Bite-Sized Reviews – The Iron Trial, The Last Time We Say Goodbye, I’ll Meet You There, A Whole New World

September 12, 2015 Middle Grade, Reviews 12 ★★★★

I’ve decided to write some quick reviews for books I’ve never gotten around to reviewing or that I just don’t have a ton to say about. I figure a few bite-sized reviews together will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!  🙂


Iron TrialThe Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Published by Scholastic Press on 9/9/14
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Middle Grade
Pages: 299
Source: BEA
My rating:
4 Stars

Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing.

Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .

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My Take copy3
The Iron Trial is a fun Middle Grade fantasy adventure novel. My kids absolutely loved it, and I really enjoyed it too! When I mentioned to my son that a lot of people had compared it to Harry Potter, he said, “Yeah, this book has all of the best things from all of my favorite books!” High praise from a 12-year-old. I did see some similarities to HP, of course, but I didn’t think it was derivative at all – sure there was a magic school and a group of kids, but it didn’t feel like the same story at all. I liked that the main character had a physical disability that held him back and marred his confidence. And I also loved the concept that he didn’t want to get into the Magisterium. All his life he’d  been told that the Magisterium was a place he should fear – where he would be used and abandoned, so his journey to decide for himself how he felt was really interesting and complicated. Overall, I thought this was a fun MG read, and I would recommend it for fans of the genre!

 

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia HandLast Time We Say Goodbye
Published by HarperTeen on 2/10/15
Genres: Young Adult, Suicide
Pages: 390
Source: Library
My rating:
4 Stars

There’s death all around us.
We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

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My Take copy3
 
This book was really hard for me to rate. In fact, when I first put the book down, I gave it five stars because the ending was so amazing and I was definitely on a book high. The problem is that the book just didn’t stay with me like other similar books have. While I enjoyed the book while I was reading it, soon afterward, I couldn’t think of much to say about it. I kept letting time pass without writing a review, and soon I found that I couldn’t remember almost anything about the book at all – except that it was sad and dealt with suicide. Shame on me for not taking notes to refresh my memory, but I find that books that really make an impact on me, I can remember MUCH later – that wasn’t the case with this book. Still, (after a quick reminder), I can definitely remember things I enjoyed about it. The book mostly relates the pain of being left behind by a loved one who has committed suicide – it doesn’t focus so much on the suicide itself, or even what led up to it, but on the aftermath. Lex’s brother’s story unfolds slowly and you don’t find out all the details of what happened that night or why Lex blames herself until almost the very end – and that ending is extremely powerful and emotional! I definitely recommend reading this one if you appreciate books that delve into the subject of suicide, but there are other similar books that, for me, had more of an impact (like All the Bright Things).

Red, vintage, neon motel sign on blue sky; Shutterstock ID 95002717

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Published byHenry Holt and Company on 2/3/15
Genres: Young Adult, Depression & Mental IllnessRomance
Pages: 388
Source: Purchased
My rating:

4.5 Stars

If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

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My Take copy3
I don’t know what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said a million times. If you’re at all a fan of contemporary YA and you don’t mind books with heavy themes, you should read this one. The book focuses on the relationship between Skylar and Josh – a relationship that forms after he returns from Afghanistan one leg lighter. Josh is just an amazing character who struggles with PTSD but also manages to give Skylar hope in the process. He shows how it’s possible to transcend our demons and to live through pain, changed but still whole. Just – read this one if you haven’t already!

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
Series: A Twisted Tale #1A Whole New World2
Published by Disney Press on 9/1/15
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 384
Source:NetGalley
My rating:
2 Stars

Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

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My Take copy3
 
For some reason, I just couldn’t connect with the characters in this one, and I found myself wanting to skim a lot. The beginning of the book was pretty enjoyable – it was a pretty straightforward retelling of the movie, so it brought back fond memories (and had me singing the songs!). But, once the story veered off into the “new” storyline it just got – weird. I can’t even put my finger on why I didn’t care about what was happening. There was enough action and the story should have been interesting. Again, I just don’t think I cared enough about the characters – there wasn’t enough depth to them. In some ways, this felt like a middle grade novel. I was even thinking my two kids would like it – but then there would be a really violent scene (like a somewhat graphic beheading), and it just didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the book at all (and it made me rethink giving it to my kids – I think I’m going with no). I don’t know, I guess this book just didn’t work for me as a whole. By the time I got to the end, I was just happy to be done.

 

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

12 Responses to “Bite-Sized Reviews – The Iron Trial, The Last Time We Say Goodbye, I’ll Meet You There, A Whole New World”

  1. ShootingStarsMag

    I do want to read The Last Time We Say Goodbye; it sounds really good. I feel mostly the same about A Whole New World. I even likened it to MG in my own review, if it didn’t have some random violent moments.

  2. Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog

    Love mini reviews. The Last Time We Say Goodbye is on my wishlist at the library. But I read a book recently that was the same way for me – I really liked it after I finished. But then like a week or two later went to write the review and didn’t have much to say and it didn’t stick with me, (And still haven’t written the review yet.) I’ll Meet You There sounds amazing! Great reviews!

  3. Bregje

    Perhaps I’m going to read The Iron Trial after all! I also heard a lot of people make comparisons with the Harry Potter series and that definitely made me less interested in this book, but if it isn’t that similar than I should probably give it a chance since I love middle grade fantasy. I wonder if the second book is going to be just as good though. I thought Cassandra Clare’s first book in her Mortal Instruments series was really interesting and promising, but for me it went a little downhill after that.

  4. Aj @ Read All The Things!

    Great mini reviews. I have I’ll Meet You There sitting on my TBR shelf, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. It sucks that you didn’t like A Whole New World. I loved the Aladdin movie when I was a kid, so I’ve been looking at that book. I’m still undecided if I’m going to read it. Probably not. I’ve got a few hundred other books that need to be read first.

  5. Cynthia @ Bingeing On Books

    The Last Time We Say Goodbye and I’ll Meet You There were both such good books. I was really disappointed by A Whole New World too. The world the author described was incredible and made me want to go there. But there was just no emotional connection to any of the characters. And I don’t think the romance was that developed either.

  6. Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    I skipped the section for The Last Time We Say Goodbye because I do want to read it soon, and wanted to go in blind, but I am glad you liked it! And OMG how good was I’ll Meet You There?! I looooooved it. And I seriously don’t think I have read a positive review for A Whole New World. That is really sad 🙁 But it does save me the trouble of reading and being bored by it 😉 Fabulous reviews!

  7. Julia Anne @ Peach Print

    Oooh! I’m happy to hear you’ve read a number of awesome books recently (except for the last one). I definitely need to read I’ll Meet You There soon. I had a library copy checked out, but I just didn’t have the time to read it before the due date! I’ll have to check it out again.

  8. Claudia {Sparrowhawk}

    I’ve seen most if not all of these books floating around; that’s for sure! But The Iron Trial piqued my interest. I’m always looking for fun reads for my littles, I’ll be looking into this one 🙂

  9. Olivia Roach

    All apart from the last one, these books sound so promising! I have added them all to my TBR (your book blog is not healthy for that TBR list). I haven’t heard the best things about the latter one though, and I have seen a lot of two star reviews which is why I have decided I am not going to read it. I hope you enjoy your next read better.

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