Lots of reviews being posted today. Hopefully these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!
Published by Balzer & Bray on 10/25/16
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Suspense
The Stranger Game is a dark, suspenseful, and twisty young adult novel—perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver and E. Lockhart—about fifteen-year-old Nico Walker, whose sister returns home after a four-year disappearance.
When Nico Walker’s older sister mysteriously disappears, her parents, family, and friends are devastated. But Nico can never admit what she herself feels: relief at finally being free of Sarah’s daily cruelties.
Then the best and worst thing happens: four years later, after dozens of false leads, Sarah is found.
But this girl is much changed from the one Nico knew. She’s thin and drawn, where Sarah had been golden and athletic; timid and unsure, instead of brash and competitive; and strangest of all, sweet and kind, when she had once been mean and abusive. Sarah’s retrograde amnesia has caused her to forget almost everything about her life, from small things like the plots of her favorite books and her tennis game to the more critical—where she’s been the last four years and what happened at the park on the fateful day she vanished. Despite the happy ending, the dark details of that day continue to haunt Nico, and it becomes clear that more than one person knows the true story of what happened to Sarah. . . .
This is one of those twisty books that keeps you up all night reading it (I did, in fact, stay up way too late to finish it because once I got three quarters of the way through I had to know the details of what happened). The first half of the book was a bit slower—it’s obvious that something is up with Sarah, but the question is, what? Has Sarah’s experiences with her captors changed her in some fundamental way? Is she somehow working with them? Trying to forget what happened? Is this not Sarah at all? There are lots of clues, but they don’t all seem to add up until the very end of the book.
The book is told mostly from Nico’s POV, interspersed with short flashbacks from Sarah’s time in captivity. Sarah’s scenes are heartbreaking (but not terribly graphic, so this book is still fine for younger YA readers who can handle the concept). By the time I got to the end of the book, I was furiously turning the pages, desperate to know how it would all play out. I didn’t guess at what was coming—at all—until close to when everything was revealed, and by then I was hooked into the story, eager to know the details. This book gets 4/5 Stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing again. . . .
Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it’s a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other.
Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.
By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.
What Light is a love story that’s moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.
This is one of those books that’s really cute and enjoyable, but I just don’t have all that much to say about it. It’s a super quick read—I think I read the whole thing in two sittings—and I thought the main characters were sweet and relatable. I felt horrible for Caleb, who has been paying the price for something that happened years ago when he was at his lowest. I loved the themes of forgiveness and moving forward from past mistakes. I think this book would be perfect for younger YA readers who are struggling with identity and the feeling that they’re defined by their bad choices (we’ve all made them). Like I said, this book is sweet, but it just didn’t feel particularly memorable and it didn’t give me any overwhelming feels (though I did love the very end). Overall, I give this one 3.5/5 Stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via #BEA16 in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Published by Merit Press on 12/2/16
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Blog Tour
For once, Maggie McKendrick just wants to control her own life. Her overbearing Hollywood director father has it all planned out for her: UCLA, law school, then working as an entertainment lawyer, preferably for him. But Maggie has other, more creative-spirit friendly, plans. Namely, Thrippletons School of Fashion and Design in England, and then onto becoming a designer, preferably a wildly successful one. The big snag in her plan? Getting it past her dad.
A movie shoot takes the family to the Scottish Highlands for the summer, and closer to Maggie’s dream school. While there, she runs into the charming Preston Browne. Maggie is intrigued and decides to bend her no guys rule—instituted after her ex used her to get close to her dad. Forced to keep secrets from Preston in order to protect the future plans she’s made, Maggie finds herself falling for the tall Brit. And for once in her life she knows that he’s interested in her, not her Hollywood connections. When Maggie’s father blackmails her into dating his lead actor, she isn’t left with a choice. The biggest problem isn’t having to date hunky, mega-hottie, Ben Chambers. No, it’s praying she doesn’t lose Preston in the process.
Excelling at her dream school, Maggie’s personal life is a tangled mess. She needs to decide if living a lie is worth losing Preston or chance going against her father and facing his wrath. When the tabloids expose the truth of her fake relationship with Ben, Maggie’s world is thrown into a tailspin. Ultimately, Maggie must find the courage to take risks and forge ahead on her own path.
I really wanted to love this book (I enjoyed it’s companion, The Heir and the Spare), but somehow it just kept falling flat for me. The idea of Maggie’s painful relationship with her father was intriguing. He’s a big Hollywood director, but he’s abusive and controlling. Maggie and her family live in fear of him. My problem was, when Maggie’s dad blackmails her, I couldn’t help but wonder why in the heck Maggie goes along with it. It seems pretty obvious that he’s not going to hold up his end of the deal (and he proves early on that this is the case). I just couldn’t see the urgency—the stakes were too low. I kept reminding myself that Maggie’s father was abusive and that victims of abusive relationships are often almost programmed to go along with the abuser because that’s how they get through life—but I kept having to remind myself of that. It was like I was trying to talk myself into liking the book.
The romance in this story was pretty good, but it played off of a pet peeve of mine—a case where the conflict in the relationship is based on the characters simply not talking to each other and telling each other how they really feel. Though in the book’s defense, Maggie didn’t keep any of her secrets for long, and she ended up confiding in Preston. But then a new misunderstanding would replace the old one, and we’d start the cycle all over again.
There were aspects of the story that I really liked—the fashion side of the story was fun, and I thought it was interesting to see characters from the first book again. But, in the end, I just couldn’t bring myself to feel all that invested in this book and the negatives ended up outweighing the positives. I give it 2.5/5 Stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Published by Entangled Teen on 9/19/16
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Promise City. That’s the colony I’ve been aiming for all my life on the planet Liberty. The only thing standing in my way? The Machine. On my eighteenth birthday, this mysterious, octopus-like device will scan my brain and Test my deeds. Good thing I’ve been focusing on being Jay Lawton, hard worker and rule follower, my whole life. Freedom is just beyond my fingertips.
Or so I thought. Two weeks before my Testing with the Machine, I’ve stumbled upon a new reality. The truth. In a single sleepless night, everything I thought I knew about the adults in our colony changes. And the only one who’s totally on my side is the clever, beautiful rebel, Peyton. Together we have to convince the others to sabotage their Testings before it’s too late.
Before the ceremonies are over and the hunting begins.
This is another one where I really enjoyed the author’s first book but somehow just couldn’t get into this one. I couldn’t exactly put my finger why I wasn’t enjoying the book because there wasn’t anything terribly wrong with it. Nothing that made me cringe or sigh in frustration. If you’re a big fan of science fiction, you might love this one. But, for me, it was just a bit too drawn out—lots of talking about doing things and not actually doing them. I thought the twists were a bit obvious and the story got just a little bit cartoonish for me, though I loved the perspective of how one set of characters saw the other—it was very thought-provoking (but I can’t really say much more than that without spoilers). So, while this certainly wasn’t bad, it just didn’t hold my attention. I think it just wasn’t for me. I give it 2.5/5 Stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***