toss the book across the room if I wasn’t listening on my iPod. Everneath is a very commercial book and I can see how it would appeal to many but its just not my cup of tea. It reminded me in many ways of Twilight – just without the vampires and werewolves. So if you liked that book you’ll like Everneath if you did not, then you won’t. Overall, I found this one to be very bland, generic, entirely forgettable.

About the narrator

I think that the only thing that kept me listening to Everneath until the end was its narrator Amy Rubinate. I first discovered Rubinate’s narration style with Shadows of the Moon and enjoyed her voice and her way of bringing a story to life. And it was Rubinate that drew me to the audio version of Everneath and I am just glad that I listened to Shadows first. It can be hard sometimes to separate a narrator from the characters that they portray and if I’d heard Rubinate narrating the oh so annoying Nikki I may have sworn off listening to other audios by her. The end result with this book was I loved the narrator but I wasn’t a fan of the story she had to tell.

People who liked this book better than I did (Click blog name to read their full review):
Making the Grade – “Everneath is a story of perseverance. It is a story of pure grit, determination, and not excepting defeat. More than that, it is a story of unconditional love that defies all odds.”

The Book Scout – “The plot was extremely unique and Ashton incorporated the mythology in such a new and refreshing way. There were quite a few twists and turns that kept me engaged and several things completely shocked me. I had a hard time setting Everneath down, especially towards the end when Nikki’s time was running out.”

Book.Blog.Bake – “Jack and Cole are both fantastically written characters. They’re both intriguing in their own ways while being complete opposites of one another. The way the characters are written and the subtle themes that run underneath this work make this a 4/5 star read for me.”

two-stars
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: Icons by Margaret Stohl

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

Review: Icons by Margaret StohlIcons by Margaret Stohl
Series: Icons,
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 07 May 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 428
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled to: Los Angeles, California – City is now called Hole (Future)

First Line(s): One tiny gray dot, no bigger than a freckle, marks the inside of the baby’s chubby arm.

First off I feel as though I should admit to not having read Beautiful Creatures, its a books I’ve tried to read but its also one that kept putting me to sleep. I did see the movie (my review) and so began thinking that maybe I should give Stohl and Garcia a shot but still haven’t gotten around to trying that book again. When I received Icons by Margaret Stohl I thought that even though its a standalone book by Stohl that here was a a chance to give these authors another shot and see if I liked their writing more. And the verdict? Well, the most I can say about Icons is that I finished it.

Icons’s plot is a bit of jumble that is jumping on both the alien and dystopian band wagon. Filled with people who are special, who don’t see or know they are special, and of course we can’t forget about the all important love triangle. *le sigh* The whole plot was just so very cliched and filled with all the usual tropes that there was nothing new or original. It was a fairly quick read but I think that was more in that I forced myself to finish more than a desire to know what happened. Because, for me, I found this one to be very predictable.

I think the story would have been a bit more mysterious and intriguing if it wasn’t for all those little peeks into that forbidden book with Dol had and then lost before she could read it. As this book was told from her POV it seemed a bit of a cheat for the reader to know all these mysterious things about what makes Dol and her friends so special as she struggles with whats going on. It just took away from the story. The rest of the book is pretty forgettable if you ask me. There was nothing that made this one stand out and I don’t have a burning desire to read more of this world. I don’t really care about the world or the characters.

I think what kept me reading was the writing. I did like how Stohl strung her words together and when I was reading the book I was in the world, just not immersed within it. Overall, I found Icons to be a very meh read and its not one that I can really recommend. If you are looking for unique and interesting dystopia/alien books then I strongly suggest that you try Mothership by Martin Leight and Ilsa Neal (my review) or The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (my review). I was totally shocked and blown away by each and both have me salivating for the sequel!

Icons Series Order
Book 1: Icons
Book 2: Idols (08 July 2014)
Book 3: Untitled (2015) – assuming

three-stars
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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Audio Review: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult3 Comments

Audio Review: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. SmithThis is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Narrator: Andrew Sweeney, Marcie Millard
Published by Hachette Audio on 02 April 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Length: 8 hours 37 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The Geography of You and Me, Summer Days and Summer Nights

Place(s) Traveled to: Henley, Maine

First Line: Hey, we’re running pretty behind here. Any chance you could walk Wilbur for me tonight?

I first became acquainted with Jennifer Smith’s writing with her 2011 contemporary The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (my review). It was a book that I wasn’t sure I would like as I despise insta-love in stories but in the end I fell head over heels in love. When an opportunity arose to review the audio of her next book, This is What Happy Looks Like I jumped at it. And then when I started it I almost stopped it immediately. If there is one thing that I dislike most in audios its stories that are filled with IM or email exchanges. The start of this one is all emails and it made my eye all twitchy. But I put a call out on Twitter and was told that this wasn’t an epistolary story so I persevered.

This is What Happy Looks Like is a dual POV story told from both the main characters, Ellie and Graham and had a different narrator for each. I love when dual POV audios use different people for the narration. It really helps to break up the story and follow whose head you are in when. The two narrators of Happy Andrew Sweeney and Marcie Millard did a good job with the story. Although I did find that Sweeney sounded a bit old at first I was able to get over that and accept him as Graham Larkin, teen movie star. Millard’s narration sometimes annoyed me but I’m not sure if it was because of her or because of Ellie’s actions. Sometimes it can be hard to separate the narrator from the character they are bringing to life.

I enjoyed this story but there were a few things that bothered me, like Ellie’s so called BFF Quinn. I really dislike characters who claim to be a BFF and then one small incident that has no real effect on them turns them into a raging b*&$h. Quinn’s silent treament and rude behavior to Ellie was totally uncalled for when all Ellie did was not tell her about random email conversations she was having. Seriously? Ellie had no idea who those emails where from so I don’t get Quinn’s reaction. I don’t get why Quinn felt the need to be so mean to Ellie and make her feel bad and that everything was her fault. That Ellie was the one who had to grovel. If I could have punched Quinn in the face I would have, Ellie can do so much better than Quinn.

The other thing that bothered me was basic geography errors. At one point Ellie wants to travel down to Kennebunkport and says that the journey, by car will take around an hour. Instead, she ends up traveling by boat and leaving around 7 am. By 11, they still “have awhile to go” and I just thought to myself, how? Yes Maine is huge but traveling by boat shouldn’t take that much longer than car. It also didn’t add up in terms of where Henley should have been, going an hour south from that point would put Ellie in Massachusetts. *sighs* I do hate when authors don’t seem to do basic research. A few minutes spent on Google maps and a quick chat with someone who sails a lot could have avoided so much. Am I being a bit nit-picky? Maybe but its the little details that really make a story and when they don’t add up they jerk me out of the story and ruin my enjoyment of it.

I also thought that Graham gave up too fast and didn’t try very hard to keep Ellie. There was all this initial build up and then brakes pulled. Followed by a time jump with lots of pointless filler, followed by an uber quick resolution. There were no consequences to actions and some things that took place were just so pointless that I wondered why it was in the story at all. The story also just felt so unfinished and I thought that there should have been more. With the print version of Happy clocking in at just over 400 pages it just seems like so much potential was wasted.

One thing that I really enjoyed about Happy was how close Ellie was with her mom. While I may not have always have agreed with Maggie O’Neill’s actions I did admire what she did for her daughter and believed she really cared for her. I dislike the trend in YA books that have uncaring or absent parents. I also really enjoyed the beginning of this story when Graham and Ellie were first getting to know each other. I enjoyed their emails and wish that more of those could have been explored although if there were more I would have switched over to the print form of this book because there’s only so much email in audio I can take.

Overall, I didn’t fall for Happy as I did with Statistical but I did enjoy the story. The writing was a little bit repetitive but I’m not sure I would have noticed that if I’d read it in print over listening to it in audio. Happy is a book that I enjoyed listening too and found myself doing so even when I wasn’t driving to or from work. Which is always a good sign in an audio. Happy is an interesting story and while I may have wanted more from it I don’t regret listening to it. If you are a fan of Smith’s previous book or are just in the market for a fun contemporary then you will probably enjoy this one as well.

three-stars
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: That Summer by Sarah Dessen

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Review: That Summer by Sarah DessenThat Summer by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Juvenile on 01 January 1996
Genres: Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Young Adult
Pages: 240
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Truth About Forever

Place(s) Traveled to: Virginia

First Line(s): It’s funny how one summer can change everything.

Considering how this book came out during a time when I was an actual teenager its kind of shocking to me that I didn’t learn of it until a few years back. Growing up I was in the book store every week picking out the 3 books that my mother allowed me to get. Oh she didn’t restrict what I could buy just the quantity. I would scour the shelves looking for new books that I thought were worthwhile to read. There were no book blogs then, no twitter, no easy way to know if a book had the potential to be good or to avoid it at all costs. This was also a time with very little YA reading so I spent a lot of time in the sci-fi/fantasy section. But I would always drift over the the few shelves of YA and see if there was anything new mixed in with RL Stine’s Fear Street or the Sweet Valley High books.

As a teen I think that I might have liked this book more than I did reading it as an adult. There was no depth to it and Haven came across as a tad bit whiny. Nothing ever really seemed to happen in this book, with the exception of Haven dwelling on the past and thinking that life would be perfect if they could just return to a time before. But when you don’t know the whole story then that oh so perfect past may not be so perfect after all.

I think I would have liked this one more if there was something deeper between Haven and Sumner. Or between Haven and any of the characters. All her interactions were very separate and on the surface. Haven isn’t happy about her parents divorce but she’s fine with him getting remarried. She’s not fine with this other thing but then she is. She is a very bland, blah character and I got bored being in her head for the whole book.

The writing was good tough so I will probably check other Sarah Dessen books in the future. I just think that That Summer wasn’t for me. Though I think that its a book that will be appreciated more by younger teens. It was a quick read but in the end this one was nothing special for me.

three-stars
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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

Posted by Irish in Review1 Comment

Title: Nantucket Blue (Goodreads)
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Source: Publisher
Publication Date:07 May 2013
Series or Standalone: Standalone
ISBN: 1423160517
Format: Ebook (ARC)
Pages: 304

The authors on the web:

Place(s) Traveled to: Providence, Rhode Island // Nantucket, Massachusetts

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

First Line: Even without Holly Howard and Dori Archer, who’d been suspended for drinking on campus, we were supposed to win that game.

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland had the potential to be a great summer read but in the end it was just a meh book for me. While there are things I liked there were lots that just annoyed me (some more than they should have.) First off, lets talk setting. Nantucket Blue starts in Providence, Rhode Island which thrilled and struck fear into my heart. You see, I am a Rhode Islander born and bread. I know Providence well and its outskirts better. Especially one area of the book that was mentioned, Bristol, which is where I went to high school. 

So that brings me to nitpick number 1. Rhode Islanders tend to be distance phobic. We don’t just hop of a bike and ride 15+ miles (1.5-2hrs) from Providence to Bristol to grab coffee and check out antiques. Especially if you are a teenager. Oh I liked antique stores when I was a teen but I’d go to the ones in my town when I happened to be near them I would travel 15 miles for one. Not that I’ve never made that trip. I have, but it took planning and it was never determined on a whim. So that part of the novel, while such a minor thing to most readers, just made my eye twitch. Though I did love the reference to Del’s Lemonade. Del’s is an institution in Rhode Island and its just wasn’t summer until you heard the first Del’s Lemonade truck roll through your neighborhood. 
There were also times when it felt like a character was cut out and then merged with another, the one who became Zach. Zach was supposed to be around 15/16 years old but he never felt that young he always seemed so much older like he was in college. And Cricket, well there were times when she definitely acted like she was a young teen and not a high school senior. But she always felt complete and real. While Zach seemed to have a split personality. This made it hard to connect with him for much of the book. Though when I could I found his character to be sweet and I really pulled for him and Cricket. 
I really disliked Cricket’s so-called best friend, Jules, wow what a b#$*!! She so mean to Cricket throughout much of this book and yet Cricket still wanted to follow her around like a puppy. Often, creepily so. Cricket was a borderline stalker and I wonder if maybe she started to hang out with Zach because he was Jule’s brother and as such was a connection to her. Nantucket Blue is supposed to be about this great friendship between Cricket and Jules but I’d never want a friend like Jules and neither should Cricket. Jules is not a good person and I know she’s dealing with some issues but that doesn’t excuse her behavior. I also had some issues with Cricket’s parents. But I won’t get into that here as I don’t want to spend this whole review on what I didn’t like.
Now, it might seem like I hated this book but I didn’t. I didn’t love it but it was a really quick read and its a good beach read. Its a book that doesn’t require much thought and you can just spend a couple of hours lost on an island paradise. This story made me want to hop of a ferry and head off to Nantucket to explore that island. Growing up we went to Martha’s Vineyard or Block Island so I’ve never been there but now I want to go. Maybe I’ll be able to find some time this summer to do so. This book isn’t anything super special. Its not one that I want to re-read over and over but I don’t feel as though I wasted my time on it. Its flawed but I felt that the writing held promise and I look forward to Howland’s next book.


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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Audio Review: Unwholly by Neal Shusterman

Posted by Irish in Review1 Comment

Title: Unwholly (Goodreads)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Source: Audible.com
Publication Date: 30 April 2013
Series or Standalone: Series
ISBN: B00CL8ICA4
Format: Audio
Audio Length: ~12.5 hrs
Narrator: Luke Daniels

The Author on the Web:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

First Line: He’s fighting a nightmare when they come for him.

Unwind Series Order
Book 1: Unwind
Book 1.5: Unstrung (novella)
Book 2: Unwholly
Book 3: Unsouled (15 Oct 2013)

When I first finished Unwind by Neal Shusterman I was upset when there was no audio for the next book in the series, Unwholly. When I can I like to stay in the same format that I started a book, there are exceptions to this of course, but its always nice to stick with it. Then I was browsing through my audible.com when my credits renewed last month and low and behold there was now an audio for Unwholly and I downloaded it immediately. As with Unwind the synopsis of this story is a bit misleading and as with the first book Unwholly is also told from multiple POVs there are the ones you’d expect from book 1 Connor, Resa, and Lev. Then there are new voices Starkey, Miraclena and Cam along with a couple of random one off POVs that do nothing for the story but act as a cheat (easy way) to get things across. 

Despite the fact that this book was released years after the first one it picks up about a year or so after events in Unwind end. Connor, Lev and Resa are all still adjusting to life after Happy Jack and trying to do the best they can. Then there is Miraclena who is a tithe and plays the roll Lev filled at the start of Unwind and Lev is more like Connor trying to convince her that her path is wrong. I never really understood her whole purpose in the story and hope that it will become clear in book 3. Otherwise, it was just all a bit of pointless filler that I could have done without. 

Connor and Resa are both a bit different in this story as well. They aren’t as close as they once were and that makes me sad. I was expecting more in terms of romance from them but all I got was annoyance and frustration as they both kinda refused to communicate what they were really thinking. Though Resa’s journey in Unwholly ends up being far from dull even as it was a bit predictable at times. But one of the most interesting characters was Cam, the hodgepodge human created entirely from unwinds. A character that Dr. Frankenstein would have been most impressed with. Cam is complex and funny and I really liked his addition to the story. Even while at the same time being a bit horrified for how he came to be. I look forward to seeing where his story goes in the third book providing of course that he makes the POV cut. 

The story in this one wasn’t super complex or even as riveting as Unwind and it definitely comes across as more of a set up/transitition novel. While Unwind is able to stand on its own. There are threads left dangling in this story and while its not a major cliffhanger there are still enough pieces missing that you need another book to finish them up. Which is a bit of a shame as there were lots of filler type moments in this one that could have been eliminated so the story was more complete. I am still a bit fascinated with this world though so I will be reading the next book, I just hope that there is more to it substance wise than in this one.

As for the narrator, Luke Daniels returns to tell this story and he does just a so-so job this time around. A lot of the voices seem to get a bit muddled and Cam, while I liked the ultra raspy approach to him, always sounded far far older than the teenage boy he was supposed to be. It was always a bit jarring when his ‘age’ was brought up. There were also times when it was hard to tell who was speaking when as Daniels seemed to use similar voices for certain characters and it was messy if they happened to be in the same room. The whole thing just seemed a bit rushed in some ways and the narration just didn’t have a polished feel to it. It was almost as if Daniels was a new narrator and not one who has a long history of reading audiobooks. Despite that though I will still go with the audio of Unsouled if there is one available and only if its read by Luke Daniels.
 

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Audio Review: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Posted by Irish in Review0 Comments

Title: Monument 14 (Goodreads)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Source: Publisher
Publication Date: 04 Oct 2012
Series or Standalone: Series
ISBN: 1427211302
Format: Audio
Audio Length: ~7 hrs
Narrator: Todd Haberkorn

The Author on the Web:

Place(s) Traveled to: Monument, Colorado (2024)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

First Line: Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus.

Monument 14 Series Order
Book 0.5: Dress Your Marines in White
Book 1: Monument 14
Book 1.5: Jake and the Other Girl
Book 2: Sky on Fire
Book 3: Savage Drift (~2014)

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne starts with a second person narrative and as I am not a fan of that style I almost turned it off immediately. Fortunately that didn’t continue for long and I continued on with the story and was pleasantly surprised by the results. Whenever I read a book by a debut author I never know what to expect its not just the words that are new by the voice and perspective. Emmy Laybourne chose to tell her post-apocalyptic story from a a teen boys perspective and I wasn’t quite expecting that. Its so east to fall into assumptions as a reader that female authors will typically write female POVs and male authors will write the boy perspective. So when the author does the opposite with what you expect its a bit surprising but not badly so. 

Laybourne also chooses to set her story in a superstore, not unlike a Super-Walmart. She, like I’ve often done myself, has been in these stores and thought…well, this wouldn’t be a bad place to hole up during an apocalypse for you’ve got everything you need to survive for a good long while. Of course, in an apocalypse those are usually the first places to be raided so safety only goes as far as the security you have. Fortunately for the kids in Laybourne’s book they are driven into the story (literally) just as the sky starts opening up in this massive hail store that is the results of a larger disaster father away. There is a chain reaction of events that eventually leads to a cloud of toxic gas to be released into the air that affects those of particular blood types in a variety of ways. But since the kids got to the store just as events began to unfold they were able to secure it and so not only give themselves a great shelter but protection as well. 

During the course of this story the reader doesn’t learn too much about the outside world. Thanks to an EM Pulse of some sort the network connecting everything is down (goodbye internet, deep breath addicts its just a book) so this is a very character driven story. There is Dean, our faithful narrator, and some others from his school as well as a bunch of younger kids and they are all just trying to survive hoping that their parents will come and rescue them. One thing that I recall most from this book is that there is a lot of cooking involved. It seemed an excessive amount of time was devoted to this, but as I was telling a friend on Twitter that I’d rather many cooking scenes than lots of long drawn out ones about paintball

Monument 14 is evenly paced and made all the more scary as its premise is plausible. I can easily visualize these events coming about. But there was something lacking in the story that prevented me from falling head over heels in love with it. I liked Dean and his POV but never really connected with him as I’ve done with other book characters. I think part of my trouble was with the narration. Todd Haberkorn does a good enough job with the overall story telling but when it came to voices his little kid ones sounded overly whiney and his female voices just off. When it came to the male voices he always made them sound older than a teenager and so I always had to remind myself that the main characters were all ages 5 to 16 years in age. 

As a debut, I think that Laybourne has promise. I liked the world that she created and even though I was a bit disappointed when I first learned that Monument 14 wasn’t going to be a standalone. I am curious to see where things will go next. There is a flood of dystopian/post-apocalyptic books out there and you can do worse than Monument 14 but its not my favorite in the genre either.

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