I’ve got three bite-sized reviews today, one for a series. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!
Now Is Everything by Amy Giles
Published by HarperTeen on November 7th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
My content rating: YA (Characters have sex)
Now Is Everything is a stirring debut novel told in alternating THEN and NOW chapters, perfect for Sarah Dessen and Jennifer Niven fans, about what one girl is willing to do to protect her past, present, and future.
The McCauleys look perfect on the outside. But nothing is ever as it seems, and this family is hiding a dark secret.
Hadley McCauley will do anything to keep her sister safe from their father. But when Hadley’s forbidden relationship with Charlie Simmons deepens, the violence at home escalates, culminating in an explosive accident that will leave everyone changed.
When Hadley attempts to take her own life at the hospital post-accident, her friends, doctors, family, and the investigator on the case want to know why. Only Hadley knows what really happened that day, and she’s not talking.
So, I picked up this book on a total whim. I was glancing through Twitter and saw this adorable pic that the author’s daughter had drawn telling people to read her mom’s book. Since I’m a sucker for that sort of thing, I immediately headed over to Goodreads to check it out, and it sounded like the type of book I’d love! I headed over to Edelweiss, downloaded it and immediately started reading! (See, I wasn’t kidding when I said it was a whim.)
The book is a thriller of sorts, but it’s also a portrait of abuse. From the outside, Hadley’s family looks perfect. But the reality is far from that image—Hadley’s father is controlling and abusive, and she spends every day just trying to live up to his expectations so that she doesn’t set him off. And she’s trying to keep her little sister out of the crossfire.
But you learn at the very beginning of the book that something has gone very wrong. There’s a plane crash and Hadley is the only survivor—we know members of her family are dead. Her father? Her parents? Her whole family? It’s not clear at first. And the question of what really happened lingers. You sort of doubt it was just a simple accident, but you’re definitely kept guessing. Throughout the book, we piece together the past and find out what led to the crash. We also get chapters that explore the present and show us how Hadley is dealing with the emotional ramifications of the plane crash. It’s not until the very end that we discover what really went on the day of the plane crash.
I found this book incredibly emotionally compelling. Hadley’s struggles at home and her attempts to hide them are heartbreaking. I loved the relationship between her and Charlie and the fact that Charlie wasn’t willing to just leave well enough alone. The snippets of interviews with Hadley’s friends and teachers (in the NOW sections) give insight into what others’ perceptions of the situation were. My only small complaint was something about the final reveal of what happened with the plane crash didn’t sit quite right with me. I felt like, in some ways, it lacked the emotional punch it could have had. BUT overall, I really loved this book.
***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.***
Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes #3
Also in this series: Snow Like Ashes, Ice Like Fire
on September 20th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Narrator: Kate Rudd, Nick Podehl, Eileen Stevens
Length: 12 hrs. 22 min
My content rating: YA (Characters have sex, but it's not really described)
Angra is alive, his Decay is spreading—and no one is safe.
Meira will do anything to save her world. With Angra trying to break through her mental defenses, she desperately needs to learn to control her own magic—so when the leader of a mysterious Order from Paisly offers to teach her, she jumps at the chance. But the true solution to stopping the Decay lies in a labyrinth deep beneath the Season Kingdoms. To defeat Angra, Meira will have to enter the labyrinth, destroy the very magic she’s learning to control—and make the biggest sacrifice of all.
Mather will do anything to save his queen. He needs to rally the Children of the Thaw, find Meira—and finally tell her how he really feels. But with a plan of attack that leaves no kingdom unscathed and a major betrayal within their ranks, winning the war—and protecting Meira—slips farther and farther out of reach.
Ceridwen will do anything to save her people. Angra had her brother killed, stole her kingdom, and made her a prisoner. But when she’s freed by an unexpected ally who reveals a shocking truth behind Summer’s slave trade, Ceridwen must take action to save her true love and her kingdom, even if it costs her what little she has left.
As Angra unleashes the Decay on the world, Meira, Mather, and Ceridwen must bring the kingdoms of Primoria together…or lose everything.
For some reason, I waited a really long time to read this final book in the Snow Like Ashes Trilogy, so I have to confess that I’d forgotten a lot of the details of the first two books. Luckily, this final book in the series was engaging enough that I felt connected to the story even without remembering everything about how we’d gotten to this point, and I managed to recall most of it along the way. I actually think it might have even improved things because I’d forgotten some of the details of the second book that I wasn’t all that fond of.
I ended up really enjoying this final installment—I especially loved that Raasch ended the series in a way that defied the typical fantasy genre stereotypes (View Spoiler »The answer to all their problems really WAS to destroy magic—which is pretty counter-intuitive for fantasy where magic usually reigns supreme! « Hide Spoiler) I felt like this book wrapped up the series in an appropriately bittersweet manner and gave me plenty of excitement and feels. I can’t ask for much more in a finale.
NARRATION: I enjoyed the narration of this book, for the most part, but there were a few distractions. Kate Rudd has kind of an interesting style because she tends to over-enunciate every single word (even throwaway words). It sometimes takes me a few minutes to get used to that, but I end up liking it. It works for fantasy. I haven’t listened to a contemp narrated by her, and I wonder if her style will feel natural in that genre—I’ll have to try one sometime. I also liked Eileen Stevens’ narration. Nick Podehl’s voice bothered me for some reason, though, and I couldn’t make it mesh in my mind with Mather. I can’t explain it any better than that—it wasn’t that he wasn’t a good narrator, it just didn’t work for me (at least for Mather). Weird, I know.
The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press on September 18th 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Narrator: Will Patton
Length: 45 hrs 47 min (total for whole series)
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Language)
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.
I’m just writing a quick review of the whole Raven Cycle Series together since I’m behind the rest of the world on this one and I listened to the whole series all at once. I LOVE these books, but I think it’s actually more due to Stiefvater’s writing and her characters than due to the actual plotting. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t like lots of aspects of the plot too, but the story itself isn’t what’s stuck with me over time (I finished this series at the beginning of September and am just now getting around to reviewing). Instead, it’s this sense that Stiefvater is a genius at quirky and gorgeous descriptions and that I adored each and every one of the Raven boys—and Blue of course. I also loved all of the supernatural stuff—psychics and ley lines and ghosts and legends and …. I could go on and on.
The first book was actually probably most exciting as far as plot went. It set up that Blue’s true love was going to die, but you don’t know right away who the true love is or how it will happen. The whole rest of the series is sort of built off of that, actually, since it takes us until book four to find out what will actually happen. Out of all the books, I’d say that the last book was actually my least favorite, just because I thought it sort of meandered into a lot of side plot points and side characters and I wanted to find out what would happen! But it was still gorgeous and amazing and gave me everything I was hoping for in the end—or at least most of what I was hoping for. I think someday I might actually do a reread of the series because it’s the sort of series that I think you’d pick up on a lot of little threads the second time around.
That’s it for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think?